Is the elite athlete the proper standard to measure by?
Often times on various Web sites and forums you’ll see reference to the elite athlete. Generally the comments are in comparison to regular players. Experts and wannabe experts alike will talk about how elite athletes do this, or elite athletes do that. Or they’ll say every player should do X because that’s what elite athletes do. Most of all, they’ll imply that anyone who doesn’t approach the game like an elite athlete is doing things wrong.
The assumption is that everyone who plays the game wants to be an elite athlete. The truth is, they don’t. I’d guess the vast majority of players want to be good, and want to be successful within the area or level in which they play. But that’s not the same as being an elite athlete.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Being an elite athlete requires a few things, not the least of which is some outstanding DNA. It also requires an incredible level of dedication — the kind that has pitchers pitching every day not because they’re told to, but because they want to. The kind that has athletes following tough training regiments because it’s their means to the end they desire, not because their coach or parent tells them to.
Think of it this way: all soldiers in the military undergo a tremendous amount of training. Yet even within the military there are elite units, such as Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, etc. These soliders and sailors volunteer to undergo a higher level of training and sacrifice more because of a deep drive within them. That doesn’t mean the standard line soldier is less valuable or not worthwhile. Not at all. They just have different goals and drives.
Being an elite player isn’t for everyone. That’s ok. Each player needs to find his/her own level, and do what it takes to meet his/her own goals. It doesn’t mean it’s ok to slack off completely or let your team down. If that’s your attitude you shouldn’t be in a team sport. But it does mean that if your training regimine falls short of the elite athlete, it’s ok. Do what it takes to achieve your goals.