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How the experience of sport prepared me for life: 10 Life lessons of sports

How the experience of sport prepared me for life: 10 Life lessons of sports.

From soccer with the guys – a national team, running competitions for the university team – international, to swimming getting all licenses, to dancing on stage, skating the street and skateboarding the bowl. Inline skate 120 km, taking the SUP, surfing the ocean and the streets with a surfskate. Learning the wing thing. Climbing, mountain biking, rafting, canoe…,  Kitesurfing in freestyle competitions, big air, Kitefoil racing in the world tour and  big air competitions. Individual & teamsports, practising myself, coaching and teaching others. The biggest part of my life was and is about sports;  Skiing 140 km an hour, flying over kickers, flipping through the mountains, sliding the rails. A life in the snow.  Battling on the highest level possible, winning competitions, losing, learning but more about enjoying it- nothing worth doing without FUN – has always been and still is rule number 1.  From frozen to liquid water I learned a lot. Actually my life was and still is built around sports and competitions – maybe nowadays a bit more about enjoying the little moments, to see what I actually have reached already. 

“life is to short to do only one thing”

All these sports taught me a lot, the meaning of life, how to keep a balance and how to pick up myself after falling down. Coming back after injuries, dealing with fear. Push myself to get better and get comfortable with the uncomfortable.  That sometimes you have to fight a battle more than once to win it, you don’t need to stay between any lines. There are no limits, the world is the stadium and nothing is out of bounds. Sports taught me how to be a good winner, be a good loser, to work harder than everyone else, to be a leader, a team player, have grit, have determination, have patience, and so much more. 

“Don’t take the sport you love for granted. Every time you play, you better be damn thankful that you got to do something you really love. When you reach the day you can`t play and you can only watch, than you will know how much you love something that you once took for granted…..”

 I also learned through sports that life is precious and some day you can get injured and reduced to your raw vulnerable self. Losing all you had, come back from 0. Against all odds. There is light on the end of the tunnel. Never lose that hope! Never give up, for that is just the place and time the tide will turn. Some moments with great results, but still struggling silently. I learned to accept, that something is what it is, there is got to be a way through it….. Please be vulnerable enough to ask for help to get answers you need. I hope I can inspire you this way to never, never, give up on the dreams you have and once had. And it`s oke not to fit in and to be different.

The 10 life lessons of sports, how the experience of sport prepared me for life:

1. Fun.

Lucky that I’ve been fortunate to have enjoyed and still do enjoy a variety of sports and activities throughout my whole life (thank you mum & dad), and have learned and am still learning that sometimes it isn’t the game itself that is fun – but instead it is our ability to have ‘fun’ playing it.  With all the friends around, learning new “things”, enjoying to be outside to kick that ball and be part of something – together. Pushing each other and get better – develop. As well as in life, doing a job, sometimes it`s the people that make it fun and keep you going, appreciate that. The trick is to enjoy life & the little moments. Before you know life is over…. And you will regret not having fun.

Even though the conditions are not always (or never) on your side, get used to it. Make the best out of it and be happy you can go out at all. Every minute out there counts. Fun makes it so much easier.

2. Nothing is given you have to earn it.

Hard work is the key to success. Not only in sports, also in life. Before being good at something you have to feel awkward and you need to suck at something. Crash that trick, stand up and try again, again, again.  Be open for feedback and  to learn. I don`t even know how many million ways I found out that didn’t work out in that trick.. broken bones.. bruises…concussions.. scratches…stitches, but I always got back up again, trying again – and before I knew I was battling against the best of the world. When I started playing soccer without any experience as a little kid, too young … I started on the bench as the newbee. After seeing my brother play and the guys, I put in tons of effort and work to become just like them. From that moment I played every game and others were offering themselves for me – On day I even got asked by the  coach of the opponent to play for them (national champion  & the best team in the group – all colored guys and me playing as a white girl – a game I will never forget, they even let me kick the penalty).

Once they told that little girl to start at the lowest grade of highschool, that was her level… yeah right. I hoped to do one level higher, so I did. (In the end not one level…) Once you believe in yourself you can do so much more. Proof them wrong. I went to the highest grade, got a bachelor, two masters and now I am doing a post master. I did the premaster two times, the day I made it I proved to myself, that you should listen to you and only you. That feeling of reaching something scary, untouchable is the best feeling in the world. Same with tricks and sports!!

