Tag Archives: practice

Don’t Take Yourself Out of the Game

21 Apr

As an athlete, consistency is important.  Consistency of effort, preparation, and practice leads to consistency of performance.  But, despite our best efforts, athletes at every level experience performance slumps.  There will be  some games when your shots are just not falling.  How will you deal with it?

There are some things that are under your control every time you take the court.  Attitude is one of them and, perhaps, the most important.  You decide if and how you let a missed shot or turnover affect your next possession, or the rest of your game.  Although it may be easier said then done, a positive mental approach (and, sometimes, a short memory) is critical to athletic performance success.

Effort is another area that shouldn’t be impacted by your level of play.  Keep hustling.  Continue to “play hard, play smart, and play together” (Dean Smith, former University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach).  Don’t allow a missed shot or bad pass to be an excuse to give anything less than 100% when you’re on the court.  Focus on the aspects of your play that aren’t susceptible to slumps, like defense, boxing out, and rebounding.

Don’t allow a performance slump to take away your aggressiveness, confidence, or energy.  You’ve worked hard to get to this point.  Keep believing in yourself and maintain a high intensity level.  Draw on positive past experience to fuel your thoughts.  Keep working hard, stay positive, and good things will happen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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Prepare Like You Intend to Perform

10 Mar

A few days ago, I published a blog post titled, You’ve Got to Practice at Game Speed.  Today, I’d like to address practice and preparation from a different angle — specifically, the athlete’s focus and intensity level.

I must admit, once again, my thoughts and observations are based on having watched my daughter’s — and our high school girls varsity basketball team’s — scrimmages.  And my comments don’t just apply to our team.  To some extent, I saw this in each and every one of the five teams that participated in the scrimmage.

Some of the pre-game warm-up activity was just awful.  I’m not referring to the drills, themselves, but rather the effort with which the drills were performed.  Many of the players’ focus and intensity level was variable, at best.  Some of them didn’t even look like they took it seriously — half-hearted passing, shooting, and overall execution.  Moving through the drills at half-speed.  Laughing, joking, and fooling around.  Do you really believe there’s no carry-over into the game?  I’m not suggesting that the student-athlete experience shouldn’t be enjoyable.  But once you lace them up and step on the court, it’s time to focus your attention and effort on the task at hand.

Representing your high school on the basketball court is a privilege… not an entitlement!  Same goes for any other sport at any other level.  Show that you respect the game, your teammates, your coaches — and yourself — by taking your decision and commitment to play a little more seriously.

The same principle applies to school, work… and life.  How do you study for your upcoming exam?  How do you prepare for your business presentation?  Are you setting yourself up for success, or sabotaging your own efforts?

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Embrace the Journey

8 Mar

e00010819“The journey is the reward.” – Steve Jobs

We all have goals.  Long-term goals, short-term goals – things we aspire to accomplish or achieve.

Some of the things to which we look forward are “milestones” – like turning 21 – and don’t require much preparation.  It’s just a matter of time.

Most of our goals, though, require some planning, preparation, and effort.  There’s a process – a journey – involved in the eventual achievement of these goals.

And, although achievement may be the pinnacle of the process, the journey is the enriching, character-building part.

In sports, it’s not winning a championship that makes you better; it’s all the time you devoted to daily practice and preparation as a player and teammate.

In school, it’s not the high grade on your test or report card that makes you better; it’s all the time you spent doing homework and studying – learning – along the way.

At work, it’s not the promotion – or the raise – that makes you better; it’s all the work you put into your job – your daily commitment to excellence as an employee, entrepreneur, supervisor, or co-worker.

If life, it’s not where you get that makes you better; it’s what you did to arrive at that point.

Accomplishment is great, but the self-improvement that occurs along the way is the real prize.

Embrace the journey.  Enjoy the ride.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Ferris Bueller

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

If It’s Important, Do It Every Day

15 Feb

michael-jordan-game-winning-shot-1[1]Lots of athletes dream of sinking the game-winning shot, scoring the game-winning touchdown, or getting the game-winning hit.  It’s easy to be enamored with the romantic idea of being the hero.

But that doesn’t happen by accident.  It takes a lot of practice and preparation to put yourself in the position to perform well in a pressure situation (heck, it takes a lot of practice and preparation to perform well in normal game conditions).  That means, if you’re a basketball player with a desire to excel, you should be practicing ball-handling and shooting, or doing something to improve your strength, speed, agility, and athleticism… EVERY DAY!

And that, I think, is where there is a disconnect.  It’s one thing to express a desire to play well.  Anyone can do that… that’s just talk.  It’s quite another to do what’s necessary to play well.  That takes time and effort and commitment and dedication and focus and purpose and motivation and persistence and perseverance and… well, I think you get the point.

And, while this all may seem somewhat overwhelming, it doesn’t take a 24/7/365 commitment.  Focus on the quality and consistency of your efforts, and not necessarily the quantity.  If you’ve got 10-15 minutes to practice your ball-handling, make it purposeful and give it the best 10-15 minutes you’ve got.  Know and understand your areas for improvement and direct your efforts, accordingly.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, since you only have limited time, improving your physical or sport-specific skills is not worth the effort.  Trust me, the cumulative effect of quality repetition will steadily improve your game.

Devote yourself, daily, to self-improvement.  Make it happen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

What You Do Makes a Difference

11 Jul

Choices3[1]What you do makes a difference.  The question is, will the difference be positive or negative?

The answer is, it depends on what you do.

Every choice you make will have rewards or consequences.  Everything you do, today, will impact tomorrow.  The impact may be on you, a family member, a friend, a teammate, or someone else… but there will be an impact.

