May 12, 2015
Question: How or where did your kid learn how to wrestle that well and how can my kid get that good?
As a parent, it is easy to watch the kids who are winning and ask “How did that kid get so good?” The answer is simple: “He put the time in and did the work.” In this day and age, there are more and more kids who specialize in sports. I don’t believe that kids necessarily have to specialize at such a young age. They’re still young and growing, and there are many things that they could love to do or be really good at. If they don’t try, they will never know. However, with that being said, for every reward, there was a price paid at some point along the way.
I feel that it is easy for people to watch athletic performance and just assume that the athlete is naturally gifted. Even if they are gifted, there is still a lot of work that goes into retrieving and polishing that gift. Let’s compare wrestling to something else just to get a bearing on the type of effort that it takes to get really good at something. Let’s say that you put your kid in violin lessons. Playing the violin is challenging. If you don’t have your fingers in just the right spot, whatever you play is going to sound terrible. You can’t fake being a good violinist. Even untrained ears will pick up on sour notes rather quickly. Now if you wanted your child to play the violin well enough to play in front of a large audience on a regular basis, how much preparation do you think that they would need in order to play well? Would you sign them up for lessons a couple of times a week, and then expect them to perform at a high level? Let’s even say that you signed them up for lessons twice a week for three months, how do you think they would sound during their performance? Let’s also imagine that your child doesn’t do anything on their own at home. They don’t pick up a violin at all during the week other than the two times that they go in for lessons. Would you have very high expectations? If you would, you may need to re-evaluate those expectations, because they will only be met with disappointment.
Using this example, it is clear to see how ridiculous that it would be to expect your child to play the violin well with only a couple hours of practice a week. Well the scenario that I described isn’t too far off from the way that some kids approach the sport of wrestling, and let me be clear in saying that there is nothing wrong with that. It is perfectly fine for kids to practice a couple of times a week for a few months out of the year. They will still get something out of the training. However, you have to realize that the kids that are performing at a very high level, have put the work in. They train more than twice a week, and they are probably doing their training under the guide and direction of proficient and knowledgeable coaches. To think otherwise would be incorrect. Those kids who are the best are the ones who worked the hardest and the smartest.
Being good or great at anything comes down to this: consistently work hard over an extended period of time. There are no quick fixes, there are no shortcuts, there are no secrets. If you want to help your child be one of the best, then it would be wise to get them in an environment where they can grow and improve their skills. This gets a little tricky though. Your child has to be the one that wants to be good. If they don’t want to put in the effort, then it doesn’t matter if you put them in the toughest wrestling room with the best coaches and training partners in the world. The desire has to come from them. If it doesn’t, they may try to please you for a time, but they will eventually realize that it isn’t worth it and quit. Or worse yet, they suffer to make you happy. How terrible is that? If my child was making themselves miserable in an attempt to make me happy, I would be devastated. No parent wants that.
Do your homework. Find a good environment where your child can thrive, and then do what you can to make sure that your kid is having fun. If you can make that happen, you will be well on your way to seeing your child develop and enjoy the success that they have worked diligently to achieve.