By Q. Williams: A mindset & performance coach for Athletes Beyond Sports
Every athlete out there is hiding something. They’re hiding something in the back of their mind, that they think about constantly.
They don’t want to ruffle any feathers with it...
They’re afraid of what others will think... their coaches, teammates, or even their fans.
They’d rather just not even talk about it... to avoid the discomfort.
They don’t want to be “that” person on the team.
They don’t want to bring up the question of... what is beyond sports?
A lot of athletes are afraid that if they take their eye off their sport for just one moment, they’ll lose out on opportunities and not maximize their potential in their sport.
If they don’t focus all of their time and energy on their sport - training and studying nonstop, and always being “on” - that will mean they’re not “all in.” Taking even one day off could feel as if they aren't fully committed and that lost time time could come back to bite them when they finally get their opportunity to shine on the biggest stage.
Can you relate to this?
See, this framework has served athletes until now. It’s helped them get to where they are today. Whether it's Kobe Bryant's "Winning Is Everything" mentality or Tiger Woods work ethic, the feeling that you must be ready when your time comes can be a valuable motivator. It’s worked!
But, just because it works doesn’t mean it’s not ripe for innovation.
See, athletes that think in this kind of “all-or-nothing” fashion - they’re thinking in a framework of “sacrifice”...
It's always "Either/Or", "Give or Take", "This or That", or "Win or Lose".
And this framework (aka mental paradigm) is what’s keeping a lot of athletes STUCK.
In the mental performance space, we talk a lot about another way to look at growth, and it’s through a holistic lens. When your sports performance and life are viewed from a holistic perspective, you realize that when one area of your life grows and deepens, it allows all other areas of your life to expand as well.
"Time spent in one arena does not mean time lost in another."
The truth is: athletes that build their life resume beyond sports create a win-win for themselves. As I like to say, guys... winning isn’t everything!
And there’s data to support this now. In a study of over 600 professional athletes, it turned out that preparing for life beyond sports had a performance enhancing affect. The study titled, “Engagement in sport career transition planning enhances performance,” showed that athletes that prioritized their lives and careers beyond sports (by leveraging career prep services, advisors, and networking), they actually had longer careers in their sports.
At Athletes Soul, we believe that the reasons for the performance enhancement are bountiful. But we broke it down into 3 main benefits, and how they operate.
Here are the 3 main benefits to exploring yourself beyond sports, while still playing:
Boost Your Confidence
A lot of athletes feel the need to “put on a face” in the locker room or around their coaches... And they might not realize it, but it’s costing them precious energy.
It can be exhausting to put on a front. More importantly, every time someone compromises their authentic self, they compromise their confidence. After all, confidence is simply trusting yourself.
Can your authentic self trust you to be yourself? By knowing yourself beyond sports, you can be yourself in sports, and perform with more confidence.
Boost Your Leverage
Let’s face it... as humans, we need each other. But codependence or reliance on others can create unhealthy habits and identities that get wrapped up in a sport, a team, or a set of accomplishments.
By investigating and identifying who they are beyond sports, athletes can have their own north star, their own core identity, and be less influenced by other people’s standards. Less swayed by the winds of cultural norms.
You can be a true leader on a team, and be different. Choose different, and innovate as an athlete, so you can perform with more leverage, on and off the field.
Boost Your Focus & Flow
Lots of athletes don’t even realize there are things stressing them beyond sports. But there are! Whether it’s family pressures or shifting dynamics, financial stress, school stress, or uncertainty about the future... everyone has stressors. And athletes are experts at focusing and cutting out the clutter.
But by mitigating external stress at the source (and not just using sports as a coping mechanism to dull or avoid stress), athletes can live stress-free, be more focused, and be less prone to injury (Li et al., 2017; Moreland et al., 2018)
The most interesting part of exploring yourself beyond sports...
These benefits are not just athletic performance enhancements... but they’re life enhancements.
With such a heavy pressure on athletes to produce, keep up with social media, NIL, and STILL manage to have a normal college experience... athletes need every edge they can get to settle their stress.
Plus, you might not meet your “full potential” in and out of sports if you don’t.
When you max out your life beyond sports, you max out your life in sports. It’s a true WIN-WIN (see what we did there?). There’s more where that came from, beyond sports.
Trust us, we’ve been there.
And we know, it’s uncomfortable to talk about...
Having a third party perspective is a huge advantage in these situations. So you can be fully transparent, you can be yourself, and you can be supported without the risk of conflicting interests.
That’s why we created the ultimate solution... for athletes to open up in a confidential environment, and explore themselves beyond sports, so they can boost their athletic, mental, and social performance Beyond Sports.
Are you ready to explore Beyond Sports?
Athletes Soul has partnered with Q. Williams to offer a FREE 10-week personal development program titled Beyond Sports, designed to help athletes learn about themselves beyond sport. It includes weekly group coaching sessions and educational videos.
- Help you learn about yourself outside of sports
- Develop your emotional awareness and coping techniques
- Help you set life goals and take steps to prepare for life beyond sports
- Build social connections with other athletes and former athletes
You can sign up for the next cohort here: https://gmtm.com/virtuals/126/athletes-soul-your-team-beyond-sports
Q. Williams is a mental performance coach for current and retired athletes. Q. became a Gator Bowl Champion as a 2-sport athlete at Northwestern University, where he holds a Bachelor's and Master’s Degree in Sports Management. Q. is a coach for Athletes Soul, an Official Provider for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Behavioral Health and the founder of his coaching program the World Class Method.