Go Pro or Go Professional.
There comes a time in the life of young athletes when parents and players must decide whether to jump into the private coach pool or not. This pool is shallow in places, deep in others, and a commitment of time and energy for everyone involved. It is when a flash of bright light shines on the athlete, and the family has to determine if the light is a train or the sun itself. Is this really a thing, or is this just a stoplight on the way to wherever life is taking them. Or is it the train at the end of the tunnel.
For some, it happens at an early age, and prodigy status is cast upon a little leaguer as the next big thing. This can be the scariest of all of the decisions, as there are far more questions about who the athlete is, how tall will they be, how fast will they get, and how much better are they than their peers. Often, it can be fools gold to throw good money after bad pre-adolescent superstar dreams. It can also be the gasoline that burns out a potential stars light.
For some, it happens in middle school, where the age differences become more pronounced in the bodies of the athletes. The difference of the athletes at 12 and 15 are often remarkable, and can be the reason why they excel or fail. Some late bloomers get bypassed due to size, and some early bloomers dive quickly into the deep end with no real chance of staying dry.
There are the high school athletes, three levels deep and another vast difference in body sizes, emotional maturity levels, and success against larger and older athletes. This is compounded by the pay for play leagues, the increased focus on sports, and the distractions of social media, academics, and the opposite sex. Talk of college preparation, entrance exams, proms, and summer trips now are added to the chaos.
It is a constant fork in the road for parents and athletes. Most parents want the best for their young ones, and the choices are often based on the needs of the athlete, the priority of the parents, and the community in which they play. And of course, there is the cost.
In some cases, the choice is about the talent of the athlete, the influence of the family, and the comfort of the local high school coaches and what they want for and from the athlete. It far often comes down to the shiniest and biggest of options instead of what is best for the athlete. That is what I want to discuss here.
The decision usually is motivated by the potential of the athlete. Questions arise, and answers follow. Notice that I did not say solutions. I said ANSWERS. The solutions are much more difficult than the answers, and that is why this is a hit and miss deal.
The pro or professional dilemma is two-fold. Do the families pursue athletic success by hiring a private coach who specializes in the game their athlete plays? Or do they find a coach who focuses on the skills needed to excel at all sports instead of one? Do the families direct their young one to the possible collegiate athletic pool, which is often deeper and murkier, or do they stand back and trust the natural order of things by letting life move things in its order. Can the professional coach teach and aide their young person to the next level, or do the parents want to go a different way.
That other route is filled with former pro athletes. They come with credentials, name recognition, a history of playing at the level in which the athlete is chasing, and has gone on the major league success. The pro knows what it takes to advance levels, and has actually experienced it. They know the way. They have already been there. But wait, all that is shiny is not gold. The pro may not have the ability to connect with your athlete like the professional. The pro might be an elite athlete who can not teach what he knows will work. He may not have the desire to put in the emotional time needed to connect, know, and assist the young person in the exact way that they need for them to succeed.
When this fork in the road is reached, it comes down to these questions. What is the task? What is the goal.? What boundaries and ceilings are there? How far and how high can the athletes go? How much is this going to cost, and how much is this worth? Is being able to tell everyone that your child is getting the best training the thing, or is it who is providing it?
In the end, the athlete, parents, coaches, and trainers will figure it out. Choose what makes your young person happy. Choose whatever will make them the better version you both dream of. Choose what is love.
It will come down to the pro, or the professional.
Choose wisely. Your athlete deserves the best. They deserve a chance.
Whether they become a pro, or a professional is depending on it.