12 Key Questions for Young Athletes/part2
Cal Botterill & Tom Patrick
7. Do you enjoy positive rivalries with opponents and teammates?
Positive rivalries have many advantages over negative rivalries in sport and life. Have you learned to embrace positive rivalries and enjoy the many payoffs? With positive rivalries, everything is positive. You respect and appreciate those you are competing with. Your mindset is “I hope you are good, because that makes me better and that’s good for both of us”. This attitude clearly brings out the best in everyone.Golfer Tiger Woods enjoys positive rivalries with his fellow golfers. He admires and enjoys the challenge when his competitors perform well. This attitude has helped him perform superbly when being tested by a strong opponent. Susan Auch & Catriona
Lemay-Doan developed a positive rivalry on their own team that enabled them to finish 1st and 2nd in the 500 metre Olympic Speed Skating Race in Nagano, Japan. Wayne Gretzky became Canada’s leader in hockey because he loved playing the best. As a player, captain, and now manager and leader, Wayne loves positive rivalries. His play in Canada Cups, Stanley Cup finals, and the Olympics is legendary. He knew playing the best brought out the best in him. The respect he has for the game and the people who
play it is amazing.
Keep your rivalries positive. When they slip and become negative, a lot of things deteriorate:
• Fear of failure creeps in
• Tension/pressure builds
• Negative images occur (that usually hurt you)
• Focus/concentration deteriorates
• Perspective disappears
The person into negative rivalries is at a significant disadvantage in terms of focus, enjoyment and performance. Appreciate and respect your competition. It will bring out the best in you and make for great team dynamics.
Where would we be without our competitors? Think about pick-up games where the competition is intense but the welfare of the participants is always the priority. If rivalries turn negative, no one will play. It’s a lesson for life.
8. Do you draw lessons after every competition?
If you were an astronaut, you would debrief after every flight or exercise. When lives are at stake, it is critical to draw lessons from every experience. The exercise is not just to identify mistakes but also to see and recognize solutions. We should do the same in sport. There is no point in feeling bad indefinitely about our mistakes. The key is to see the solution like great performers do, then look forward to the next opportunity. Hopefully your coach helps you with accurate attributions after a competition. Effort,
ability, task difficulty, and luck can all play roles in most sport outcomes. If your coach doesn't clarify attributions, seek out a trusted teammate, decide what you have learned and what you need to do next time. Once you have seen the solutions, it's time to let go and get some recovery.
9. How important is recovery?
Most people realize how important it is to train if you are an athlete. You need to develop the capacities to perform well. Equally important, however, is your state. If you are not well nourished, rested and hydrated, most of your capacities will be masked or lost.Training can be a waste of time if you don't take pride in recovery. Releasing from worry, stretching properly, massage, hydration, good nutrition, rest and enjoyable activities are all part of recovery. Take pride in both passive and active recovery activities. It’s the only way to make sure your training pays off the way it should.
Remember that recovery is mental and emotional as well as physical. Mental overload will affect your mental capacities and emotional fatigue can affect all capacities.Managing school and relationship demands can really affect your state and therefore your capacities.
Recovery is an important concept in sport and in life. Get good at it early.
10. Do you focus on the four areas of development between competitions?
There are four important areas of development for every athlete. Skill development is obviously important and requires lots of quality practice. Although a certain amount of quantity training is necessary for skill development, quality is probably the most important consideration. As well, for creative skill development, some time for exploration, trying things, taking risks, etc. can be important. Many of the very best, including Gretzky, suggest we shouldn't underestimate the potential of pick-up games for
Strategy development is the second major area. Every performer should have a game plan that involves the key strategies, cues and responses. Game plans should be simple enough to avoid overload yet comprehensive enough to hold focus. Simple wellexecuted strategies usually beat complex strategies that confuse or overload. Err on the side of simplicity.
Fitness development is the third component of development and preparation. It involves developing cardio-vascular fitness, flexibility and muscular strength and endurance.Physical training loads should be progressive as you mature but recovery should also be kept a priority. Team training can help make physical training enjoyable.
Psychological preparation and development is the fourth component. Although this area is often the last to be considered, top athletes like Olympic Diving Gold Medallist Sylvia Bernier believe good psychology can help you develop in all the other areas. Imagery can help you learn and train better. Relaxation can help recovery. Game plans can help you focus and execute strategies. Psychology can help you to get to know yourself
better and develop a strong perspective. It can help you with team and interpersonal skills, pre-competition plans, focus plans, refocusing strategies, emotional management and debriefing. Take pride in all four areas of development. It is all part of helping you realize your potential.
11. Do you get the support you deserve?
To realize our potential we all need support. We all need challenge from time to time as well but support is a primary need. Ideally some of that support is unconditional which means we feel loved for who we are, not for what we accomplish. People who have that kind of support usually feel more secure, have a better perspective and as psychologist
Abraham Maslow suggests, have a better chance to actualize their potential. Hopefully you feel unconditional support from some of the key people in your life. If you don't,explore some of the key relationships in your life. Sometimes support has accidentally and unintentionally come to feel conditional. It’s hard to perform well in sport and life if you feel support is always conditional on how you perform.
Good caring two-way communication, where you interview one another, can help with rediscovering unconditional support or love. If unconditional support is not in the traditional places (eg. parents), invest in the people you admire and trust the most. It might be a friend, a grandparent, a teacher, a coach, or a relative. We all need a few people who can remind us who we are in simple non-judgmental ways.Belief starts with being accepted by others. Find those who accept you for who you are and take pride in those relationships. We all deserve support but sometimes we have to find it. Life is a team game.
12. Do you think sport is good preparation for life?
Like life, we don't always get everything we deserve in sport. Sport is a great place to work on our persistence and coping skills when things don’t go the way we want. We start to learn what is within our control and what is beyond our control. We can also learn how to support one another under pressure, so refocusing is not so difficult.
We can learn a good work ethic and improve our persistence and resilience. We can learn how to manage our emotions and become an exciting mix of caring and character.
We can learn more about who we are and the importance of values. We can learn about teamwork, collective belief and human potential.
There are impressive possibilities but no guarantees. Sport has tremendous potential in many ways. For some it has led to drug abuse, eating disorders, violence, cheating, gambling, discrimination and lost souls. Approach this powerful vehicle with perspective, not dependency.
Participate on your terms, so you get where you want to go and realize
your positive potential.