“I was an overnight success all right, but 30 years is a long, long night.” – Ray Kroc
Last night, I received an email from a soccer dad asking me to train his 10 year old daughter for ONE lesson an HOUR before her travel team tryout.
Firs things first: I’ve never met the girl. So this would mean I would have to cram everything I know about soccer into one lesson to magically get her better right before she stepped on the field to get evaluated.
I’m a wizard, right?
While I could’ve taken the money and ran, I declined this dad’s request to urgently train his daughter. With such abrupt notice, I felt I wouldn’t be much help.
The other reason being, I would’ve been a terrible ambassador to my core coaching and training philosophy:
Athletic development is a PROCESS. Only committed athletes willing to work hard for the long run get the best results. Period.
And this is what kills me about the fitness industry: the promise of a quick fix. The promise that there is some magic way to circumvent any real hard work. The promise that you can put in minimal effort and become a unicorn who runs a 4.5 40 yard dash while perspiring glitter and rainbows.
Yeah, doesn’t work that way.
In terms of skill acquisition, speed development, improved conditioning, strength gains, power gains, and mental confidence, you have to work at this shit.
One month, two months, even three months may not be enough. Even after six months, perhaps you’re only seeing incremental changes.
And don’t get me started on the young population (ages 8-12) – a group in which parents expect immediate results.
Can you get my 10 year old faster? She’s the slowest out there!
That’s one I get a lot. Speed development for ALL ages takes time, and for a 10 year old? They’re still growing into their bodies, and maybe they’re the slowest kid now, but when they’re 12-14, you may find them becoming the fastest out there. Puberty is pretty cool, I guess.
But also, so is patience.
Can you get my child better at shooting in a week?
LOLOLOLOL. A motor skill like shooting takes an immense amount of cognitive focus, repetition, and months of time for young ones to learn. This isn’t being pessimistic, it’s being realistic.
I remember when I was 10 years old, my coach told me my shooting was wrong. So he showed me drills I could do on my own in order to strike the ball with my laces.
As a 10 year old munchkin, I had to re-learn my shooting technique. Frustrated that I wasn’t getting it down, I decided to put in the work on my own.
I spent hours, days, months in my backyard practicing my shot with my laces. And eventually, all of that compounded over time to pay off when I turned 12 years old. I operated under the Slight Edge mindset of taking small steps daily to add to my bigger picture.
TWO years of work, and I finally got the hang of my shot. Oh, and did I mention I was a 10 year old who decided to put in the work daily? Allow me to brag, why don’t you.
But to that end, was the patience and effort worth it? You tell me.
I’m only being pompous to hammer home a point. ;-O
Athletic development, just like anything in life, takes time.
One of my favorite client stories was when I had a girl who went from being a rec player to a travel team player, and then made her varsity high school team as a freshman. This was a 10 month process.
What was her magic pill? Showing up daily, weekly, monthly and taking small action steps consistently. Not once did she expect training to be easy, and not once did she expect me to be a wizard. Phew.
Furthermore, this theme of leaning into the process can permeate into all areas of life.
A good question to ask: what message are we sending to youth athletes if we promise them an easy way out?
The wrong one, no doubt. Not just in athletics, but in career, school, and relationships, we want to prepare these kids for the adversities and oscillations of life.
With that said, the process is the pleasure. It makes us strong, resilient, and gritty.
So with that said, do you want to soften or SHARPEN a youth athlete’s mind?
Something to ponder.