Over the last 11 years I have had the opportunity to work with many hundreds of athletes, ranging from 5 yrs old through the college level and some professionals. The hours spent training this population and researching how to make them better are staggering, but I appreciate the opportunity that I have been given to share my knowledge and my passion for making the human body a better performing machine every single day. Our team of trainers at XIP Training Systems live by this mindset.
Although it's been a few years now, I was at one time also a competitive athlete, playing 5 varsity high-school sports and 4 years of college baseball. A day rarely passes that I don’t reflect on some part of my athletic background. I miss being in a position to test myself and my training against others, it is a feeling like no other and in some ways hard to put into words, as the most innate drive to excel against all odds. I lived for it! It is a mindset, a way of life, and a way of being that only can be related to by another athlete, an athlete who has been in the trenches and experienced this on a personal level. A true athlete puts everything on the line in times of complete vulnerability, in times of struggle, and times of glory, when we are surrounded by others or when nobody else is watching. We go into battle knowing that there can only be one winner and one loser, and on any given day there is a 50% chance that we will not win. Regardless win or lose we must embrace each competition as an opportunity to get better and to learn from our performance and move on to the next day and the next competition. It is a struggle, every day is a battle and every day we must learn from our mistakes in order to make ourselves stronger for the next opportunity to succeed. True athletes recognize that struggle is not an option it is a biological requirement! Something that has been proven in many studies. Without the lows there can be no highs...Nobody is perfect, we all make mistakes, and I would argue that we all do it on a daily basis.
Last night I had the opportunity to watch approximately 20 XIP athletes in two sports compete in front of hundreds of fans, parents, media and peers. They put themselves in a position where their failures would be witnessed by hundreds of people, pretty courageous! Some of these athletes are dorm students from countries thousands of miles away, without parents to go home to and talk about their games over dinner... Talk about feeling vulnerable, wow! But yet they all do it, again and again. It's inevitable that there will be low times for all of these athletes in their careers,that is the risk you take in the quest for greatness. Nothing great is achieved without an equally great amount of effort put in to achieve it. Parents need to teach this to their athletes at a young age, it is a mindset that will lead to success in all aspects of their lives, sport, career, family you name it. It is however a mindset that I have seen less and less of over the last 10 years within the youth populations and even older and this bothers me. If you work hard you will be rewarded with an opportunity for success, but nothing is guaranteed. Just showing up doesn't cut it, you must commit to a goal and do everything in your power to achieve it. Blue ribbons for everybody is naive and irresponsible, and it will absolutely lead to problems later in life. Whatever happened to the 10,000 hour rule? How come kids don't spend hours on end hitting rocks with sticks, and shooting baskets till they can't lift their arms, or pickup games of football in the park, or begging their parents to play catch for just 5 more minutes before it’s too dark to see. This is becoming all too rare and it scares me as I am about to become a parent myself. I know there are still young athletes like this out there, but it seems it's a dying breed. Sure technology could be to blame, but we all know that's just a cop out and we have the power to make a change...
Last night I watched athletes do battle, and this morning I woke up to read social media posts from fans and parents who focused their energy on one of these athlete’s low points and chose to exploit this via social media. An incident that manifested itself from an absolute love and passion for the game they were playing. A low point that I can guarantee you they will go home and use as an opportunity to make themselves better. In fact, a few hours after the game this athlete expressed those words to me exactly. Recognizing that they didn't respond the way they wanted to, but that tomorrow was a new day, "and tomorrow coach I will rock and roll!" Pretty amazing mindset from a high-school athlete, and a mindset that I wish more athletes would adopt. There is no one to blame but you, and you are the only one who can change your own destiny. Sounds cliche but it's true. As I said, there are no peaks without valleys, and we must embrace these flaws in competition as opportunities to get better.
The use of social media to publicly berate and ridicule athletes and coaches is immature, irresponsible and in some ways cowardly. I have seen it far too much, and I want to see it end. These athletes are not paid, the coaches make next to nothing, and they do not deserve to go home after a game and be subjected to this type of harassment. Approach the AD instead, this is what they are paid to deal with, tell them how you feel and move on with your life. Competition brings out the best and worst of all of us, fans as well...Sometimes in the heat of the moment we can explode, we can throw a fit, swear, yell, punch, kick and become an absolute crazy person. Just remember that in order to produce an absolutely amazing performance you must compete on the edge of perfection and disaster. Sometimes we crash, sometimes the passion, aggression and intensity needed to perform at our best gets the best of us and we self destruct. We are only human. It's a chance we take in the quest for greatness, the athlete's quest to be something truly awesome. If athletes and coaches are constantly "playing it safe" so they don't upset their audience true athletic potential or success in life might not ever be uncovered...Is this really what we want? Do we really want young athletes to just coast through their development years, playing it safe and never knowing what they are fully capable of achieving? I'll let you make that decision for yourself, but I can tell you that I sure as hell won't raise my kids that way. These could be the same kids that are choosing to not go to college and instead staying at home with mom and dad well into their 20s or even 30s because it's easy... Yikes! Didn't realize the potential effect that a little post on FB might have eh? I also know that fans can get crazy and make bad decisions as well, trust me I am guilty here also. However, we must leave it on the field just like the athletes and coaches do, we owe it to them to do this. They need our support so that they can go out there and do the exceptional things that we all love so much. Let's make sure they have the support to continue to do this...
My hope is that after reading this conversation can be had between parents, coaches and athletes about what it means to be an athlete, and what it means to truly test mind, body and one's will to succeed. At some point you will be knocked down and you might kick and scream or throw a fit while you are there, but you must rally and utilize that fall as an opportunity to succeed in even greater fashion...This is the mark of a true athlete, and this is the mindset that parents, coaches and fans must instill in all of these young athletes.
All the best! Coach Guyer