5 Lessons Sport and Fitness Have Taught Me

This week on SharkBites, we introduce you to not one but TWO incredible guest bloggers that will be joining us periodically. First up, is Braden. Braden is a Performance Coach at The Spot Athletics, in Columbus Ohio. We are excited to introduce Braden as our fitness expert for SharkBites. From reflecting on his youth athletic journey, to giving specific training tips for different sports and activities, we are looking forward to getting an inside look at Braden's wealth of knowledge. If you have a sport or exercise specific question that you want Braden to discuss, be sure to leave a comment below! 

Enjoy!

5 Lessons That Sport and Fitness Have Taught Me

My mantra for the last several years has been “always learning, always winning.” I am constantly striving to learn from every situation that I encounter and grow from it as an individual so that I can win tomorrow. Life is full of ups and downs but failure gets me excited. It’s how we come away with the life lessons that hold onto us and shape our outlook and perspective. We fail. We learn. We grow!

There is no better teacher for life lessons than sport and fitness. I have been involved in athletics since I was 3 years old, and have been working in the strength and conditioning industry for the past 5 years. I have put nearly my entire life into these two fields and they have taught me a lot about myself and the real world. 

Here are my five top life lessons that sport and fitness have taught me:

1. Social Skills are the Major Keys to Success.

Having great social skills allows you to communicate with your peers and teammates to help solve problems. We can only react to what is happening based on our own experiences. These experiences shape our vantage point and this is how we react with the world every day. Each person has a different vantage point based on different experiences. Having the ability to communicate and empathize with people allows us to use their vantage point to see the world, and helps us shape ours so that we can be more well-rounded individuals. Having the appropriate skills to communicate and discuss can leave you with a world of knowledge that you would never be able to get on your own.

As someone forging my way through the strength and conditioning world, I know that having great social skills is crucial to both the success of myself and my client’s. By playing on a team and being around so many other kids growing up, we were forced to communicate well together in order to succeed. I didn't realize this at the time, but being able to communicate in a positive and proper manner with a vast amount of people in order to work towards a common goal was a major lesson that was ingrained in sport and now helps me as a coach.

My advice to anyone, and especially to young athletes, is to get out of your comfort zone and reach out to the people you look up to. Send an email. Send a DM. Pick up the phone and make a call. Walk over to the player you admire and have a conversation. More often than not, people are more than willing to help others learn and it all starts with communication.

Player

 2. Time Management is Crucial 

Collegiate athletes have it rough. Normally it is your first time living on your own, and mom or dad aren't there to cook and clean for you. You had to go to classes and labs, you have to get all your homework done to maintain your scholarship. You have practices, games, conditioning sessions, weight room sessions, extracurricular activities… you get the idea. Time management became a sink or swim skill.

Being able to appropriately schedule your time allows you to focus more on the topic at hand, and leaves all other distractions behind. Setting a schedule and planning out when you are going to do certain assignments, when you are going to study, even when you were going to eat, made it a lot easier to focus on what mattered most at a specific time, rather than procrastinating, or forgetting about certain tasks.

Learning time management skills as an athlete has helped me in my professional life. I know how to prioritize, schedule my day, and prioritize tasks that are ahead of me. I have learnt to plan ahead, especially when bogged down and busy. This helps to keep me in my own lane and focused on attaining my goals.

3. Determination is what will get you through the tough times.

This is probably the most cliché life lesson of them all... 

Whether you call it “putting in work”, “grinding”, or “getting that bread” (or whatever the latest expression is!) staying determined is what will get you through the lows in life. Life can get difficult at times, especially for a young athlete. School gets busy, other extracurricular activities begin, or your coach moves you from the starting line up to the bench...Sometimes you are dealt a hand that you simply can’t fold.

Adversity is when you learn what you truly are made of. For me, it’s like when you are squatting a really heavy weight with a barbell on your back. You have two options: you can either go down and let the weight crush you, or you can use everything you have to stand back up and conquer the weight.That’s the thing I love about lifting weights, it doesn’t care what you have going on in your life. It will weigh the same no matter what. You have to be determined in order to lift that weight back up and conquer it.

When life gets really hard, it is really easy to pack your bags and call it quits. Youth athletes don't have that option, games and practices need to be finished! You learnt to that even though it was hard, you had to keep going for yourself, and for your teammates too. We adapt and grow when we stick through the tough times with determination and grit. You will learn a lot about yourself when you are determined to get through the sticking points in life. Put your head down and keep moving forward.

Determination   

4. Being a Team Player means Learning to Work Well with Others.

No matter if it is a coach or boss, whoever is evaluating your performance is always looking to see how well you play with others. Being involved in team sports has taught me to work alongside a variety of different personalities to achieve a common goal. This is exactly what coaches are looking for at tryouts and evaluations. They want to see if you are going to create good team morale by being able to work together with others. Your supervisors and bosses are looking for the exact same qualities as you get older- if you work well with others, you immediately have an upper hand and will be accepted on a team.

This has transferred greatly into the real world as I have had to transition to working with a much broader audience than my specific sports team. Having the ability to work well with others has made it easy in trying to make sure everyone is accommodated for and their needs are being met in order to achieve their goals.

5. Trust the Process.

Trust the process

(Shout out to Joel Embiid for coining this term)

Everyone has been guilty of not having patience- whatever we want, we want it now. We want immediate gratification and satisfaction. Most of life is not like this. It is a process, and you need to trust the process in order to get the most out of it.

You need to get comfortable in the chase of your goals and dreams. When kids say that they want to become an NHL player, or play for their favourite MLB team, they 100% believe that they are going to get there. Better yet, they don't allow anyone to tell them any differently. That mindset has taught me that you need to be okay with climbing the mountain in hopes of getting to the top. In fact, the climb is where you will gain all of your personal wealth and knowledge and experience. Not everyone will make it to the NHL, MLB or the Olympics, but all athletes will learn that hard work equates to positive efforts, which is the process itself. I have learnt to be comfortable knowing that I have a lot to learn and that I have to keep improving myself in order to help others.

By playing in sport, we are offered the opportunity to learn so many lessons that will help us in our careers and moving forward. If you were to ask your children right now what they were learning at their practices, they would likely spout off the newest drill or skill that they can do.  It isn't until they are in the workforce that they will realize all the social, time management, determination, team working and trust lessons are the most important things they learnt throughout the years. 

This list isn’t concrete for me. I know  the lessons that sport and fitness have taught me in the last 26 years of my life has laid a great foundation for me, but it will keep teaching me new lessons for years to come. If you were to ask me again in 5-10 years what these lessons are, I bet they would be different. I will have to follow up then!

Life is always about learning from your surroundings, and winning every part of your day. What a better place to learn how to win in all aspects of the word, than in youth sport.

Thanks for reading, take care and enjoy!

Braden

Testimonial Tuesday

Next time Braden joins SharkBites, he will be discussing his favourite warm up drills for anaerobic sports- stay tuned!

That's all for now! See you next time on SharkBites.