“I’m gonna show you how great I Am.”
– Muhammad Ali
What does love have to do with sports? There did happen to be a great movie… Love & Basketball, that had a lot to do with love and sports. But really, love has everything to do with being a successful athlete. And more than being a successful athlete, love has everything to do with being the best version of yourself you can be. And who wouldn’t want the best version of themselves running around on the court?
Muhammed Ali was such a wonderful example of what love has to do with sports. He’s known for his statements declaring that he’s the greatest in the world, and that he is going to show everyone how great he is. One might say he was cocky or arrogant, but I like to view it as self-loving. It takes a great amount of love, respect and belief in oneself to declare to the world that you have everything it takes to be the greatest at your sport.
Can you think of the last time you declared that you were the greatest at your sport? Can you think of the last time you really praised yourself for all of the effort you put in at practice or during a game? It can be very easy to criticize ourselves and think of all of the things we did wrong. I challenge and invite you to try something different around your next game. Starting the night before your next game, look yourself in the mirror and declare that you are the greatest! If that comes easy to you, add to the declaration. Yell, run around, jump up and down and believe with every part of you that you are as great as you are saying out loud right now. Do the same thing when you wake up in the morning, and every time you look in the mirror before the game. After the game, I invite you to make a list of everything you did great throughout the game. Even if a little part of you says no, I screwed up there, add it to that list and say you did the best you could. Can you come up with ten things for your list? If it gets difficult after five, I challenge you to keep going until you can write down ten things that you can acknowledge yourself for. Take on this practice and you will begin to develop a sense of self-love, respect and belief that will carry on through practice and games. If you don’t love what you are capable of doing right now, it will be hard to grow your skills. And if you don’t believe in yourself, who will? If you don’t believe that you are great, how can you be? Knowing that you are the greatest doesn’t have to wait until you’ve made a certain number of baskets or played a certain amount time in the game. Greatness starts now. The belief that you have what it takes in you to raise up to any challenge that comes your way will come out in your performance, causing others to see how great you are.
Sometimes that voice is still saying well I’m not as good as so and so, or I’ll never be as good as this person no matter how great I think I am. Yes, there may be someone who is better than you right now. Do not look to them for comparison while putting yourself down, look at others for inspiration. If they can do it, so can you. It starts with a little love, respect and belief on the inside, and then soon everyone will be looking at you for inspiration because you are now the greatest on the outside as well.
Are you willing to love, respect and believe in yourself so you can be the next greatest athlete for the world to see?