Self-awareness is likewise essential. It helps an athlete eradicate his weaknesses and further develop his strengths, but far fewer own this elusive quality.
Irish sophomore receiver Corey Robinson is in possession of the latter as he continues to work on the former.
"I think I've been playing well and other days not so much, but don't' tell coach I said that," Robinson joked. "But it's tough. These cornerbacks are so good and it's not like this defense is a walk in the park."
Confidence will grow commensurate with Robinson's awareness -- not necessarily, in this case, regarding his self-awareness of strengths and weaknesses, but of the Irish offense.
"There are definitely challenges, but I think I've grown mentally in terms of understanding the game as a concept as opposed to 'What is my route? What am I doing?'" Robinson explained.
"(Now) it's more, 'What are we doing as an offense?' In that respect I've grown a lot. And in practice I'm getting more reps. Practice makes perfect in that regard, but there are definitely times that I mess up, fall down, get yelled at...
Robinson's self-deprecation belies his desire to be great. Or at this point, to be counted upon by those in the same trench.
"I think for me the most important thing is consistency," he said of his daily struggle, one shared by most. "Be able to make the big play every time they come to me. Whether be in the red zone, or on the field with a go-route for 40 yards or a two-yard under route or something like that.
"I need to be consistent in my route running, my releases, my catches, so everyone can count on me, so my coaches can count on me. That's the No. 1 thing."
Stronger, By DesignNoticeably bigger in his arms and shoulders than at the tail end of the 2013 season, the nearly six-foot-five, now 215-pound Robinson looks the part of top tier college athlete.
His newly gilded dome, on the other hand…
"It's a long story but I'll make it short," said Robinson of his gold(ish) hair and fading gold mohawk. "I'm a huge soccer fan and I was watching the World Cup. One of my favorite players, Mario Balotelli, has this (mohawk) hairstyle and I was like, 'Oh, man, I'd love to get a hairstyle like that.' And my friend told me I wouldn't do it. So naturally, I had to do it.
(Click here for Robinson's hairstyle choice in all its glory.)
"My parents are like (skeptical), but they'll get over it. Hair grows back. Whatever."
Said Robinson with a laugh remembering head coach Brian Kelly's reaction: "He said a thing or two."
Chances are, Kelly was more concerned with Robinson's end week work in the red zone, as Saturday the sure-handed target dropped a point-blank red zone pass. He offered it wasn't the first.
"Yesterday I dropped one, too, but those two passes were the first ones in a long time," Robinson admitted. "It's the little things, I can't let that stuff happen. Dropping a pass in the red zone is pretty much unacceptable in any regard. This camp has been tough on me in terms of just being consistent every day. Play 24 periods (the Irish often break down practice into 24 five-minute segments) at the highest level. As a concept that sounds really easy, but it's definitely difficult and it's something we (all) have to work on."
A case of the dropsies is unlikely to befall Robinson on game days. But with the myriad options available to Irish quarterbacks, Robinson is well aware he has to create separation from the defense if he's to see his share of passed pigskins. No reason to force it to the covered guy when others tend to break open.
"I found out my strength is being physical, being big," said Robinson of his spring session self-assessment. "So that's something I worked on in the weight room this summer and in these past five days of camp, trying to apply it to the field. This camp I've been really working on the technique with the physicality as opposed to the spring where I was just trying to muscle people."
More muscle. More awareness of the scheme and those around him. More of Corey Robinson in the Irish passing attack. His head coach is in favor of all of the above, but knows The Admiral's son remains a work in progress.
"He's a sponge," said Kelly. "He's taking it in. Releases, top-ended routes, how to set up a defender, not making the same release versus man twice. Mixing it up, just learning the nuances of the position. And so his development in Year 2 is not just using his size, but now really becoming a student of the game."