Today, I am addressing the athlete in you who spends many hours perfecting their techniques, as sharp as they are. I would like to share with you an experience that I had. I sincerely hope that after having read this text, my message will stay in your memory and you can use it as you see fit.
I spent all five years of high school in a sports-study program. Like we both know, being in a sports-study program is not just about spending two hours a day doing a sport. In reality it involves many more sacrifices. Being in a sports-study program means that your lunch hour is shortened and that you have to eat fast because you have to be dressed and ready for the warmup at the same time as everyone else. You therefore have to think carefully about what you’re going to gulp down, since you have barely swallowed your last bite, and you already find yourself running beside tens of other athletes, almost all of whom, like you, are also looking to outperform themselves each day… at each practice.
During your practice, you remember the corrections that your coach made the previous day, then you attempt to put them into practice. The results aren’t immediate, but you continue to apply the small details that you have to correct. You’ve now been working relentlessly for two weeks and you finally start to see an improvement. Then, during your practice, you see your time improve by a few seconds, or you finally succeed in gaining a few mph on your pitch. Maybe you jumped a little higher than the last time thanks to the efforts you have made in the last two weeks. You feel very proud and you understand why people make so much effort. At the same time, you just received a poor mark on a French test and you are already coming up with an excuse for your parents to explain why this one didn’t go as well as the others. Except that now, you leave the practice with a mad desire to tell your parents what you just accomplished. You think of nothing else.
Now that the practice is over, you have to take a quick shower because you certainly don’t want to miss the bus to return home. You hurry to get your books from your locker, throw everything in your backpack, and you’re off. You finally succeed in boarding the bus just as it was about to pull away. You have to sit with someone because all the seats are taken, but it’s not easy with all the bags that you’re carrying. Finally, someone makes room for you. You sit down and realize that you are even hotter than before you took your shower… a classic. You finally arrive home exhausted. You had planned to study a chapter before supper, but you tell yourself that lying down on the sofa could be a good idea. You wake up with a jolt when your mother tells you that supper is ready. You eat, you kind of blurt your stories out because you’re famished. Once supper is over, you get your books out to start studying. You look at the time and realize that you should already be in bed at that hour. You tell yourself that must absolutely finish this section, but you’ve already read the same sentence four times. You are worn out from your day. You have just a few pages left to read, so you can do it while you’re eating breakfast.
I lived this hectic life for five years. Obviously, a few days stand out and break this routine. This routine which was however unfailing. I lived this lifestyle for three other years, on a college level. Despite all that, I have to admit that I would start all over again tomorrow morning!
The only thing that you must not forget throughout these efforts is your passion for this sport. I’m telling you this because we end up forgetting why we are making all these sacrifices. I realized it at the end of those eight years. Like you, I did competitions in summer and my sports-study program in the winter. During all these years, I would arrive at summer training camp with this entire routine instilled in me. I no longer had that beginning of season flame and that fever to find myself back on the field.
My first winter in the sports-study program seemed like an eternity. However, at training camp, I must have been the happiest and most enthusiastic person there. You know, that year, I had my best season in these last nine years. That’s why I don’t want you to forget. The sports-study program is an extraordinary alliance, but it must remain that way, because don’t lose sight of the fact that it is to help you improve season after season. Listen to your body since only you can know if you need a moment of rest at some time or another. It will help you to outperform yourself, much more than you can imagine. If you show up at selection camp with the impression of continuing a routine, or with the impression of having to do it because you spent the entire off-season practicing, take two minutes and ask yourself the question. Are you doing it because you want to or because you feel obligated to do it?
In the hopes of having succeeded in reaching you with a few words, I wish you good continuity and most of all, good luck!
«Like we both know, being in a sports-study program is not just about spending two hours a day doing a sport. In reality it involves many more sacrifices.»