Many young kids and high school ball players and college athletes have it in their head that the athletes of today are sort of unreachable. They were never young and naive, but always the best and always had that crucial experience. The best athletes perform on the biggest stage on a consistent basis, Derek Jeter, Joe Montana, Michael Jordan, are all names that come to mind when you think of great athletes. They were brought up to perform in positions in which very little was expected of them and garnered attention by outperforming everyone else and taking the reigns.
Athletes were meant to be challenged. If you put a good athlete in a position in which he has to push him or herself to exceed the expectations and perform at a higher level, you’ll be surprised of the results. They don’t want the easy games in which they don’t have to try to win, they are grueling competitors who love the thrill of a close game and having that ability to come out on top.
Something that has bothered me throughout last year’s baseball season and this year’s is the way the New York Yankees have handled Joba Chamberlin. Joba is a phenomenal athlete with pure raw talent with the ability to throw the ball close to 100 mph. The Yankees though have took the approach of easing the young man into a game where experience often rules. There were no “Gibson Rules” or “Walter Johnson Rules” the best pitchers of yesteryear’s were thrust into the spotlight with no concern about their arm’s life down the road, and they became some of the greatest pitchers of all time.
I know there are cases in which young pitchers are asked to do too much at such a young age and fade over time and become giants busts, but in reality these guys don’t want to throw eighty something pitches and be down for the game. They want to go all 9 innings, that is there competitive spirit. They didn’t throw a limited amount of pitches in high school and college, why are they limited on a stage where they are expected to perform? Give these athletes the chance to prove themselves and they will far better their limited expectations.
You want your son or daughter to rise above the rest of the players on the field? Don’t let them be the best player on a bad team, allow them to challenge themselves and be the bench player for a great team. They will learn by watching first off and they will push themselves to be better and get playing time among better competition. Don’t take them out of the game in a pressured situation, leave them in and watch how they handle it. Athlete’s are built to be challenged, not babied.