Father time catches us all. Below you will find 3 strategies to cope with becoming the aging athlete.
This idea came up as I was checking in on one of my favorite YouTube basketball players. I had left a comment stating that the people on the video were good and I would not want to guard them. I thought my comment may get a few likes but not that many would care that much. The comment was highlighted by the creator which meant it stayed on the top of the comment thread.
So let’s get one thing straight right away. YouTube commenters can be nasty. We all know that differing opinions online can lead to a lot of back and forth and people get heated. Luckily, the thread has not become a cesspool of internet chatter. At least not yet anyway. The first comment did surprise me and it cemented a thought that had been lingering in my head for quite some time.
Of course you may also get your ass kicked.
Athletes play for all kinds of different reasons. Some play for the love of the game while others play to be the best. From sport to sport and group to group, you will find a variety of skill levels and difficulty. If you asked anyone why they play, their answer may change depending on what sport you ask about. For example, I love to bowl. I want to throw that stupid ball down the lane and get a strike every time. I bowl because I want to “master” the sport, even though I know it will not happen. Basketball is different. If I had the opportunity, I would stay at a court all day. I play basketball because it’s fun.
The first commenter piqued my interest because in hypothetical basketball matchups, they thought they had a one up on the competition. While I stated I would not want to guard the video creator, this person said that they would guard and would FOUL the other player every time. In pickup ball, there is no foul limit. You can legitimately hit someone every time and there is no penalty other than the play stopping. Of course you may also get your ass kicked but that depends on how far each player is willing to go.
Mindsets like this admit defeat even before the game starts
Surely this person thinks that my game is a joke, and that’s ok. I will never know this person and they are definitely not someone I would want to play with. This type of attitude and strategy ruins the game. Mindsets like this admit defeat even before the game starts. The comment basically states, I cannot compete with this skill level so I will just try to cheat in order to win.
So as an aging athlete, how can we deal with this type of player on or off the field? I tried to remind this guy (and it probably didn’t get through) that I have nothing to prove. Last time checked, they were not handing out cash, scholarships, or contracts at a local park. So lets take a look at 3 strategies to cope with becoming the aging athlete.
3 Strategies to Cope with Becoming the Aging Athlete
How to cope #1. Shift your focus. Something I often find myself saying is that we all have to go work on Monday. This definitely lands with the aging athlete more than the high school or college kid. I know when I was younger, injury did not really matter. The likelihood of being hurt was much lower and the effects were not as long. Roll an ankle? No problem, you will be back to normal next week. You never had to explain to your boss that you were limping because your ankle swelled up to the size of a grapefruit. Hospital trip because you tore your ACL? Insurance can take care of that at no cost. Thanks Mom and Dad. Now, I am the dad. I have to make sure the bills are paid and that creates a different style of play.
Your ego may hurt but at least your body won’t.
Staying present in the moment can be tough in the heat of competition. Try to remind yourself that you are the only person preventing you from being injured. The person from the comment section clearly does not have much regard for their opponents body. You may find yourself being taken out because the competitor cannot stop you. The so called alpha male may disagree but sometimes it is best to stand down and walk away. Your ego may hurt but at least your body won’t.
How to cope #2. Trying new or different sports may be a good option as well. With injury being a real problem, it may be time to hang up those football cleats. This is definitely a hard decision when becoming the aging athlete. Many people I know have had to stop running because their knees just cannot handle the abuse. They have found that swimming or cycling is a great alternative and they can get the same enjoyment. There is a sport out there for you. Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports of all time and is great fun. The cost to get started is low, equipment is easy to come by, and many tennis courts have the lines already on the court.
Strategy #3 on how to cope with becoming the aging athlete is to get into coaching. Youth sports organizations have a constant need for coaches. This is a great way to stay active and pass along your knowledge and love of the game. You may end up being the inspiration for a child to develop a love for the game. Coaching is a great way to get off the couch and spend a few hours in the gym. Your body will thank you and so will your community.
Until next time. Play hard and stay cool.
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