Interestingly enough, when I Googled the term, the first two dictionaries I looked in (Dictionary.com and Merriam-Webster’s) didn’t even have a definition for it. They listed “self-aware” as an alternative form of the word “aware.” They also gave a couple of examples of how it could be used in a sentence.
That, in and of itself, is an interesting statement. Maybe my observation that I have only recently started hearing people using the term and the fact that it is not even defined in the first two dictionaries listed on a Google search shows that the term has not been very popular until only recently.
I finally found a definition specifically for the word “self-aware” in the Oxford Dictionary. They defined self-aware as “having conscious knowledge of one's own character and feelings.” That is fitting with the way I have heard it used.
Self-Awareness for Athletes
Most often the people who I have been hearing use the word self-aware were using it to illustrate a comparison between two or more athletes. The point was that some players lack self-awareness, which ultimately affects their team’s performance, while the self-aware players are able to positively impact their own and their team’s performance. But let’s look a little more closely at the concept and why it has become important in the sports world.
If athletes have a “conscious knowledge of (their) own character and feelings,” they know who they are. They are comfortable with themselves, their skills, and what they bring to the team. They know what they are capable of, and they know how best to use their capabilities. They also know the right way to behave for the various settings in which they find themselves.
In the athletic arena, self-aware players know their strengths and weaknesses within their sport. They know what they are capable of doing, and they then do those things. They may try to stretch themselves and their limits (as any good athlete is always trying to do), but generally speaking, when it comes to performing in competitions, they seek to maximize their strengths while limiting the impact their weaknesses may have on their performance.
They also understand how their own abilities impact others on their team and how others impact them. They work within the construct of the team to be the most successful they can be in helping the team be the most successful it can be. They also handle the behavioral aspects of being part of a team the best way they know how. While everyone is not a great teammate in the exact same way, self-aware athletes work to be great teammates in the ways that they know best.