Many athletes aspire to play high-level college and even professional sports, but do they really mean it?  

It is much easier said than done.  Statistically, playing division 1 sports is highly unlikely (less than 7% of high school athletes play a college sport at any level).   Of those who do play in college, for most sports, less than 2% end up playing professionally.  

I say this not to discourage anyone from trying, but to point out some harsh realities that are often overlooked.  It’s really hard to “make it”, and a lot of that hinges on what athletes do when the cameras aren’t on.  

What it really takes.

So why do so few make it to that level?  Are there truly less than 1% of high school athletes who have the ability to play professionally?  I would argue, no.  

There is inherently a level of talent required to play any sport at a high level, but what is the differentiator if you do have the talent?  I believe it is an athlete’s willingness to put in the work with the required discipline and consistency.  It’s not an easy task.  As with many things, it’s simple, but not easy, and that’s what weeds out those who won’t get there.  

It’s very easy to say you want to play in the NFL, NHL, MLB, or NBA someday, but actually doing what it takes to get there is a different story.  It’s a ton of work.  It means getting up early, extra practice and training, being disciplined with your nutrition, hydration, sleep, and time management.  And it takes a relentless persistence to do it all, day in and day out.  It’s often accomplished in the repeated execution of seemingly mundane activities. 

Be truthful with yourself.  

It’s frustrating to see athletes, who say they want to play at a high level, not matching their actions to their stated goals.  At some level, they are only lying to themselves.  If they really wanted to do get to that level, they wouldn’t ever show up late to a workout, miss a training session because they “had other things to do”, or eat garbage fast food for dinner on a regular basis. 

Again, I say this not to discourage anyone, but hopefully to cause some to reflect and make a decision about what it is they truly want and then match their actions to those desired outcomes.  

To be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with not wanting to play a college or professional sport.  While it can at times be frustrating to see an athlete who you know has the talent to play a college sport decide not to, some people just have different priorities and that’s completely fine.  Just don’t be the one who says you want to, but won’t do what it takes. 

Align with your goals.

I would simply encourage athletes (if you truly want to play a professional sport) to think about what that requires and then make a decision to match your actions to your goal.  Don’t be a poser, telling people you’re going to go pro someday because it sounds cool, while you know full well that your actions do not align with the requirements to get there.

When you align your daily actions to your goals, you’ll give yourself a good chance to achieve your potential, whether that is a professional level athlete or in another aspect of your life.  When you remove effort, discipline, and consistency as variables in the equation, your level of talent can become the deciding factor.  Will you be one of the 1%?  

Around the new year, a lot of thought and reflection is placed on goals.  Just make sure you have a plan to match your daily actions to your stated goals.  I believe this is the main thing that separates those who achieve at a high level in their sport.

Happy New Year and best of luck in your endeavors this year – match your actions to your goals with consistent discipline and see what results.