As kids enter our program, there seem to be different “stages” that they present. While there may be some others that are missing, here is a broad hierarchy of those stages:
Stage 1: “My parents signed me up to do this stuff” or “I am slower than the other kids, how do I get faster?” or “My coach says I need to get__________”
This stage is sometimes parent-driven/coach-driven, sometimes athlete-driven. More often than not, it is the parent who makes the initial contact, seeing a problem, thus seeking a solution.
Stage 2: “I can’t_______, I have to go train” or “Do I really have to go to train?”
The second stage is past the honeymoon phase and the athlete, who wants to get better, hasn’t quite bought in that the time investment is important.
While the athlete isn’t 100% sold, they understand that this is going to help them become better, as it is a necessary evil. Very much like homework is needed to get better grades, training outside the sport itself is needed to get better at the sport.
Stage 4: “I get to train today”
This is a great time to be around the athlete; they are “all-in” to the benefits of training, of feeling good after a positive session, are having fun, are seeing results, are building confidence and body awareness, all leading to a heightened state of physical literacy, or a higher physical IQ. These athletes are very much self-motivated, driven and extremely coachable. They are asking questions, understanding the “how” and the “why”, not just the “what” of training.
This is the stage where, irrespective of athletics, training is a fundamental core concept that is central to their well-being and happiness. They are an athlete forever, whereby physical activity, playing and structured exercise are a way of life, not something in the way of their life.