One of the questions I hear from parents, and coaches alike, every season is, “how do I keep my son/daughter/athlete interested in ____?”
They tend to automatically blame the current technological culture, make assumptions that they’re too hard or too easy on their child, and even wonder if their child is just lazy. It’s an issue that everyone faces at some point.
There are a few things you should be asking before we go into the three steps for increasing perseverance.
- Is my child old enough to be specializing? Specialization in sport is great to gain greater proficiency, but at very young ages it’s better to generalize to build the necessary all around skills. A 4 year old should not be playing baseball gear around as their only sport unless they want to, but high school and college are fine for specialization.
- Who initiated the activity? Is it being forced by parents or did the child want to sign up? A lot of the driving force can be found in this question.
- Is this an organized sport or just a random get together with friends and family? Yes, it is 100% important to follow through on commitments but if your child doesn’t want to train up for the annual family reunion softball tournament, that might just be okay.
Once you work through those three questions we can dig into developing perseverance by developing the individual. When I look back on the difficult periods in my life, and the lives of others, I realized that there were often three common themes.
Purpose, commitment, and willpower.
1: It begins with knowing your “why” for starting.
There is always an initial mover, a spark of motivation and drive that lead you to look into a new sport, to sign up for a race, or to pursue a new challenge. That initial spark is fickle and it can grow and shrink from day to day, sometimes even minute to minute. The main thing you need to do is CAPTURE THAT SPARK.
Take time to reflect on how you felt when you signed up, what was the purpose of it, what was your why? Write it down and put it somewhere you can be reminded of it when things get hard.
You don’t always need a purpose filled with grandir with the highest of aspirations. You can simply say, “I wanted to try something new.”
Whatever it is, hold it close and use it to drive your dry spells and low moments. Remind yourself that at one point in time that spark was strong enough to initiate movement.
2: Commitment isn’t about you, it’s about others.
We tend to look interior when things get hard. That’s fine, our body naturally looks towards self-preservation during times of fear or anxiety. What you need to do is make a conscious effort to turn your focus external to see who else will be impacted by your decisions.
Do you have teammates relying on you? Did your parents use their money to pay for your season/equipment? Are your younger siblings looking up to you? Take a breath and make an assessment as to what the waves of your decision impact outside of your personal bubble.
When a commitment is made, you should follow through. Sometimes we don’t always want to, but when it comes to sports and your profession, following through on your commitments can help others know that they can rely on you.
3: Where there is a will, there is a way.
Sometimes,… nothing works and you just need yo push through. Growing up I loved to be on the ice and play ice hockey. I would play Saturday morning with my team and then spend 5 hours that night playing midnight hockey, which was a block of open hockey at the local rink from 9pm-2am. I loved it. However, I loathed off ice training. I really hated to run and I did not enjoy the drills.
I had to make a forced effort, using my willpower, to overcome my desire to not go. It didn’t take much, I just needed enough willingness built up to start. Once practice started and the drills began, I didn’t actually mind it and always ended up being around my team.
Sometimes willpower is all you have and sometimes willpower gets you into the groove to use your “why” or to follow through on your commitments. For it to work you need to find what drives you forward and harness that energy and power.
Give these tips a try and at the very least, every time you start something new, write out your “why” for starting. Take ownership of that spark and kindle a roading fire from it.
If you enjoyed this post feel free to leave a comment below, share this post with friends/coaches, and click the follow button to stay up to date on new posts. Thank you for taking the time to visit The Unconquerable Mind! ~ Dr. Ty