Tidbits for the athlete who wants to be elite and their parents. These are my own personal opinions based on my experiences of course, but they could possibly be of help to someone. God bless.
1. Never assume practice or whatever a coach mandates is enough. Logically, if you're doing the exact same thing as everyone else the chances of you standing out are very slim. Be unique in your work ethic and daily preparations. Be ready to sacrifice the common things kids your age enjoy. What you give up in the present will account for future benefit.
2. Learn to do a drill/play right the first time. Great players are mentally sound and will listen and grasp a concept immediately. Don't be the one who loses focus and blows a great opportunity. That one chance you get to prove yourself could be your only shot.
3. Have a clear line of communication with your respective coach and stay constantly updated on your athletic progression and what improvements you need to make. Speak up and don't be timid if you have a concern or question. Remember, this is the one with whom colleges speak with initially. Make sure that relationship is solid.
4. If success comes don't bathe in it. Keep a closed ear to the gas that tells you how great you are. Complacency is the most common path an athlete takes after tasting success. Always strive to be better than yesterday.
5. Love your teammates and respect your coaches. You cannot become elite without the help of your comrades around you. Build them up and encourage them to be accountable. Be a leader that does by example and doesn't accept mediocrity.
6. Know what you are playing for. Don't focus on just awards, being all-league, and other accolades.. aim higher. Have a personal set of goals that goes beyond sports. You'll see how it all connects and it will show what your true commitment is. It could be as simple as a goal of waking up everyday at 6 am to pray, or committing to running hills every Saturday. Every small commitment converges into one peak of elevation. Do the little things right repetitively and you will see how the chips fall in order.
1. Honesty is the most important thing you can give your athlete. Do not tear them down and do not overly praise them. Keep an even level of encouragement as needed and allow their respective sport to develop their character. In my opinion, the "hands-off" approach works the best. Let your athlete come to you when they need you, don't force an issue when one doesn't exist. Try your best to not assess their talent subjectively, as your opinion is severely biased and cannot be taken as credible.
2. Be aware of who your athlete associates with and where they frequent. You have a responsibility as parents to show them what a good environment is. If you are relaxed and allowing them to associate with whomever you are leaving a door open for distraction and misguidance. One of the biggest causes of an athlete's downfall is the people in their circle of influence. Be firm when it comes to friends, relationships, and so forth.
3. Don't coddle your athlete. If they have a terrible game, aren't playing, etc. do not blame other teammates, coaches, or whatever else. Negativity does not beget greatness. Teach them accountability and tunnel-vision. Do not teach them to always look elsewhere when things are going bad. The best way for an athlete to elevate is to focus on the progression of self.. you cannot do that if you are wondering why this guy is starting or why coach doesn't put you in. As an athlete you have to ask yourself if you are doing everything possible to command that opportunity. Be patient in the grind and realize not everything comes when you want it. Don't become upset when you are told the truth.. accept the constructive criticism and grow from it.
4. Invest your money wisely. When you invest in a trainer make sure their agenda is parallel with your athlete's. Do not choose off of prestige, choose based on compatability. When it comes to camps, try to attend invite-only paid-for events. There are tons of cash cow type websites and camps out there simply out to lure the unaware parent who is trying to get their athlete some exposure. Do your research and weigh the significance of the event in relation to your athletes future. I can say my experience is very different.. I didn't use any recruiting service and I only attended two camps in my career (Stanford Nike and Cal) in my junior year HS, did not pay a dime and both were invite-only. The great thing about invite-only camps is the minimal amount of attendees. Going to an event with 100 others guys at your position is very tough in attempting to get exposure. Seek out the intimate events where the actual colleges are running it and can see your athlete perform personally. Also, wait until your athlete has varsity experience. Submitting them too early to the camp circuit will only return bad times and give them a competitive disadvantage.
5. Never personally attack a coach or players. Teach your athlete to speak up for oneself independently and stress the importance of building a relationship that allows easy communication. If you as a parent have a complaint or gripe that you act upon you not only earn a negative stigma that directly affects your athlete, but you also are basically saying you are without flaw and know everything in that respective sport. Let the coaches coach. Let the players play. Parents are only to be encouraging spectators and fans. Don't yell out to your athlete what they need to be doing from the stands. Don't yell at a coach on what adjustment they need to make. Watch the game and enjoy it. I know you want to see your athlete doing their best, but that is his/her journey, not yours.
6. Not all athletes were destined or designed to be the star. As hard as it may be to understand and cope with, this is truth. The thing you must understand is that this is ok! Teach your athlete to play their role and excel in it. If the opportunity comes where they have to elevate then they will be ready for it. Until then stay positive and show selflessness. Coming from a guy who wasn't even the leading receiver on his high school team and still signed D1.. coming from a guy who barely saw the field in his first few college seasons.. coming from a guy who was the 3rd leading receiver on his college team senior year and still signed a pro contract. I have a testimony to share.. the process works if you trust it. If you try to force your hand and complain and bring anxiety into the picture you just dig a deep hole for yourself. Anything and everything can be outworked, believe me. The question is are you willing to humble yourself and listen to that call.