16 Year-Old Sydney McLaughlin Reaches Rio Olympics

16 Year-Old Sydney McLaughlin Reaches Rio Olympics, Coach Helps Her Overcome Self-Doubt

All around the world, top athletes in every sport are putting the finishing touches on their revolutionary and jaw-dropping abilities before heading to the Rio Olympics next month. One of those still striving to better each and every day is Sydney McLaughlin. Her third place finish in the 400-meter hurdles at the United States Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon last week made headlines -- oh and, by the way, she is just 16 years-old.

An article in USA Today cites the important relationship between coaching and self-confidence and the role it played in McLaughlin’s success. Mike McCabe, McLaughlin’s coach, was able to apply his counseling degree to help her overcome non-skill related issues that would translate into on-the-track achievements. McCabe helped McLaughlin combat the idea that she wasn’t ready for the big stage due to her age and explained that doubt comes from nerves -- which, of course, everyone has, even the elites and veterans. Looking at McLaughlin’s performance in Eugene, it’s clear that McCabe’s advice worked! From USA Today:

McLaughlin, who still has another year at Union Catholic High School in Scotch Plains, N.J., finished in 54.15, which sets a world junior record, improving on the 54.46 she ran at the New Balance Nationals in June to break the 32-year-old record set by Leslie Maxie of Mills (Millbrae, Calif.) in 1984. McLaughlin — who turns 17 on Aug. 7 — becomes the youngest U.S. track and field Olympian since, well, since a week ago, when 18-year-old Vashti Cunningham earned her spot in the high jump. The last 16-year-old to make the team was 100 hurdler Rhonda Brady in 1976.

McCabe’s advice to McLaughlin shows the true benefits of positive reinforcement and how much of an impact a coach’s words can have. Coaches have the ability to tap into an athlete's emotions and mindsets when skill is not the issue, to help them realize strengths they didn't know they possessed. To fully utilize a coach’s advice, it’s important for both the athlete and the coach to understand the power of mentorship in their relationship.

While McLaughlin and McCabe’s story made headlines, their relationship will certainly resonate among many of us. Their story demonstrates the strength of the relationship between an athlete and their coach -- a belief that CoachUp strongly adheres to. When you've gone down every avenue or feel like giving up, your coach can be a resource or beacon of guidance. Coaches can be mentors to their athletes in many different aspects, but self-confidence is a trait that can be used both on and off the field in everyday life situations. As you read McCabe and McLaughlin’s story, how can you relate it to your experiences?

How have your coaches given you the necessary boost of motivation to reach your next level?  Sometimes, we all need is to remember who we are, where we’ve been, and our potential. Ultimately, your skills will get you there, but we can often thank coaches for preparing for our biggest moments yet.

USA Today Sports -- 16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin bound for Rio in 400 hurdles

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