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What is your WHY | Sports Psychology Today

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The highest level performers in all walks of life have one specific thing in common – they have a WHY! This is true for CEO’s of Fortune 1000 companies, U.S Military Special Forces Operators, professional and Olympic athletes, and even A-list celebrities.


What does it mean to have a WHY?

All of the people mentioned above are able to successfully compete at the absolute peak of their field because they have a clear and defined reason to do what they do. Their WHY gives them purpose, motivation, determination, discipline and constantly reminds them of their direction. Developing a WHY is the best way to ensure you are making progress towards your goals and avoiding setbacks towards said goal. So how does one go about developing a solid WHY?

The first step you should take is to ask yourself what your ultimate dream in life truly is. Is it to be a professional athlete, a CEO, a millionaire? Is it to make your high school sports team, be a good spouse, graduate high school and college, start your own business, or have a family?

Whenever you figure out this dream future, the next and most important step is to ask yourself … WHY do I want to do/be this?

Now, there are some vital things to remember when developing your WHY.

  1. Your WHY should be powerful: When setbacks and obstacles arise, and they will, you should stick to your WHY because it is powerful enough to overcome anything
  2. Your WHY should be deep: this is similar to powerful but deserves mentioning. A shallow why is easily broken (i.e. I play because it is fun, I want to be a manger because they make more money). Instead, you should focus on deeper meaning (i.e. I play because it challenges me to be a better person, I want to be a manager because I can help people).
  3. Your WHY should be intrinsic: Do not base your WHY on extrinsic factors (I play because my friends do, I want to be a CEO because my dad is) instead look inside and feel your WHY (I play because it brings me joy to accomplish goals, I want to be a CEO because I find joy in this work and am able to be challenged and grow)

With all of this now in mind, it is time to write down your WHY. Remember to make it powerful, deep, and intrinsic.

My WHY: 


For Athlete’s

  1. Once you have your WHY written above, write it down in places you will see it every day:
    1. Bathroom Mirror
    2. Sticky Note in your Locker
    3. Background of your smartphone
    4. Set a reminder on your phone to go off everyday
  2. Find a buddy on your team and tell each other your WHY’s. Periodically check in with this person and talk about your WHY and how you are using it to improve your daily lives.
  3. Discuss your WHY with parents/guardians and see what they can do to help you along the way


For Coaches

  1. Collect the Athlete’s WHY’s and make them into visuals that can be placed in lockers
  2. Have the coaching staff create and share their WHY’s with the team
  3. Develop a team WHY and turn it into posters to hang in locker rooms and dugouts

You will see that once you have your WHY, everything else seems to be a little easier to figure out (goal setting, visualization, making choices). So develop your why and start conquering your life!

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