The Trap of Feeling “Good Enough”: Complacency in Athletes

“Good is not good when better is expected.”

~Vin Scully


Raise your hand if you know someone like this: very successful, has a lot of natural talent, and is at the top of their division. This person has gotten used to being good, and they like the so-called “status” and recognition that comes with it, but they have become complacent and comfortable in their current position. Sound familiar?

A lot of people probably know someone who fits this description. Entire teams can take on this attitude. I call this phenomenon “The Trap of Feeling Good Enough,” and it drives me absolutely crazy. I can’t even count the number of kids I have given tips and technical advice to, who have responded with, “Well I have always done it this way, and it works fine.” WHAT?!?! As an athlete who is always looking for ways to be better, this response makes my skin crawl. There is always a new level to be reached, and being “good enough” does not exist.

I have played on successful teams my entire career. My high school team won Provincials (State, if you’re American :)) 3 years in a row. My club team won 9 Provincial Championships (we do things a little differently in Canada) and a national championship. In college, we won the NCAA Division 1 National Championship, and the pro team I played on in Brazil won back to back Superliga Championships. You’d think that those teams thought they had everything figured out, huh? False. No matter how many games we won, or how many titles we earned, we always trained like we had a bulls-eye on our backs, and we prepared for each and every opponent the exact same way. Complacency wasn’t an option; being “good enough” never crossed our minds. The only thing we cared about was getting better everyday, and reaching new levels together.

It’s definitely tough to constantly push new limits and find motivation to be better when we are experiencing a certain level of success. When you or your teams start falling into this trap, I think an important thing to reflect on is this: you may be successful now, but what will happen when you get to the next level? More often than not, that success drops off as we progress to higher and higher levels in sport. Thinking about this allows us to prepare for where we want to be, while taking care of business and respecting the competition where we are now. When the objective of all preparation and training is growth and improvement, no matter what, there will be less of an adjustment period at the higher levels, and athletes will get better faster.

No matter who you are, whether you are an athlete or a coach, you need to ask yourself, “Am I putting myself/my team in the best position to be as successful as possible at the next level?” If you are just having fun dominating teams, lack focus during practice, and don’t have any clear objectives when you go to the gym, the answer is no. If you are training every single day like you are in last place, and you approach every player and team as if they are standing in your way to be the best, then you are off to a good start.

There is no such thing as being “good enough.” Any one athlete or team is never “good enough” because there is always something that can be improved, whether it be technical, tactical, mental, etc. No matter how successful you are, there is always someone chasing you, and working hard to pass you by. Don’t let them. There will always be someone somewhere who is better than you. Find them, and train everyday to beat them.

xo, Sarah


No Comments

Leave a Comment