Things I wish I knew as a High School athlete.
Specialize is being athletic:
I played three sports in High School. I wish more kids today would do that. The downside to that is I had little time to develop overall athleticism. Yes I played football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in spring. Outside of my specific sports I didn’t take pride in trying new things and being competent in new skills. I couldn’t play Tennis but who cares it wasn’t one of my sports. But being able to play Tennis or do a handstand or squat my bodyweight were all ways to improve my overall athleticism. I wish I had seen that at the time and tried new things instead of just only doing the things I was good at. Maybe you are a runner who doesn’t want to lift weights or a goalie who thinks cardio won’t help you. As a High School phys. Ed teacher I see so many football players who are too uncoordinated to shoot a basketball or throws a baseball. I can’t tell you how many “athletes” I see who can’t do a functional body weight squat. The biggest one is mobility. I am a firm believer that every High School athlete needs mobility work. Some of these kids are so tight and unable to move in stable and functional patterns. At the end of the day improving your overall athleticism will only benefit you. Ask yourself if you can’t do something athletically are you really that athletic?
Big Fish Little Pond:
I went to a small High School and while I was a pretty good athlete there were always people better. I really had no concept of this at the time. I was always pretty good amongst my immediate peers and even amongst the teams that we played against. I would say I was one of the better overall athletes. However, no matter how good you think you are there are always people better. It is a big world out there so there is always room for improvement. I didn’t have to get better because I was doing well in my state, at my level, in my area, and in my school. When I got to college and played baseball I realized maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. I went from a very good High School athlete to an average College athlete. I wonder if I had pushed myself more in High School what could I have done.
Friends and parties will always be there:
While you have to have a balance in your life you also have to make priorities. The fact of the matter is at the age of 34 there is only one High School friend that I even see live and in person on a somewhat regular basis. At the time it may seem like the end of the world if you don’t go to a party but in the long term will it set you up for success later?
Sacrifice the current for the long term in terms of athletic development:
I remember being introduced to weight lifting as a freshman in High School with the football team. I also remember being really sore the day after and not doing it much after that until I got to college. The excuse I told myself was that I was going to play baseball in college so I didn’t want to lift heavy weights and get big. (If only it were that easy to get big.) The real reason I didn’t do it was because I was being lazy and I didn’t want to be sore and I probably didn’t want to try something that was new to me and I wasn’t good at. It was strictly an ego thing. If I had just stuck with it the soreness would have gone away and my body would have adapted and my performance would have improved. A small setback in maybe sacrificing my pride and maybe a few months would have set me up for long term athletic success.
Take on physical challenges:
Since I graduated college I have run three marathons, 5 half marathons, done crossfit, finished obstacle races, went sky-diving, and competed in Kick-boxing. These are all things that my High school self never would have tried. I love trying new things and taking on physical challenges. The process of becoming good at something is part of the fun. If you are an athlete you are supposed to be competitive and enjoy using your body. There is nothing more exciting than signing up for something 6 months in advance and having a training goal.
Learn to eat like an athlete:
When I was in High School I was so busy playing sports and I was so active like most High School kids that I didn’t really think about what I ate at all. The concept of macronutrients and getting enough protein to support muscle growth was foreign to me. I ate too much sugar and too many junky processed foods. I wish someone had told me that in order for your body to run efficiently you have to put good quality foods into it.
Treat your body as a tool to success:
Just like with my eating I was too busy playing sports that I never learned how to workout to improve my sport or to enjoy it. I love working out now. It is just something that I do like brushing my teeth. I wish I had that same attitude when I was in High School. Not only will working out make you better at your sport. It will keep you injury free and keep you looking good while doing it and who doesn’t want that. There is nothing better than the confidence that comes with overall fitness and being able to do things with your body.
Listen to your coaches and others who have done it before:
I had a lot of people in my ear and I did a good job listening and making adjustments throughout my athletic career. If I had the chance to do it again I would be a little more selective about whom I listen to. There are a lot of pretenders out there. When you find someone who you trust and is willing to be honest with you hold on to him or her like Gold.