Until the start of the Olympics and that first attempt to get an edge on opponents, the majority of athletes firstly have to gain an advantage over their team-mates.
For until selection, individuals in the team sports have to find a balancing act between advancing their own claims and convincing the coaches they are a team player.
Nowhere is that more pertinent than in the British men’s hockey team, where head coach Jamie Lee has to whittle 27 names down to 16 for the Olympic tournament.
For Reed and the selectors, 11 painful conversations will have to be held.
No specific date has been set for when dreams are ruined, with the 27 best British hockey players knowing only that it will be towards the end of June.
Doncaster-born Barry Middleton is as assured of a place as anyone can be, given that he is the captain and the man set to lead the team out at London’s Riverbank Arena in the Olympic Park.
But Sheffield’s Alastair Wilson, a veteran of Beijing, is still fighting for his place.
“I’m nervous about selection,” says the 28-year-old, who has 155 caps for England and Great Britain.
“The squad we’ve got is really strong. We have so much depth in the sport nowadays.
“It’s understandable with what’s at stake, playing in the Olympics in front of your home fans.
“It all depends what the head coach, Jason Lee, wants from his players.
“Everyone has a chance. It’s something we’re used to. We’re all training together, talking about it. We’re confronting it every day.”
In a bid to convince the coaches of his worth, Sheffield-born Wilson has added an extra dimension to his game, and is also visiting a sports psychologist to help give him a mental edge.
“It’s the best way to keep your emotions under control,” says the former Dronfield Junior and Meadowhead School pupil.
“I’ve been to quite a few tournaments so I’m experienced, but I realise that you can be more relaxed about pressure.
“There’s a lot of young, hungry players, like Harry Martin, who has a great chance because he’s pretty relaxed and has the confidence of youth.
“Our coaches are pretty big on that aspect of it, so we’re doing all sorts of things on that side of it. We need to be calm and confident at London. We’ll be medal hopes playing in front of a big crowd with a lot of media attention, so there’s a lot to deal with.
“And it’s not as simple as players fitting into positions, because a lot of people can play in a variety of positions.
“I’m known as a defender but I’ve been playing as a forward.
“Obviously it’s a different mindset, I’ve been trying to stop goals, now I’m trying to score them.
“But the way we play is quite flexible. And you’ve got to be versatile. I’ve never been the most talented but I’ve worked hard to get where I have, and I hope my experience counts.”
Wilson and the squad are currently out in Malaysia for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup – “The last big one before the big one,” as Wilson describes it.
Wilson started in defence yesterday as they drew 3-3 with hosts Malaysia. They play India tomorrow and six games next week.