Get What a Pro's Got
If you’re like me, you probably spent most of your childhood planning out your career as a professional athlete. You idolized the superstar on your favorite team, hung his poster on your bedroom wall, and wore his replica jersey ‘til the seams unraveled. My guy was Ryne Sandberg, the All-Star second baseman for the Chicago Cubs. I was convinced someday that was gonna be me. Who were you gonna be?
At some point reality set in for me, as it does for most of us – that life as a pro wasn’t a part of my future. But when I was a kid, the poster and the jersey served as a constant reminder that someday I’d have what Ryne Sandberg had – the starting spot at second base for the Cubs, my poster on some kid’s bedroom wall, and my replica jersey getting worn out on the backs of my biggest fans.
These days, you might find that your son is planning on a career as a pro, too. He’s got the poster of his favorite player hanging on his bedroom wall and the replica jersey hanging in his closet. They serve as a reminder of the future he’s anticipating – a future where he’s got what a pro’s got.
The truth is, your son will probably never have his picture on a poster or his replica jersey on a fan's back. If he does make to the pros, of course you’ll have had a lot to do with it. Even if he doesn’t, though, I want you to see today that in some ways, you can still help get what a pro’s got.
When it comes to raising a champion athlete and man, there’s no greater example than your own. The qualities your son needs in order to reach his full potential - on the playing field and beyond - he’ll develop at least in part because he’s seen you model. But there are other examples out there that you should be using to reinforce the important qualities it takes to become a champion. Sure, a pro’s ability to run or shoot, or throw or hit may be impressive, and it may be what your son admires. But your job is to make sure your son understands that in the champion athlete, there is more to admire. It’s those qualities that make an athlete his very best – qualities that your son needs to develop in order to become his best, too – that you need to be highlighting and emphasizing.
A pro’s ability to run or shoot, or throw or hit may be impressive, and it may be what your son admires. But your job is to make sure your son understands that in the champion athlete, there is more to admire.
Here are a few examples of what I mean…
Have you recognized that your son is struggling to consistently give his best? Some days he works hard, seems committed, and is good to himself and to his teammates…but some days he’s not. How can you help him see the value of giving his best, not just some days, but every day? If he's a baseball player who admires the Angels' Mike Trout, then you could use an article like this one, “The Everyday Excellence of Mike Trout,” to illustrate for him how the best go about their business. Trout may be one of the most physically gifted players in Major League Baseball, but that’s only a small part of what makes him great.
Has your son had a bad game and is struggling to bounce back from a poor performance? Has his confidence been shot or his belief in himself shaken? If he likes Steph Curry, then an article like this one, “Stephen Curry hits NBA record 13 3-pointers,” might make an impact. It was written the night Curry broke his own record for most made 3-pointers in a game, but also only three nights after he set an NBA record for most misses in a game when he went 0-10. While 0-10 would have gotten many players depressed, it got Curry determined. Maybe your son could benefit from knowing that poor performances happen to everyone (even the best), but it’s our response to a poor performances that really defines who we are.
Believing in Himself
Is your son struggling to believe he’s got what it takes to be great? Maybe this article about the Boston Celtics’ Isaiah Thomas could help – “The NBA’s shortest superstar: Isaiah Thomas’ road to the upper echelon.” Whether your son is concerned he’s too small, or too slow, not strong enough or not talented enough, Thomas’ example might help verify an important reality for your son – that your own confidence, belief, and work ethic is more important than any label someone might choose to place on you.
Are you or your son struggling with the fact that he’s a late bloomer? It may be easy for either of you to feel like if he’s behind right now – in areas of his physical, athletic, or skill development – that he may stay behind forever. But there are actually plenty of examples of pros who’ve had major success after starting slow or blooming late. Take Ben Zobrist, last year’s World Series MVP, who, as it says in the article, “The World Series MVP may have never played baseball if not for a $50 gift he received in high school,” didn’t have a single scholarship offer to play college baseball after his senior season. Does Zobrist's example guarantee that your son will make it to the pros? Of course not. But if he can continue to work hard and see the big picture, then who knows where he may end up, or at least who he may become in the process?
Now, your boy may not be dealing with any of those specific challenges, but that’s not really the point. The point is this: superstar athletes can be a great resource in helping you develop the qualities of a champion in your son. They can validate for him the important lessons you’re working to teach him. Obviously, not every professional athlete is going to be worthy of emulating, but you can find support from the pros in almost any important area you’re working to develop. Want him to gain a deeper understanding of the value of hard work? See what a passion for the game looks like? Develop his toughness or resilience? Be a better teammate? Understand the value of getting coached? Take more risks? There are professional athletes and their stories out there everywhere, ready and willing to support you in the teaching, training, and development of your son.
Yes, they are out there…but they’re only beneficial to you under a couple conditions. First, you’ve got to be able to identify the areas where your son needs to grow and improve. You’ve got to see clearly those qualities that he needs to develop, but doesn’t yet possess. If you can’t see them clearly, it'll be tough to help him move forward in those areas. Secondly, you’ve got to be on the hunt for that support from the pros. Meaningful articles or profiles probably aren’t going to stroll into your inbox on their own – you’ve got to go find them. Use Google, or YouTube, or whatever you choose, just remember: you won’t find what you aren't looking for. If developing the qualities of a champion in your son is important to you, then make the effort to use every tool at your disposal.
Remember: you won’t find what you aren't looking for.
I hope you’ll always believe in the power of your own example, but I hope you also never underestimate the power of a pro’s example, either. Many of them are champion athletes because they’ve developed the qualities of a champion - the same qualities your son needs in order to become a champion himself. So while you may not be able to guarantee that someday your son has his face on a poster or a replica jersey on the backs of his fans, you can make sure you’re working to give him at least some of what a pro’s got today.