Imagine standing inside a concrete tunnel, heart racing, knees knocking. The sound of foot steps tapping on the freshly swept floor, the echo and rumble of the baying crowd. Thousands of people waiting in the cold air, chanting, and clapping in anticipation. Many of them adore you, and only yards away many want you to fail. That is the reality thousands of athletes and sportsmen and women face every day across the world.
Many years before standing inside that concrete tunnel though, those same professional athletes would have been in a local uncut park, or a tiny low budget, under lit gym. Practicing, training, dreaming..
For many young prospects they never reach their final goal, the ‘name in lights’ moment and eventually they reluctantly fade into the shadows and move on with life. For others they make it, they get through the grueling trials, they get the big pay day, and they get their name in lights.
It is in the early days, I believe, when the real work is done. The dark cold evenings after school heading out with parents, friends or siblings. Repeating the same skill, the same method, over and over again. Looking to the stars for their inspiration. Idolising the ones who have made it years before. The one down side of that, looking to the stars I mean. Is they only see the finished product, once they have make it to the big stage, the stars have already put the hours in behind closed doors. They’ve already stood in the concrete tunnel, they’ve already succeeded.
It’s left for the individual themselves, or the ones closest to them, they are the ones who are left to guide the promising youngster through the early morning training sessions. Study technique and give critical analysis of performance in the hopes the young starlets take it onboard and listen, and learn.
The reason I am writing this, and have this topic on my mind, is because Bobby is showing the potential in sport to take it to the next level. Every Saturday morning, we head out for a practice session at our local football club. Bobby has been training in football for a few months now, and the progress we have seen in him has come on ten fold. From picking the ball up and running around like a headless chicken. He is now on the fringes of becoming an elite young player.
I know that sounds boastful, and I know I’m his father so i’m going to say that. However before you think that stop and think of your concrete tunnel moment. Did you have one? Did you recognise it when it happened? If not, think about why that is.
As for my son and thousands of other children all across the globe, he and they are putting in work. Kicking the ball against the same wall, training their bodies to do better, not just do better, but be the best. Sure its annoying when they run up and down the house dribbling the football or practicing their craft, or jumping around the place like a loon. But, it is this repetitive exercise that allows them to progress so much. I will sit and show my son technique, and give him the assets to study the game – the rest is up to him.
As a parent, you are the back bone of all of your child’s dreams. You are the one that holds the key to their progression, all I can say is don’t be afraid to unlock the door to their opportunities. I almost did just that. I myself was a promising youngster on the brink of elite opportunities, I had my concrete tunnel moment and succeeded, however injury stole the dream and it was over. Out of fear I was apprehensive when my son needed the door opening. I had to sit down and think about why my experience should stop him from having his. I had nothing, it was my fear and shouldn’t ever come between Bobby and his opportunities.
So when it comes to kids and sport, don’t be scared of failure, they will become what they’re going to become. It’s down to you to guide them to the correct path. To provide them with the tools, and knowledge they require, the rest is for them to chase. I learnt my lesson and now my son is potentially becoming a brilliant young athlete.
The most important thing when kids are involved in sport is that they enjoy what they’re doing. If they are not smiling while they take part, its probably not where they want to be. If they so happen to succeed in their chosen sport, you can sit back and know that you opened that very first door for them.
I think sport provides kids with countless assets that will help them through early life and they should get involved at the earliest opportunity. Also broadening their horizons by showing them as many different sports as possible gives them a huge advantage in the future. They learn how to be part of a team, how to be disciplined and punctual, they learn to respect their coaches. Most importantly the learn how to lose, as well as win. Which I know we have all had to deal with at some point in our lives.
Now to quote a hero of mine, with words that I feel every should live by in what ever they choose to do.
“Success isn’t always about greatness; It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work gains success. Greatness will come.” – Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson