So Steph and I are training a group of athletes this evening. We start it off with a couple warm up laps and its usually pretty clear what kind of mindset they have right off the bat... lackadaisical. Then we get into the dynamic warm up and its a little better but not nearly good enough for me. I'd say only about 40% of them were pushing themselves, the rest were coasting. So I give a quick pep talk to lock them in and we continue.
Then I send them for water after a few more minutes and it hits me.
When I was a young "athlete,"... Lets stop right there and clarify. I do not consider myself an athlete or ever been athletic. I was a guy who knew how to play games, and could move well with intensity, that's all. However, I was once dubbed "the most athletic 6' 250lber in Lake County," by a very prominent area coach.
Anyway, when I played, I never remember NOT feeling the burn in my lungs or NOT feeling my legs turn to rubber. I really don't remember getting attention or knowing I was going to make a team or be a starter. I remember going into my senior year, my head coach started me off on the 2nd team. Somehow, I was the only guy on the team that didn't realize what he was doing to me. My coach felt that I had assumed a role that I hadnt earned... so he put it out there and made me go get it.
So as I'm thinking about things while training these pretty high level high school athletes... I'm wondering where their challenges are. They know they're good. They're all already starters at every age, at every school and most will have an opportunity to play college ball, if they want it. They can come into every session and only work at 75% effort and still start. They wont get cut, the coach wont demote them and they'll continue on thinking "good enough," is good enough.
So I start pushing the pace. I speed up the session. I start barking drills and pushing with a fun, energetic level that I knew they'd get behind and they stayed with me. I even got down and started working with them and challenging and making some games out of it, and they responded w excellence... the way they usually do when they're "awake."
The session ends on a high note with a core circuit and I bring them in to talk. I'm always honest with them, I never lie. I don't tell them they're awesome if they're average and I don't tell them they're average if they're awesome. Today, after a wake up call, they were awesome.
Paraphrasing, but I shared what I referenced above, "You're already good, you're already starters and people already know your name... All the kids in school know you, people around town know you and all that... So what? Here's what I want you to imagine... imagine you haven't even made the team... imagine no one knows you... imagine your brand new and you need to earn it again... imagine this is try outs and every drill, every rep, every moment is being judged and every single thing you do counts for something. Be great. Work to be great at everything and always work to earn your spot, wherever that is, whatever its for... work to earn it every single day."
And I'm driving home thinking about how I'm going to write this, thinking about how it relates to life. How it relates to the jobs we work or our relationships or our training. Are we just punching a clock or are we going hard? Are we taking it for granted because we think we've already earned it or we earning it every single day?
Every time I start to wonder if I'm getting too old for this....