Chances are you’ve never seen me on ESPN’s Center of Sports. There’s a reason for that- I’m not a very good athlete. I’m not looking for lame praise to the contrary, I simply know this to be a fact. Although I’ve always enjoyed sports, always played sports growing up, I have never felt like an offense was built around me or anything. I was okay, serviceable, a team-player. And, to be honest, at my age I miss the chances I think I squandered as an athlete. I think I made some mistakes as an athlete and I think the greatest overall mistake is now clear to me: I didn’t try.
Though I regret this now, there is absolutely nothing that I can do to change the fact that I could have practiced more, could have done more strength conditioning, could have become more of a student of the game. I didn’t, I didn’t, I wasn’t. I liked sports, I loved certain teams that I was on, I had my moments… but by and large, I could have tried harder to be the athlete I now wonder about. I wonder, now (and maybe you wonder the same for yourself) if I could have been better if I’d tried harder. It’s a natural part of the aging process- wonderment. I wonder, more than I likely realize, who or what I could have been if I’d tried harder.
The hardest I know I ever tried as an athlete was when my dad helped me get ready for a basketball season in seventh grade. A few nights a week, my dad would go with me to a track behind an elementary school and we’d run together. I’m not sure exactly how far we’d run each time, but I know by the end of those first few nights I was panting and I know that each time we went it got easier. I was better that season, I felt prepared. I still wasn’t great at the foul line maybe, or couldn’t hit many shots from certain distance, but thanks to my dad I was less winded than I might have been otherwise. I think, looking back, that it was fun to do that with my dad. It was fun and felt special to do that- running a few nights a week. I felt like he was teaching me something about training, about trying. I was an athlete that year, that season. I was prepared, I was better, I was committed. I’ll never forget it. I don’t remember much of all my years as an athlete, but I remember that one best. It was support. It was support in the guise of training. My dad wasn’t yelling from the sidelines, wasn’t pouring over plays that didn’t work during the car ride home… he was just running with me. He was there for me. It was a quiet and continued support.
So who cares? Likely no one other than me. But, still, I offer it simply to show what might be most important to you and most important to your player or your child- the time you spend helping them try.