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"Effort is Only Effort When It Begins to Hurt" – Perseverance in Sports (Part 2)

We are down 0-1, and there’s ten minutes left in the game. It’s so hot, my stomach hurts. I’m exhausted, and I’m not even sure we can score to tie the game… but if we can keep them from scoring again, we can still advance in the tournament. (We have enough points from earlier in the tournament to keep going.)

Defense, I realized, is super important — but so is playing smart. I put in the effort to double-team, rather than sprinting after the forward who just passed our entire front and middle…and then…she beats another one of my teammates who I double teamed with.

I wanted to sub out. I wanted to sit on the bench and drink water in the shade…

But then I realized, that’s basically giving up. And that mentality brings you down even more. Would I feel happier if I sat on the bench now, or pushed through to the very end? So I tried my hardest and hardest…and it worked. With the effort that I put, I just prevented a Goal from occurring, which would have put my entire team in trouble.

Ten minutes later, they still hadn’t scored. My team advanced… but the team that just beat us didn’t!

I’m so happy. That feeling like you tried your hardest is the best part of the game.

In my last post, I wrote about how confidence is crucial for athletes’ mentality. However, having the mentality to put in the effort is equally important. Effort and hard work — taking that extra lap, spending extra seconds in the plank, pushing to the very end — can really make a difference. When you are playing a game and it’s the last five minutes, what are you going to do? Will you slow down and relax because you’re tired and the game is almost over, or will you push yourself even more to finish the game stronger than how you came?

The truthful and best answer is to finish the game harder. Why? Well, even though it feels tiny, it makes the difference. The big thing about effort is that even the tiniest extra work being put in can really make an amazing difference to your game.

Examples are:

-Do the extra two push-ups, even after the required limit

– Running another lap even when you are done

– Holding the plank for ten more seconds than what’s required.

These small details will make a difference to your game, and having that mentality to do those things will take you, the player, a step higher. Push yourself in games, and don’t think in your head, “I’M TIRED”. When you are tired in a game, the best way is to mentally push yourself and tell yourself that you can keep going.

As an added bonus, effort can improve confidence. We all make mistakes, but you can always tell who tried their hardest, and it makes them look like a more valuable player. For example, a girl on my team is a great player, but she makes a ton of mistakes. It’s almost hard to notice, because every single time, she does what it takes to get the ball back. She tries her absolute hardest — even when she’s not recovering from a mistake, she is always working to help the rest of her teammates out. That’s why she’s on the top team.

Moreover, we make fewer mistakes when we’re less tired, so having better fitness, putting in extra effort between games, is a way to help prevent mistakes.

Even when your body is tired, you can keep putting in effort with your mind to play smarter. Don’t use energy for the wrong reasons. Be strategic, and use it when it’s most needed.

How do you push through when you’re tired? Head over to my Forum page, because I want to hear YOUR stories! And don’t forget to follow me on IG, and don’t miss Part 1 and Part 3 of this series.

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