Do you have a favorite item of furniture in your house, one that is super comfortable? This is likely the place you go when you want to relax after a long day or on a lazy Sunday morning to read the newspaper, a good book or watch a little TV. I call it the comfort zone; a place most of us would rather spend more time in if we could.
In truth comfort zones in life are a mixed blessing. Unfortunately for us to grow we need to push beyond those familiar comforts and be willing to risk being uncomfortable, making mistakes and occasionally falling flat on our faces. If we do not we can get trapped in our comfort zone to the point where our favorite chair becomes bumpy and tattered.
For your athlete comfort zones can definitely limit her growth, be it making new friends, trying a new activity or new food, or taking a challenging class at school.
Now I'm not suggesting that you or your athlete give up your favorite pair of old shoes, but in the game of fastpitch in the ultra competitive environment of youth sports in America today she will need to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable.
For most young athletes in the early years they play in their local recreational league with their friends and classmates. As they progress and get better many start playing at the All Star level, with a new coach, new teammates and some travel while playing against teams from different cities. The next step is travel ball where your athlete may not know anyone on the team, travel to far flung places every weekend to play multiple games, arising before dawn to hit the road.
At this stage she may be asked to play different positions, bat in different spots in the lineup or maybe not be a starter at all. All in all the fairy tale comfort zone of her early years playing sports is but a memory. If she is not able to cope with all these changes in her softball world she will have difficulty playing well and having fun playing.
For those parents who feel the need to team hop on an annual basis your athlete is thrown out of her new comfort zone before the paint dries! All in all playing youth sports today sometimes looks more like a job or tour in the military than it does having fun. But in an era of specialization your athlete must travel down this path of change to play for the best teams and best coaches, and to be seen by the right scouts by playing in the right showcases.
In the big picture becoming comfortable with her discomfort is likely a good life lesson for your athlete to learn, however it would be far more enjoyable sometimes to just curl up on that comfy couch to watch Sponge Bob wouldn't it?
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