Honorable Challenges: Uncommon Obstacles for Successful Young Athletes
What's up guys, coach Lucas here today. I want to talk with you about a concept called "Honorable Challenges." I'll share with you a story that I think you'll find super valuable.
I was speaking with one of my players who I have been working with for quite a while. She's in eighth grade and she recently made her high school varsity team. I know some of you are probably thinking that's not even possible, I didn't think it was possible. What I've learned is that some states allow for eighth graders to play high school sports. So this girl tried out and as an eighth grader made her high school varsity team. Very impressive. She was only the second girl in school history to do this.
This was very exciting, however, she was dealing with some challenges. When I was speaking with her we discovered that when you are successful, when you have achievements:
- You're going to have people that judge you.
- You're going to have people that doubt you.
- You're going to have haters.
- You're going to have criticism.
You're going to have people that don't understand how you achieved what you achieved and perhaps feel as if they are inferior and subconsciously, they're going to want to take you down. In other words, the more successful you become, the more challenges that you're going to face in this area.
That's Why I Call This Honorable Challenges
What I was telling this particular girl was, “Look, you've been working your whole life. You've been working so hard for these challenges. These challenges only come to the people that are very successful. When we see it in this way, we can label it quite differently. This allows us to handle these situations quite differently. When you're super successful like this and you have these doubters and haters, and you have the judgment from some people around you, this is really good. Now you get to experience and you have the opportunity to practice what it's like to be successful at the top level.
If you look at the best players in the world, Leo Messi, Alex Morgan, Christian Ronaldo, they still get criticized by millions of people. They still get hecklers and haters at their matches that are trying to bring them down. You could be the best in the world and you're still going to have a lot of judgment. If you're a young player, this is really good practice for what it's like at the professional level.
Challenges of Young Female Athletes
The other thing that's really important to know about this is that if you're a young player, particularly a young female, this is extra hard on you. Why? When you're a young person in this age group, the social elements of your life are exceptionally heightened. In other words, during seventh grade, eighth grade, and high school years, you're very conscious of what's going around you. Talking with this young female player, it became evident this is especially true with females. They get very group oriented. They bond. They team up in groups and they put other people down. There's a reason why there's a movie called Mean Girls, it's based on this concept.
Psychologically, behaviorally, biologically, we are wired to act in this way. We are wired to be conscious of what's going around us, socially, during this age range. That's the time in which we're growing, developing, becoming independent, and finding our place in the world. The reason why I'm bringing this up is because there's extra pressure that's going to come with being successful during this period of time in your life. It's just another way of understanding what's going on if you're in these types of situations.
The final thing that I'll say is that if you're a person that has high aspirations, if you're a person that has lofty goals and wants to achieve greatness; When you consciously and subconsciously set those highest aspirations, these types of challenges are going to come into your life on purpose.
If you set your intentions on your goals, you're going to have to face the challenges that are going to sharpen your character and that will ultimately prepare you for those great achievements.
This particular girl I was talking with, wants to play in a World Cup and I said, “There's no doubt in my mind that the challenges you're facing now, the judgment, the doubters, and the haters - this process and experiencing this is going to prepare you for your ultimate goal. It's going to build this gear, this part of your engine inside of you that's going to allow you to handle the adversities and obstacles in the future.
Mentally, it's important if you're in the situation to accept the fact that this is the nature of success and you need to accept it and take it on. What's important is you put your blinders on, you block out the noise and you focus on your goals. You focus on your training sessions. As soon as that whistle blows, bang, you can totally immerse yourself, in training and in your games.
The only other thing that I'll mention is that during this period of time, it's extremely important that you bond with the people that are close to you. You make your circle small. You stay connected and close to your family and your closest friends. You keep those bonds strong, and don't be afraid to express some of the challenges you're experiencing through this journey.
I hope you found value in this.
MSM Performance Academy
Coach & Co-CEO
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