The thing that any sport can teach you about shortcuts is that there isn’t one. While I’m not exactly sure if this applies to ALL sport, at least it did in the few I’ve tried. Whether it’s dragon boat paddling, rowing, running, wushu, arnis, and boxing, improvements and gaining mastery rely on how long you can tough it out.
I partly agree with what many say about starting as the hardest part. But for me it’s just the beginning of a protracted war you’ll have to wage with yourself. It’s the minutes, hours, days, weeks, and years in between the starts and victory or defeat that you have to conquer. It’s about making the decision day by day to go through the hardships, pain, and sacrifice to stick it out. Expecting anything in sport, as in life, to be easy is possibly the only kind of shortcut with guaranteed results. It’s the fastest way to a life filled with disappointments.
Playing a sport teaches you to mentally and physically prepare yourself for constant uphill treks. Winning may be the goal, but it’s often the journey upward whatever distant mountain you’re setting your sights on that you’ll likely remember most when you succeed. And the beauty of reaching whatever goal is that it can inspire you to keep moving forward. You leave the mountain you’ve conquered behind and set out for a new one to explore knowing that you can.
Winning, for me, is about the toughest and most prepared emerging from a pack of equally tough and determined individuals. It’s about people who get up for practice regardless of the weather or their own moods. It’s about overcoming current challenges with courage despite knowing that there will be more ahead. And it’s in the knowing that anything you achieve through cheating or taking shortcuts is not as rewarding as what you accomplish after you metaphorically bleed for it.