Food for thought: what a D1 athlete and one of my patients have in common....
Posted by Liz Sims PT, DPT- Redpoint Physical Therapy, Plymouth, MA
When you coach youth sports, you don’t (or at least, you shouldn’t) expect most of your athletes to make it beyond high school as a competitive athlete. This could not be more true in gymnastics, which I coached for a decade in my previous life (pre-grad school).
As a gymnast through high school, I developed a love for the sport. I really missed my time in the gym when I started undergrad, and through the urging of a former teammate, I got into coaching at my former club. I quickly learned that I was a far better coach than I was a gymnast. And that first group of girls I coached will forever hold a place in my heart - they epitomized all the qualities you would hope to see in youth sports! They were hard working, enthusiastic, caring, supportive… and fun!
That, perhaps, is it was so special that I got to see one of my former stars in her final competition as a Division 1 college gymnast over the weekend. I can’t take credit for getting her to where she stood that day… that credit goes to her dedication, and some great coaching through her high school years. But I can take credit for helping to teach her some of her most basic skills, and I and my coworkers coached her to higher levels. And I can take some credit for the lessons she has learned from her career… and that is what makes me smile the most.
The following are the best lessons you hope to instill in your athletes. Coincidentally, they are also very applicable to physical therapy, and clearly to adult life. This list was taken from the Positive Coaching Alliance - I couldn’t better the list, but I have added my own input.
1. Practice makes better. Striving for perfection is often a distraction, and frankly a waste of time. In physical therapy, we shoot for “functional” and “safe”. Well, at least “functional”.... ;)
2. Focus on what you can control. You can’t control the other team, the referee, your teammates. You also can’t control public opinion, the doctors, or sustaining an injury in the first place. I am often heard saying, “It doesn’t matter how you got here, it only matters what you do to get out of here”.
3. Let go of mistakes. This ties in with the first two lessons. No one is perfect, and you can’t control everything. What’s more important is that you learn from your mistakes.
4. Keep learning. No matter where you are in the game, you have never mastered it. This is more true in real life than in sports. This concept is what drives me every day - I learn from new research, my patients, my colleagues, and myself. Never settle!
5. Stay positive! This will get you way further in life, no matter what you’re doing. Negative energy is draining and is a waste of your time. It gains you nothing, other than a dim view of the world. Try on my rose-colored glasses… the world can be quite charming when coated in a cheery pink. :)
6. Celebrate your successes - no matter how big or small! One of my patients once said she could always find a reason to celebrate. In my office, ‘wins’ come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to give yourself credit where credit is due if you’re going to stay positive!
7. Be a team player. Playing well with others is an obvious necessity on a ball field. But, in the medical world, we also work as a team. It is important to do your part, but if you’re smart, you utilize the network of people around you in order to achieve optimal results.
8. Win or lose with dignity. Some days are better than others. Keep your chin up on the bad days, and minimize the gloating on the great days. Stay positive, and learn from the experience.
That’s my 2 cents for this week. Do you have any other life lessons we should delve into? Please comment below!