Social media has made information readily accessible to the masses in a format that most people are comfortable ingesting.
Access to information is the new standard; how fast can we get accurate information to base our decisions off of? It’s the same question in confrontational sports; how fast can we get accurate information to base our decisions off of? How fast can we process information?
In the world of confrontational sports information is taken in through our senses and a course of action is determined. The speed of which one can process the data and transition to action – that is going to largely determine how well that individual performs in any given scenario.
For example, a soccer player about to receive a ball from the sky has to understand many variables ahead of touching the ball. They include:
1) Where they are on the field?
2) Who is around them (both sides)?
3) Is anyone making a run?
4) What is the situation currently in the match?
These must be observed AND processed BEFORE the ball is received. In a highly competitive match, anything else is too late. This is why our elite athletes have genius level processing power. That level of computation is generally reserved for the best of the best.
Some of the wildest examples are from freestyle snowboarders, skiers, mountain bikers. Think about the confidence and creativity these athletes have to have to hit something for the first time that’s big – or steep – or both! The speed that new obstacles are coming at you in those sports; most of us only experience that in two dimensions while playing video games. Every time you move or jump or land, the amount of precision in weight distribution, balance, knee bend – it is really incredible and only possible if you are so dialed in technically you can take in information and react almost instantly.
If we look at a team sport that has structure baked in; what are the prerequisites for finding success? It starts with the athlete having some foundational knowledge of what’s supposed to happen in any given situation. Right above foundational technique in our master of craft pyramid sits foundational knowledge.
If your athlete doesn’t have a great understanding of what the situational outcome calls for, then fundamentally you are going to have some serious setbacks.
This carries over into just about every aspect of the process. I’m talking off-the-field stuff. Why are you icing your knee? Why do you eat certain foods around workouts? What happens to your body and your brain when you get over eight hours of sleep?
It isn’t a stretch for all of us to agree that knowledge is power because it allows us to make better decisions on our own behalf. And the fact that information is so readily available now is a great thing, especially when it comes to athletics. Growing up I had no idea the Brazilians were capable of such amazing things with a soccer ball. I had never heard of Rucker park, or how to read the difference between cover 3 and cover 1. Information now is at the fingertips of anyone connected to internet. If you have curiosity, you can find likely find a solution.
The downside, inevitably, is that the internet and social media have created a wave of experts in anything and everything. We are now a soundbite society. In the way that we advertise, in the way that we communicate. Everything is a slogan. Ten second videos, genius explanations in 140 characters. Short, addicting, and largely incorrect.
And who is the biggest consumer of this information? Our youth. That means in part, our athletes are taking in all of this content – mostly snippets of questionable information – without much of a filter. Or what we used to call a BS detector.
Athletes don’t have to know everything about their process. Many of them are happy to put all of this in the hands of others and let those people dictate what actions the athlete will take next. I can go a step further down that trail and say that right now – this access to so many, quote - experts – actually desensitizes them to the useful information that is out there.
Looking at ads on Instagram or videos on TikTok is good fun. But when you want to be great at something, isn’t it worth the extra time to figure out whether or not the information you are ingesting is even accurate?
Think about Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You have self-preservation, safety, relationships, esteem, and self-actualization. To paraphrase; you need food, security from harm, friends, some sense of accomplishment, and then at the top of the pyramid – you strive to become the best you can be. Maslow suggesting of course, through a pyramid structure, that you can’t have the final block without the other four.
You have baseline requirements for success, and only after you obtain all of the building blocks can you become a 'master of your craft.'
One thing that I like about Maslow’s pyramid is the idea that the bottom four pieces of the structure often decrease motivation once you obtain them. And only when you reach the top, self-actualization or the motivation to be the best version of you; only then does success breed more success.
I love the structure because that is how we operate in sports. Go back on Instagram (just this once) and you will see so many quotes about staying motivated. "Getting to the top not as difficult as staying there", "hard to hunt for dinner when you’re always full", "success breeds complacency"…There are a ton, and the gist of them all is that once you find a little success, many people stop working as hard towards their goals.
And part of this is what we prioritize in our lives, and some of it is what our environment puts on us. And when you are constantly getting barraged with snapshots of reality on social media, or listening to all of the takes on sports radio that have so little to do with the actual play of the game; it has to be even more difficult now than ever to stay the course and keep your eyes on the prize.
That’s why I would implore you to focus on having a process for your athlete. It isn’t sexy, it isn’t a quick fix, and nobody will talk about it when you find success. They may say you have an incredible work ethic, but then inevitably the camera will pan to the guy with the staged workout video. Don’t buy that. Don’t buy that nonsense. More importantly, don’t get caught up in the race.
If you have real desires to make it – put in the work over the long term. Don’t rely on anything but your ability to create routines and develop habits that will consistently put you a position to be successful. Take a look at our master of craft pyramid on the site – make sure you have the baseline requirements pegged before moving on to the next stage.
Create routines in your life that help you get to where you want to go. Don’t let soundbites, staged videos, or the millions of experts in the field distract you from what you know is the right thing to do. If you are willing to put in the work, you have a chance.
1) There are no short cuts.
2) Do your research, be curious about your career.
3) Effort is it's own reward.