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Bad at sports, I’ve reached my limit at school club

The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:

I’m a second-year middle school student and a member of my school’s swimming club. However, I feel I’ve reached my limit since I’m such a bad athlete.

I’m really bad at sports. I’m always the last runner to reach the finishing line at school athletic meets. I’m too scared to even do cartwheels or jump over the vault box. I can’t throw a ball well, either.

But I joined the swimming club because I thought swimming was the only sport I could do as well as other people, and I also wanted to make up for my daily lack of exercise while having fun at school.

However, I turned out to be the slowest swimmer in the club. I feel humiliated with my times at swim meets. My coach says I should swim beyond my ability, but I can’t.

In the off-season, I regularly do strength training and jump rope to improve, but nothing seems to work.

After I became a second-year student in April, first-year students joined the club.

I’m no longer a first-year student who can just be tolerated for being so lousy at swimming. My training will probably become harder, too.

Thinking about all these things makes me feel really sad. I’m also scared about summer, when the club really gets going.

How can I motivate myself to keep going?

W, Kanagawa Prefecture

Dear Miss W:

You joined your school’s swimming club knowing that your athletic capabilities aren’t great, and now you feel humiliated and feel you’re at your limit of your ability. I expected you to say at the end of your letter that you wanted to quit the club, but I was wrong. Instead, you want to know how to motivate yourself to continue. Having a willingness to take on challenges and persevere means you have a marvelous talent.

Winning competitions isn’t the sole purpose of engaging in school club activities. The most important thing is that you grow through sports. You’ve already learned lots of things, such as the importance of doing your best and not giving up so easily. Your coach tells you to perform better than your ability, which means you’re expected to grow.

I think you should exercise your perseverance at swim meets that require endurance rather than explosive power. So learning the basics of swimming and steadily practicing is all you need to do now. When you become a high school student, how about doing long-distance swimming?

Life is just long-distance swimming. We can’t reach our goals merely by swimming fast. We need to have both mental and physical endurance to reach them. I think you can use your abilities more and more from now on. So be confident in yourself.

Akemi Masuda, sports commentator

(from April 25, 2015, issue)Speech

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