The truth is when I actually started thinking about writing this article, I contemplated beginning with, “15 things every youth athlete should know.”

Truth be told, who is going to remember all 15 points of reference? So, to the cutting room floor I went, and this is what remained.

There are many things you cannot control throughout your athletic career.

However, your overall attitude and effort are never one of them. You not only have the ability, but you have the responsibility to control these things. Having an amazing attitude will ultimately have a trickle down effect. If your teammates witness your overall awesome attitude, it may shed light to help assist them to adjust their attitude. And it’s also a great way to be role model for younger athletes. Making an effort is also quite important. Give it your all or go home. This is what makes a true athlete.

Athletic development is a complicated topic.

The best advice I can give to you is to keep striving to be the best version of you that you can. It’s important to realize that the developmental time period can be somewhat crazy. Some kids grow faster than others, while others pick up new movements and skills quicker. Then there are those who appear to just flat out be a step above the rest. None of these things however, are predictive of FUTURE success.

In other words, whether you’re the best or less than average U-12 athlete, it has almost no indication of whether you’ll be the best or worst U-18 athlete in your given sport. Remember that guy named Michael Jordan? Yes, that Michael Jordan. Let’s not forget that he was actually cut from his high school basketball team. And he did not allow that to stop him.

It’s okay to be tired.

It’s not okay to look tired. Controlling your body language can go a long way in how you’re interpreted by your coaches and by your opponents. Regardless of how tired you feel, carry yourself like you’re ready for more.

It’s also quite important that youth athletes understand the importance of eating REAL food.

What is real food? Real food is simply food that will go bad if you don’t freeze it or use it within a week. This includes items like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and nuts. It’s funny to me when I hear youth athletes say things like “I don’t like vegetables”… or even more insane, “I don’t like water.” As if these things are optional!

Your body is literally made of the nutrients you provide it. The food you take in provides the building blocks for every structure and system within your body to supply you with the energy needed to get through your day and your sport. You don’t need the next protein shake, protein bar or energy drink. Real food is all you need.

Now go do that thing you do so well. Life is a sport, play hard and we’ll be here if you get injured or want to work towards doing it better.