By Eric Cressey
November is a big month if you train high school athletes, as this is when the overwhelming majority of athletes committed to play Division 1 sports sign National Letters of Intent to make it “official.” It’s an exciting day for the young athletes, their families, and their schools. I’ve been through five of these days since we opened Cressey Performance, and in retrospect, it’s really fun to see how many of those kids have gone on to successful college and, sometimes, professional careers.
It’s also a time where I constantly remind myself and our staff that we didn’t just start working with young athletes just so that we could “produce” Division 1, 2, or even 3 athletes.
We did it to educate young athletes on how proper training can make their athletic experiences safer and more fun.
We did it to help build confidence in kids and put them in an unconditionally positive and encouraging environment.
We did it to begin to help to foster proper exercise and nutrition habits that will sustain kids for life even after competitive sports are over.
There seems to be a prevailing perception in the youth sports industry that “success” is measured in terms of scholarships earned, points scored, or some other quantifiable measure of performance. Maybe it’s because that’s what’s easiest to report in a newspaper article or Twitter update.
The truth is, though, that the overwhelming majority of your athletes will never go on to play college sports, let alone professional sports. And, nobody will ever author a newspaper article talking about how John Doe was the 14th man on his soccer team that won six games and lost 17, and then he went on to play club soccer and get an accounting degree at a college that didn’t even have an interscholastic soccer team. No injuries, no “Freshman 15,” and no poor decisions that required his buddies to bail him out. To me, a scenario like this is still an outstanding reason to be proud.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t celebrate young athletes’ successes; it’s just to remind you that you should celebrate all their successes, regardless of level and how much publicity those accomplishments get. A conversation, email, text message, phone call, Facebook post, or Tweet might be a quick and easy bit of recognition and positive affirmation you can provide an athlete, but it can go a lot further in a young athlete’s eyes that you might realize.
Eric Cressey, MA, CSCS is the president of Cressey Performance. He published a free newsletter and blog at www.EricCressey.com