Parents, Teachers & Coaches – Sheltered Athletes

Most athletes can be in the top ten, 11th – 20th or last/left behind. The position of an athlete is up to them for the most part. To stay motivated, to aspire to improve, the athlete needs to visit an uncomfortable place for them once in awhile. The athlete who is only allowed to believe that “everyone wins” will become complacent. What a terrible word for a young person, complacent. Accepting where you are without an effort to improve. Not where we want our young people to feel comfortable.

In real life, everyone doesn’t win. In real life “just showing up” doesn’t usually get you what most people want. To shelter these young athletes and students from the real world is not helping them grow and mature and have a true picture of the journey they will be on. Real life is a challenge where the hard workers do better. Real life is where the “prepared” young people are not surprised by situations they have never experienced. Coming in last is a very educational experience. It is a wakeup call. “Like it here? No you don’t? Then do something about it.”

The wakeup call doesn’t have to be a last place finish. It could be a “B” for an “A” student. It could be a missed dive for an accomplished diver. It could be allowing 6 runs in 3 innings for a 15 game winning pitcher. These experiences are educational. These experiences usually challenge the young person. “Don’t like it here? Then do something about it.”

To shelter these young people from uncomfortable experiences is to cheat them from seeing the not so fun side of life. A coach who only schedules easy opponents is going to wind up with “big headed, unmotivated athletes” who are a big fish in a small pond. Life usually takes most of us out into the big pond where there are talented, hard working people trying to be excellent, trying to get that better job or scholarship. Too much sheltering protects them for today but diminishes their vision for the future.

Young people need to stumble to learn. Young people need to get in “over their heads” at times. Young people need to evaluate themselves and say “I am fine here, or I want more.” It is not our goal to have 100% happy children all of the time. True education can come from uncomfortable situations. To shelter these young people from potentially uncomfortable situations is not good parenting, good coaching or good teaching.

Get excited when the young people challenge themselves and find themselves “uncomfortable.” Go into your teaching mode. Watch them fight their way to a better place. There will soon be times when they are on their own and they are faced with a choice: be complacent or work to improve and move forward. What do you want for your child, athlete or student? Take the umbrella, the roof and the security blanket away and see if they decide to come in out of the rain.
Share with your friends/students/athletes/parents. Tom Burgdorf and Gymnet Sports on Facebook

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