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No Shortcut to Athletic Success

For the athlete, success is dependent upon winning, and winning is dependent upon motivation…and more aptly self-motivation.

The same can be said about success itself.

Success requires effort, and there are too few who are willing to pay the price of success.

Self-motivation arises from some inner cause, wish, drive, or need that requires no external reason. This is the type of motivation which is so vitally important to the champion athlete.

The athlete must always remember that the burdens of physical effort and internal motivation are his own responsibility. He alone is accountable for his actions, choices, and decisions.

More likely than not… all other factors being equal, the difference between successful and unsuccessful athletes boils down to internal motivation. This internal motivation is the ability of the individual athlete to develop strength, desire, willpower and determination to reach a chosen, worthy goal.

If he wants to achieve success, the motivation that will drive him toward that objective must come from within.

The internal motivation necessary for athletic success is based on the principle that human beings become the end products of their thoughts. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “a man becomes what he thinks about all day long.” According to William James, “human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

Simply put, a man becomes what his thoughts dwell upon. Therefore the basic law of athletic motivation is simply that an athlete becomes what he chooses to think about.

The establishment of specific goals is perhaps the most important personal decision an athlete can make for himself if he is to experience success. In order to become a better player, the athlete must have self-directed goals and devote all of his energies toward reaching them.

Andrew Carnegie, one of America’s first billionaires, once said “No one has been known to succeed without first applying the principle of definite purpose.”

David Schwartz, who wrote the best seller The Magic of Thinking Big, said: “Nothing happens, no forward steps are taken until a goal is established. Without goals, people just wander through life. They stumble along, never knowing where they are going.”

There are a few principles you should adhere to when establishing your goals:

For Pitchers
Forget about establishing a certain number of games to win individually.

For Hitters
Do not focus on a specific batting average for the season. This type of goal could be a failure trap or a limitation on your potential.

These types of goals do more harm than good and they can destroy attitudes.

Whether you are a pitcher, hitter, or fielder, look upon yourself as not having weaknesses. Instead consider weaknesses as undeveloped skills. As you begin to develop the skills that you are working on, your attitude begins to say “I can” rather than “I can’t.” Remember, you only have undeveloped skills and great possibilities.

The best goals to establish for yourself should relate to the job at hand. These are present tense goals. For instance, “throw a good, low strike,” or “see the ball.” These are the goals within the player’s immediate control during the game.
How Can an Athlete Motivate Himself?

The following nine truths will help you to become self-motivated and successful as an athlete:

  1. Set definite, realistic goals.
    Put them in writing and work on them each and every day. 
  2. Develop a desire and a willingness to work toward the completion of your goals.
    The earlier a player dedicates himself to peak performance, the more likely he is to achieve it. 
  3. Believe in your ability.
    Acknowledge your talent. Confidence acknowledges your talent. Confidence always precedes success! 
  4. Pay strict attention to self-discipline.
    There is a price on everything, including success. Pay the price! 
  5. Develop a positive mental attitude.
    Say only positive things about others. Think only in positive terms. Winners think:
    I can…I will…I’ll adjust…I’ll find a way. 
  6. Never be satisfied with your knowledge, performance or skill.
    Always be thinking of ways to improve. 
  7. Learn from defeat or temporary failure.
    Anyone who is undefeated has never met strong enough opponents. Never become satisfied with failure. You may get beat on the scoreboard, but never get beat in the Heart! 
  8. Never have an alibi.
    The best excuse is one you never make! 
  9. Share with and help others instead of being selfish.

If you have a burning love and joy for the game, and work up to your maximum potential, there is an internal reward…the reward of doing the best possible job. Stand aside and let your potential shine through!


Harry Lloyd was the Head Baseball Coach at The Westminster Schools in Atlanta for 37 years. During his years at Westminster his teams won the Georgia State A Championship in 1967 and 1968, and his 1975 team captured the State AA title. From 1971 through 1973, Harry managed in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, winning a pennant in 1973 in Auburn, New York, which earned him the league’s Manager of the Year award. During his playing days, Harry played collegiately at the University of North Carolina alongside legendary future coaches Jack Stallings and Roger Craig. 


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