Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Inception: Applying it to Athletics

You’re probably wondering why the Leo blockbuster has anything to do with youth training or exercise in general. Mostly it just drove people nuts trying to understand the plot and whose dream they were in. I saw this movie in theaters over the summer and then had to watch it again when it came out on DVD to see if I could pick up on anything else I may have missed. What I realized the second time is that I could apply many of this to training and developing youth athletics. Maybe it’s because I apply everything to training youth athletics.

Before I breakdown some of my favorite quotes from the movie, I want to discuss the idea of “pruning” or use it or lose it theory. Around adolescent the process of pruning occurs where the mind will break off connections it doesn’t use and reinforce the connections used regularly (1).

I am bringing up pruning because as the support system, (coaches, parents, mentors and/or role models) to young athletes, especially before puberty, we are HIGHLY influential as to how kids develop. They copy our words, actions, behaviors, etc. This can be both positive and negative, that will often set their habits and behaviors for life.

Back to Inception though….

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? An idea. Resilient...highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere.”
Holy smokes Leo, You’ve come along way since the Titanic. As coaches if we put the right ideas in kids head with regards to work ethic, reacting to positive and negative situations, sportsmanship, and overall attitude, which will stick with them forever!! They will understand and appreciate it more over time, but if we set the example and help teach it to young athletes, we set them up for success in anything they do.

“The seed that we planted in this man's mind may change everything.”

Every great sports story, especially the rags to riches, has an important figure in a child’s life that helped plant a seed that would change them forever. There’s often a star athlete’s saying if a certain person didn’t set them straight and show them right way, who knows where they would’ve ended up.

“You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
Like my man Will Smith said, "Being realistic is the most common path to mediocrity." Now I think in the short term being realistic is essential for achieving goals, but why not dream HUUUUGE for the long term? Many kids give up on their dreams way to earlier because their support system doubts and even discourages their dreams. Let the youth do what you couldn’t and even better, help them get there!

“I think positive emotion trumps negative emotion every time.”

Will there be negative emotions and people in every child’s life? Of course, and there probably will be more than positive people, but if the kid gets positive reinforcement and behavior around them from their coaches, parents, mentors I believe that will overcome negative emotions and people 100% of the time.

1. ( Wallis C., et al. (2004) What makes teens tick? TIME 163(19): 56-65.)

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