I am going to let you in on a little secret. It may be the most actionable piece of information you ever hear for developing a champion athlete. And if you really use the secret you’ll be doing things different than 80% of the people in youth sports.
The secret is to think in terms of Long-Term Development. You see I would venture to say that 80% of people think about things in the short-term. They think about doing well in the tournament next week or cramming in lessons and training right before the varsity tennis season starts. They want results “right now” and are constantly looking for the short-term fix. This is the reason you see junior players bounce from program to program and pro to pro. When something is not working “right now” they think the answer is to make a short-term change. This is the mentality of about 80% of people out there.
Now contrast that with a mindset of Long-Term Development. This mindset is nothing more than planning from the very beginning for the long haul and mindfully aligning everything in an effort to reach that goal far off on the horizon. It is characterized by a growth mindset, slow and steady progress, making little improvements each day, and not getting caught up in short-term successes and setbacks.
Planning for the long-term is not easy because it takes a great deal of wisdom and foresight. In the world of tennis this would be taking a 7-year-old and developing him or her to become the best they can be at 20+ years of age. Along the way taking no shortcuts and committing to believe and trust in the plan. In my experiences those who have had the most success were also those who committed to the idea of long-term development from the very beginning.
If you think about it, regardless of the sport, you are really only competing against 20% of everyone involved. Right off the bat, about 80% of the people are only focused on the short-term and that means in the long-term they really have no chance to do something special. If you have the mindset of long-term development, you are only competing against the other 20% of people who are thinking the same way as you.
Having the mindset of long-term development will give you the edge when it matters most in an athletes career.