It starts with a spark, something that piques your interest. Your first practice is hell, knees weak, ribs hurting. You wonder why you even signed up for this sport in the first place. I have been in this situation countless times, but I love it.
I began playing squash at age 12. Six years later, I am more passionate about the sport than ever before. But this didn’t come easy. There were times where I was sore and too tired to practice and times where I felt like I wasn’t getting better, and that impacted my motivation to continue. But I persisted.
To become a great athlete, it’s most important to love the sport you play, because you need to dedicate a lot of time to it. I trained on my off days, I asked coaches to do one-on-ones, asked people who are better than I am for advice. Even though I’ve been playing for years, I still do.
Also, look at videos of professionals and see how they play. Take note of how they pitch, run, or hit the ball, anything that can help you get better as an athlete. Emulate your favorite player—mine is Raneem El Weleily. I’ve always looked up to her.
To become an athlete is to love what you do. Once you love what you do, everything else becomes easier. Remember the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”