Growing up, I learned invaluable lessons from childhood sports.Growing up as the oldest of four girls, my parents kept me constantly active. If I wasn't taking an extra enrichment class, I was learning how to twirl a baton, play an instrument, swim, or ride a horse. I participated in Girl Scouts, 4H and other clubs. They also signed me up to play on every team that had an opening. Looking back, I am grateful for the variety of experiences, and realize now that my coaches taught me more about how to navigate life than any teacher.
Invaluable lessons from the playing field
Hustle. At the time, the constant demand to "hustle!" was annoying. If the game is over, why are we hustling? What is the point of hustling in practice? Now I see the wisdom in the mandate. It doesn't matter how much talent you may have, if you don't hustle you will be passed up. They say slow and steady wins the race, but even manufactured enthusiasm is better than laziness.
Keep score. It may be trendy to remove score-keeping from children's sporting events, but there is a real value in knowing where you stand. I will never forget the excitement of a tie game with only minutes to play, or the challenge of being pit against a really tough team. To me, keeping score in real life means making lists and setting goals. If I didn't keep score, I wouldn't know where to put my attention in "practice."
You can't hide. I was an intensely self-conscious child. Stepping out on the field forced me to deal with those inner demons. I can't say I am completely fine with falling on my face in front of a crowd now, but I do know that I can't hide. What I do is out there for all to see. I have to own my own performance regardless of onlooker reactions.
Get over it. If you gave it all you got and failed, get over it. If you gave it all you got and won, get over it. If you didn't give it all you got, get over it and get back to work. When I start dwelling on past performance to the point that it paralyzes my present, I have to remember my coach telling us to, "get over it and get on with it already."
Be a team player. Life doesn't work as well in isolation. Star players still need the worker bees to back them up. Everyone has a role to play. My team these days includes my family, my coworkers and the people in my neighborhood. Learning to work together is imperative. Just like in a sports team though, I may not particularly like each player, but that doesn't mean I can discount them or ignore their contribution to our collective success.
Finally, you must be present to win. Showing up is more than half the battle. Skipping practice is not going to earn you a starter role just like skipping out on your responsibilities now is not going to create the life you want to live. Just show up; even if you don't feel like it, even if no one cheers for you, even if your opponent is scary. You have to at least try, is the probably the best lesson I learned from all my childhood activities.Content by Sylvie Branch.