3-Lessons from our Pro Panel
Yesterday we had the pleasure of welcoming over 90 athletes and their families to our newest performance facility located in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts. With that, we had a panel of professional athletes in attendance to answer a few scripted questions as well as an open forum to conclude the event.
Here were my 3 "Takeaways" from our professional athlete discussion:
1) Adversity is imminent.
One of the unique things that was shared by each of the professionals were personal accounts of past adversity each faced. Injury, playing opportunity... each of these men have had to undergo some form of adversity as a means to achieving the level of success they have had to this point. When you are in the game as long as these guys, you are bound to encounter adversity or failure in one way, shape or form. Their journeys through the game are not defined by the adversity that they have faced but by how they have chosen to respond.
This is a lesson that everyone, not just athletes can embrace. If we solely identify ourselves as an "athlete", what happens when that adversity hits... A big injury takes you out of competition or your performing poorly? If we put too much stock in our identity as an "athlete", we will certainly lack some perspective once that identity takes a hit. Being an athlete is a lifestyle, it is what we do but not all that we are.
2) The importance of being versatile.
One of the most interesting conversation pieces was on the importance of being versatile and not only in the sense of positions but training methodology as well. On the topic of playing and being exposed to multiple positions, Mike Ahmed (LA Dodgers, MiLB) gave a first hand account on the importance of learning and adapting to different positions. If you are in a situation where you limit your opportunities on field due to your inability to play or consider other positions, you are only hurting yourself. This is especially the case with many amateur athletes that put their stock in "primary" positions. While it is important to work at your craft, being open to learning new positions on-field can create additional opportunity.
In regards to training, versatility is equally important. Too often we get caught up in conventional means of training that lack consequence and competition. We get stuck "in the box" and confined to formal, repeatable training concepts. Finding ways to make training more difficult, stimulating and challenging your cognitive skill set is extremely beneficial for developing athletes. Our professional panel gave multiple accounts on the topic and I can attest to the countless "games" played with tennis balls, reaction balls, PVC pipes, etc.
3) "If you love what you do, it's not considered a sacrifice."
One of the most interesting questions came from a 12-year old athlete, "What were you willing to sacrifice to get where you are today?"
Nick Ahmed (Arizona Diamondbacks, MLB) responded by saying that, "If you love what you do, I don't consider that a sacrifice." In an age where youth athletes face immense competition and stress to perform, there is this connotation that the more you can accomplish or "do", the better you will become. The more "lessons" and "coaching" you can get, the more success you will have. Being in the athlete development realm, I see this all of the time. But training and on-field success is not a direct correlation. Ultimately, the success of an individual comes down to their own skill set, their desire to perform and how much they love what they are doing. If you truly love what you do, it doesn't seem like a sacrifice. You aren't concerned with what you may be giving up because you are content with where you are in that moment. The thing to consider as parents, mentors and coaches is that we have to understand the athletes needs/goals in order to better direct them.
In my opinion, this is the separator. It is my belief that our job at the academy is to help match our athletes passion with purpose and give them the necessary tools to achieve their peak potential. However, I would be lying to you in saying that I have a "secret" to our methods other than quality information and a positive, nurturing environment. We embrace failure, push the limits to our ability as players/coaches and are always looking for innovative ways to teach.
Did you find this article helpful? If you wish to work with us on your college recruiting process, please contact me. We are happy to help.