French - compéter - be in rivalry with

Latin - competere - strive in common

Competition - to strive together

What separates good athletes from great athletes?

-  Good athletes compete for the sake of beating someone or attaining a goal.  What happens once they reach their desired result?  Most become complacent or lost since their only objective has been fulfilled.  The great athletes learn how to compete on a drastically higher level.  This level of competition always starts against themselves.  They don't compare, get jealous or worry about the other athletes.  They train, drill and prepare to be the best they are capable of becoming.  Their ultimate goal is to bring out the best in their opponents.  That seems rather contrary to the way sports, more specifically youth sports, function these days.  So, you tell me, what is the biggest downfall of youth sports today?  Is it that everybody gets a spot?  Is it the intoxicated, uneducated parents on the sideline?  Is it the coach who will do anything to win a 6th grade tournament?  Is it that x's and o's dominate the practice plan rather than the physical, mental and emotional skills that actually help kids get better?  We have a more specific suggestion...

Let us fast forward to college.  A highly recruited freshman shows up on campus.  He receives his class schedule, buys his books and buys his father a t-shirt at the book store.  He stops in to say hello to his coaches at their office.  He speaks maturely and carries himself with the confidence of Apollo Creed strutting out of the dressing room.  His coaches love his attitude and his excitement for fall ball.  The next day he shows up early to the locker room, gets a quick wall ball session in before practice and is feeling great.  Practice starts at a breakneck pace he has never seen before.  His skills allow him to keep up and excel in the fundamental portion of practice.   Next comes the 1v1 ground ball drill.  His speed and reaction to the sight of the ball immediately grabs the attention and respect of the coaching staff.  Two seconds later, as he bends down to pick up the ground ball, his teammate's stick head comes down on his hands and his fingers immediately go numb.  His teammate wins the ground ball and completes the drill while our freshman slowly jobs back to the end of the line.  His coaches, as if this was rehearsed, start yelling and screaming in unison that you sprint in every drill.  They don't understand why, with his talent, he does not grasp the intensity of every sequence.  Is it because he was never coached?  Is it because he never had to work hard?  Rewind back to the present day.  It is precisely because he never learned how to compete!  As we stated earlier, external competition has a ceiling.  It can only go so high for so long because kids who are lucky enough to make a Division 1 roster were the best on their teams.  Of course when you play on 4 different teams including high school, club and "all star" teams, you are paying to be on most of them and get limited practices with limited numbers.  Once you become the best on your team, you've reached your goal.  Once you've hit the top of the recruiting class, you've reached another goal.  

Don't allow your son or daughter to fall into this toxic mindset.  When they learn to physically, mentally and emotionally compete against themselves for the sake of enjoyment and bringing out the best in their opponents, that is when they reach greatness.  You must be at your best to bring out the best in others.  Put your son or daughter in a position to compete and evaluate them only on their preparation and enjoyment.  They must fall in love with preparation in order to bring out the best in their opponents and teammates before you should want them to play at a high level.  As John Wooden so simply stated - you're never a failure if you're prepared.  The goal of every athlete should be to be so physically, mentally and emotionally prepared that when they participate in team sports, their level of play makes the athletes around them realize that they themselves are not that good and makes them ask themselves 2 questions - Am I willing to put the time in to get better?  Should I quit because I am not willing to prepare to be that good?  Whichever side of the coin your child is on, you want them to understand that correct preparation and the enjoyment of competition are what truly separates the good athletes from the great ones.

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