As a human being, we should live life to the fullest with no regrets. Unfortunately, life does not always go according to plan. As I think about my past, I’m haunted about the things I could have done different. I’m sure you young athletes want to become an Olympic swimmer, professional athlete, doctor, etc. Growing up, I didn’t believe hard work payed off, but I know now if you put in the hard work, good things can happen. I live with regrets every day; I ask myself “did I put it my best effort over my career”. The answer is no. Now that I work with young athletes, my goal is to make sure they don’t have the same sport mistakes that I did. Here are four things I should have done differently in my athletic career:
Listen to your parents and coaches
This is was a big problem for me. When we are good at something, we think we don’t need help. My parents, especially my dad wasa great coach at baseball, he taught me everything I know about the game, and he still does. Unfortunately, when I was a kid I would argue with him about my swing or my fielding and I would not listen. Trust me, your parents know you best. They watch you play and what you’re doing right and wrong. Having a second pair of eyes watching you can go along way towards success.
People are coaches for a reason. They know about the game and know how to teach it. They aren’t just giving you drills to make you suffer; there is purpose behind their madness. Especially for myself as a coach, I have seen just about everything that happens in baseball and football, if a young athlete comes up to me and asks me what to do in a certain situation, I’m going to help them.
Perfect practice instead of practice makes perfect
What I mean by this is, just because you show up to practice doesn’t mean you are going to be successful. I am not perfect in many ways, there were plenty of times I checked out before practice even started. If you knew me then, I took nothing seriously. I would mess around during practice and wouldn’t worry about getting better. I never used that saying “show up early and leave late”. If I would have put the effort in then what I do now, who knows, I could be playing pro ball and living like a king. Young athletes out there trust me put in the hard effort and I hope I will see you on TV.
Get your training in
If you know me now, you know I love training. It is my life. If you knew me in high school or before, I hated training. This is my biggest regret in my athletic career. I may be crazy, but I believe it is the reason why I had a career ending injury. If you told me to run, I would think a mile is crazy talk. I just started picking up swimming; my parents told me that they would never think that I would be swimming for exercise. My thought of swimming in the past was floating on in an inner tube. When it came to weights, I would lift for 5 minutes and call it a day. During football, I didn’t take my training seriously, and it led to many body injuries including a serious ACL injury that ultimately ended my career. You do not have to go crazy with your training, but take it as seriously as you do when you play your sport.
My idea of a pre practice meal was a bag of popcorn and a couple big glasses of root beer, clearly this isn’t unhealthy. You may think I am kidding, but it’s true. I never was educated like I am now on how to eat before practices and games. As I think about it now, this was most likely the reason why my practices were sub par because I wasn’t feeding my body the right fuel for energy. Now that I have been educated on nutrition, I really harp on my athletes about the negatives and benefits of proper nutrition.
Learn From My Sport Mistakes
Until now, I have never admitted to anyone about the regrets that I have from sports. Everyone is going to have them, but if we can limit them, you will feel better about yourself. If you were to ask me 10 years ago, I would have never thought that I would be working in the fitness world. I am grateful that I do because it is very satisfying that I can help young athletes get better in so many ways. I am here for them no matter if they succeed or don’t in their careers. Learn from my sport mistakes and good things can happen.