You can choose to start the day with a positive attitude, or be miserable.

You can choose to greet others with a kind word, or disregard them.

You can choose to do your homework and study for your upcoming test, or waste time playing video games.

You can choose to practice your ball-handling and shooting, or skip it.

You can choose to take batting and fielding practice, or put it off until another day.

You can choose to workout, or take the day off.

You can choose a healthy, sensible diet, or overeat lots of junk.

You can appreciate and develop what you do have, or you can focus on what you don’t have.

Your choice.  What’ll it be?

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Do Your “Homework”

30 Dec

Want to improve your athletic performance?  Then you’d better do some “homework.”

Here’s my school/sports analogy:  The tests you take in school are like your games.  They determine your standing.  They represent the culmination of your preparation.

Your team’s daily practices are like the classes you attend every day.  They are usually content-specific, designed to prepare you for your next test or game.

But here’s where the comparison breaks down for many athletes:  As a student, what would happen if you never (or rarely) did any work outside the classroom?  What if your preparation ended when the school day was over, and you didn’t reinforce the day’s learning with any additional preparation and/or practice?  I would venture to guess you wouldn’t fare very well, academically.  Well, the same concept applies to sports.  It’s the homework — the additional time you commit to self-improvement — that makes the difference.

As a basketball player, for example, how much ball-handling and shooting practice do you get in games and team practices?  It’s unlikely you’re getting the kind of concentrated skills practice and repetition needed to improve your performance.  Team practices typically aren’t (nor should they be) designed to accommodate each individual player’s need for skills practice.

The point is, you have to commit yourself to doing some purposeful, “homework” as an athlete — including skills practice (regardless of your sport) and strength and conditioning.  Take initiative and ownership of your development by putting in some extra effort, outside of your team’s practices, in order to reach your performance goals.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Do the Work

4 Nov

alex%20gordon[1]The people who work hard and work smart are usually the ones who are most successful.

There’s really no way to cheat the system.  You either do the work and reap the benefits, or you take shortcuts and hope for the best.

Although the path to success may look different for any two people, once thing is certain:  You’ve got to put in the time and do the work.

Believe in you.  Believe that you can.

Get started and keep going — keep working toward your goal.

Embrace the challenge.  Chase your dream.

Practice, practice, practice until you can’t miss.  Then practice some more.

Be disciplined, enthusiastic, and passionate about your work.

Your success already exists in potential.  Work to find it.

Commit yourself to action, and don’t stop.

The time is going to pass regardless of how you spend it, so make it productive.

Begin now.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Think Big, Start Small (but start)

30 Oct

big-dog-little-dog[1]You are a work in progress; which means you get there a little at a time, not all at once.” – Unknown

Dream big.  Aim high.  Stretch yourself.  Have over-sized aspirations.

Then get started.  Get to work.

Develop an action plan, and follow your plan.

Be consistent.  Slow and steady wins the game.

Do something — even if it’s something small — that moves you closer toward your goal, every day.

Be patient (and be prepared to be more patient).

Avoid outside comparisons and work hard to be the best version of yourself.

Be persistent.  Stick with it and keep working at it until you figure it out.

Commit yourself and be dedicated.  It all begins with tireless practice.

I might be a work in progress, but every day I get a little bit wiser, a little bit better, a little bit stronger.” – Unknown

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

16 Characteristics for Success

21 Nov

San Antonio SpursOnce again, this is borrowed from a poster I found hanging on the wall of a high school weight room where I work with an area swimming and diving team.  Another gem.

ALWAYS Compete!

Do EVERYTHING to the best of YOUR ability!

Practice is EVERYTHING — How we practice defines who we are.

Always protect the TEAM

No Whining, No Complaining, No Excuses!

If you’re 5 minutes early, YOU’RE LATE!

16 CHARACTERISTICS FOR SUCCESS:

  1. Make a commitment
  2. Be unselfish
  3. Create unity — come together as never before
  4. Improve every day as a player, person, and student
  5. Be tough
  6. Be self-disciplined — do it right, don’t accept less
  7. Give your best effort in everything you do
  8. Be enthusiastic
  9. Eliminate mistakes — don’t beat yourself
  10. Never give up
  11. Don’t accept losing
  12. Permit no self-limitations — expect more of yourself
  13. Expect to win
  14. Be consistent
  15. Develop leadership
  16. Be responsible

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Habits are Created at Practice

27 Jun

nba_g_rallen1_576[1]“Habits are created every day in practice, and they carry over to the game.” – Chuck Noll

Do you want to make the big play in the big game?  Ace the math exam?  Nail the business presentation?  Then you had better practice.

Even with lots of practice, there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed when the “test” is administered, but that’s where to place your chips.  Because, without purposeful practice, consistent achievement is out of your reach.

In order to excel on an exam, you need to attend class.  But that’s not enough.  You can’t just do classwork and disregard the need to do additional preparation in the form of homework.  It’s the homework that reinforces the knowledge, skills, and problem-solving techniques.

Sports work in much the same way.  Games are like exams, or tests, and your team’s practices are like the classes you attend.  But what if that was the only skills practice you got?  What if you never did any additional ball-handling or shooting drills away from your team’s practices.  That’s where the sport-specific skills “homework” comes in.  You just can’t build the kind of muscle memory that leads to success without lots and lots of technically correct repetitions.

Additionally, it’s important to make sure your practice is situational.  As much as possible, your preparation should reflect the same conditions and demands as your game, test, business presentation, etc.

“Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” – Unknown

“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi

 Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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