Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Advice For Young Athletes

What you are about to read is some advice given by Percy Cerutty in a letter to a young athlete who had asked him for his thoughts on achieving success.Not surprisingly,his responses are applicable to athletes of any age.Percy wrote: "To have success in something requires:
2.Finding the way and means.
4.Concentration on task.
6.Faith in oneself.
7.The quality of 'rather die than give in or be ultimately beaten.'
8.The recognition,until one's goals are achieved,that one cannot serve two masters,that one goal must,and does,take precedence over the other.
9.The recognition,as we overcome so we strengthen to overcome better, and as we weaken in our resolves,so we become weaker and less capable of worthwhile achievement.
10.Total commitment to your goal."
The above is sensible advice and well put,but,I find #9 to be very insightful and well worth thinking about. As they say, success can breed more success, so does failure have the potential to lead to more failure. We have read in previous posts that acceptance of being beaten without putting up a serious fight sets the stage for future loses.
One other thing I would like to add which is a little off the subject but should be remembered when working with younger athletes in particular, it is important that a love of running should be nurtured in the athlete. When a love for the sport exists,the athlete's ability to deal with disappointments,loses and the occasional rigors that come with it are better dealt with and accepted. A pox on those individuals and coaches who destroy a young athlete's enjoyment of the sport because of their selfish preoccupation with 'winning at all costs'. I've seen that happen too often in my career as a coach.Nothing is more empty and shallow than an athlete who runs solely to win and holds no love for the sport he is involved in.


  1. There is a part of me that disagrees with the last paragraph. I think there is something to those athletes who compete solely to win, and not to have fun; winning becomes the "fun" and losing the reminder why one does such things in the first place. The part of me that agrees with you is the fact that any athlete who has reached that doubt loved the sport at one time or another, if he no longer does.

  2. I like what you say,for some athletes,the pleasure does come primarily from breaking the tape,I've seen that.I've also seen a lot of those athletes give up the sport after the winning stopped, especially when they got to college. For me, in my years as a H.S. running coach and observing athletes, especially at invitationals,I've watched the progression of certain runners who had their enjoyment and love of the sport raced and pressured out of them by coaches and parents who were primarily preoccupied with them winning or doing well.

  3. It's weird coming upon praise for Percy Cerutty from a person based so far away from....Portsea. I read all I could of Cerutty when I was young and running. I'd watch him on TV doing his ratbaggery and loved the guy. I later jogged for years mainly because I loved it so. Then after falling ill I've been struggling with exercise for over two decades and it's weird that I have beaten my limbs back to Cerutty.

    It's ironic that the Born to Run vogue suits Cerutty's perspective. ...and he deserves a wider recognition beyond historical footnoting. I think I'm going to enjoy your site.

  4. Thanks Dave,the message Cerutty gave is still a vital one. Have you had the chance to read the great bio on him,Why Die? The Extraordinary Percy Cerutty "Maker of Champions," by Graem Sims?