Build a Solid Foundation

Some of the best advice I can give to young athletes is to build a solid foundation for future success. A solid foundation (like with a house), allows you to build an advanced game that is resistant to things that can hurt your athletic career, such as slumps, injuries, burnout, and team drama. A solid foundation raises your ceiling for improvement and helps you have a longer athletic career.

Here are the characteristics of a solid foundation for athletes:
  • An athletic, healthy, durable body. As an athlete, your body is your tool, so take care of it. Always be working on your fitness. Stay in shape, stay healthy, and focus on injury prevention. Use your body to achieve great athletic feats. Never have your athleticism or durability let you down. This is arguably the most important aspect of a solid foundation for athletes.
  • Great technique. Proper technique is so important for future success. A certain technique may work when you're a kid, but it may not work when you're older. Learn efficient technique that maximizes your power, accuracy, consistency, and also doesn't lead to injuries. Great technique may take a long time to master, but it's worth it!
  • A great attitude. Attitude is so important. It affects your mental health, motivation, confidence, work ethic, performance, teamwork, your ability to overcome adversity, and so much more. The best athletes have great attitudes. The have a growth mindset, and value hard work, improvement, duty, team success, and being positive and humble.
  • Strong and healthy motivations. It takes a lot of hard work in order to become successful, therefore you need to be very motivated! However, you can't just have any type of motivation. Some motives are stronger and/or healthier than others. Some motives, if not complemented by other motives, can lead to poor mental health and burnout. Caring too much about money or proving haters wrong are examples. You need a complete toolbox of motives to fuel you to long lasting success. Know how to motivate yourself and know which motives are best for the task at hand.
  • Mental toughness and performance skills. This interrelates with attitude and motivation, but it is distinct enough to be highlighted. To be successful at anything, you need the mental toughness to push through adversity and reach/extend your limits. You also need the performance skills (concentration, arousal control, etc.) in order to execute in pressure situations. A poor mental game prevents you from reaching your potential as an athlete. 
  • Sports IQ. There's no champion that doesn't have a strong understanding of their sport. Knowing the ins and outs of your sport, and knowing how to train, gameplan, strategize, and perform is so important. Being a dumb player can greatly limit you as an athlete.
  • Leadership skills. Start developing your leadership skills a young age. Team leaders are so valuable because they make everyone around them better. They add more to a team than just their individual talent. With great leadership skills, you can increase your job security, because even if you lack talent, coaches will still want you because of the value you provide as a leader.
  • Strong relationships with coaches and teammates. You can't succeed on an island. You need support from others. Therefore, it's so important to build strong relationships with coaches and your fellow athletes. The networks and relationships you build can greatly help you down the road. Furthermore, every great athlete has had a great coach that helped them reach their potential. At some point in your career, you need to find a great coach. Until then, learn to become coachable.
If you can build this foundation starting at a young age, you will set yourself up for future success. At first, these things may not bring results, but you need to be patient. Don't take shortcuts. Focus on the long-term and build a solid foundation and become a complete athlete!