 From that moment one I always wanted to earn something instead of just receiving it without putting in the work. Hard work is the real core of every sport because, without putting in hours you cannot really succeed at anything. Nothing worth having comes easy. In real life it is too, nothing comes easy – so don’t sit and wait, go get your dreams!   Nothing is like expected, maybe its better, in a different way. I rather have high standards and drop down a few times before getting back up, than not trying at all.

“Don`t  let one stumble on the road be the end of your journey”

3.You won’t always win and that’s oke. 

Somedays, when I lost a game, an important one .. one point less to become the world champion. I would always got angry and wanted to quit, because only the first place counts. The rest are losers… but my parents & coach made me stick to it.  Is there a sportsperson or a sports team which haven’t lost a single match in their entire career ? they started to ask me.. The answer is no. But did it stop any of them from playing again ?– always the second question..Still, the answer is no. And this taught me that failures are a part of life but should not be mistaken as an end. No matter how many dead ends you encounter you need to keep thriving until you achieve your goal. If you don`t fail, you won’t learn, if you don’t learn, you will never change. 

When I was younger, my coach wouldn’t let me finish unless I landed the trick with no mistakes – until the next mistake. I still do that to this day as well and it has helped me greatly. Practice does not make perfect rather perfect practice makes perfect.  So always try one more time…

4.Teamwork  & trust.

You can’t do everything by yourself sometimes and that is just a fact. This lesson is applicable in life, sports, and anything you do, to be honest. There is no “I” in a team and that is something that has helped me a lot in sports and outside of it.  In many sports trust is the key to success – whether its trust in a coach, teammate, family member, co worker or equipment. A lack of trust in a te am mate’s ability to play his/her position, a coach results in others not being able to fully commit to theirs – while in others trust is a matter of life and death.  With this I struggled a lot this year.. Like in a business, great things are never done through one person….Sometimes you have to set aside your individual wants for the collective good and the end purpose.  An individual can make a difference, A right team can create a miracle. And sometimes the right team is not that far away!

I learned to put outside problems aside, and just play the game, make a goal your drive. Much like co-workers, teammates will not always get along, but this taught me to put differences aside and just get the work done.

5.Believe in yourself before others start believing in you.

A really difficult, BUT important one: You need to believe in yourself before others start believing in you. It takes a lot of courage and belief in your own self to get into the field and face your rivals. And as you know, you can never win if you don’t show up. Your dreams matter,  there is only one you.  Do your thing and don`t waste your time changing opinions. There will be always people telling you, you can`t . If you never try you will never know. And sometimes it means going left while everyone goes right.  I have been told many times I wouldn`t reach anything in kitesurfing anymore… I am not a runner….. Laughed about, because girls don’t play soccer….I had to do the lowest grade on school.. and right now I am the proud owner of two masters. Made it to a world title in snowkiting and first places in freestyle. Have been on the international running podium and won tournaments with my soccer team..

So: Trust in yourself, you already survived a lot and you will survive whatever is coming – no – one is going to take that from you. Do it for yourself and no – one else, it’s your development, your life.

               That might be the  most important lesson I learned, next to fun. Do what you can, with what you have, wherever you are. Impossible is not a fact, it is an opinion…..

On the other side sports teaches you to never be overconfident. It’s good to believe in oneself but nothing good ever comes from underestimating others. Also, victories should be a reason for your happiness but not an excuse to stop working harder. Be confident & keep humble.

“you have to believe in yourself when no one else does – that makes you a winner right there”

6. Priorities & Sacrificing

In life (with sports), you have to find out what your priorities are, and with that comes sacrificing. The hardest thing you have to do. You can’t do everything and that is a tough pill to swallow, especially when you are a kid.  You won’t have a great social life because most of the time you are either traveling for sports, have some sort of training, needed to work to make it all happen. You can`t have  a normal steady job, be friends with coworkers…I didn’t go to any parties from friends or school parties, sporting events, club nights at all, not that much time hanging with friends ore seeing family,  but I don’t regret it at all. Those sacrifices will help you get closer to whatever you are trying to achieve and it helped me a lot in life. Sacrifices will hurt but you have to think about it in the long term because that sacrifice will help you get an inch closer to what you are trying to achieve. 

