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What is sport discipline?

Discipline in sport, is often defined as the ability for an individual to exert self-control and behave in a manner that is compliant with the rules and fairness of the sport they are participating in. Whilst discipline can be seen as an actual action, its basis starts from a mental decision to comply and adhere to instructions and rules required to achieve the most from the sport. Fortunately this means discipline can be often learnt or encouraged.

Most athletes looking to reach or remain in the professional level will realise that they need to be disciplined in the mental, tactical, technical and physical areas of their sport.  According to Johnny Lewis,” be 100% disciplined and you have a good chance of success.  Without it, you will never reach great heights whether in business or sport.” A lack of discipline can often be the edge the other team requires to gain the upper hand e.g. a footballer getting a red card for unprofessional behaviour or a rash tackle forces his team to re-shuffle and try to play with one less man for the rest of the match, giving the other team an advantage.

Lifestyle choices also have an influence on the way an individual approaches discipline. Most young athletes or sports people will usually be exposed to more money or opportunities than the average person their age, which lends to various habits which could be inefficient or counterproductive to their development as a professional. A disciplined approach to their training and lifestyle is essential to ensure their growth is not limited in the sport.

Discipline is important for any sports person to achieve the results they require, either in training or during competition. It can be seen as the fuel that drives development and growth and provides one of the other most important factors for success, which is commitment. Sports discipline should be taught and practiced either from an early age or as early as possible, it is essential that sporting bodies emphasize the importance of discipline and clearly communicate the consequences and risks of breaching disciplinary rules, as a possible deterrent for others that may decide to ignore the rules.

Why is discipline in sport important?

Human beings have a general affinity and instinct towards self-preservation, and would therefore generally show traits of greed, selfishness, envy, pride, self-gratification etc without any rules or boundaries. Discipline enables a person to think past his or herself and more for the society or team, considering the common good and how his or her behaviour can affect the progress the team in the long term.

The effective discouragement of poor behaviour and attitudes towards the sport or others within it is another role of discipline. By providing encouragement and reasoning as to why discipline will assist the pursuit of their sporting career, this can hopefully provide more inspiration for more sports people to adopt a cultured lifestyle from an earlier age.

One of the main benefits of discipline in sport is that it provides a vivid demonstration of how hard work coupled with discipline can help an athlete reach their goals. ‘Teaching by transference’ is a very good example of these, as younger athletes who perceive their role models leading a disciplined lifestyle are more likely to adopt the same as they develop also.

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