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Success in sports doesn’t just happen. There is no magic wand to wave or potion you can buy that will make you excel on the field, on the court, or on the ice. Sure, hard work is a big part of the equation but not the only one. A lot goes into it including poise, perseverance, leadership, and commitment. Several icons recently weighed in on the ingredients needed that makes an athlete successful.

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Athletes, especially young ones, have a tendency to put more pressure on themselves than they should. Kristine Lilly, who scored 130 goals and won two World Cup titles for the US soccer team, says it’s important not to care about the big picture or outcome.

“What you need to do as an athlete is to focus on one or two of your strengths. Focus on what you’re doing and on concentrating on the thing you’re doing well, the pressure won’t seem like that big a deal but also remember to enjoy what you’re doing.”

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Lilly’s long-time teammate, Christie Pierce Rampone, who was the second most capped player (311) in the history of US Soccer, says an athlete has to be focused and committed to being great.

“As long as you believe and trust in yourself. You’re going to go a little bit further in your career. But you have to put yourself out there and go all in if you want to be at the highest level.”

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Mental toughness is also required. A player can have great talent but if the resolve is not there, it won’t translate on the field. Basketball hall-of-famer Lisa Leslie knows what builds character in athletics.

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“It’s easy when we’re winning, right? When everything’s all good, people are good and happy. But what kind of person are you when times are tough? I was always able to challenge and understand who I am and I was a leader during the tough times.”

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And if you’re successful and ascend to great heights, Rebecca Lobo, another basketball hall-of-famer, says stay humble.

“I had a mother and a father who said, if there’s people who want your autograph, especially kids, you will not leave until the last one has been signed. You will always smile and have a conversation with these little girls because you don’t know the impact that you’re going to have on them.”

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Angela Ruggiero, was a four-time Olympian and just the second woman ever enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame, says that to be successful, you must take chances even if it means failing.

“The beauty of sports is that it’s a safe ground. You can fail and it’s OK. It’s not the worst thing in the world. It’s a safe environment to experiment in.”

Young athletes sometimes think that everything in their world is the most important thing in the world. They would be well served to take a breath and realize that sports should be fun and fulfilling.

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