I am sure you have all heard of the famous quote, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” Well, this begs a question. What exactly does this mean? According to idioms.thefreedictionary.com, it means “you can present someone with an opportunity but you cannot force him or her to take advantage of it.” I liken this idiom to my most passionate topic, critical thinking and student athletes.
Student athletes are often presented with opportunity after opportunity to behave a certain way during certain situations. This means, most are taught the difference between right and wrong. Most have some sort spiritual foundation that parents feel should lead to good sound decision-making. Most are presented with a fundamental education to get them out of high school. Well, just like the idiom, you can’t force them to drink. In the case of problem solving and decision-making, I substitute “drink” for “Think.”
Despite all the foundational preparation we provide our young student athletes, they still have to “think.” They still have to make good or bad decisions based on their capabilities to assess situations for potential pitfalls. In most cases, these capabilities are limited or non-existent. There is a point I wish to make here and wish you to explore. All the foundational preparation doesn’t always enhance ones ability to “think.”
So, if all we do to prepare our kids for life doesn’t inherently make them good decision makers, what then is missing? In my opinion, what’s missing is a mechanism for student athletes to automatically turn on their critical thinking. A trigger that activates, what I like to call “What if” thinking. This thought process allows individuals to ask themselves the question, “What might go wrong if I do this,” when that mental trigger is pulled. I am referring to a cat-like response that allows them to assess a situation, evaluate the possible outcomes, determine alternatives and make the right call. Sounds a bit ambitious, right? Not so fast! These skills can be learned, honed and perfected.
So agree or disagree, NOW is the time to lead our young student athletes to water and watch them “THINK!”
Your thoughts, comments and feedback are welcomed and appreciated.