Hard Work, specifically with regards to sports, is a topic that I would really like to dive into because it is something that I have learned quite a bit about throughout my Olympic Journey. Before I dive in, I want to first talk about the Hard Work Reality Check in Sports- you can work for hours and hours, filled with blood sweat and tears but only become a small fraction better from all of the effort that you put in. Working hard in sports has a very different “compensation” rate than the typical structure we are used to. It isn’t the same as clocking in 2 hours on a job that pays 15 bucks an hour and then expecting to be paid $30 for doing your job. Sports like soccer and field hockey require such a complex set of skills to perform the sport well. In order to improve your game, you have to advance each part of your skill set.
And this. Takes. time!
A skill set example I usually use in field hockey is the hit, but think of a skill in soccer that requires proper form, accuracy and speed/power. Maybe a corner kick or 1st touch reception. Repetition on Repetition on Repetition allows you to commit the skill to muscle memory so that you can execute it in a practice setting. And even more hours are required to train your decisions and body to perform the skill under pressure and at speed against opponents in a game setting. As if the time – piece to improving in our sports wasn’t already enough, one of the most frustrating and sometimes unmotivating things about working hard in sports is that the gains you earn from all your effort may not be immediately apparent in your skill set! However, this reality is also one of the most competitively rewarding parts about being an athlete because we understand that if we stick to the process and continue to work hard, the accumulation of all our small, fraction pieced gains will ultimately have a lasting effect on our progress as an athlete. When I was training, I used to call these small gains, my “1 cent.”
For example, I got 1 cent better in speed today or I got 1 cent stronger in the weight room or 1 cent better on my defensive jab. Most people will just throw a penny in a junk drawer, or at the bottom of their dresser, or even in the trash if there’s no change jar around. But when you work hard for that “1 cent” and earn it in sports it should to be valued like a 100 dollar bill in your pocket. These tiny cents when you add it up lead to pivotal improvements in your game. Imagine if the amount of “1 cents” you earned on speed work allowed you to get to the ball 1 second faster, and 1 inch before your opponent and allowed you to possess the ball for an eventual open shot opportunity. How could that 1 inch and 1 extra shot opportunity impact the game for you and your team? Or as a Goal Keeper, what if all the small “1 cents” you earned in your post practice time of working on reactions and diving allowed you to extend 1 inch further with your glove to tip the ball outside of the goal post for a save rather than in the back of the net for a goal. Moral of the story, every cent earned in your hard work piggy bank is a direct investment towards your future progress as an athlete. Stay the course, and capture all of your 1cent opportunities that you have before you!