This article was originally posted by Lori Lindsey at LoriLindsey.us.
When I was ten years old I remember my dad making my brother and I polish our boots (the term that most soccer players use for cleats) the night before our games. Back then boots were actually made of real leather and more likely to fall apart if not taken care of appropriately.
We had a shoe brush, black polish, and mink oil to protect them from rainy weather. We were expected to spend at least 30 minutes on this task every night prior to our match the next day.
I was pretty sure positive no other 10-year-old kid was polishing her boots on a Friday night. However, in the Lindsey household this was the norm.
My dad wasn’t the type who was going to sit us down and help us with our math homework – he was the type who was going to teach us life skills his way, through the game of soccer.
Polishing my boots was the absolute last thing I wanted to be doing. Instead, as an eccentric young tomboy, I would have much rather been splashing my brother, Chris’ Brut cologne on, slicking back my mullet, and skateboarding around the neighborhood.
In fact, I found it quite annoying – it felt like pure torture. Like it was just another thing that my Dad was making me do.
It wasn’t until a few years later that my annoyance started to wane and I began taking soccer more seriously. As the level of play grew more competitive it became apparent to me that my approach towards training and games would have a huge impact on my success.
So instead of mindlessly rushing through this task I started to take my time – making them look as beautiful as possible.
I would use this time to visualize my success in the next game. Completing passes, scoring goals, shooting at the keeper, and feeling energized in my performance.
The best part about this is I carried this approach on through out my career in both training and games and into every part of my life.
There is an old Zen saying that rings true:
How you do anything, is how you do everything.
As I climbed the ladder in soccer success I found I was not alone in my approach. While no one was polishing their boots anymore, most everyone had an approach that prepared them to be at their best. For example Carli Lloyd goes on a run prior to every game, Megan Rapinoe showers exactly four hours before each game, and Rachel Buehler would read a book while everyone else was buzzin’ to their music.
To be honest, the ones who didn’t were easily weeded out. We all know consistency is key and if you didn’t have consistency in your approach you definitely didn’t have consistency in your play.
Now, I know what you may be thinking. Lori, what does this have to do with me? I’m not a professional athlete and I’m definitely not going to be polishing boots any time soon.
While your goal might not be a professional athlete or to deadlift 300+ lbs, your approach will help to determine your success.
Training is about getting better – whether that is moving better, feeling better, or performing better or maybe even all three. If your approach is casual and careless then it’s going to be much harder to achieve this.
This doesn’t mean that you need to start polishing your shoes before training or spending hours on end with visualization – that wouldn’t be realistic. However, it does mean that you can dial in on your warm-up or start to mentally prepare on your way to the gym so that you are present during the entirety of your workout.
I’m not saying that because I polished my boots I automatically became a great soccer player, that’s definitely not the case, but it did teach me that approach is everything and it’s a choice. You set the standard for yourself.
I can’t tell you how easy it is to pick out one of my athletes who’s shoelaces are untied or clothes and hair are disheveled and the correlation with their performance in training.
I’m also not saying training has to be so serious all the time either. It should be fun. But the one’s who are giving their approach some thought and preparing themselves mentally also seem to be the one’s who are enjoying themselves and getting the most out of their training.
There is a direct correlation between approach and success.
I encourage you to dial in and get more serious with your approach. Find something that works for you and reap the benefits in your performance.
What does your approach currently look like? If you currently have an approach – is it working for you or do you need to revise a bit?
Comment below and let me now what you’re up to.