Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Consolidate Your Advantage (It's Yours, Now Hold on Tight)

   Opportunity presents itself in different ways. Sometimes you undergo changes during adolescence that suddenly provide you with a physical advantage. You may also learn to perform certain skills more adeptly, providing you with a competitive edge over other players. Other times an opportunity results from an external event—an injury to a teammate, someone deciding not to go out for the team, or your coach shaking up the lineup (when your team is not performing well).

As a freshman on my high school’s basketball team, I seldom received much playing time in games. The team’s starters were physically more mature. And unlike many of these boys who could shoot jump shots against defensive pressure, I only possessed a “set” shot. I recall spending many of my freshman year practices on the side of the gym trying to learn how to shoot a jump shot with the ball up over my head.

But by the beginning of my sophomore year’s basketball season, I had become stronger—and more importantly—quicker. I also had developed a jump shot and could now score consistently from short range. The team’s mix of players had also changed. Two of the prior year’s starters decided to focus on football and not go out for the team. From nowhere, I suddenly found myself with an opportunity to compete with the best players on the team. The head coach chose me as one of the team’s starters for our opening game and I remained a starter for the rest of the season (on a team that only lost two games).

If you’re ready for the opportunity, physically or otherwise, you can find yourself starting, receiving more playing time, or asked to play a more important role. As this opportunity unfolds, you may also begin to realize that you can perform at this higher level.

How to Consolidate Your Advantage

Whatever the opportunity, try to understand its nature, what has changed, and how you can consolidate (strengthen) your advantage.

You consolidate your advantage by putting together quality performances, one after another. Similar to how repetition locks in an athletic skill, repeatedly performing well in competitions reinforces your sense of the possible and boosts your self-confidence. These successes root within you an unwavering belief that you will succeed. This confidence is important for those inevitable moments when you face adversity—when events don’t go your way and doubt begins to creep in.

Expect Challenges

As your role within your team changes and improves, you will likely confront challenges from teammates who don’t want to give up their position to you. They may try to intimidate you to see if they can undermine your new found confidence and status. This is natural—not all of your teammates are your best friends and willing to easily accept your good fortune at their expense.

During my sophomore year basketball season, there were many ups and downs. A few of my teammates regularly challenged me in practices, hoping to take my spot as a starter. But once I had tasted success, and realized that I could compete, I stubbornly warded off my teammates efforts. In one practice after another, I demonstrated that I was the better player. And with repeated success in doing so, my confidence increased. I consolidated my advantage and remained a starter.

Remember that it’s a competitive world and everyone wants their piece of it. Recognize your opportunity when it arrives, consolidate your advantage, and resist the inevitable challenges by others. It's yours, now hold on tight!

Copyright © 2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads. All Rights Reserved

If you enjoyed this article, you may like my book:
The Joy of Youth Sports: Creating the best youth sports experience for your child (Amazon $8.95)

(Kindle Edition $2.99)

Copyright 2009-2012 Jeffrey S. Rhoads; All Rights Reserved


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