Some Athletes Feel Alone
We can fall into the trap of thinking we know what’s best for our athletes. We assume we know their pain, and we haphazardly give advice that’s both irrelevant and insensitive. I learned that full well when I trained a young protege’. I’ve trained this young one since he was nine years old. He’s been on multiple training regiments every week for the past two years and have acquired many athletic skills adults wished they had.
With his advanced physical development, I made the mistake of assuming he was mentally maturing at an equally fast pace. He wasn’t. He was still the average kid that wanted to ride bikes, horse around, and stay up til 2 am playing video games. I demanded much of him. Expectations are great things, but they must be managed properly. If not, you will incur disappointment when the athlete doesn’t perform to your standards.
I didn’t understand. For years, I drilled everything I knew into this young kid. I gave him the tools he needed to be successful. I labored for hours planning, teaching, and correcting his technique. I came down hard on him about his sour attitude, and behavior.
And yet, I seemed to miss one of the most important elements about youth development. It’s not about ME. He was burnt out. Take any average adult, and force them into a strict physical training routine 3-5 times a week for 2 years and see how enthusiastic they are down the stretch. I had to realize that he came from an affluent community and didn’t rely on basketball to feed his family. I did. So by having a different approach to the game, I couldn’t expect him to see it as I saw it. It wasn’t fair.
I decided to give him a break. He needed time off to enjoy being a kid, and I wanted him to miss training with me. After all, training should be both difficult and fun. It’s the perfect blend to prepare young ones for a career in sports, and life after sports. I believe in you because you understand how influential sports can be on a person’s development. Don’t waste the opportunity by burning out the athlete. You got this!