The New Year always offers opportunity for hope, a new beginning, a blank slate. We set one or several "resolutions" for change in one or many areas of our life. However, for most of us the new year will look a lot like the old year simply because we refuse to make the adjustments necessary in our lives to affect real change. Whether weight loss, career or relationships doing the hard work to create change means stepping outside of comfort zones and being willing to risk to receive the reward.
How does this translate for your athlete or team in 2017?
The first step in evaluating where your athlete or team is on January 1 is an honest assessment of the growth achieved in 2016. In what areas did she/they get better? In what areas did they not? How can we identify where to go from here?
In the business world you can perform a S.W.O.T. analysis. A what??
S.W.O.T. stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. As a parent or coach write down your athlete's strengths and her weaknesses. Review those with her, then develop a weekly and monthly plan for her/them to work on making their strengths deeper and their weaknesses a strength. I would encourage the development of both macro (long term) goals and micro (short term) goals. And write them down! If goals are not written down and reviewed often they have no power for change.
In terms of opportunities, they are always present, but only if your athlete/team puts themselves in a position to take advantage of the opportunities through solid physical and mental preparation.
Threats are also always present. Threats could look like competition from another player or team (and keep in mind that if your goal is to get your athlete recruited that there are plenty of other players competing with her for the same scholarship). Or as I always say, "If you are not getting better you are getting worse." A threat could be losing a starting spot or being cut from the team. A real threat can be your (as parents) cutting off the money for softball if your athlete doesn't give the effort.
Speaking of that the next way to insure 2017 is a better year, and she makes the solid commitment to doing the things necessary to further her game mastery is to rediscover why she plays the game? If your athlete is playing for you she will ultimately burn out, or become indignant. She must find the motivation internally. Maybe she plays because:
1. She loves the game (always the best!)
2. She loves her teammates
3. She really wants to play in college
4. She loves the competition
5. She feels good about herself when she works hard and achieves a desired result
6. Mom and Dad make me play (always the worst)
Whatever the reason help her to reconnect with it. This will help her to push through fatigue and the "I don't want to do it" moments.
Back to comfort zones. As an athlete trying to master a very difficult game it is incumbent on her to push through those scary and uncomfortable moments when doubt, fear or uncertainty rear their ugly heads inside her mind. Growth always has a price to it. She needs to learn to be comfortable while being uncomfortable; to push through the fear and do it anyway. For your athlete to reach her fullest softball potential she will need to constantly challenge herself and be okay failing a little along the way. No risk...no reward!
Finally having a better 2017 looks like expecting it! For any human, and particularly an adolescent athlete, our dominant thoughts end up winning. Either we think the thing we desire is achievable or we think it is not. In other words, we get what we expect, so why not think the best; why not expect success? Directing our thoughts is the ultimate personal responsibility...the ultimate human super power. Help your athlete to take charge of her thoughts, keep her on track working daily on her goals
and watch her game soar in 2017.
Thanks for reading and my best wishes for a great 2017 for you and your family and team!