Ask the G4 Athlete: Mentors?

9 October 2013
Mental Edge
Comments: Comments Off on Ask the G4 Athlete: Mentors?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ask the G4 Athlete: Mentors?

“I have heard people say that mentors are important in life. Are they just as important in sports? Do they give you an added edge? If mentors are a big deal, how do I find one?” — Colin

Thanks for the question, Colin. Yes! Mentors are an extremely important component to success!  Especially during the early stages of your athletic career, there’s no substitute for a high quality mentor.

You are correct, mentors are important in life and in sports

When applying for a job, experience is a critical component to whether or not you get the job. The employer, looking for assurance that the new job will be performed up to task, wants to feel secure in knowing the person hired has encountered the difficulties of that specific job.

For this reason, people with no experience need to work from the ground up at any job. But what if the applicant has a mentor in the specific field working closely to help this person anticipate the many aspects of a job? While there’s never a substitute for first-hand experience, the applicant with a mentor is better situated to move up the job ladder quickly.

The same principle applies to mentorship in sports. As an athlete, it is easy to look inward for motivation and answers instead of looking outward to successful people and asking for help with tough situations or help with your sport. A mentor is not a substitute for first-hand action, but he or she both helps to guide your in your quest as well as and how to best propel you in your journey of life.

Do mentors give you an added edge?

As an athlete, you should always be looking for an edge over your competition. A mentor is a good way of gaining that edge, especially if he or she has been in your shoes and encountered the issues and tactics you are about to face. This person has been through some of the same environments as you and has needed to make similar decisions to the ones you have to make. A mentor gives you the opportunity to find someone who believes in you and wants to help you become the best you can be.

How to find a mentor

The most important step in selecting a mentor, is finding someone with hands-on experience that has an interest in building into you. It can be harmful to your development to find a person with great experience that has no interest in improving your game. The person you select as a mentor needs to have a deep desire to help push you to become a better athlete.

Second, a mentor needs to be able to observe you with a critical eye for analyzing your skills. If a mentor wants to build a relationship but isn’t willing to speak bluntly at times, you lose plenty of development opportunities. Improvement occurs when a frank and honest assessment of your abilities follows with clear advice about remedying your deficiencies. If a mentor refuses to give that frank and honest assessment, you won’t get better.

Above all else, Colin, selecting a mentor starts with building relationships. If you don’t know anyone, you can’t get mentored. If you don’t have a few options you can immediately point out, ask your friends and teammates for suggestions. There’s certainly people just outside your network where an introduction from a friend can lead to something productive for you and the mentor.

So to answer your question, Colin. Mentors are an extremely important part of sports. I encourage you to find that person who can help take you to the next level!