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An Important Message for the Junior Athlete

A Wie Bit of a Problem: An Important Message for the Junior Athlete
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And now todays article
The Michelle Wie situation is a great opportunity for junior athletes and parents to stand up and take notice. It is well chronicled by the television, newspaper and radio media but underneath the headlines are some important messages for all junior parents and players.
For every Michelle Wie there are many more junior athletes we might never hear of, because they have succumbed to the mountain of external and internal pressures heaped on them. In addition, they may be the recipient of ineffective advice from those close to them.
The pressure to win is rampant in junior competition in many different sports. Unfortunately, some parents, coaches and mentors can make this pressure more difficult; not less. As a former Director of Mental Toughness at the National Tennis Center in New York, Ive witnessed this pressure put upon junior tennis players trying to live the dream and make the pro tour. The pressure can reveal itself in many different ways from parents; a comment, a look, anger, frustration and so on. I would never ask someone to dismiss their dream, of course, but its not the dream that causes the problems; its WHO THEY ARE and HOW they go after the dream that matters most.
Do we have to go far to see the proof of the dangers in this? Hollywood provides us ample situations to choose from in this regard. Whether its Brittany, Paris or Lindsay we see the negative effects of a lack of balance, poor decision making and ineffective mentoring that occurs around these people. Michelle Wie happens to be splashed all over the media because of her status in the golf world but there are many who never get to that point because the flame burns out long beforehand. Unfortunately, Michelles status is dipping rapidly but a diminishing status is one thing; demeaning a person is quite another.
The Michelle Wie story, once again, highlights a very important story lurking underneath. Behind the razzle-dazzle of big contracts, media exposure, selling tickets and making money is Michelle Wie; the person. We know that the number of people who make it in professional sports is such a small percentage of those who try. If someone has the dream then following that dream is important. However, the choices made while pursuing the dream have everything to do with how one gets there; or doesnt get there. How many phenoms have we seen flare on to the scene only to burn out in a short period of time? The media attention will reflect this as well. It begins with a build up and then a tear down and once the star burns out; forgets about them altogether.
Tiger Woods, often referred to as the standard is the exception and not the rule, in my opinion. From all indications, Mr. Woods had the benefit of a strong, tough and loving father as well as a mother who exposed him to key insights about the realities of his internal powers by putting him in position to learn those insights. Obviously, Mr. Woods is blessed with a great reservoir of natural talent as well and when you put this entire package together, you have someone like Tiger Woods.
Michelle Wie is also talented and at an early age became a media darling. Now, her star is falling. I hope we can keep in mind the important underlying message in the Michelle Wie saga; too much too soon doesnt work for most people. There is no shortage of opinions as to what happened but for sure, the handling of this situation is in question. Reach for the dream but reach for it by learning how to maintain a proper balance between who you are internally and the external challenges you face. This will impact the choices you make and help in choosing what mentors, advisors and people you surround yourself with; which means someone who is willing to say no when necessary. The Michelle Wie story is not over unless she wants it to be. Great choices can still be made and a more effective plan can still be put into effect.
It is my hope that all those in position to help direct a junior athlete will take heed of the important message we can learn from in this situation.
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