It totally makes sense that a strong foundation is a base for long-term success. But for some reason, it's often still cut short.
The problem with building a foundation is that there is not really a quick win. That's why it can be challenging, in the beginning, to believe there is any win. I like to make building a house an example and compare it with building athletic success. Until we actually can see a house going up, the building process started at least a year before that. And when the planning is done, it starts with the essentials like electricity, a well, a septic system, and lots of earth movement to make space for the foundation. In athletic terms, part of this set up are the club and training facilities.
When all the pre-work is done, there comes the foundation. And as bigger, better, stronger, and resilient this foundation is, as bigger the house on top of it can be, and it might even hold up an addition later on. There will be no water leakig or any other issue like cracking. Translating this into athletics would mean that a bigger success can get built up when the foundation is more robust, solid, and dense.
An athlete who is racing competitively on a national or international level was preparing for those events. This started at a young age by being active and maybe being part of different sports. One kind of athletic foundation, is a broad physical education. A wide spectrum of skills also gives different options in terms of what kind of sport an athlete could specialize in.
Different from a house is that an athletic foundation needs consistent maintenance. Every time we want to build up a new skill level, we need to get started with foundational work.
If the foundation is not as strong, it is possible to build it up later on. I still would not use what I just said to skip any of this fundamental work in the beginning. I just wanted to point out that it might not be totally impossible to get a late start. If foundation work is done well early on, it can be activated much faster than building it up from scratch. It´s also to consider that other competitors keep working on a solid foundation to maintain it at a high competitive level. This makes it harder for those who skipped it initially to catch up later on. But again, I want to make the point, that it might just be a little harder, but not impossible.
Of course, ther is still a chance to be successful with a minimal foundation, but it will not be sustainable. Back to our house example; when having a small foundation where you want to build something bigger on that it is calculated for, you might be busy keeping the walls straight so that the roof doesn't collapse. A small foundation requires a lot of work, later on, to keep everything in place and takes time away from planning and working on renovations to make the house even better, adding another deck, or working on other exciting options.
That's the same with athletics; if an athlete takes the time and effort needed to build up and maintain a solid foundation, it will pay back in the long run; when it's time to build something on these fundamentals. On the other hand, the foundational work is crucial, but not everything; we still need the house.
Next time, when fundamental sessions are on the training plan, be excited about building something with the chance for long-term success.
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