What Sets the Top Athletes Apart?

Justin Ma - December 9, 2020 - 0 comments

Around the world, the top athletes are admired and idolized. Many kids grow up wanting to be a professional (and famous) athlete. Many adults wish they had done more training when they are younger to give themselves a shot at being a top athlete. They admire the skills that top athletes have developed through their training. As a semi-professional athlete currently, I’d like to share what this journey involves and all the different things you need to do to get there. In this post, I will talk about the different qualities that athletes have and the things they need to do to reach the levels they are at.


One of the most important qualities of a top athlete is discipline. This discipline is shown in many ways, but most mainly the act of doing whatever it takes to stay on their path of growth and success. For example, on days that they have to train, they will train. There are no shortcuts, no days off, and no excuses. If it is in their plan that they need to train – they will be at the gym ready to go.

This discipline is exemplified in everything they do. If practice begins at 7:00 AM, you can expect the top athletes to be there, warmed up, and already ready to train with 100% hard work at 6:45 AM or earlier. They will drag themselves out of bed even on the days their body does not want them to. If they are on a rehabilitation program for an injury, you know that the athlete will be doing these rehab exercises every single day just to give them a chance to get back on the court. They are tough on themselves to do the best that they can, but they also understand their limits.

The greatest part of this quality in athletes is that they bring this discipline to everything to do. This quality is not lost on the court. In fact, you can see that the top athletes have a disciplined lifestyle and mindset in anything that they work on. Discipline is the key first step for any professional athlete – without this, they won’t even have a shot.

Consistent Hard Work

All athletes work hard, consistently. Everyone has the ability to work hard in one, two, three training sessions a week. The best athletes work hard every single day. At every practice, these athletes are able to train to their limits, regardless if they are in front of their peers or are alone. They do not need their coaches to yell at them to work harder or even threaten them with punishments. These top athletes have an internal motivator that pushes them to work their hardest every single session.

This hard work shows itself in aspects of their lives. These athletes will work hard in anything they do. It is a quality that the carry with them and always show – not something they selectively decide to do only for their sport. Thankfully, hard work is a quality that can be trained and practiced – you just need to mentally strong enough to push yourself.


All the top athletes sacrifice. This sacrifice comes in many different ways. The prime example is sacrificing sleep – many athletes wake up at the break of dawn to get in an extra training session. Rather than laying comfortably in bed, they are up at early hours of the day at the gym grinding to build up their strength. Sacrifice comes in a lot of other ways as well. You may need to miss that dinner with your friends, or a party for a group celebration just so that you get another training session in. You may lose your holidays just to travel to another country to compete. You may give up opportunities (relationship, job, etc.) just so that you can continue to prioritize yourself and your training. Sacrifice is not always easy, but the top athletes find a way to cope and handle it. At the end of the day, the most important thing to them is improving and winning.


The best athletes are honest. These athletes will not cut corners, even small ones. If they are asked to do 200 pushups, they will not do 199 or less – they will do 200 or more. These athletes do not cheat on the court with line calls, scores, or anything else. When top athletes lose, it is simply because their opponent performed better than they did – there are no excuses.

Integrity and honesty in athletes is an important quality to ensure that they learn and grow the right way. There are no short cuts for hard work, discipline or sacrifice. If you want to be a top athlete, you have to do everything the right way – always. Cheaters do not win.


These are the qualities that I see in every successful athlete. There are many other important qualities in athletes, but these are the ones that I find to be the most important. If you have these 4 qualities, you will at least give yourself a shot at making your mark in history. Without these, how could you even have a chance?

Let me know what you think of the article in the comments below! If there is anything else you are particularly interested in, please reach out and let me know. Thank you for reading!

Justin Ma

I am passionate about helping people find joy in playing badminton, while also showing them how competitive the sport can be.

Justin Ma


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