If you are a sports parent curious about your child’s athletic abilities and if he or she has what it takes to make it in sports, there are a few variables you can evaluate to see how your child stacks up. Some kids race out of the gates early by being blessed with above-average size, speed, and strength, but do these advantages sustain over time? Furthermore, with such a small percentage of student athletes advancing to compete in college athletics, and even fewer on to pro sports, what chance does your child have even if he or she is better than most of the youth sport competition? This week I will examine three markers you can use to evaluate your child’s chances for athletic success, including natural talent, interest, and work ethic (and maybe a little luck, too).
What it takes to excel in sports
While there are countless things that go into being a good athlete, there are three specific variables that I have found that most impact the level of success an athlete experiences:
- Natural talent. Sports, unlike other life adventures and experiences, relies heavily on physical abilities. Athletes who are fortunate to posses above-average natural abilities generally have an advantage over the competition. It should be noted, however, that natural ability alone is not enough for success as it depends on what the athlete does with the gifts he or she has that counts.
- Interest. Believe it or not some athletically talented kids do not enjoy playing sports, and this usually slows down overall athletic development and potential. Kids who are only mildly interested (or disinterested) in sports struggle with focus and motivation, especially when there are other things they would rather do with their time. Conversely, kids who are passionate about sports will put in the work, bounce back quicker from adversity, and keep a positive attitude even when times get tough.
- Work ethic. Having natural talent and loving your sport are a big part of sport success, but there is no substitute for putting in the work. What this means is that even if you love your sport and have some natural physical gifts, your potential will rely largely on the amount of work you put into your sport. Are you the first to practice? The last to leave? These are the qualities regularly seen in team leaders and athletes who reach their full potential.
Athletes with none of the above qualities usually struggle to fulfill their athletic potential, especially if they have little interest in their sport and a poor work ethic. Natural talent, while a big boost, is not a necessary condition to make it in sports but it sure does help
So how do your kids stack up on natural talent, interest, and work ethic? With sport competition so challenging these days it is almost impossible to play at a high level without any of these qualities, as fewer kids today can just show up and dominate when so many others are putting in the work. And even for the kids who have everything they need to succeed in sports, there are always the dangers of an injury occurring, meaning that luck factors in, too.