Principles are “rules” we develop throughout our lives that dictate our behavior.  These rules are unwavering and difficult for us to break, and we tend to get very agitated when someone else breaks them.  When one tries to discover the roots of their principles and what makes them up, they realize that they run parallel to their personal values and convictions.  One can compare personal principles to societal laws that govern what behaviors are deemed acceptable.  I would like to take the principle idea one step further and incorporate them into athletics and add another tool to aid in developing sound mental toughness. 

                There are many “systems” out there developed by successful coaches and athletes that will give you THEIR principles for training, techniques, behaviors, beliefs, diets, and so on.  I believe in order for you to be successful, you will need to develop your own principles.  That is the only way I can see it being sustainable for the long haul, because whenever you get lost, or lose direction you can review your own principles to get the answers and directions you need.  Only by taking what’s inside you and determining what YOUR rules are will you stick with it and succeed.   Instead of searching for a one size fits all system that was developed for someone else, spend the effort developing a custom one for you. 

  1. The very first step you need to take in order to develop your principles is to decide what you will no longer tolerate from yourself and others around you.
  2. Identify your personal physical and mental attributes and how they aid in your performance both personally and athletically.
  3. Think about what type of character you would need to develop in order to achieve the successes you desire.
  4. Think about the type of language you either need to adopt, or stop using in order to reach your goals.
  5. Think about what you value most in life (i.e., honesty, integrity, love, happiness, pride, etc.) and use them to shape your rules for living your daily lives, which will ultimately spill into your training.  By having your principles congruent with your value system, your life and your training will be harmonious and sustainable.

For example:  You have determined that integrity is of high value to you, and people who lie, cheat, and steal really make your blood boil. 

You could never have the principle of:  Do whatever it takes to get to the top - as that leaves the door open for cheating and lying, and would create distress within you.  Now if you made a principle to:  Always hold my integrity in high regards, and only take actions that are honest and fair - That would be aligned with your values, and keep up your own standards as well. 

Your principles do not need to be sophisticated and lengthy either.  I personally have 9 to be exact and a few of them have been borrowed from books I have read, or movies I have seen as well.  It’s okay if you’re not overly creative and a line from your favorite movie jives with you.  These are personal rules and if something works for you, then use it.