05 May An Open Letter To Youth Athletes In Quarantine: Lead The Way
Dear young athlete,
“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times.”
I’ll stop there before I swirl into an abyss of classic literature references. Chances are, you’re doing school from home now and don’t want to hear it.
Wait, let me rephrase: you’re doing school from home, as your dog barks in the background, your siblings scream within earshot, and your dad talks loudly on his tenth conference call of the day, all while you rush to finish your English essay.
I get it. The last words you want to read are quotes from Charles Dickens, and read between his “best of times, worst of times” lines.
Let me briefly do it for you.
Your life is paralleled to the words of Dickens.
While this a time to press reset, it’s also a time to be worried. While this a time to relax, it’s also a time to double down on busywork from remote school. While this is a time to take a break from sports, it’s also a time to find the strength inside and train harder than you ever have.
Alas, the best of times and worst of times.
Wait. Where was I before I got lost in the motifs behind the prose of Charles Dickens?
Oh! This article is far, far from an English lesson. Phew.
Rather, it’s a consideration of your feelings.
It’s an admiration for your resilience.
It’s a call-to-action for you to step into your power.
It’s an inspiration for you to keep your momentum during a crisis.
It’s a challenge for you to serve yourself as well as others.
In times of a lockdown with no where to go but your backyard, it’s easy to come to grips with your tangle of thoughts.
Perhaps you’re anxious.
Perhaps you’re bored.
Perhaps you’re stir crazy.
Perhaps you’re confused.
Perhaps you’re worried.
Perhaps you’re just trying to make it through.
At first, this quarantine thing was all fun, games, Netflix binges and Tik Toks.
Now it’s sibling fights, Instagram scrolls, and crippling thoughts as you stare at your ceiling at 2:00am wondering why the heck you’re awake in the first place.
Now here you are.
You’re probably wondering what’s next.
You’re probably wondering how much longer you can endure.
You’re probably wondering how to blossom out of this rut.
Oh, I’m glad you asked.
Looking on the horizon, there's so much magic coming your way, and even amidst a crisis, you have the opportunity to shine and be a glimmer of hope. Click To Tweet
But it’s going to take analyzing your behaviors and habits during all of this, as well as taking action in a direction from serves your physical, mental and emotional health.
As tough as this is to swallow, you become more of who you are during times of duress.
You either do the mindless scrolls to numb your thoughts into a dark hole of distraction, or you do the empowering feats and efforts to propel yourself toward a sparkle of light.
You have an active choice to be who you want to be, for yourself and others.
Physically speaking, who do you want to be when you step on the field for the first time again?
How will you handle the length of the game? Will you show off your newfound strength, speed and skills? How will you serve your teammates? How will you contribute and what role will you play?
Deeply plunge into the corners of your brain, ask yourself these questions, and discover meaningful answers.
Visualize what you look like in your team uniform, walking onto the field with pride and poise. Visualize how amazing you feel and how powerfully you’re moving as you make that first sprint. Visualize how joyful you are and how your smile beams with love for the game. Visualize how strong and fearless you are going in for contact for the first time in months.
Going within your mind to visualize who you want to be is immensely powerful, but also, so is the spoken word.
Speak out loud who you want to be. What adjectives come to mind?
Do any of these resonate with you?
If so, are you ready to take action now to let this vibrant athlete come into fruition when this crisis ends?
As much as you want to get back to “normal” and long for control in this unprecedented situation, you can’t.Instead of seeing this as a time to simply get through, how about seeing it as a time to have a breakthrough? Click To Tweet
Can you dial in on your training? Can you focus on kinks in your running technique you’ve ignored during the year-round organized sports grind?
Can you work on the details of the skill of change of direction and ensure you’re moving in a safe and rapid manner?
Can you work on that upper body strength and core stability once and for all so you can withstand the high forces of turning and cutting, as well as feel like a total boss?
Can you work on your speed endurance, high intensity conditioning, and show yourself what you’re made of, drenched in sweat, gasping for air when no one is watching?
Speaking of no one watching, no one is watching now. It’s just you, your backyard, your home gym, or a field at the nearby park.
How are you acting when externals of college recruiting, championships, wins and awards are out of the picture?
It’s time to dig up who you really are.
And I’m sure, the are plenty of gems ready to be birthed.
You got this.
The opportunity to show you can embrace the suck, lean into adversity, and rise above challenge is right at your fingertips.
And looking beyond the physical side, you have the chance to lead the way mentally and emotionally.
Will you look back on this and be the person who reached out to friends?
Will you be the person who listened to others?
Will you be the person who nourished their body with healthy food?
Will you be the person who did activities that infused you with joy and life and creativity?
Will you be the person who helped someone in need, even if that means buying a neighbor dinner?
Now isn’t the time to wave the surrender flag and plop on the sofa, nor is it the time to long for the old normal to come back soon, as you stare at your walls in despair.
You’re better than that.
Do what you can control - your fitness, your wellbeing, your thoughts, your self talk, your friendships, your service to others. Click To Tweet
It’s comforting to know you can step back into your power now.
You can inspire others.
You can be a pioneer.
You can come out on the other end better.
In a time when the world has served you a messy scramble with a side of uncertainty, one thing remains certain:
You have the chance to lead the way.
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