The Heart of an Athlete – What Parents of High School Athletes Need to Know – Part III

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As a fitness professional for over 25 years and the Training and Conditioning Coach for the WTWoodson Crew Team for the last 6 years, I have put together a few articles that I think will benefit parents (and coaches) for high school athletes.  Enjoy!!

The Heart of an Athlete

It takes a physically, mentally, and emotionally strong individual to be a winning athlete!  And more than that it takes heart, passion, and tenacity!

It is my job, as a  training and conditioning coach, to push each athlete beyond their known limits every day.  They are being pushed and challenged not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally.  To show up at practice every day – knowing this – takes courage. 

 It takes Courage to:

 A) Step into the unknown.  They have no idea what I have in store for them each day.  They only know it’s going to hurt!

B) Push through the physical pain.  They have lactic acid being given off in their muscles during the 1.5 – 3 hours they are with me.  They have to push through that burn.  Plus they have burning in their lungs – which is helping to increase their VO2 Max (their ability to take in and use oxygen).  They experience muscle exhaustion and cramping.  Should I add the cold and other weather conditions that they will endure??

 C) Push through the mental pain.  We all have negative self-talk.  Those times it is “just too hard” and we want to “give up”.  Each athlete has a different threshold and different self-talk phrases that run through their heads every practice.  We teach them alternate self-talk phrases:  “I am STRONG.  I can do this.  I can do this ___ more times/minutes.  I will NOT give up.”  We teach them that a Strong Mind creates a Strong Body – not the other way around! 

 Nurturing the Heart of an Athlete: 

At practice we have a high bar that we expect each athlete to strive for.  But we also support them through the process.  Push them, praise them, and do it all over again.  We also have the stronger athletes work with and motivate the weaker/younger ones.  This is a Team sport and we leave NO ONE behind!!!  We have each other’s backs!

 At home it is important to give them the tools they need to succeed as athletes.  They need proper clothing, food, sleep, and water.  They need rest and recovery – baths, massage, quiet time.  They need words of motivation and encouragement.  They need to know that it’s OK to make mistakes – make it right – and tomorrow is another day!  Finally, they need lots and lots of praise. 

 We light the fire in the heart of an athlete.  We ask that you keep that fire burning for us when they are not with us!

Love to you