Have a goal. Promise yourself to ALWAYS get better and take advantage of EVERY opportunity you create!
This is a long post but hang with me. I hope you find this valuable and if you do, let me know.
When I told my wife I was going to be a professional sports photographer I don't think she, or anyone else for that matter, took me seriously. Honestly, I had no right to even say such a thing with the images I had previously created. I was taking photos through chain-link fences and thought just because I had a picture of a good player that it meant I was "making it." I look back on some of those images and just laugh because they are so terrible from the framing to the lack of editing knowledge. The second frame of this post shows one of my favorite (at the time) images of Tyler Stephenson, a player I was familiar with through my time in Billings, Montana, which is actually where I photographed professional baseball for the first time. There is nothing special about this image, it's hard to even see that Tyler is the subject, and it offers nothing special (with the exception of his gesture) to the viewer. This image has since been replaced in any of my "favorites" categories with the exception of nostalgia.
The second image is Tyler roughly four year later during the Arizona Fall League. During those four years I had photographed 500+ baseball/softball games at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. It's obvious I had become a much better photographer. Why was I better? I put in the work. I "practiced" over 500 (documented) times and wanted to make sure I was improving in my craft.
Sure, the equipment was different. In the first image I used a Canon Powershot SX130 Point and Shoot, a great camera at the time for documenting family gatherings and bringing along on vacation. The second image was made using a Nikon D4S with a 400mm 2.8 lens. However, I never would have obtained these tools if I never practiced or had a goal to become a true professional in the industry.