As training season draws to a close and competition begins, athletes can’t wait to do what they do best: play.
Athlete, have you thought about how you want to operate, what competition may reveal about you, or who you are becoming?
Start the season off by not only being knowledgeable about your opponents, but knowledgeable about yourself. Take personal inventory and consider these seven questions as you hit the field this season.
1. What’s holding me back?
Our insecurities have a sneaky way of hindering us. Second-guessing your abilities can take you out of focus and have you out of sync trying to measure up to fictional standards. In “6 Ways to Quit Playing the Comparison Game,” author Holly Murray encourages athletes to press into the God-given gifts they uniquely possess.
She says, “When you compare yourself to others, you are filling in the blanks of your identity with what the world says rather than what God says is true of you. In order to live out of the fullness of your identity in Christ, you must determine what is hindering you from truly embracing it.”
Consider this: What are the strengths you see in yourself and the strengths others see in you?
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2. What motivates me?
It’s easy to be motivated by the possibility of a new season. But there’s no guarantee the fanfare and the energy of a new start will sustain you in your performance through the season’s stretch.
So what sustains your passion? Who sustains your passion?
In “What Fuels Your Athletic Passion?” author Monty Waldron encourages athletes to draw from a singular sustainable source.
He writes, “...our love for the game should be an overflow of our love for the One who created us to play. The intensity with which we practice and compete should reflect our passion for the One in whom ‘we live and move and have our being.’” (Acts 17:28)
Consider this: Do you play from a place of thankfulness and gratitude?
3. Am I living out my beliefs and values?
Are you talking the talk and walking the walk? In “4 Ways to Be An Accountable Athlete,” author Kate Rampone says all the talent in the world doesn’t make up for not having a good moral compass.
She says, “While talent and commitment are certainly necessary traits of a successful athlete, accountability and good character are arguably just as important, especially for a Christ-follower who has been given a platform to share beliefs and values and to act as a role model within his or her community.”
Consider this: Take note of how you can build your teammates up.
4. How am I helping build a healthy team culture?
Your team may be united when it’s game time and the pressure’s on, but how are you relating to each other when you don't have to be together?
In “3 Things Your Team Needs to Know About Unity and Diversity,” author Tyler Stowell writes, “In Heaven, those who have trusted Jesus to pay for their sins will be together in unity worshipping Him while retaining their diversity! This is an amazing image!
“Our culture, ethnicity, even languages, are part of the redeemed and restored eternal world. This is another reason why we cannot ignore these parts of who we are and who others are. They won’t be ignored for all eternity.
“How dare we attempt to be ‘colorblind’ or devalue someone else’s ‘normal.’ For years upon years upon years those pieces of us, those pieces of God’s image, will be kept and celebrated!”
Consider this: Consider reading, watching, or listening to one of the resources from this list with your teammates and debriefing with them over a meal.
5. Who am I turning to when things are too much to handle?
You know taking care of your physical health is important. Your mental wellness needs to be taken just as seriously. Feeling overwhelmed can be hard and reaching out for help from friends or professionals can seem daunting, but know that it’s worth doing.
In her piece, “Athlete, You Are Not Alone,” author Naomi Rust shares about her own mental health experience and encourages athletes to invite God into their wellness journey.
She writes, “Athlete, He sees you. You have access to the Hope that will never leave you. When you are struggling to believe that He cares, that He is good, that He is faithful or that He is just, look at Jesus.
“In the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we see God’s love on full display. He entered into your suffering, He died for your suffering, and He conquered your suffering. The cross shows you how much He loves you and the lengths to which He would go to bring you into His presence.
“When the waves of panic, of tears, or of numbness come, I pray God uses those moments to take you into deeper dependence on Him. Let those feelings be a reminder to run to Him rather than hide from Him.”
Consider this: Look up Psalm 139 in your Bible. Read through all 24 verses, underlining the ones that resonate with you. Post the Psalm where you will see it everyday.
6. Am I a teammate who shows empathy?
As the season unfolds, there may be times where the team or your teammates may hit an unexpected snag. It may catch your teammates by surprise and it can speak volumes when you’re able to sit with them, see them in their struggle, and provide a listening ear.
In “4 Ways to be an Empathetic Athlete,” author Leon McKenzie writes: “The best thing we can do for our friends who are going through hard times is pray. Pray for the ability to discern if and when your friends are having a tough time and need your help. Pray for the wisdom to know when to speak and what to say or when to be silent and just listen.”
Consider this: Pull a teammate aside, ask how they’re really doing and how you can be praying for one another.
7. How am I making an impact on and off the field?
People remember how you made them feel. Relational impact is made in big and small moments. In “15 Ways To Build Your Legacy,” author Jason Cooper looks to the example Jesus gave of caring for His disciples and how intentional He was with the people He engaged with.
He writes: “Relationships are essential to the identity of God who exists in love and in community as the Trinity. He created us to experience relationships with Him and with others in the same way.”
Consider this: Take a look at the list in the article and choose one to be intentional about each week.
It’s go time! How will you show up on the field?