Raising a Warrior – The way to Valhalla!
I love the definition of the word Warrior. At least in my dictionary it says … “Someone who has been trained to fight!” Of course if you are the third boy in a family of four with a competitive younger sister it wasn’t really about being trained it was more learning to survive!
I wish that more parents and coaches wanted to raise warriors above winners!
At Cal Luthern Univ in LA in October, Methodist University in NC, and Wheaton Sports Center, IL in November I am presenting a day on all the elements of our Court Warrior Program. It is a look at competition though the eyes of a child but also it starts by clearly defining what it is to be competitive. So let’s start by asking you what jumps into your head when we pose that question.
What does it mean to be competitive?
I have asked hundreds of parents and coaches in many countries this question. The obvious response is the one that is most common. Wanting to WIN! But given a second thought many also express the view that while this is their instinctive response they know that it is not the whole story. Something is missing! They are just not quite sure what!
My definition is a simple one. Being Competitive means loving the battle as much as the victory. You have to love to fight as much if not more than you want to win!
I remember playing football (soccer) 10 years ago with a friend’s son in the garden. I had allowed him to win and I think he was up around 15:0. Deciding it was enough of a head start I thought I would show my skills and dribbled past him to score a goal. For some reason 15:1 was not a score that he was happy with and the tantrum followed. “He is just so competitive!” came the response from my friend. “No” I responded “he just likes to win!”
Equally I once read an article called Goal Setting Is Over Rated! It posed exactly the same suggestion. While setting goals is important it is the process by which you achieve those goals that is really the key. Fighting is the process!
The problem with all processes is that they are more subjective than the result. Parents, coaches and players can quickly identify a win or a loss of course, but to identify the level of fight, the level of effort is much more challenging to clearly see, but so is getting your child to eat healthily or do their homework, or in fact most things that are good for them. If it is challenging it is probably worth it, right?
Of course society doesn’t help us. According to so many books, articles and media messages every child can be a Winner, a Leader and parents are supposed to feel bad if their child isn’t successful at every turn. Wouldn’t it be so much better if every child was a worker, a battler, … a warrior! Fall down, get up! Losing means learning what I should practice next! In tennis the result is rarely something that a player can totally control. The level of effort that they put in however is.
In Norse mythology the ultimate death and the way to Valhalla (the afterlife) was to die in battle fighting. I always thought this a strange concept but they were not alone in this with tribes all around the world holding similar beliefs. Fighting was considered not just the ultimate but the only respectful way to go. To die fat and lazy at the end of a great victory with a trophy on the mantle and ranked number one in the village was not goal! It took me a really long time but I get it but even back then effort was respected above and beyond victory.
Of course a true warrior loves to fight and so will more than likely win more than someone that
wants the sugar rush of the trophy without doing the hard work or engaging in the battle.
So here is the challenge to parents, coaches, officials and more. Watch for the warrior on court in every child, celebrate it, encourage it and get excited by it. Kids feed off the messages from those around them and when you can enthuse about a 4:6 4:6 loss when your child is fully engaged in the battle more than a 6:0 6:0 victory in which they didn’t even try, you will be sending a message more powerful than you can imagine.
In tennis you can’t control if you win or lose but you can control how much you try, how hard you fight. It is not easy to see and all involved will be tempted by the sparkle of a trophy and the bragging rights that come with it, but a Warrior will carve his way through the world long after they have left the realm of junior tennis!
Onwards to Valhalla!