I found some great kitesurfing friends, friends in my soccer team, new friends all around the world and I’ve got some awesome stories to share with my family when I am at home.  The rare moments I see them I enjoy & appreciate even more now.  Just like the different jobs I got back home, with the different people – still there when I come back.

7.Life isn`t fair.

This was one lesson everyone learned as a kid and it was the toughest one to understand – and still I can’t sometimes. Not only in sports but also in life I notice it all the time.  You might be the best employee at your job but you still haven’t gotten a promotion. Or you worked so hard to get a ten on your exam but you have to do  the re-exam. Promise, when life isn’t fair: you don’t sinker down and give up. You rise to the occasion and try again because life will throw these obstacles at you all the time,  to test how you respond. And yes, sometimes life sucks and it`s hard to push forward. But you can! Keep clawing back up, keep pushing through doubt, fear, and failure. That’s what will make you grow . It is a sad reality, but life isn’t fair so you must find a way to overcome it. You are stronger than you think.

Never give up: persistence and perseverance. Nothing good ever comes easy and the road to success is a long one. For achieving that end, the first step is to stay on that road and never quit. You will meet failures on the way but winning is always possible as long as you don’t quit. 

8. Commitment.

Somedays, my parents were no longer able to drive me everywhere, because of work. I would take my kites to class, walk a lot of miles, drag everything into the train, just for one hour of training. Some days I had to play soccer after and I came straight on my skateboard. Rather than quit, and let down my team-mates, I skated there, to be able to continue to play. By the end of the season I had achieved a fitness level that I still aspire to. Besides that – if possible my parents always took me from one to another sport, picking me up on the other side of the country and driving me straight to the match or the airport.

With commitment comes focus. You need to focus to thrive and excel at something. Life always gives you both positive and negative – focus on the good and move ahead with commitment.  Told at the age of 18 I wouldn`t reach anything in sports anymore…. Once I committed to the kitesurfing and started to believe in myself.. I actually  found a new passion and did reach the stage a multiple times.

“stop competing with others, start competing with yourself”

9. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Risk is correlated with reward. You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take. But also, you don’t necessarily succeed in 100 per cent of the shots that you do take. In all aspects of life, the principle holds that to achieve great success, you must take risks. However, this is not an excuse for recklessness. Sports are loaded with opportunities for risk-taking, and exposure to these opportunities is the best training for developing a sense of when it’s a good time to take the shot and when it might be better to pass. Take the risk or lose the chance – an elderly Peruvian lady ones told me.

10. Integrity & Accountability

It is in the world of sport and competition that I learned not everyone shares the same values or principles. For some winning was everything. In an early stage I was already taught the difference between playing ‘hard’ and playing ‘dirty’. But more the importance of always playing ‘my’ game. Through sports and the outside world I started to see the parallels between how players conducted themselves on and off the field.  Consistency is key, but integrity IS everything

Every action has its consequences.  In sports and in the world, but in competitions you notice that every move counts. Each moment could be the deciding moment. One wrong move, one little mistake and that could lead to you losing a game which was going in your favor or worse, losing it all and get injured.  It’s the lesson of accountability and owning the consequences that will result from your actions.

 Accountability  ever when I participated in, or competed in any sport and still do, its always with the support of others – such as my parents, coaches, and team mates, sponsors. It is  through their support that I initially learned the importance of being accountable.. There are many times when we need to invest 100% of our effort and energy despite nobody watching. Be accountable for the life you want – we get what we give.

Although this season was a hard one for me, I would not trade it for the world. Playing sports has taught me more life lessons than anything, by far. Although we won tons of games and tournaments, I developed a lot the last years – won, learned, the hard losses are the ones that always stick out the most to me. Especially if its the choice between money, old gear and new gear & unfair team choices raining around. And even though most of these memories were great, there were also some bad ones. However the good memories combined with the bad have shaped me into the young adult I am today . Might be a “little” bit less reckless, still as wild and fearlessly as the little me.  Bring it on sports & life!

Sports will prepare you for the trials life will give you. Thank you sports! 😊

“Don’t take the sport you love for granted. Every time you play, you better be damn thankful that you got to do something you really love. When you reach the day you can`t play and you can only watch, than you will know how much you love something that you once took for granted…..”

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