Do not as I did
Posted on August 6th, 2012
You cannot help but ask, “What if?” when you watch the Olympic Games.
What if my parents had been great coaches? What if they placed me under the wings of a highly eccentric, but effective training guru? Would I have been bred for success, carefully honed on a daily basis for Olympic glory? Would my name be as famous as Phelps or Bolt?
I can assure you, the answer is almost certainly no.
But there’s no doubt you would likely be pretty damn good at whatever you pursued. You would be better off than if you ventured out into the unforgiving wilderness on your own, or if you simply had clueless parents.
My folks did a fine job, but they knew nothing of sport. They tried to give me opportunities to play, and play I did. But I had no one to properly coach me, to ensure great form, or to instill the proper perspective and mindset. I just had to figure it out as I went along.
How do you think that turned out? I’ll just say this…it was less than optimal.
I’m now the proud father of a little 10 month-old boy. Every time he crawls, climbs, and breathes I’m overjoyed. But all this activity is simply a reminder that he will soon walk, run, jump and lift stuff. Fears aside, I know I need to prepare him to the best of my ability. And I know that I can do that.
He doesn’t need goals. He doesn’t need to be driven. He just needs to be prepared for whatever it is he wants to do. Maybe he could learn from my missteps.
There are two simple lessons.
Move, work, then load
I’m not very flexible, especially in the middle of my back. This causes me to round over when I move or lift. I have an elbow that will not fully flex or extend. There are some movements I simply cannot even attempt. That shouldn’t be.
This is what happens when you don’t observe the order.
Kids must learn how to control the position of their bodies. Now, you could make that a really complicated idea, but I prefer the simple definition. I will teach my son to maintain good, upright back posture as he moves his arms overhead, and as he flexes and extends his hips and knees. Nothing else will happen until this is as routine as breathing.
Once you can do that, you can learn essential gymnastic and lifting movements. You’ll be prepared to progress to harder skills. You’ll be free to start exercising and building your work ability. And yes, you’ll be able to lift very heavy things without getting hurt…But that comes last!
The steps will not be skipped.
Keep proper perspective
Sports and competition are great. I hope my child decides to play and play often, and to keep some sort of competitive activity as long as he is able. But I want him to remember that nothing is more important than balance.
He should compete because it’s fun and fulfilling, not because he ever feels he has to do it. I hope he learns to appreciate and enjoy the work. I hope he sees the value in refining his abilities, and what that can offer him in all aspects of his life. I hope he never chooses to sacrifice his health and well-being for the sake of a temporary and fleeting goal. And most importantly, I hope he has the opportunity to share his lessons with his kids. God, the thought of that just gives me chills.
Yeah, it would have been great to be a world champion. But if my mistakes can ensure that my son is better off, then hell, that’s better than winning anything for myself.