Late Blooming Athletes: Take Care of What You Can Control
Ever since I can remember I wanted to play sports. My love for sports continued to grow through elementary school when I was able to excel in gym class and on some of my first sports leagues. I would practice on my own, with my dad, and play with all the kids in my neighborhood daily. Sports were my life and consumed all of my free time.
In elementary school, almost all kids are on the same playing field physically. If you are good, it’s because of your natural ability, talent and skill. However, over time things can change for an athlete. They did for me once I was in middle school. I began to realize I was not the fastest kid in the class anymore and wasn’t able to dominate games like I could before. This was infuriating, of course, and had me complaining to my dad about my smaller size. It seemed like such an unfair disadvantage. Other kids my age were maturing faster than me and they were bigger, stronger, and faster. Thanks to my father, I was constantly reminded that I couldn’t change the fact that other kids were bigger and stronger but what I could do, was take care of what I can control.
The first thing every athlete can do is establish skills within their sport that do not depend on physical maturity and strength. I was the point guard on my basketball team so I concentrated mainly on my ball handling and free throw shooting. These are two aspects of my game that my height, weight, and strength did not affect. By establishing my strengths over time, I was able to catch up to my peers physically which made me a more complete basketball player in the end.
Knowledge of the Game
The next thing I did was learn as much as I could about the game and about being a point guard. My dad, a former college athlete, and my personal coach helped me concentrate on building my skills and knowledge about the game which ultimately helped me go-on to play college basketball. I was also fortunate enough to attend basketball camps in the summer to learn new drills that I could work on myself. What really helped me the most was emulating athletes that I thought played the way I needed to as a smaller framed point guard. I watched college players like Bobby Hurley and studied how he handled the press and managed the clock at the end of the game. I always tried to pick up the intricacies of the game that would give me any advantage over my competition.
Stay Positive and Strive to be Better
Lastly, it’s important to stay positive as a late blooming athlete. I knew I’d eventually grow and though my patience sometimes got the best of me, I always circled back to my dad’s advice. I learned early on how to take care of what I could control. Remember that as a late blooming athlete you are not resting on early development and everything will even out in the end. Athletes who develop early might hit a plateau and not push themselves to get any better as a skilled athlete. The hard work you put in during the times you can’t control will pay dividends. So keep that positive attitude and continue to uncover ways to constantly get better at what you can control.
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