Thursday, April 18, 2024

The power of discipline in sports excellence

Excellence in sports has always been wrongly attributed to talent with catastrophic consequences to upcoming athletes who happen to have been told they are talented.

It is so sad how talent has been overrated and put up as the key ingredient when talking about excellence, not only in sports but many other areas of life.

French Poet and Dramatist Edouard Pailleron pointed that, `have success and there will be always be fools to say that you have talent’. According to Jeremiah Dikgang talent is far from enough when you talk about excellence. He said: “Talent according to John Maxwell is as cheap as table salt, it can give someone a head start, granted, but will not carry you far if you can’t bring on board the necessary traits like discipline that nature and develop it to the right level.”

He further noted that the same is true with Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt, Isaac Makwala, Kobe Bryant etc. Talent can make you a talk of the village or The Ghetto but talent with hard work, discipline and focus makes you an international icon.

Dikgang said: “The trap with talent is its ability to give athletes a head-start and make them to outperform their peers early on in their development, and without a mentor or coach who emphasise discipline young talented athletes turn to lose it completely at this delicate stage.”

“They are able to walk in to their starting teams much easier than others. At the development stage that’s where a player mind-set and attitudes are created and developed. If you allow a mind-set of in discipline, laziness, waywardness at that stage, it becomes very difficult for them to deal with the demands discipline at a professional level,” opined Dikgang.

“Why do our players struggle with alcohol abuse, time keeping, following some laid down training programs, obeying camp rules, overweight etc when dealing with a strict professional set up? The solution to this challenge is not to blame them but look at the system that presided over their development. Was discipline ever introduced to them with no regrets?,” added Dijgang rhetorically.

He noted that discipline is everything when you talk sports excellence that’s why at the top any act of indiscipline is not taken lightly and is considered gross misconduct, action is taken in most cases without any warning. He added that “The standards at the top are very high and there is need to review the standards of our development structures and find out how we can program and set up our upcoming talented athletes for success.”

“Indiscipline in sports can only be dealt with through a deliberate plan that takes our athletes through education, making them aware of what they are getting in to as sports athletes and what constitutes excellence in sports. Our structures should unapologetically preach and practice discipline without fail, practice tough love on their upcoming amazing talent,” opined Dikgang.

Moreover, Dikgang added that it is sad to develop an athlete and later on watch their career crumble down to nothing due to discipline issues. He said “You cannot bear the guilt when you know that had you done things better their career would have penned out differently. Disciplined life involves doing the same things over and over again every day, denying yourself many things, which in most cases young athletes are not that okay with it and need a mentor/coach who is ready to put their foot down and demand compliance.”

 “The whole idea is summed up by an American Philosopher Elbert Hubbard when he said `the ability to do what you have to do when you have to do it, whether you feel it or not.

In the event that you identify an indiscipline of any kind in potential athlete, as a coach you need to know that the behaviour or character they display could be the result of experiences, words and many other things they went though as they are growing up,” added Dikgang.

“My advice to sports people, athletes, coaches, mentors and administrators is to appreciate that sports excellence and longevity thereof is 20% talent and 80% psychology. Never compromise the mental aspect in sports excellence. Bring on board all the necessary people to develop a complete product, an athlete who will make everyone involved proud,” noted Dikgang.

“An isolated incidence that happened a while ago was during a pre season tournament where one particular player had some nasty things to say to a then league official who did not take kindly to the incident. A result of which was for the club to institute an inquiry and write an apology to the official,” Molefe added.

When asked on his take for indiscipline for sports people, Molefe said “A lot of indiscipline stems from lack of acquittance by the players with the statutory instruments in place like the play rules and regulations; code of ethics from both the club and the league.”

“Education is key. They need to be taught on any rules and regulations governing them although like the saying that always “ignorance of the rules should never be used as an excuse. We will be inviting a lot of neutrals like match officials, consultants, motivational speakers, consultants, counsellors to try an create an ambiance and friendly environment,” added Molefe.

Giving advice to athletes, Molefe said “discipline is key, as an athlete you are a role model and your behaviour in and around the field says a lot about you. Be a model of dignity at all times.”


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