This week, I would like to discuss a few different concepts and tie them all together. Some of the past athletic lessons that we have discussed over the past few months have included preparation, effort and hard work. Last week, we also started to talk about using technology as a tool.
I would like to continue on that line of thought. These concepts do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, they all assist and complement each other. The end result? You put yourself in a position to be the best that you are capable of becoming – the definition of success according to Hall of Fame Coach John Wooden – and therefore help put your team in position to reach its goal.
How do you become the best that you are capable of becoming? By being prepared, understanding what you are doing and working hard, right? Sounds like a lesson you have heard before. The formula does not change much from the time that we are young to when we are older. For my young readers, the formula to succeed at an athletic task and/or a recreational task is the same as it is for doing well in school or perhaps doing well in your daily household chores. You understand what needs to be done and how to do it. You use tools that help you do a better job and you work hard to get the work done. The point I want you to take away from this is that there is cross-over between the skills that you use to succeed athletically and in a Park and Recreation setting to the skills required to be successful in everyday life.
Let’s go back to our athletic blackboard for a minute. How do all of these different ideas and tools assist each other? Ok, you are a baseball or a softball player. You have not been hitting well lately. You are striking out a lot and you feel like you are struggling to hit a curveball, let’s say. You are creating outs that do not help the team rather than on base opportunities that do. What can you do? Well, we know we need to adapt to our situation and make our weakness a strength. We need to look inside our ourselves and work on our internal strategy so that we can be an asset for our team and our team’s strategy. How do we do this?
As a hitter, you need to identify the problem. Use your teammates, your coaches. Use the tools that you have at your disposal. Perhaps there is some technology that you can use to assist you. Say your team films games for player development purposes. Study the film. Identify the situations and contexts that come into play when you are thrown a curveball. Next, look at your mechanics. What are you doing? Perhaps you are starting your swing to early or are striding away from the plate slightly. How do we correct that? By practicing and putting the effort to adapt and correct the issue. By working hard. No matter what you do in life, you will not be successful if you do not work hard to be the best that you are capable of becoming. Will taking these steps guarantee that you will get better? No. But it will guarantee that you are in a position to get better.
For our student-athletes, don’t just apply this to sports. Remember the student part of your name. Apply this same framework to life. In school, do you struggle on tests? Identify what you struggle with and why and how. Develop a plan to attack that weakness. Use the tools and study methods at your disposal and work hard to get better at that subject that troubles you. That is what will help you succeed.
As you can hopefully see, many of these concepts are connected and work best when functioning as one. Remember that one heartbeat idea? That something functioning as one is better than fragments? The same holds true here. Understand this connection and work hard. With that, you put yourself in a position to succeed, both on and off of the field of play.