There is a word that we try to get our youth players saying at an early age as they focus on their skill development. And that is the word “YET”. We live in a world that constantly strives for instant gratification or instant success. We want to lose weight quickly. We want to get a job promotion soon after we are hired. We don’t want to put in time or a sustained period of effort to achieve a goal. We want it NOW! But, we need our youth players to understand that learning the proper skills and making them stick takes time. It’s not something that happens overnight. They may not be that good now; but with the proper coaching and dedicated time set to working on improvement, they can create for themselves an opportunity to get better. They need to understand that they are not that good…YET.
There is so much power in the word ‘Yet’. Think about these two statements:
- “I can’t hit a curve ball well.”
- “I can’t hit a curve ball well, yet.”
These two sentences are separated by just one three letter word; but the effects that word has on the individual saying it is so drastically different than the individual that does not say it. The individual stating “I can’t hit a curve ball well” has a fixed belief about their current situation. They are letting a current situation dictate who they are, which will have a lasting impact on them. This individual is likely to approach an at-bat against a pitcher with a great curve ball with a defeatist mindset. They are likely walking to their at-bat believing they will strike out because this pitcher throws a great curve ball. The individual stating “I can’t hit a curve ball well, yet” has a belief that they will soon learn how to hit the curve ball well, even though they cannot do so now. They are not letting their current situation define their skill set. This individual may lack confidence at this time in their ability; but, they know that their next at-bat may be different. They likely walk to their at-bat with the belief that this next at-bat could be their turning point. Again, one word separates the sentence; but there is a huge gap in these individuals’ beliefs.
The first step for us as coaches or parents is to get our players believing in the power of this word. We need to get kids believing that their current skill set (whether good or bad) is just that; its their CURRENT skill set. They have the opportunity to change it. We need kids to understand how they play today could be drastically different from how they play a year from now. Once we have them believing in that mindset, we then need to go to work on the more difficult task. We need them to work to improve their current situation. The power of the word “YET” is only as good and as meaningful as the individual’s willingness to take the steps needed to turn “YET” into a reality.
Once we have players believing their current situation is simply their current situation, we must provide them with an avenue for improvement. We need to make sure we give them the knowledge and tools they need to gain ground on their improvement. We simply cannot encourage them; we must guide them. Encouragement without guidance to improvement are simply words. And words alone can’t help them. Your guidance doesn’t have to be actual instruction. If you cannot provide the knowledge they need to improve, find someone who can do it. But, you must find someone who is willing to take the journey with them. Find someone that is as committed as your player in seeing that improvement become a reality. Once you find that someone that can provide the knowledge, the belief behind the “YET” becomes much more realistic.
Everyone can improve to some degree. How much they improve is really up to the individual and how much they are willing to work. But, it all starts with that simple three letter word. It all starts with the individual knowing that they are not that good at something…YET.