I’m sure many of you know of countless professional athletes in all sorts of sports across the globe, whether it’s LeBron James or Lionel Messi you’ve heard their name or have seen them on endless highlight reels. But what some people tend to oversee is that there is more to it than their smooth jumper or impeccable skill and speed. Athletes go through challenging physical and mental battles every day in order to maintain the consistency and performance that is expected of them. Becoming a professional athlete definitely comes with its perks, but what most people fail to realize are the issues and challenges that come with the fame and the glory. Don’t get me wrong now, I’m not knocking the profession in any kind of way, but instead opening your eyes to a first-person’s view of becoming and more importantly remaining a professional athlete. Here’s a little peek inside what you can expect to see.
Getting Benched and Extensive Injuries
These are hands down the utmost mentally taxing events that could happen to you as an athlete and aspiring professional. What makes this so tough to deal with is the fact that the decision to not play and the circumstance in which you got injured is somewhat out of your control. Essentially, they go hand in hand and when you find yourself doubting your abilities and chances to ever play again, it takes a strong willed person to bounce back. Focusing on things you personally can control, like extra training and video sessions can helping you turn around the situation your in and speed up recovery periods. For those of you who haven’t seen Kobe Bryant’s movie, check it out to see what it takes to have that killer Black Mamba mentality.
It’s either you crumble or you embrace it and it’s a lot easier said than done. Day in and day out professional athletes are pressured to perform at a certain standard. They face pressure from fans, friends and family to continue demonstrating their significance. This can be a tough thing to cope with especially when balls aren’t bouncing your way. It’s very discouraging and you can literally feel the pressure building on your shoulders. In reality, they’re humans just like you and I and more importantly they make mistakes. An excellent tool I used to help train my mind and deal with pressure was by reading “Mind Gym: An Athletes Guide to Inner Excellence” by Gary Mack. Each chapter has engaging and helpful material.
Contracts and Trades
I think a lot of us understand that tomorrow is never guaranteed. In addition to this, during a transfer window athletes could be expected to pick up and leave in a blink of an eye if they get traded to another club. Being able to adapt to a change of scenery, new coaching staff and playing system as well as brand new teammates can be a challenge to many athletes. Establishing yourself in a new environment takes a perfect balance of confidence and cockiness to solidify your spot and respect on the team. Proving your capabilities as an athlete is something that never ceases to exist no matter what team you are on or stage you are in your career. Contracts place a massive amount of stress on your life because ultimately they all end. As a young pro, trying to find new teams can be just as tough as finding a new job as a new college graduate. The main thing to focus on is keeping your eye on the prize and taking steps to making your dreams a reality.
Friends and Family
Sacrifice is the best word to describe this part of an athlete’s life. Birthdays, special occasions, cottage weekends, and numerous nights out with the boys will be missed I can guarantee that. But if you’re willing to overlook that, the reward can be very fruitful. It’s not easy to have the will power to say “no” to the people that are the closest to you, but if they are people worth keeping around they will understand and support you along the way.
Becoming a professional athlete can definitely be a long road covered in blood, sweat, and tears but when you make it there it challenges you in a way that you have been training for your entire life. I really encourage all of you who have a dream of becoming a professional athlete to take steps towards it because the life lessons, the aura and the lifestyle are so rewarding.