The Family Wings

Within our basketball community we like to consider our friends, family and fans as the 6th player on court. Their belief and unconditional support can have a magical influence over every athlete. The right combination of words and gestures has the power to unleash unexpected energy reserves and take people to places they never thought possible.

There is no better proof of this than the story of Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph. Wilma suffered from polio as a child and one of her legs was paralyzed by the disease. The doctor’s diagnosis was devastating; she was told that ‘she may never walk again.’ Wilma’s mother refused to believe this and whispered immediately to her daughter, “You will walk again, honey. I promise.” All of her family became fully engaged in her treatment. They made frequent visits to the hospital and helped with her rehabilitation at home.

Despite of all of the challenges she had to face, including additional distress cause by children laughing and making fun out of the braces she had on her leg. Wilma started to walk by herself again and began to participate in sport. In the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, she won three gold medals, proving that extraordinary determination together with unlimited support can lead to miraculous results.

In recent years the importance of an athletes wellbeing is now on par with their training schedule. Undoubtedly the support from loved ones, especially in high pressure environments plays a crucial part in an athletes mental health. All we have to do is to take a closer look into the speeches given to us by champions. Almost all of them include a massive thank you, to a mother, father or spouse.

‘My family are the reason I have the strength to come back and give it one last go. My parents sacrificed so much for me growing up and my mother was a huge driving force behind helping me realise my dreams.’ -GB skier Chemmy Alcott

‘You forget your mum and dad are probably more nervous than you. But I just felt so happy I
could reward them now and give them back a gold medal for all of their help and support down the years. It made me think of how supportive my family had been through the years, how through all the sports I tried they were there pushing me on, driving me to Eton for track or to Birmingham for football. They always gave me everything I needed.” Greg Rutherford, 2012 Olympic gold medallist.

As a picture can express more than a thousand words, this is something for you, to feel in your heart with appreciation and love

Depending on the sport, top international level athletes may be away from home for 250-280 days a year. It has been proven that athletes significantly benefit from frequent contact with family and friends. This not only improves their wellbeing but their overall performance levels. Professional coaches now realise that looking at athletes as human beings and not merely cogs in a machine to produce results, is far more beneficial in the long run goes a long way to improving the likelihood of a prosperous careers. This approach used outside of a sporting context can also bring positive changes to our society as a whole.

So if you are lucky enough to have a supportive team of friends and family behind you, don’t forget to thank them and make to them feel appreciated. Use this support network to your advantage because it will go a long way toward helping you find your finest level of performance.