Focus on what you can control Part II: Effort
Sports are unpredictable.
One moment an athlete is playing their best and the team is winning, then the next they are not playing up to their expectations and the team is losing. The momentum can switch at any moment, and there is nothing an individual can do about it.
That is the beauty of competition. If an athlete played perfectly every game then how would they learn to deal with adversity?
Sports teaches life lessons because it guarantees failure.
Athletes do not choose the days that they are going to play well and not play well. They go out every day giving it their all in hopes of playing a great game. Sometimes, it just does not go their way. These moments of adversity are not easy to handle at times for athletes, and they cause them to feel frustrated and upset. Being upset isn't always a bad thing, though. It's often simply a reflection of an athlete's passion for the game. Average athletes let their frustration control their effort and begin to give up. Great athletes, on the other hand, are able to channel that frustration positively and use it as fuel for extra effort.
Effort is an attribute that means more to coaches than talent. Coaches will take a group of kids to fill a team who always hustle, show heart, and constantly put their best effort forth, rather than a group of extremely skilled individuals who only hustle when they want, have a bad attitude, and put minimal effort in. This is because coaches cannot coach attitude, but they can coach technique. They can form a player not as physically gifted into a better athlete as long as they are willing to work hard.
Players that always hustle and give their best effort will build a positive reputation for themselves that will last much longer than sports. They will learn through competition that things aren’t always going to bounce their way in life, but that can’t dictate their effort.