We all know it’s physically impossible to suddenly grow six inches or instantaneously sprout linebacker-shoulders. But there’s more you can do to emulate your favorite athlete than simply donning their jersey or shouting “Kobe!” (RIP) every time you toss crumpled paper into the wastebasket.
While it’s easy to think that professional athletes are superheroes with magical capabilities that are beyond the reach of us mere mortals, the truth is that they’ve accumulated skills, techniques, and mindsets that have made it possible for them to become who they are. And though we may not all be able to become MVPs or Heisman winners, we can learn from their methods and achieve a level of greatness in our own lives.
So if you find yourself out of shape, low on ambition, or simply wanting to grow your own skills, here are some tips for learning from the pros and elevating the MVP that lives inside of you.
Study post-game interviews
Jordan’s killer instinct. Montana’s impenetrable cool. The Mamba mentality.
Sure, you can’t quantify these legendary attributes–there’s no specified amount of push ups that will earn you unshakeable will or grace under pressure. But you can pick up hints if you pay attention.
Watch your favorite athletes being interviewed after a big game. You’ll notice that as much as they speak about tangibles such as reading the defense and managing the clock, they love to speak about their thought process and often reveal deep glimpses into their mindset. After you study your favorite player for a while, you’ll notice patterns in the way they describe how they prepare for a game, how they respond to obstacles, and how they overcome pressure and respond to the big moments.
Even if you can’t apply these to sports, they’ll prove useful in your day-to-day life. Showing up to a new job interview or a big presentation with the Mamba mentality wired into your brain is a surefire way to elevate your performance.
Read sports biographies
Sometimes the best way to get into the minds of your favorite athletes is to read about their childhoods. While interviews focus athletes’ game-time strategies, biographies shed light on their childhoods, their struggles, and the events that made them who they are.
We can learn a lot by reading about the childhoods of our favorite stars. Whether it’s Jordan being cut from the high-school basketball team, Tyson overcoming extreme poverty, or Michael Oher rising from the foster care system, we can learn a lot about how the pros developed resilience by understanding what they went through early in their lives.
Sports biographies can tell you a lot about players’ motivations, coping mechanisms, and tactics for turning challenges into success. We may not all be star athletes, but we all experience tragedy and hardship. Learning how the greats dealt with their obstacles can help you overcome your own.
Pay attention to their non-sports interests
Athletes often enjoy sharing their favorite books, movies, and non-sports influences. Exploring these can help you learn even more about your favorite athletes and what drives them.
After all, seeing what inspires those who inspire us can not only help us understand their mindset but can also teach us something about how they’ve achieved such great success.
LeBron once shared a list of books that changed his life. In the days of social media, it’s easier than ever to see what books, movies, and historical personalities inspire other famous athletes. If you appreciate their skills and approach to the game, there’s a good chance you’ll learn something by studying the works that have influenced them.
You May Not Be a Star Athlete, but You Can Be a Pro
The gap separating us and the stars isn’t as wide as you’d think. Okay fine, most of us aren’t 7-feet tall or built like trucks. But every one of us faces opposition and challenges that we have to overcome. By learning what drives, motivates, and inspires our favorite athletes, we can emulate them in our own lives. Sure, there are also signed jerseys and celebrity DNA test results that can help us feel closer to our heroes. But getting into their minds and learning how they think is a great way to become champions in our own way.