Everything we do amounts to training — intended or unintended — and you become what you’ve been trained to become. If correct movements are repeated and the correct mind-set applied, progress will be made; belief and technique are one. But if incorrect movements are repeated and they become habit, it won’t matter what you believe.
If it’s a person’s goal to become an elite athlete, it will require following a model of training that meets challenges head on with a willingness to learn from the inevitable failures that are a part of any journey. Those who have it within themselves to be patient and persevere will eventually realize their full potential.
Playing for recreation
Playing simply for recreation may not require the same commitment as the more competitive athlete, but for a kid to have fun in sports, there are still some basic truths that apply. Playing baseball, for example, is difficult at any level. If kids have not been taught some fundamentals and correct mechanics, they will not have movement control and could have trouble hitting a ball or making accurate throws. Unfortunately, in youth sports, success is often expected (usually by adults) even when skill has not yet been developed.
This is true for all of us, in all that we undertake. The real goal is to develop a fighting spirit within, which comes from accountability and experiencing failure. It’s a journey that will mirror life itself because along the way, there will be ups …and there will be downs. Success will require equal amounts of interest, work ethic and passion to reach goals that are high. How we choose to deal with failure along the way will tell the story — and always protecting kids from failure is like handing it to them on a silver platter.
When pursuing something difficult, it’s more natural to follow the path of least resistance. Unfortunately, this path isn’t always the way to success. In today’s competitive sports environment, finding balance can be challenging, and overtraining kids as if they were older, more mature athletes is common. Undertraining while expecting good results is also just as common.
Unrealistic expectations and overtraining are obviously not ideal, and the longer they continue, the more likely it is the child will experience loss of interest or overuse injuries. Staying healthy and maintaining a high level of interest are key to obtaining good and sustainable results.
A mind/body connection must be struck for optimum performance. It starts with self-discipline and self-motivation — both of which help guide the body to follow a proper physical training regimen. Through the process of repeated correct motion, the body develops muscle memory to the point of automatic physical response. To the degree that this has developed, the mind will be able to manage emotional responses during competition that could otherwise hinder performance. But ultimately, there’s no hiding from the truth. If the work hasn’t been done, no amount of hoping, crossing fingers or superstition is going to bring about success. These weak concepts will only bring about weak results.
No shortcuts to excellence
Reaching high-level goals doesn’t happen by accident. There are no overnight champions. Success happens along the way, every time you step into that gym, choose a good diet, fight through the failures, and visualize your path forward. The solution to athletic growth and skill development is simple: continuous repetition of correct movements over time.