“We Ain’t Talking About the Game. We’re Talking About Practice.” (Habit-Part II)

After my last blog, I have been thinking a lot about how practicing has made perform better in all aspects of my life.  Here are two great examples from my life.

When I was young, I, like many other kids, played Little League Baseball.  I was a decent hitter, usually batting at the top of the lineup, because I was willing to take pitches in order to get on base.  If the ball wasn’t one I could hit solidly, I usually took the pitch and since we were only 8 or 9, the kids had trouble throwing strikes and I wound up on base a lot.  Once on base I was not afraid to steal(in Little League, you had to wait until the ball crossed the plate) so I scored a lot of runs, which was always fun.

However, the place where I always felt comfortable was in the field.  I usually played 3rd base because I had a strong arm and could throw the ball quickly and accurately over to 1st base.  I think that the reason I always felt comfortable in the field is because my Dad taught me that during the time between pitches I should think about what I would do if something happened, so that I would be prepared.  Between pitches I would think about whether to cover the base if the ball was hit on the ground, where to throw the ball on a slow grounder hit to me and and remind myself to throw home if a runner on third was trying to tag up on a pop fly.  As a result, I was never worried about what to do when the ball came to me, and was happy for the ball to be hit to me so that I could make the right play.  In addition, I was always prepared for anything that happened on the field and I took pride in making the right play.

There are many other examples of my Dad teaching me similar lessons about practicing like for a big speech, a big test and even my college applications.  So thanks Dad!  I think of you whenever I spend extra effort to be especially prepared.

The other example comes from running track and cross country in high school.  My coach, Mr. B, was very tough and demanded our full effort and attention to all details.  There was no reason or excuse that was acceptable for missing practice. My team worked harder and ran further than almost any other team and our results reflected that.  As a freshman, this was intimidating, but after four years working with Coach B., I realized just how much he had taught me about motivation, drive and habits.  Things that would have seemed unthinkable to me just a short time earlier, like spending several hours a day running, stretching and lifting weights, were all added to my day in addition to school and studying. It all became routine, like a habit.

Coach B was insistent that the team practice every day, in every weather condition.  I remember him talking to us before practice one day, probably when it was hailing golf ball sized ice, saying that he understands that the weather is not ideal but that someday we may have to run in a meet where conditions were similar and that we should be prepared.  After practicing relentlessly for nearly four years, I can tell you that it was just a habit to go to practice, and to never think about rain, wind or any other factor that I might encounter on race day(pain included).  At several of the biggest meets of my high school career, the weather was horrendous.  Before one big meet there was a two day blizzard and the ground was frozen and muddy.  During another there was a tropical storm(how the meets continued on was beyond me) .  I shrugged and said “business as usual” and proceeded to run some of my best times.

So thanks Coach for teaching me the power of habit, and also teaching me what a relentless work ethic can accomplish.  Anything.

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