DSC_0120I was a lazy kid. Those who know me now will find this hard to believe, but I was capital L-A-Z-Y lazy. Yeah, I had dance and swimming classes once a week, but I mostly sat in my basement watching General Hospital. I was the kid with the doctor’s note to get out of gym class, and the kid who was picked last for volleyball. And, forget about organized sports; I “lettered” in Varsity Ripping Butts in My Car. As I’ve aged, my competitive nature has grown, and my activity level has skyrocketed. This has left me with an interesting quandary, I often have the drive, but not the skill. I’m not naturally built as an athlete, and I came to sports a good twenty years after my peers. So, it’s been an uphill battle. I had to learn how to throw a football and catch a frisbee, and to push myself past discomfort. Here’s one thing I know for sure. You can learn how to have that drive. Working hard and being competitive can make up for a lack of natural talent. And, you can develop the grit that’s needed to win. And, obviously, these skills translate to success in other aspects of your life. So, when I call myself a Coach, I don’t take it lightly. How can I develop these “mental toughness” skills in my kids, my students, my mentees, my spinners? Interestingly enough, and not surprisingly, Sports Psychology research is starting to migrate to the world of Youth Development. The skills that make elite athletes “mentally tough” are the same skills that are necessary to be resilient, successful adults. And, the research says we can develop those skills in ourselves and in the people we coach. So, now, all of the sudden, the title, Coach, becomes incredibly important. And, youth sports and organized fitness gets raised to a higher level. What an exciting opportunity. What a great responsibility. As I watch my sons’ Little League and Soccer Coaches, I listen to the words they use and the way they model behavior. I listen to the parents in the stands and the way the kids talk to each other. And, now that my husband is coaching U9 Soccer and I’m focusing on my role as a Spinning Instructor, we talk about what it means to Coach. How important it is to model: team work, and competitiveness, and effort, and fun, and responsibility. We talk about visualization, and “self-talk”, and the power of the words that we use. And we think about what transferable skills we are teaching others. And, are we doing the same for our own children. Are our sons learning how to work as a team? How to take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes? How to work hard and do their best? How to support others in their efforts? And, will they learn how to take those skills that they learn on the playing field and translate them into the classroom and the boardroom?

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