So you want to become Number 1?

USP - So you want to be number 1?

This is a guest article by PIT Athlete and Carlton Draftee and man of many talents Matt Lodge.

If you have witnessed Lodgey train-he trains like a man possessed and has definitely earned the right to contribute his thoughts and this article to the website!

Every sports person will tell you that they always had one quote, one saying or one life motto that they adopted their life and their approach to their professional sport upon.

Within AFL circles and particularly in my position I was at within the Carlton Football Club, I’ve been privy to many words of wisdom from accredited and dignified football personalities – namely, Chris Judd, captain of Carlton and Robert Harvey a former development coach in 2009-10. Both men echoed the same words:

“The harder you work, the luckier you get.”

Wise words. ‘Luck’ is universally defined as “a fortuity, or good fortune, which occurs beyond one’s control, without regard to one’s will, intention, or desired result.” It’s a well-known saying that you can “make your own luck”, suggesting that luck arises from the acquisition of opportunity. In relation to AFL, this can be a spur of the moment thing – a full-blooded attack on a bouncing ball that may just fall your away as opposed to attacking the ball half-arsed. Luck in sport can also relate to hereditary, where someone can be ‘blessed’ or ‘gifted’ with natural speed or ball skills.

However, this is straying away from the point. Because in pursuit of being number one, luck plays minimal part in achieving the ultimate position. That’s why the greatest quote or motto that I have ever read and since adopted to my own approach is this: “If you want to become No. 1, be better than No. 2”.

In sport, there’s only room for one at the top of the pile. In a team there is only one ‘best player’, in world rankings there is only one ‘number one’. No one remembers the number 2, and do you know why? Because there’s hundreds of thousands of them – either you’re one of the many anticipating being that number one, or quite simply YOU ARE THE BEST!

It’s the little things that set apart number one and the rest of the number two’s. And it begins at training. You identify who is the best in the team and you run further, faster, harder and for longer than them. It’s the extra efforts that are deemed ‘unnecessary’, the extra concentration you put into the execution of a skill. You keep mental tallies of training errors between you and number two. At training, it is a competition between you and your teammate to be better than him or her; in order to become number one, you must always come out on top. Come game day, the competitive nature you adopted to BE THE BEST is translated into the game, as now your opposing player becomes your number two. And in no uncertain terms, in order to become number one and dominate him, you must make them your bitch.

I’ve carried this mentality for the past three years. I approach every team I come to play for, from club level through to state, with the attitude of “I am the best player in this team.” The best players aren’t identified with possessing singularly, a prodigious kick, blistering speed or unfathomable endurance. It is a consistent medium across all aspects of a footballer who modifies the way he plays to excel in playing his role. Personally, I have ordinary physical attributes, compared to most players; I am slow off the mark, I have questionable endurance and my contested marking is poor. However, in football, kicking is the key.


For me, kicking is my strength and I was able to boast my ability by recording 29 out of 30 along with WA’s Jaegar O’Meara in the National Draft Camp kicking test. O’Meara and I not only hold the Draft Camp record for the test, but also cop the tag from recruiters as the best kicks in the country. Hours spent away from the training track with a ball in my hands, and forever honing ways to kick a drop punt both conventionally, on the run and under pressure, compliments what I want to achieve in AFL.

All of that has come from a desire to be number 1, to be better than anyone else. For me, that has stemmed from training. But sometimes, there is a flaw to my argument. Particularly at club level, there are instances when the best players are far and away above the rest of the group. Simply being better than number two in such situations can lead to a sense of complacency and lack of effort as players can under-perform in training, leading to under-performance come game day. So then what?

In every situation, when an athlete who has reached number 1 status, there is only one opponent who they must conquer, in order to maintain number 1 supremacy. And that person, is themselves.

From this point onward, having read or heard this article, in order to achieve number one status, you must be better than number two, who is not the opposition and not your teammate of equal ability. It is the person who looks back at you when you stand in front of the mirror. The little voice inside your head who says to stop running on a long run, to take the next one a bit softer in the next set of sprints or to only just complete the number of sets and reps outlined in Joey’s programs. Number two would obey those messages. But if you want to achieve number one; you keep running until you fucking bring up breakfast, you run faster and harder for that next sprint and you bite the f*&ing bullet, and push out those extra chins, those extra fat-man pull-ups, the extra bench, the extra 15 seconds on ropes. The money stuff.

Because if you think that good is good enough, you’re wasting your life. Because it is the afore-mentioned values of extra steely determination that will get you bigger. Get you faster. Get you stronger. Get you drafted. And most importantly, will make you number one.

Matty Lodge