Why Most Athletes Fail to Accomplish Their Goals
Most athletes fail to accomplish their long-term goals due to five main reasons. Lack of knowledge, lack of a proper foundation, lack of an appropriate game-plan, lack of the necessary amount of commitment and lack of a proper set of benchmarks. In gymnastics as with most sports younger athletes see the likes of Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas as the end game. They imagine standing on the podium representing whatever country they are from and accepting the gold medal. Is that an unrealistic goal, maybe, but I am sure every gymnast that has competed in the Olympics was at some point told that being an Olympian was unrealistic. Therefore, I nor any parent have the right to squash a child’s dream. Our responsibility as parents is to help a child formulate a game plan for whatever their goals. Let the game plan drive the feasibility of the goal, not the parent’s life experiences.
As I stated earlier, there are five main reasons why athletes fail to meet their goals. Throughout the remainder of this blog, I will break down those causes and how to prevent those issues from happening in the future.
An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. – Benjamin Franklin
Being educated as a parent about the sport your child participates in is critically important to your athlete’s success. I have seen too many times where parents think that by paying the participation fees, bringing their kids to practice and attending the competitions they will somehow earn a scholarship. What they fail to realize is just about every other parent in the sport is doing the same thing. To beat your competition, you have to outwork your competition. By the definition of sports, parents ask the athletes and coaches to compete against other athletes and coaches. We as parents also must understand that we compete with each other in regards to getting our athletes’ scholarships.
Gymnastics is different than other sports because there are specific skills that an athlete must be able to do to be successful at a given level. The first step in growing your knowledge in the sport of gymnastics is understanding what the requirements are for your gymnast’s level. So take some time to familiarize yourself with the requirements of your child’s level at the very least. I know plenty of very talented athletes that don’t receive scholarships while lesser gifted athletes do. The answer is always straightforward. The parents’ of the lesser talented athlete are typically more informed than, the more talented athlete parents. They know where to look for scholarships, what questions to ask. Knowing that their child is less talented, they understand they will have to hustle harder for opportunities. Parents’ of a talented athlete, unfortunately, tend to have that “the offers will come eventually” mentality. Parents, if you don’t educate yourself on the scholarship process, the offers will not come.
You cannot build a superstructure on a cracked foundation. – Billy Graham
Another primary reason why athletes fail to meet their goals is a lack of a strong foundation. The first step to building a reliable infrastructure is to develop the mental and physical aspect required to being a solid athlete. To find out more information about creating a strong athlete, in general, read my blog on that topic here. The second step to building a strong foundation in gymnastics as with any sport is to know what is the essential qualities that gymnasts should have that will increase the odds of them being successful.
Gymnastics is similar to track, in that power and strength-endurance are crucial to success. Without those two qualities, it will be challenging to be successful. Some athletes are born with power and strength-endurance while others have to develop it. Asking a coach for general conditioning exercises you can do at home to help in that may give you some insight. Calisthenics exercises like the push-up, sit-ups, crunches and air squats are low-risk high reward exercises that can be done at home. The key is for parents to have the discipline at home to make the athletes do it consistently. It is also unrealistic to think most children under the age of 14 will agree to do it themselves, that is why they call us parents.
Most people fail, not because of lack of desire, but, because of lack of commitment. – Vince Lombardi
If gymnastics were easy, it would be called football. Seriously, gymnastics like any other sport requires hours of dedication and commitment. Outside of vault gymnast have one chance to get it right, and the difference between first and last place is typically less than a point. As the old saying goes “practice doesn’t make perfect a perfect practice makes perfect.” For a gymnast to be successful, she has to focus on the minute details of her sport, and that requires a high level of commitment not only from the athlete but the parents.
Athletes will always follow the parent’s lead. If gymnastics for parents is just an activity designed to allow them to go grocery shopping and finish dinner, then the gymnast will also perceive and treat it as such. As a coach, I can tell how committed a parent is to the athlete’s success by their attendance at practice. When parents don’t attend training at least periodically, it is hard for me to believe they are as invested as they would like me to believe. Ask yourself this, would you think a business owner cared about their investment if they never bothered to check in on it.
Failing to plan is planning to fail – Benjamin Franklin
I never met an athlete who didn’t have a desire to at least compete in college. The real question is how do you get to the endgame, and that is where most people go wrong. Formulating a plan is the key to success. To develop a program, you must be knowledgeable about the sport. After you know the game, then you can begin to understand the steps you need to take to get through each level. Ask questions like when does college recruiting start, what age and level do colleges start watching athletes. Once you start getting answers to these types of questions, then you can begin setting up a strategic game plan.
It’s the benchmark we go by. It’s the path forward. – Jack Cashman
Establish benchmarks to gauge your athletes progress. Parameters allow you to know if you are ahead or behind schedule in regards to the athlete’s growth. In my novice opinion, USAG does a great job in establishing the proper benchmarks in regards to skills. The key to an athlete’s success is that the parent understands what those milestones are and ensures the athlete hits them. Parents should also realize that benchmarks should not only be skills but also encompass physical, mental and maturity criteria. Keep in mind as an athlete matures their success, or lack thereof will fall directly on their shoulders. I have seen too many instances where the parents find out athletes are not where they need to be either mentally or physically, but unfortunately, it is typically too late to make the necessary adjustments.
In closing, success in any but especially in gymnastics is hard to achieve. The reality is there are way more gymnasts then there are scholarships, so the competition is fierce. Give your gymnast the best opportunity to be successful by building a strong foundation, establishing realistic goals, develop a game plan to reach those goals, commit to the game plan and finally, track progress towards the goals.