I was coaching a high school practice the other day and in my vision was the track team, cross country team, and the football team. I noticed something just watching that I did not see as much as an athlete because I was focused on getting better each day. When coaches of pretty much any sport tell their athletes to do something, there are almost always people on the team who look for the easy way. Coach says do ten push-ups and 2% of the kids do them like this could be their last moments as an athlete.
These select few understand that they will not be athletes forever and they need to take advantage of the time they do have. The rest look to see if anyone is watching and they find a short cut if no one is. The rest are there physically, but mentally they are just trying to get through the workout so they can check practice off and move on to something else. You have to approach every day as if it could be your last and being an athlete is a privilege.
Are Sports Just About Being Social?
I have heard an argument that going hard and taking sports seriously is not essential. What matters is getting kids together to have fun. I say that is a load of nonsense. Going to school has many social benefits for example, but no one says that taking education serious does not matter. I think that approach sets you up for failure because if you go out and half-ass one thing you can go out and half-ass everything.
If a kid is going to look around to see if the coach is close by so that he can find a way to cheat, it will not be long before he is cheating in the classroom as well. I don’t think sports are about being social. They aren’t about being active either. I think sports are about commitment, teamwork, and pushing yourself.
The first battle to being successful is you have to show up every day. Could you be successful at school if you did not show up every day? If you just came when you wanted? It is doubtful. But every year people join sports teams thinking they can just show up whenever they want and still be successful. Parents say the school is the priority and then wonder why their kids don’t get playing time or why they are not getting better. There needs to be a commitment.
If you are already committed, then it is on you as a teammate to get other kids to commit. When I was in high school whether it was football, or it was track, we did not stand for kids missing practice without a good reason. That shows that you don’t care about your commitment or your team. No one wants to go to battle with someone who they can’t depend on. If you were going to war, you would want to know that the people who have your back have it no matter what.
Socializing is much different than teamwork. Teamwork realizes you have a common mission and coming together to accomplish. You don’ t need to be friends, or like each other. The only thing that matters is the mission. Everyone needs the ability to work with others, and the school does not do a great job of this. Everyone knows how group projects go. It is not people coming together it is individuals just putting all their names on the work.
Being an excellent teammate means you care about not just yourself but the greater good of the team. It says you make sacrifices for the team. If you play a significant role on the team and you get hurt because you did not do the little things, it means you are a selfish teammate. You being hurt does not just hurt you, but it hurts EVERYONE. Being team oriented means that success becomes about more than you.
Pushing Yourself Physically
Last but far from least, the ability to push yourself is what we love about sports. Humans were not made to stay in the same place. Time never stops so we either move forward, or we go backward. There is nothing else to it! This drive for progress is why it is easy for some to quit sports. It is either too easy, or they are not getting better. Both fight needs for progress.
We are all faced with the daily question of “What am I capable of?” We don’t know, and the only way to know is to push ourselves to a breaking point continually. That is what training is in a sense. You are forcing yourself to test those limits, but a lot of the times we reach mental limits much before reaching physical limits, but we will get to that.
When you are giving a task to do, you should want to do it with everything that you have. If you just do there a bare minimum to get by you will not get better. If you do the bare minimum, you will get bored because you will not feel challenged and you will eventually not like what you see in the mirror. No one takes shortcuts in life and enjoys it. Deep down inside it sucks because we know we can be more.
Pushing Your Mental Barriers
The mental barriers that athletes reach are unreal. Just the other day I asked a girl to give me some proper push-ups, and she said she couldn’t. She didn’t even try she just knew beforehand what was and what not possible. That is called a mental barrier and thought she thought it was a physical one it was not. I kept encouraging her until she tried and before you know she is cranking out pushups. They were hard for her, and that was the problem. When many athletes know something will be hard, they throw in the towel, so they don’t have the feel the pain.
Pushing yourself mentally will be the most rewarding for you financially. The mental barriers we face are designed to keep us in our comfortable place. We are naturally lazy an if we don’t train it out of us we will stay that way. The laziness does not want to try new things or feel uncomfortable in any way. It wants everything to be safe. If you’re going to be great, you have to run as far from safe as you can.
Being an athlete is a privilege that is taken for granted by too many people. No other platform develops the ability to commit, work together and push ourselves both mentally and physically like being on a team. These are traits that can make you successful doing anything in life so work hard and appreciate every day like it is your last because one day it will be your last day.