Ryan at Rutgers Gymnastics

Number 1 Thing You Need To Know About Every Athlete: From Youth To Professional

Athletes are on two journey’s. It does not matter their age, grade, sport or if they perform on the professional or Olympic level. The first and initial journey is obvious and sadly it has become far too common for coaches, trainers and parents to focus on…

I first heard and understood this concept from a mentor that I study and read in Russell Brunson. He talks about the two journey’s from the sense that the first initial journal is driven from an external struggle and the second journey is driven from an internal struggle.

When I first started thinking about this, I had to apply it to my own life and it helped me understand at a much deeper level why I do what I do…

The Two Journey’s

The first journey for every athlete is the external struggle or their own journey of accomplishment. Athletes tell their friends, family, coaches and trainers about the championships they want to win. They talk about the records they want to break or the varsity roster they want to make. Maybe they want to obtain a scholarship from their dream school or even get drafted to a professional team…

These are the obvious external things that athletes desire. The ones that are typically easy for them to share. The reality is sharing these desires with others brings a sense of comfort and ease because it’s why so many kids sign up for sports in the first place.

Or so they think…

I was once in the same boat. Actually I spent the majority of my athletic career chasing after the dream of fulfilling achievements like state and national championships. Becoming an All-American in college.

The list can go on from the time I began athletics as a 5 year old up until it ended competitively in college.

After college is when the massive shift happened…

The shift that forever changed my life as well as my mission towards helping athletes across the globe…

That is the second journey. The journey to fulfill our internal desires! As Russell explains it, “it’s the journey of transformation”…

Transformation of who we are as people…

Who is the different person you will become throughout your process or journey?

For many this is the hardest part.

What To Do

At a glance this might seem obvious or easy because we hear coaches and teachers talk about this all the time. We hear them preach about their goals to build quality young men and women…

The problem is it’s easy to say. It’s something entirely different to actually understand what this means. It’s a new level to actually follow through with what you say and know.

Your first question might be, “Why is it so difficult”?

At the very tip of the iceberg is because most coaches and trainers lack the understanding that it requires vulnerability on your part first. It is difficult for kids and often times more difficult for adults to make themselves vulnerable…

We feel as parents, teachers or advisors that we must have all the answers for those around us. The reality is that it’s the exact opposite. Your kids or athletes actually want to see your flaws.

Right now they see you as a superhero. You’re unstoppable with no flaws, pain or heartache in your life. So when you try to explain to them “that you understand”. In the kids mind they are screaming “WHATEVER”!

It’s Happening In Athletics

The exact same scenario is happening across the world of athletics. Coaches, trainers and mentors want to be “flawless.” Especially in the eyes of the athletes…

Similar struggles and internal desires that you craved as a middle school or high school athlete are similar to the ones kids today desire…

My core message is about building meaningful relationships, rapport and strong bonds with the athletes around you.

It becomes very difficult to build connections without making yourself vulnerable first. 

Remember you are their hero…

You are the one they look up to and are seeking answers from. 

Answers, guidance and advice on their second journey of transformation.

Athletes workout

It’s Kinda Like

How do you know this Ryan? How do you know about this journey of transformation?

Because I lived it!

I am not throwing away or discounting the journey of accomplishment. Of course as athletes we crave championships, scholarships or even millions of dollars…

But that is not what truly fulfills us as human beings. It’s kinda like all the people in the world that craved endless amounts of money and are still depressed. As Tony Robbins once mentioned he knows plenty of Billionaires but only a few are truly happy.

How can that be? How can you chase after a dream. Put endless amounts of time and energy into something, accomplish it, only to still feel empty inside.

Even worse, imagine chasing those dreams for decades and never accomplishing them. How empty and helpless do you imagine those people feel inside?

That’s who I was and who I lived as for decades until I actually understood the importance of growth and transformation…

And then I took a glance at the athletes around me at that time. It consisted of 1st Round NFL Draft picks to youth athletes…

And I had the greatest AHA moment I have ever had in my life. They were craving the same internal desires regardless of sports, age or income!

They were looking to become someone new. Someone they felt comfortable to present to their friends and the world. Comfortable enough to not fear being judged or accepted!

My Reflection

I quickly learned and understood that if I was going to have the impact on the world and the world of sports I desired; I was going to have to tell my own story.

Like I said every coach and trainer is screaming that they are in it to build kids towards something greater than sports..

But I had something new. A New Vehicle. A New Opportunity that no one else had to offer!

I had a way to build rapport with kids and that was through telling my own story.

If I was able to tell my own story in a way that they understood. They would in turn trust me as a true mentor!

Oh and when you can guide and advise others towards their own transformation. It builds their confidence towards achieving the goals they desire.

I spent decades of my own life only dreaming and thinking of accomplishments. Some of them I was able to achieve and many others I fell short…

The ones I fell short of, were the ones I craved the most and it crushed me! I spent so much of my life with the single identity of “athlete”…

If I looked in the mirror and only saw an athlete yet was unsuccessful in the world of athletics. Then who was I? Did I have any identity at all or was I just living life as fraud!

As many of you know through blogs and my TED Talk that those thoughts, feelings and emotions put me into a downward spiral. A downward spiral that eventually pushed me towards seeking answers…

I spent years seeking, studying and asking questions until I truly felt my own transformation!

Then Came The True Test

I knew these years helped me in my own life. But left a much larger question…

Would they transform the life of others?

So I began putting them to the test. I began telling my story more and more. I began opening the doors to my heart. I began talking about subjects that made everyone uncomfortable like suicide, bullying and depression…

I went through it all…

I was scared and nervous not knowing how anyone would respond. And then it started to happen…

Slowly parents and kids started calling and texting more often about having mentor conversations with their kids. They were claiming to see “a new person” in their child…

Kids and professional athletes were opening up and crying regularly in the office or at lunch.

This was an extremely common theme! Many of these athletes were HIGHLY successful in their sport but they were looking for something more! Maybe if you are a coach or parent reading this you have seen something similar in your own kids or even athletes on Sportscenter.

Now you know that the answer often sits inside one word…TRANSFORMATION!

Where To Go

Before we wrap this up, I must warn you! Be very careful if you are one of those coaches or parents that thinks “Not My Child”…

I once thought the same thing about myself. I masked it all because there was no way I was “allowed” to be depressed or suicidal. These athletes are under more pressure and scrutiny than ever in the history of sports.

It’s tough for them to talk about flaws when they are praised all the time. They feel like they must live up to their image…

If they fail to live up to that image then they will be letting everyone around them down! 

It’s tough in this world of sports to not get caught up in performance and accomplishments…

I challenge you and I include myself on this list to keep the second journey in mind…

The Journey of Transformation!

Remember they deserve it!

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