NNL World Finals: A Message to our Youth Ninja Team Athletes
The pinnacle of the Ninja Warrior season is here. Over a year and half of training; battling Minnesota weather conditions; fighting through the treacherous years of adolescence; and, resisting the natural drift toward complacency – the time is upon us. The Obstacle Academy youth ninja warrior athletes have put in the training, made the commitment, demonstrated grit, and stuck out challenging moments. This will be the largest and most meaningful competition our athletes have competed at, and they are ready to crush it. National Ninja League World Finals. Here we go.
Ninja Warrior tests what we’re made of with its emotional ups and downs, moments of brilliance, and inevitable heart-shattering circumstances. The sport refines our athletes’ character, builds their mental fortitude, and teaches them about failure and its hidden virtues. Whether a
youth team member is grinding through a training plateau or shredding through an untouchable winning streak, all are grounded by the same mental foundation: we’re going to keep at this no matter the obstacles – in life or on the course – we must confront and overcome. We will tape our hands, suffer through the warm-up, grind our way through conditioning, and push ourselves until our vision blurs, but we won’t stop doing what we do because the risk of failure hangs over us.
In this sport, we don’t see failure the way most do. We see it as an opportunity to learn. We see an opportunity to analyze what didn’t go according to plan. Maybe we miscalculated a lache distance; maybe we mis-sequenced our feet on the agility obstacle; maybe we second-guessed the trampoline; or, maybe our run ended on the very first obstacle. The only way to view any of this as actual failure is if we walk away and never try again. As world finalist athletes, if any of us make a mistake we will acknowledge it and understand that anything can happen to anyone at any point of the course. Our youth athletes are trained and coached to shake it off, and then cheer on their teammates with all the intensity that they deserve.
The world finals this year are going to occur at the perfect time. The athletes across all teams are breaking through a training plateau and there has been a wild boost in ability over the past few months. The format of our practices incorporates movement, technique, and endurance into an all-encompassing rotation. Paired with the intensity of the strength & conditioning (3rd) practice option along with the Youth Ninja Team Program open gym has enabled our athletes to become more well-rounded – our power athletes refined their movement patterning and technique while the movement athletes were forced to push their strength training to a more competitive level. The most valuable connection point leading up to the event is how quickly the athletes were all able to link up together to finalize and facilitate travel. If any of us were doing this alone, we wouldn’t stand a chance. The fact that everyone supports one another is what makes this program work in a way that we couldn’t imagine. The community of the athletes and their families is the foundation of the Youth Ninja Team program and ultimately Obstacle Academy as a gym. This community is a blessing.
With regards to the actual competition, we expect the youth to each have phenomenal performances. We are hard on every one of them. In fact, there are times when we make a decision to devote an entire week to easier practices, lighter conditioning, and push for an atmosphere that is a little more fun. We have grown to know the athletes on a personal level and have to consider their mental health. We push a very real boundary, particularly with more mature teams, when it comes to conditioning and a competitive mindset. However, when push comes to shove, and they are standing alone in front of thousands of people, ready to express what they have learned, trained, cried, and even bled for during this last year, we will love them to the core when they finish their run, no matter if they are on the top of the podium, or fail the first obstacle in stage 1.
We want to extend the most genuine level of gratitude to every one of you. Without you and your families, there is no Youth Program. Without the Youth Ninja Team Program, who knows if we would even have Obstacle Academy. Without Obstacle Academy, we would all drift in our separate ways, never to experience this insane sport together and never have had the opportunity to build genuine relationships with each one of you.