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DG Warriors Character TraitS of a High Level Athlete

Character Trait 1“BELIEVE” 

Believing means that you are confident that somebody or something is worthwhile and effective.  True team players have strong faith in themselves and their teammates.  Belief that you can rely on a teammate to make a play or be there in a time of need is trust that is earned, not given.  Do your teammates believe and trust in you also?  Do you believe that you can succeed in the game of basketball and life?

“Faith is to believe in things that we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see in what we believe.” – Author Unknown

Character Trait 2"INTEGRITY"

Having integrity is being "whole" or "complete". You become a person, and athlete, of integrity by learning and adhering to good moral principles and character values. Being a person of integrity means your substance (inside stuff) means more to you than your image, like what sneakers you wear, how you dress, what music you listen to and how popular you are. As an athlete, this includes winning and losing with class, striving for excellence instead of settling for mediocrity and training yourself to do what is good and right on and off the court. In the end, your game and life are in balance and healthy.

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Character Trait 3"MENTAL TOUGHNESS"

Being mentally tough as a person and as an athlete means you can remain under control and focused under the pressure of everyday challenges.  Setting short-term and long-term goals gives you a direction to mentally focus on achievement and success.  Remaining resilient, poised and in control is necessary as you work to meet your goals.  As an athlete, not breaking under pressure and not getting frustrated when your team needs you the most is an important characteristic to possess.  In everyday life, do you remain focused on your school work and long-term goals and stay tough mentally when the going gets tough?  Can your family, friends and teammates count on you to be there mentally in crunch time?

Boston Celtics Hall of Famer Bill Russell said, “Concentration and mental toughness are the margins of victory.”

Character Trait 4"WORK ETHIC"

If you want to be successful at anything in life, especially basketball, you need to work hard every single day.

"Every morning when you wake up, you have only two choices. The choice to work hard or the choice to not work hard. That's it, no other choices. Either you work hard or you don't; it's pretty simple. If you choose not to work hard, you will fail. If you choose to work hard, you still might fail! How is that for a deal? Success is never guaranteed, but it is impossible without hard work."

Jim Valvano, NC State National Championship Coach

Character Trait 5"CONFIDENCE"

Elite athletes are renowned for high confidence levels.

Confidence is usually a result of an athlete anticipating success in their upcoming event. An athlete’s anticipated outcome is the greatest indicator of confidence.

“The whole thing is never to get negative about yourself. Sure, it’s possible that the other guy you’re playing is tough, and that he may have beaten you the last time you played, and okay, maybe you haven’t been playing all that well yourself. But the minute you start thinking about these things you’re dead. I go out to every match convinced that I’m going to win. That is all there is to it.”

Jimmy Connor, Tennis Legend


After watching one of his training sessions some people have mused that Olympic Gold Medalist & World Record Sprint Champion USAIN BOLT should change his name to “YOU SANE” BOLT

A skilled performer demonstrates characteristics and abilities which allows them to perform consistently at a very high level. A skilled performer is often stronger, more flexible, better coordinated, balanced and fitter than unskilled performers. They are able to perceive, decide and act in a manner that is efficient in terms of both energy and time.

While there certainly are genetically gifted athletes, the world's greatest athletes typically are also the most dedicated to training their body.

Olympic Gold Medalist and Sprint World Record holder, USAIN BOLT, has been happy to perpetuate his reputation as “the most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen” but, despite his natural gifts, he works hard for his success. He rises at 6am for sprint sessions at the University of the West Indies running track, where he trains with the Racers Track Club, and performs power lifting, core exercises and plyometric drills (explosive movements such as jumps, hops and bounds) at Kingston’s Spartan Health Club. His coach refers to “the moment of no return” in training – when other athletes will collapse but Bolt pushes on.

His training drills are so punishing that his father cannot watch them. “My parents only see my big competitions so they see me doing run-throughs before track meets and they thought that was it,” he says. “My dad once came to a training session and he couldn’t bear to see me suffering like that. He said: ‘I can’t believe that is what you do.’

Has anyone ever said anything similar to you after watching one of your training sessions?

Character Trait elite athlete's tool for a competitive edge

Many elite athletes routinely use visualization techniques as part of training and competition. Research is finding that both physical and psychological reactions leading to an athlete's success can be improved with visualization.

Visualization is the process of creating a mental image or intention of what you want to happen or feel.

