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Beating the Odds

Exercising the Problem-Solving Muscle

In the word of sports parenting, here’s how you keep up with the Jones:

Personal coach.





Yes, according to this article in The Record of Bergen County, NJ, one father is suing because his daughter did not make the All-County team. He claims this is hurting her college chances.

You can decide whether the father has a point or whether youth sports has taken still another step past crazy.

But one thing is for sure. Every athlete — every person — must learn how to deal with adversity. Sometimes it’s failure on the field. Sometimes it’s disappointment. Sometimes it’s outright rejection. Any attempt, no matter how well-intentioned, to shield young people from the hard knocks of life will wind up hurting.

After all, what’s next? Suing a college for a rejection letter? Suing a boyfriend for a spat? Suing an employer for choosing another candidate? Suing the furniture when you stub your toe on it?

“Struggle and difficulty are the keys to getting what you want,” says Ed Smith, international best-selling author. “Having problems teaches you to stretch your mental muscles and learn what you need to learn in order to overcome difficulties.”

As coaches or parents, we must let our athletes stretch these mental muscles. It’s no use training physically muscles unless we train mentally, too.

Without adversity, no one can learn about overcoming adversity. Without long odds, no one can learn about beating the odds. The very essence of deliberate practice is trial and error, and fixing mistakes. Life is a mental game and a series of problem-solving events.

The sooner people know that, the sooner they can become great!

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” click here. You can follow Coach Tully on Twitter at coachtully@twitter.com


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