My cousin and I have been best friends since we were both born. I am 29 years old and he is 27 and we’ve done pretty much everything together over the years. He was my best man at my wedding, we’ve been work out buddies since middle school and we both have a deep love (obsession) for the game of basketball. For the past couple of months on Saturday mornings before Driven opens we get in early for a lift and to catch up on our lives. Inevitably the conversation turns to sports.
We’ve had this one particular conversation numerous times before. Given our athletic history that does not come as a surprise but it was so powerful that I had to share it. Come to think of it though, it wasn’t enough that I share it, I had to dissect it, unpack it and reveal the truth. Because if this topic doesn’t get out to the athletes. If they aren’t challenged by these cold hard realities, than average is what they are working towards.
Growing up a basketball player 24/7 was a lot of fun. I went to tournaments throughout the year, had 1-3 practices a week, would occasionally travel to big tournaments in Florida, play pick-up with friends at the high school, and do drills on my own. This was my routine for the better part of 8 years ranging from 6th grade through high school.
My cousin and I started working out together in middle school where we would go for runs around our neighborhood. When I entered high school, we joined a local gym and would lift weights together. In between our gym sessions we would also do something called Air Alert, which was a jumping program we bought on-line. Rounding out our training approach we would go to the park behind my house or down the street to a track and do sprints.
We were working hard and coming home sweaty and sore each time. We look back on these memories and laugh at our training attempts.
Working out at Driven one Saturday morning my cousin says to me, “I want you to answer this question like an athlete and not as the Driven guy.” I laughed and said no problem. Frankly, to disassociate my origins to my current reality is pretty easy because the journey was so clear and so embedded into who I am.
My cousin than asks me, “do you think athletes these days rely too much on a training place like this and don’t really need it as much as they think they do?” He then goes on to say that, “I mean why can’t they just work harder, be tougher on their own. Thinking about how we used to go in your drive way and work out and do everything that we could to get better. It just doesn’t seem that there is any toughness with athletes these days.”
At that moment I realized so much.
First, it is so easy to look back on the way you did things and consider that to be the “best” way or the only way to accomplish something.”
Second, it is so easy to consider potential limited based on what you achieved and what you did.
Third, it is easy for former athletes to fall into the mindset of “I did it this way and it worked for me” mentality.
Fourth, who says what we did worked so well?
All of this hit me like a ton of bricks because my cousin is young, a former athlete and has listened to me talk about Driven for years. Yet, he was still curious about the efficacy of performance training and athletic development.
I thought to myself, how can I best explain to him what I see and what I hear from the parents, athletes and coaches at Driven?
The message that I try every single day to get out to the local community of parents and athletes is that these athletes, if they choose to commit, if they sincerely want to reach their athletic potential, have so much more to give. I see it every single day.
That message isn’t just hyperbole either. Athletes do not know how to lift weights properly… period. They do not know what exercises they should be doing and which ones they shouldn’t be doing. They do not appreciate the pit falls and challenges of Olympic lifting and why that may not be the best option for you. They do not know the terms and techniques of explosive movement. They do not know the principles of deceleration and injury reduction. They do not know how to foam roll effectively, how to warm-up efficiently and they do not know how to systematically push themselves past a comfort zone.
The world of athletic development is so convoluted because of gimmicks, gadgets and the cheapest that the modern day athlete has to fight through a maze of opinions and ‘experts’ just to get to the truth.
And the truth is that we are leaving so much on the table. The truth is that athletes have a small window of opportunity to maximize what they can become. The truth is that working out on your own, in your basement, at the local gym is 100% easier and 1000% less FULFILLING then being coached by someone who actually gives a crap and knows what they are doing.
So what we have are two very different directions. We have the pursuit of average, the path I went down, the path that left my body beaten up, my career cut short and my dreams vanished.
Then we have option two, which is the pursuit of excellence. The pursuit of taking the high road, the road less traveled and the road with more commitment. This road makes no guarantees but it can make a promise. The promise is if you train and if you stay the course you will become more of an athlete than you ever thought possible. IF an injury were to occur you are mentally stronger and more prepared to deal with it than you could have imagined.
During my career I only felt like there was one option. My cousin and I would work out, we would go run, we would do jumping drills for one hour straight and we would come home sore and tired. There is no shaming in our efforts.
But this is not 2002 anyone and I am not the same guy I once was and parents and athletes have more options than ever before.
Therefore, it comes down to two things that each athlete needs to be able to answer; how bad do you want it and what are you willing to do to achieve it?
If he or she answers that honestly we will know which choice they would like to take.