What does it mean to take full control of your commitment to sports? To start, it needs to be worked on internally, so that it can show externally. Commitment cannot be faked and it needs to be worked towards every day.
Definition of Commitment
Commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to your sport. It is important to note that it is something you choose to do. Commitment is shown three different ways:
- Body Language – being strong, confident, and getting back up when things go wrong
- Effort – attempts are sustained and working hard all the time
- On and off the field – commitment is being worked on by the decisions in both places
The Commitment Continuum
The Team Captain’s Leadership Manual by Jeff Janssen gives a visual breakdown of the levels of commitment.
This person is there in body but not in mind. These are the people who physically show up, go through the motions but are not engaged. It is likely they won’t go far in the sport and they can be difficult to work with.
These are the “obedient soldiers,” that don’t go above and beyond. These people will do what they’re told, but not with a full effort. This type commonly appears in youth level sports, where they don’t bring their own commitment or discipline. This type will not work at the college level because they don’t care about their choices on and off the field.
This level will do what they’re told but also show up with their own performance goals, motivation, and discipline. They take instructions and work to improve. They can also shake off mistakes and bounce back after rough days. They are committed to getting it right and coaches will notice their efforts.
Compelled is the highest level of commitment because they will “find a way” to be successful. Oftentimes, this is not the most talented person because they have to work harder to get where they want to be. It is sometimes seen with walk-ons in college football – they have to find a way to be successful amongst the others. They develop a belief in themselves and will do everything the committed athlete does, plus more.
It is important to consider what happens when the line of compelled is crossed. “Obsessed” with sports can sometimes have a positive connotation, but in this case, it can mean crossing the line into dangerous behavior. This type of behavior can start to blur the line between:
- Watching what you’re eating becoming an eating disorder
- Strength and conditioning training can be overdone and turn into serious injuries
- Running the extra mile, but it turns into 5-10 miles and you have nothing left for the next day
- Not believing you can do it on your own and taking performance-enhancing drugs
This draws the distinction between an athlete who is healthy and someone who will push themselves to cheat or break the rules.
Performing To The Best Of Your Ability
As a reflection exercise: think about your own level of commitment and where you fall on the commitment continuum. If you think you’re between compliant or committed, make a list of things that you can do to be more committed. If you are committed and want to step up to be compelled, make a list and ask your coach where you can improve.
Commitment is controllable. Choose where you want to be on the continuum and put in the work to get there.
I highly encourage you to talk to your coach or a mental training coach to discover how can make your way up the commitment ladder to be the best possible athlete.