An athlete can use this technique to 'intend' an outcome of a specific play or sport's success. By imagining a scene, complete with images of a previous best performance or a future desired outcome, the athlete instructs themselves to simply 'step into' that performance. While imagining these scenarios, the athlete should try to imagine the detail in movement and reaction and the final success of the play.

With repeated mental rehearsal, minds and bodies become trained to actually perform the skill imagined.

Such repeated imagery can build both experience and confidence in an athlete's ability to perform certain skills under pressure. The most effective visualization techniques result in a very vivid sport experience in which the athlete has complete control over a successful performance and a belief in this new 'self.'

In a world where sports performance and success often hinges on a fraction of a second, one point, or one game in a long season, most athletes will use every possible training technique at hand. Visualization is one way to gain that very slim advantage.
Close your eyes and see your success, over and works!


The best athletes demonstrate CONFIDENCE & LEADERSHIP on the court and make the players around them better.

But, which comes first, being a good player or being confident in your abilities? The answer is a balance between the two. The SELF-FULFILLING PROPHESY is an expectation about circumstances that affects a person's behavior in a manner that causes those expectations to be fulfilled.

As a player, continually tell yourself that you are confident and a leader then start acting confident and aggressive on the court. At the beginning it may be unnatural and you may have to start by actually “acting” the role...but don't stop. Improvement in your confidence, leadership and your skills and game will usually follow.

At tryouts, coach's eyes are caught by players who take charge.


Most youth athletes are involved with a sports team for a couple months a year. Many play multiple sports and move from one group of teammates to another. Most players would say they want to be a team leader but it can be very frustrating if one team has great team dynamics or chemistry and another doesn't.

Leadership is a key character trait. A leader is defined by his/her actions and words. The key word is action. Athletes have a responsibility to be role models within their community and that can be a year around endeavor.

Active Citizenship: Waiting for the world to change does not bring about change – in our community or in ourselves. Student athletes must step up to the plate, get involved and demonstrate their duty as a citizen to make a difference. This gives young people the opportunity to demonstrate character traits such as love for others, honesty, respect, & responsibility – all traits that will transfer to leadership in sports.

Want to be a leader – get involved in civic leadership - year around!


Competitive sports are games of habits. Athletes hone their skills or habits through hours of repetition during individual training and practice. Most athletes develop one or two skills that are dominant. Just as it's important to hone your skills, high level athletes study their opponent and work to take away their dominant habits.

If you or your coach haven't scouted your opponent (watching them play in person or on tape), study their habits in warm-ups and at the start of a game or match then be intentional to take make them deviate from their dominant habits. For basketball - if your opponent is right hand dominant, overplay their right hand every possession until they prove they can go left. If they're a spot-up shooter, face guard them and force them to put the ball on the floor. For volleyball - if an outside hitter hits predominantly to 1/3 of the court, adjust your block accordingly. Communication with back row teammates is critical as well.



CONTROL is a VERB to direct the actions or behavior of a person to do what you want.

If under control, things are happening in the way that you want them to.
If out of control, inability to stop the undesired behavior

“I am a superstar in my role.” Tristan Thompson after winning the 2016 NBA Championship

Basketball teams have from 10-15 players which means less than 10% are their team’s leading scorer. If you are one of the other more than 90%, what are you doing to help your team?

Know Your Role & be Humble

CONTROL your attitude and be humble by "working" your role. If you are a shooter, be a shooter. If you are a distributor, be a distributor. Your role may be to rebound, keep the opposing team’s best player UNDER CONTROL, or set the best screens on the team to get the scorer open.

Take Care of the Ball

If you constantly cost your team possessions with bad passes or bad shots, then you are NOT IN CONTROL. During the 2015-16 NCAA men’s basketball regular season, 17 out of the bottom 20 teams in TO% had losing records, 16 out of the top 20 teams in TO% had a winning record. Therefore, if you are looking to stay on the court, CONTROL THE BALL!

Produce in Games

Only you CONTROL your production in games and in LIFE. It doesn't matter your reputation, who your parents are, or what you think you're owed. If you don't produce don't be surprised if you don't play. If you are a shooter you must hit shots, a distributor must have a good assist to turnover ratio, a rebounder must rebound at a higher rate than your teammates.

Be Efficient & Control Your Reality

How many coaches have heard this line before, “coach I scored twenty-five points tonight." But, how many shots did it take to score twenty-five points?” If it takes thirteen three point attempts to hit four, ten layup opportunities to make four, and ten free throw attempts to make five, your reality of your production is OUT OF CONTROL. These types of players will kill a team's culture.