Some people are born with athletic talent. Others have to work a little harder to learn new skills and succeed. The most interesting thing about this observation, though, is that those with natural-born talent are not always the best at what they do. Sometimes they take their skills for granted and feel they don’t have to practice. No matter what your skill level or situation, one thing is for certain — you need to give 100 percent of your effort during practice and in tournament.

Start by Preparing in Advance

Giving your best effort starts before you even walk through the doors of your training facility. Are you doing everything you need to do between practices, like cleaning your gear and drying it out, checking your equipment for safety, and repacking your bag in advance?

Show Up Every Time

Just coming to class isn’t enough. Showing up prepared, mentally and physically, to do your best is what counts. No two days are alike, nor is what one would perceive as 100 percent effort. The key is to give all that you have on any given day. That may look different the day you are well rested than it looks on the day you have a cold, but you are in control of how you react in every situation. You may run a slower mile the day you are tired, but the effort you put into running that mile still counts.

Set goals and motivate yourself. Giving your all isn’t always about being better than other people, or even winning all the time. It means being willing to train with new opponents, learning a new technique, and experimenting with new strategies. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut because it’s easy to do so.

Develop Good Habits

Giving your best effort is a habit that applies to all aspects of your life — not just fencing. Do your best in school, at work, at home, and in every other activity you participate in on a regular basis. For example, students need to get into the habit of doing their homework and studying so they can maintain a positive work/life balance, especially if they are fencers or participate in other sports. Your willingness to work hard and give your best effort will ooze into all other areas of your life, catapulting you to new levels of success.

For some fencers, this is not just a hobby, but an all-encompassing way of life. Your level of effort, and your resulting success level, is personal and shouldn’t be compared to anyone else. Keep working hard and keep your eye on your goals. It pays off!