Get a yellow card
You can’t learn or improve
unless you push your limits a little.
I’ve played soccer since I was eight years old and I’ve always been too nice on the field. When I was eleven years old my dad’s coaching advice was: get a yellow card. He didn’t want me to be mean or unsportsman-like, he just wanted me to play hard and stop being such a wimp. I was so proud of myself when I finally got the guts to gently nudge another girl with my shoulder.
For the last two months I’ve been learning to kitesurf in Hua Hin, Thailand. It involves learning to control a huge kite to pull me through the water without crashing it down on other swimmers, sweeping tourists off the beach, slamming it into other kites, or landing it in a thorny tree. Luckily none of these things have happened (yet), but nonetheless part of the learning process is getting dangerously close.
If there were kitesurfing referees I would definitely have been yellow carded a few times by now.
Once I could control the kite I then faced the challenge of generating enough power to get me up on the board but not so much that it launched me out of the foot straps. When that happened I would fly running through the air and drink a huge mouthful of seawater upon landing. There were also the attempts to return to land amongst tumbling waves, watching out for hits in the back of the head from my board when it came off my feet, and jumps that ended in epic blinding face plants.
Unfortunately all of these things have and still do happen to me. Each time it happens I think to myself: another yellow card for me, yessss!
I’m glad I submitted myself to the eye-stinging, nose burning, head throbbing pain that is inevitable if you choose to attach yourself to a giant kite you can barely control. I’m also pleased I put up with the intense frustration of being a beginner because after all that I have not only learned to kitesurf, but also learned that ‘get a yellow card’ is one of the most important lessons my dad taught me.