Most professional Trainers, be them Fitness Gurus or Sports Performance Experts, may not ever take the time to realize that much of what we hold true and dear in our pursuits of enhancing both the health and ability of young athletes, also translates to the world of business and life as well.
Perhaps this lack of ‘connecting-the-dots’ between the two is more than just something that has been overlooked – it’s because the values on which we pride our work with young athletes is far too limited in scope to be accurate.
Let me explain that.
Our industry holds strong to the notion that short-term, ‘work ’em hard’ training situations that involve high intensity on everything and a slow, methodical infusion of skill on nothing, is what best serves young clients in their need to get better (faster, stronger etc) now.
But how often does this gun-slinging approach to life or business prove successful?
And can we take lessons from that as it relates to developing young athletes?
How many times do we become handicapped by vein, unplanned and quick attempts to overhaul our businesses or restructure our lives in short periods of time?
Think about it. How many New Year’s Eve goals for the impending year have you set (be them business or life alterations) only to find yourself exactly where you were in November come March?
Here’s another one for you.
Have you ever crammed for a test or exam?
You know what I mean… Stayed up virtually all night to study for an 8am exam in a subject that you barely even did any homework for during the course of the semester?
Ya… You can put your hands down now – we’ve all done it!
I’d be willing to bet that you often got great grades using this ‘the night before’ method of studying. Perhaps several ‘A’ report cards were based on study habits just like this? I’ll be honest, this is pretty much how I got through college – and I graduated with top honors!
My point is that the end doesn’t always justify the means.
You can get an ‘A’ report card by doing solid and consistent work over the semester, or you can get an ‘A’ by following ‘the night before’ method of studying. The end result is the same, but the fallout post-exam is much different. I’ll go into details a little later.
Having said all that, I wanted to show you how success in Life or Business can be obtained by following 2 basic, but critical components of long-term athlete development training protocol.
The Process Outweighs the Outcome
In our fortune cookie society, we have become very connected to quick-witted quotes from famous people of yesteryear and soothsaying advice from those we hold collectively as esteemed.
But very often, if you’re prepared to dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the one sentence quote or word of wisdom lacks a true definition unless you take the entire thought into perspective.
Lincoln, Churchill, Keller and even Yoda are amazing examples of wonderful souls who have graced us with single-serving remarks that we take as profound and words to live by. But in every case, the context of what they meant and why they said it dramatically changes when we read their entire biographies or journals and not just the most famous lines they penned.
I say that because we are all familiar with such wonderful metaphorical phrases, poems and song lyrics as:
“Life’s a journey, not a destination”
“The journey is the reward”
“Slow and steady wins the race”
But, and let me be frank here, how often do you actually take this advice?
Are you content with developing a 3, 4 or 5 year plan and able to remain focused on it as the hours, days and months of the path labor on?
Do you even know how to create such a long-term plan?
Again, I point to the fact that we all know and can recite, verbatim, what the prognosticators of success tell us, but without context of what they meant or how to do it, does any of it really amount to anything in our lives?
Enter the world of Youth Sports Training.
“6-weeks to a 6-inch vertical jump increase”
“Faster 40 in 4 weeks”
“Increase bench and squat in 1 month”
We’ve all broadcast training programs like this.
And if we haven’t advertised using these sorts of words, we’ve most certainly implied the like by selling parents and sports coaches on training programs that are short-term in nature.
Now, although your ‘Super-Secret-System’ for training is top-notch, world-class and unlike anything anyone has ever seen before (and naturally the reason why so many of your young athletes show test/re-test improvements), let me share with you the two realities that we must face, but may be missing:
a) The Human Organism is Designed to Adapt
Bubble-bursting as this may be, the human body has been created to adapt to the stimulus its presented. In short, you ask a body to jump, it becomes better at jumping.
Same is true for squatting, running, bench pressing or throwing stuff.
Yes, eventually you reach a critical mass and the improvements or gains begin to tail off until a more specific and technically-sound stimulus is presented, but with young athletes (due to their age) everything works.
Everything; Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, Cross-Fit, Circuit-Training, Plyometrics…
It all works in varying degrees. That’s the very nature of being young.
Kids get better as a matter of applied demand and therefore there is no such thing as “we test every 6 weeks to make sure the program is working”…. It’s going to work. There is nothing rocket science about that.
Thus, the need for a long-term approach that doesn’t just pretend to preach the virtues of, but actually embraces the notion of “The Journey is More Important than the Outcome”.
It’s not so much where your business or life is now; it’s where you want it to be.
And nothing of merit ever happens in a day or overnight.
Same holds true for developing young athletes. Think long-term and where they need to be in time and what it’s going to take to get them there – you may be very surprised how much you take the foot off the gas pedal when keeping this context in mind.
Principles First… Values Second
You can get an ‘A’ by studying the night before, or you can get an ‘A’ by diligently tending to your work all semester.
The fact that the outcome is the same seems to imply that the path doesn’t matter.
But what about when the exam is over?
Study the night before and I guarantee that every piece of information you crammed into your head will be gone inside of 60 minutes post exam.
Study consistently over the semester, and your retention of the material will remain with your forever.
And that is a sizeable difference.
In academics, business or life, we can always scrape by. Do as little as possible in a rushed or last-minute type way and still get to the destination or obtain what we want. But buyer beware – there is a shelve life on such practices.
In school, fail to do the work properly and you will never have gained the knowledge. There will be no foundation on which to grow or entertain further study in this area or subject matter.
In life or business, if you fail to take your time, learn the lessons and gain the knowledge, you will be forever condemned to either repeat the same mistakes or retard the grow of your company or soul.
Let’s full-circle that back to Youth Sports Training, shall we…
Academics = Cram for a test – get an ‘A’
Training = Cram as many Plyometrics into a 6-week cycle as you can – improve a vertical jump
Academics = But there is no retention of the information and therefore no knowledge gained or ability to progress in that subject.
Training = But there has been limited technical instruction or tertiary development, so no foundation on which to build.
And before you suggest that in a 6-week training cycle you DO in fact teach technique, let me leave you with this thought:
Could you really teach everything that was necessary in order to competently pass Grade 2 in only 6 weeks study?
Young athletes are organisms that are governed by the principles of human growth and development. We didn’t write the laws, nor do we have any ability to alter them.
But they do exist, and any training program designed for young athletes absolutely must keep the principles of the organisms natural development is strong priority over any values (numbers) we want to obtain. Infractions on this will lead to injury and/or limited long-term gain.
Success in business and life really is easy.
Create a plan and diligently follow it. Don’t look for short-cuts or try to outsmart the natural ebb and flow of reality. Stick to your guns and understand that slow, methodical and daily effort towards your vision is the only path that has ever proven successful.
Now, look at the last training program you wrote for a young athlete.
Keep the paragraph above in mind, close your eyes, and start again…..
Brian Grasso has trained more than 15,000 young athletes worldwide over the past decade. He is the Founder and CEO of the International Youth Conditioning Association – the #1 certification for Youth Fitness and Youth Sports Performance.
For more information, visit www.IYCA.org