Unemployment levels are high. Pursuing the traditional career path has disappointed many.They spend decades in the school system preparing for employment only to join the ranks of the unemployed.
You can help your children to break away from the crowd by pursuing a path that deviates from traditional careers. If well mentored, they can turn their talents such as music, acting, art or sports into fulfilling careers.
A career in professional sports can be highly rewarding. Sports such as soccer, track running, swimming, rugby and many others can be nurtured into professional careers. My son plays rugby professionally and that is one reason why a career in sports interests me. I have watched his journey in rugby and learned a few things.
I have evaluated my experience in coaching and mentoring people and combined it with what I have observed from my son’s journey. Here are some tips to guide you as you prepare your child for a career in sports. I will largely refer to a career in rugby because that is what I am well acquainted with. These tips can, however, be helpful in other sports as well.
A burning desire
Does he have a burning desire to succeed in the sport? Is he obsessed with the sport? You need to identify this early as the younger he is when the talent is identified and nurtured, the better. Love for a sport can be instilled in a child if it is started early. Introduce the child to the sport and nurture that love. Watch the game with him and portray high level of excitement about it.
For you to introduce a child to a sport, you need to have at least some basic knowledge about it and the requirements for excelling in it. You want your child to grow up to become a professional sportsman or woman?Then invest in learning about the sport and be your child’s first coach and team-mate.
Playing professional sports is tough and the pressure is really high. If one pursues that line simply for the money, they will not have what it takes to keep going when things get tough. The love of the sport must be nurtured until it becomes an obsession.
Don’t push a child who has portrays no interest in the sport no matter what you do to get them interested simply because they can make some serious money. Nurture the interest in the sport, identify the passion then give all the support he needs to become successful. If that does not work, explore the child’s other talents and pursue what he is passionate about.
The magic of the 10,000 hours
It has been proven that to become a professional in any field takes the magical 10,000 hours. It means that one must practice that vocation for 10,000 hours. If for example, one wants to become a professional rugby player, he will need to train and/or play rugby for a minimum of 10,000 hours.
Judging from the way I have watched my son’s schedules, 2 to 3 hours of practice a day is realistic with a sports career since it is very strenous. If one practices for 3 hours a day, to attain the 10,000 hours mark would take a period of 10 years. A career in professional sports lasts up to around age 35 or earlier so the younger one is when he gets started, the better.
A youngster who is already participating in Under 13 and Under 15 tournaments is likely to go on to become a successful professional rugby player by his early 20s. Beginning the journey while already at the university might be rather late.
In Kenya, there is too much emphasis on academic grades and if you want your child to excel in extracurricular activities, be prepared to go the extra mile as the school system is unlikely to make that possible.
Get your son trained professionally. Visit different clubs and identify one where he can be practicing during school holidays. Do your research about the different clubs so that you are able to select wisely.
I must say that for us as a family, we did not do this since our son identified his passion for rugby while still in high school, did all the research about clubs and selected the club where he used to practice during the school holidays. He also did his own research and selected the club where he settled after school. He is still a proud member of that club.
I have seen my son hasten his progress by devoting more hours to rugby than just the 2 to 3 hours of daily play or practice. He will spend some extra hours every day learning more about the sport outside the pitch and gym. He will watch videos of games by top players and learn. He will also register for professional online training programs that he personalizes to suit his individual goals.
He, therefore, could set his training goals even before he became a member of a professional club and could pursue those goals even in any gym in our neighborhood. That practice has worked for him even after joining a club.
Coaches train teams to achieve team goals but every individual has his own individual goals which are not likely to be met fully by the team trainings. Each player has unique strengths and weaknesses that will not be addressed during team trainings. That is why it is important to have a tailor-made personal training regime.
Develop a Strong Belief System
To become successful as a player, one needs to develop a strong belief; in the sport, in the club he plays for, in the coach and above all else, in himself. A professional player meets with a lot of criticism; from the coaches, team members, fans, and other people in the sports fraternity.
Help your son to develop mental strength in order to withstand the criticisms that come with sports careers. Sometimes fans, team members, and the coaches feel that a certain player made a wrong move and cost the team victory. They can be brutal in their attacks.
Cultivate a strong belief in your son and transmit it to him. Be instrumental in helping him to develop a strong belief system. Remind him over and over again how much you believe in him and how far you believe he will go in life. If you do not believe in your son, who will?
Teach him to read, watch and listen to motivational material that will build and strengthen him. Spending at least 20 to 30 minutes every day in reading/watching/listening to something motivational, something that inspires and motivates, is a practice successful people have found to be instrumental in success. The sooner it is learned, the better. Visualization, positive self-talk, and meditation are helpful in developing a strong belief system.
Ensure that he learns to always go the extra mile in preparation; to train harder and smarter than the team requires and to learn more than he is required to learn. He should run away from the enemy called ‘average’.
Identify together with him role models to emulate. Watch with him the role models in action. Let their stories inspire and motivate him.
The Power of the Worldwide Web
Successful people know the power of the Worldwide web. Ensure that your son is visible online. A website, a blog, a Facebook page, and Twitter are all very important. Videos are very powerful marketing tools so post some professional videos online and drive traffic to them.
You can assist him while he is still young but as he grows and develops a passion for his own success, he will get into the flow. A professionally done video can open doors to scholarships from some of the top clubs in the world. Videos are a great way to bring out a player’s unique skills and style.
The job market is shrinking by the day and as that happens, more and more doors are opening up in other very lucrative areas such as sports. Equip your children for success in a world that is changing very fast, by nurturing their talents and preparing them to develop their talents into fulfilling careers.
Be sure to check out my blog article about how people in sports careers can achieve financial freedom throughout their lifespan, beyond the years when they are active in sports. Read the article here.
This article is written by Susan Catherine Keter; life coach, personal development mentor, motivational speaker, freelancer and blogger.