Saturday, February 2, 2013

9 Requirements for Future All-Star Athletes

Over the last 10 years, I have seen lots of students beginning their involvement in select athletic teams and competitive cheer and dance teams. I think that's great that parents want their children to excel in an area that they have talent. After all, being in these organizations teaches strong work ethic and perseverance in the quest to excel.

Where pushing kids to develop their talents goes awry is when students are conditioned to believe that their athletic talent is their only future. These phenoms are conditioned to place all of their emphasis and all their effort into developing their physical talent without putting the same level of effort into developing their mind. 

As a high school principal and teacher, I can't tell you how many talented students I knew whose talent took them no further than graduation day. Some of them were Division I athletes absent of Division I academic abilities. Because they failed to develop their academic prowess in school, their athletic talent took them nowhere. Sadly they believed that their life was set because of their athletic talents alone.

Below is a chart that tells the real story about athletic potential.  The chances of capitalizing on our athletic talents pales in comparison to the potential found in our intellectual potential.  Not many employers want to know our success as a player.  They want to know our skills as a producer.

College is the Best Plan A.

We have to teach kids that...

1.  The strongest muscle in the body is the brain.  After athletic talent has exceeded its potential, the only way that kids will be successful as adults is completely dependent on what is inside their brain. 

2.  The greatest skill that all athletes must master is the ability to read and think critically. 

3.  The greatest attribute that all athletes must possess is sportsmanship. Being a good sport is a life-long skill that will benefit athletes long after the game is over. 

4.  Winning isn't everything, but the will to win is. Life is not about winning but responding to loss. How you handle a loss will make you or break you. 

5.  Colleges look at your academic ability before your athletic ability. Talented athletes are a dime a dozen. Colleges recruit talented AND intelligent athletes. 

6.  Your character is your most important commodity. The way kids learn to treat people will take them a long way in life or cut their career short. 

7.  Being a good teammate is not just important for winning games.  Employers are looking for collaborative employees. If you are a bad teammate, you will probably not be very collaborative and will not be very employable.  

8.  Your body will eventually give out. What you possess after that is called your future. 

9.  Your Plan B is more important than your plan A. Your plans after your reach your athletic plateau or your knees give out is called your Plan B. Make sure that your Plan B is better than your Plan A.

The Ultimate Team

All of us aspire to be the next LeBron James, Russell Wilson or Leonel Messi in our area of talent.  These icons are unbelievable athletes who consistently deliver championships.  There's nothing wrong with striving to achieve that level of excellence on the field of battle, but we must let our athletes know that the deck is stacked against them.  While there is a chance to become a professional athlete, it is a small one.  Their lives can't be completely dependent on becoming a world-class athlete because there are so many variables and so few spots on the roster.  We must also push our athletes to aim for a spot on the ultimate team by becoming world-class workers with all-star intellects and championship character.  That is the real team we want all of our children to make, and we (parents & educators) hold the key to ensuring that they make that team.


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