I’ve always found sportsmen’s life very interesting. I believe that a sportsman’s life encapsulates in a short span of 10-15 years everything that normal people see in their lifetime. They almost live in a fast forward mode. I just love the passion sportsmen exhibit on the field and the fire in the belly they have to win the game. Not many times, you see such fire in normal real lives or in corporate lives. So, I’ve always been very curious to learn life lessons from sportsmen and sports.
Sportsmen have great passion for what they do in such a way that makes them cry uncontrollably in most extreme moments. In fact, I don’t know of any top sportsmen who didn’t cry publicly. The below video shows some of the footballers who went emotional at various stages in life. Crying is not a vulnerability, it shows how much they want to win how much they want to go out there and do what they want to do. I respect that fire in any individual.
Most sportsmen continued to play their game or tournament despite hearing bad news from family or losing closed ones. They always show their pain or joy through the game.
Sports seem to teach a lot about life and seem to encapsulate how life should be played. It is said that one should always invest time in something that gives happiness or makes money or makes you better. Sportsmen seem to do all three at once all the time while playing.
No two people play the game of life the same way or there is no way to know and appreciate that. However, in sport, all players play by the same rules and go through the same structure and everyone including the audience knows who is a better player and which situation is better than the other. This gives immense satisfaction and happiness to players. In real life, there is nothing similar to it, everybody plays by different rules. However, we can still learn valuable lessons from how sportsmen lead their lives.
Lesson 1: Even the best need to practice daily!
No matter how good you are in your sport, you still need to practice to be in touch. You need to practice the basics, the difficult shots and the impossible ones to be better tomorrow. If you don’t practice, even if you are the God in your sport, you will lose touch of the game.
Sportsmen, unlike normal people, practice the same thing, again and again, a lot. They also have a lot more opportunities to practice. If they play a shot wrong, they can immediately practice in the next 30 seconds. This shows how practice is really really important in life and how it can make you better.
Lesson 2: Getting better never stops!
In sport, even the top of the top doesn’t cool down their heels saying ‘I’ve done it all!’ because they all want to get better and getting better never stops. Even a Federer or a Ronaldinho or a Kohli is continuously practicing to be better and better at the game.
Lesson 3: Money is the side effect, play for your soul!
Everybody who plays sport first started playing only for the fun of it. Slowly, as the individual realizes that s/he plays well, they start going to the next level and professional sport and then there is no looking back.
The game is their soul, and that is why they all cry. There are numerous sportsmen who continued to play the game even when they got the news that their parents died or any such major issue. Sportsmen play with grave injuries if the moment requires them to play. They don’t do that for money, they do that for their soul. They just love it, they are so passionate about it and they get happiness from it.
Lesson 4: Clear goals and rigorous practice
Sportsmen practice the most. They have crystal clear goals such as getting better at a particular shot, particular movement or within a certain time. This clarity helps them to practice a lot and achieve it. The ranks of clubs and competitions are all clear and therefore their goal is very clear.
In sport, what you have to do is decided by the structure itself. The structure decides which teams you will play, how many games you have to play, etc. Broadly, the contract of what has to be done is decided by the structure. Almost all players go through the same structure and contract. But, the difference between players is in how they play and how they do things and how much they understand themselves and practice. Even if the contract and the structure are the same for everyone, still one player dominates over another because of skill, practice, context, etc.
Lesson 5: Every minute, there is a clarity on their goals for sportsmen
Their goals are very very clear. Even if they are playing on the street or in front of 100,000 people, the goal is very clear.
Lesson 6: You will not always win, but a good player wins most of the time!
Sometimes you will be unlucky, sometimes you will play bad and sometimes others will play better than you. If you are a good player with a good work ethic, you will come out of most situations most of the time. A Federer will lose matches and sometimes will lose to lesser opponents, but on an overall season time, a Federer or a Kohli or a Ronaldinho will always do well.
Lesson 7: Convert your potential into reality
A lot of players have good potential but because of the lack of work-ethic many players won’t make it to the top. Some players have purely risen up because of their work ethic and some players have purely lost because of their lack of work ethic. It shows that work-ethic is more important than anything to convert your potential into reality.
Lesson 8: You should always have a coach!
No matter how good a player you are, you should always have a coach. And the coach need not be a better player than you. A coach brings in a perspective that you cannot look at by yourself today.
Lesson 9: If you have too much on your mind, you cannot play your current game!
If the sportsman is too worried about past failures, crowd, his situation in the team, etc. then s/he cannot play the current game the best. Same goes even in life too, too much in the mind distracts you.
Lesson 10: Be cheerful, energetic and surprising!
This is not the motive. Being cheerful, energetic and surprising is an outcome of enjoying what you are doing.
Lesson 11: Manage the audience
Sometimes you get a good audience and sometimes bad audience and sometimes you play well and sometimes you play badly. The most important thing for any sportsman is they seem to have fun. That goal, that shot, that move is what gives them utter joy whether in a practice game or local game or at the ultimate championship. That is what you need to have as a regular person, no matter what people around you say go out and play your game.
Lesson 12: Execution is everything!
You cannot score that goal only by imagining scoring that goal 1000 times in your head. Practice and execution is everything in sport and in real life too.
Lesson 13: Eat right!
Sportsmen with their strict schedules maintain health by eating and exercising right.
Lesson 14: Strong work ethic
Ricky Ponting, a cricketing legend from Australia, said that he used to write down notes before a match day on how will the opposing team try to get him out and what will his initial strategies be like. He would get up in the morning at 4 am for practice and first go through the notes before heading to warm up and nets.
Lesson 15: At the highest level, it is more about being mentally strong.
“There’s a lot more to cricket than just skills. A lot of the game, as you go higher and higher, is about the mind — the mental side of the game. You need to understand your personality well. After a point, the difference between each one of you will become less. The people who will stand out are those who can handle the pressure better.
You have to start thinking about how your mind works as it will be the differentiating factor as you go higher and higher in the ranks. Virat Kohli has as much skills as a lot of other people, but he is mentally tougher than everyone else. He knows his game better than everyone else.” – Rahul Dravid, former captain of the Indian Cricket Team and one of the legends in cricket.
Lesson 16: It is not about turning up and playing alone
Football or Sports is not about turning up and playing, it is about managing everything that comes with it. – Gerard, Liverpool.