Whether you’re a long distance runner or an offensive tackle, endurance is part of every sport. In fact, it is what holds us together as athletes. We must be consistent in our endeavors in order to be successful. One spectacular play does not make a great player. A good athlete endures hardship, mistakes, and challenges and plays hard no matter what.
You will not make it very far in sports if you cannot play consistently through a whole game, and more importantly, a whole season. A season is just a string of competitions. Just like a single competition there will high and low points. There will moments when you might want to quit and times when you feel on top of the world. It’s okay to feel both of these things, in fact, it’s necessary to build strength as an athlete. The key is to come through it all with poise and grace and continue on.
How to Get Up Again
Every athlete needs to know how to deal with getting knocked down. I mean this figuratively and literally. On the football field, literally getting knocked to the ground is a common occurrence. Whether you’re the running back and just got tackled or you’re a lineman who got flattened by a linebacker you need to pop right back up and start thinking about the next play (assuming you are not hurt of course).
If you stay on the ground you are sending a signal to the other team that you’ve been beaten. Of course, if you’ve been knocked down, you have been beaten. But only physically and only once. The important thing is to not let the other team get inside your head. If you stay on the ground and feel sorry for yourself you are risking giving up your mental edge and making a mistake on the next play. It’s okay to get knocked down but never okay to assume it will happen just because it happened once. You need to go into every play with the mindset that you will get your job done successfully.
A more figurative example of getting knocked down could be any number of mistakes. Perhaps it’s getting the ball stolen from you and letting the other team get a fast break. You can feel low and get discouraged or you can endure the loss of possession and the points scored because of your mistake and move on. An athlete with good endurance knows that one play doesn’t make the difference. It’s how you play over the whole season that makes you who you are as an athlete.
How to Push Yourself
Your coaches will do their best to push and motivate you but ultimately it has to come from inside. It helps to have your coaches, teammates, and fans cheering you on but if you don’t believe in yourself you are lost. That’s what endurance comes down to; belief. If you don’t think you can go another play or run another mile then no surprise, you won’t be able to. Sometimes all it takes is telling yourself that you can do it until it really sinks in. And remember, if you’re trying your hardest then you will never let your teammates down. More importantly, you will never let yourself down.
How to Build Endurance
There is a large mental component to endurance but it is not the only thing. Of course, there is a physical aspect as well. At the start of the season, you may not be able to play a full four quarters. It’s up to you and your coaches to know your limit. If you’re giving all you’ve got, maybe you need to have a break. That’s perfectly okay. It’s better to play half a game at full speed than a whole game at half speed.
When to Stop
When we talk about endurance we mean playing through hardship and fatigue. We do not mean pain. Pain is the signal that something is wrong and you need to stop. Playing through pain does not show strength or endurance. It is merely a mistake. So give it everything you’ve got, in practice, in training sessions, and on the field for games but if something hurts, tell your coach get it looked at.
Endurance is a challenge for all athletes. It is something learned over time. the very nature of endurance means that it encompasses a long period of time. Remember that you will always have the support of your teammates and coaches if you’re the one on the team willing to give all you effort the entire game, the entire season. You will be looked up to and admired even if you’re not the most skilled on the team. Just like in life, in sports you have to play the long game, always looking ahead, always improving, and always staying on your game.