Let's start with a definition:
a person who gives a younger or less experienced person help and advice over a period of time, especially at work or school
As the definition suggests, a mentor's duty is to guide and provide advice to a less experienced person, in order to help them. In an athlete's case, there are many aspects that contribute to performance, and advice from someone who has been through it can be invaluable.
Athletes experience a range of positive and negative experiences throughout their journey. This is the same for every athlete, there are no exceptions. The job of a mentor is to provide context, support and perspective in both good times and tough times.
It is never as good or as bad as it seems. The natural tendency to ride the rollercoaster of emotions associated with the triumphs and tribulations of athletic performance is draining emotionally, and can lead to inconsistency and loss of passion for the game; not ideal for athletes.
A mentor can help with this. Athletic mentor's have experienced the inevitable ups and downs. They can save you time. They know it's coming, and they can give the athlete mental tools on how to 'smooth' this learning curve by keeping perspective during the ups and preparing for the downs. This leads to a more sustainable and happier frame of mind that provides a strong foundation that performance can be built upon.
There are other benefits too:
Performance improves. It may not be instant, but continued, consistent mentoring can help improve performance outcomes for athletes.
A mentor has no outside bias. It is an independent source of support. They only want to see you be the best version of yourself.
Judgement free zone. Questions that you may not want to ask in a public forum or to to raise with others can be worked out with a mentor.
Confidentiality of information is of the highest priority. The content talked about goes no further unless the athlete wishes it to.
In conclusion, having a mentor can be a game-changer for young athletes. A mentor can provide guidance and support, help you set goals and develop a plan, provide motivation and inspiration, help you develop life skills, and navigate the transition to the next level. If you're a young athlete looking to improve your skills and reach your full potential, seeking out a mentor can be one of the best decisions you'll ever make.