2020: A Clear Distinction Between Champions and Wanna-be’s

Hello Parents!  

 It’s been a crazy year full of lots of challenges!  But even in the midst of the craziness and all the challenges presented, I still feel as though it was a productive year because of the things I’ve learned along the way. These lessons help me to grow as a person and as a coach. I would like to share these lessons and insights to end this year and start the new year with a clean slate.

 Before I share these lessons, I need to preface it by explaining a technique I use with the athletes I work with on how to turn any loss into a victory, or how to turn a challenging situation into one where they can learn and grow from it. 

 At the end of every game, at the end of every season, and/or after a setback or challenge, I have them ask themselves these three magic questions:


  1. What did I learn?
  2. How am I going to use what I learned in the future?
  3. What were three positives that came out of it?


When used religiously and answered objectively without blame, these three questions can change how they view defeat…… or honestly, how anyone can grow from a loss. This is an important skill to master because it changes our mindset and perspective when faced with disappointment or challenges. It teaches to objectively evaluate the past in order to learn from it to become better.  To not view ourselves as a victim of our circumstances, but as someone who has the power to change what’s needed and accept what can’t be changed. 


So, in order to practice what I teach, what did I learn in 2020? 

Big Lesson #1:  COVID provided a clear distinction between champions and wanna-be’s.  

 Throughout the Pandemic, I have heard more “Victim” thinking than I have ever heard previously.  True, we are in a pandemic. But, surprisingly, the pandemic was not bad for all athletes. Actually, quite the opposite.  Some found the opportunity for extreme growth. These individuals did not feel sorry for themselves at all and they made a commitment to a training schedule that they would have never been able to accomplish before, if not for COVID. 


So, how were these athletes able to excel…


Big Lesson #2: You, the parents, helped to make the difference!

In every situation where the child athlete took advantage of their downtime during covid, the parents were actively involved.  The amount of support and encouragement from parents was directly related to the level of improvement in each child.  The support they provided came in the form of providing structure and new routines, accountability, engagement in their lives, actively listening, and getting creative to help their child continue to improve. (one parent even set up an obstacle course in their backyard so their child could continue to work on their skills since he was not having regular team practices.) 


The athletes who excelled were training up to 8 hrs a day. None were spending time playing video games and watching TV. Their parents helped hold them accountable to train according to the schedule they set for themselves.  


These athletes saw this time as an opportunity to pass their competitors and their parent’s helped them to make it happen.  The parent's attitude made a difference in the level of growth for the athletes. You are their rock!


I have been truly inspired by these athletes and their parents who are using this time to grow into a higher level of athlete both mentally and physically. 


Other important lessons I learned:   


  1. Nothing is guaranteed!
  2. Sports play a huge role in normalization and socialization.
  3. True champions accept 100% responsibility for success AND failures.
  4. You can’t stop a true Champion.  They will find a way. 
  5. Mental toughness/fitness and resilience can be developed, especially with the help of parents.
  6. Champions are truly made in the off-season, or in this year’s COVID season. 


 Changes that I am going to make based on what I learned:


  1. I am going to continue to help athletes deal with doubt and uncertainty. 
  2. I am going to encourage and teach parents how to take a more active role.
  3. I am going to help parents and their child athletes work together to get the most out of their sports experience.
  4. I am going to help parents really listen to hear and understand their child.
  5. I am going to help athletes develop a higher level of mental toughness/fitness
  6. I am going to continue to build my team so I can serve parents and athletes to the best of my abilities.  


And finally, three positives that I have taken from this past year: 


  1. There is an opportunity in hardships.  A person’s perspective during hard times will determine if and how they will thrive and grow their skills. 
  2. I was able to serve twice as many athletes as I was previously able to serve due to the increase in virtual sessions.
  3. I have seen many Parents step-up and assist in the growth and support of their young athletes.


 As I close out this year I want to say it has been a challenging year for all of us in many ways. Unfortunately, the challenges aren’t going to suddenly disappear when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve. Challenges and change are part of life. Changing our perspective on how we view these challenges by making it a learning experience, helps to create mental toughness and resilience. 

 It's our job to teach our kids how to be resilient--to see that new goals can replace goals that have become unattainable, to help them see that there is a future beyond the current situation and to work towards creating the future they want, and to help them learn about themselves by asking the three magic questions. 


Happy New Year!

Jeff Miner and the rest of the TPI Team

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