Persistence and Practice

I have recently been devouring content on performance and what makes athletes perform at optimal levels. The thing that keeps coming up is their commitment to practice and performance.  There does not seem to be a magical formula for everyone but the similar ingredients are their tedious and tenacious commitment to practice.

When I played soccer in High School I just did the minimum, show up to practice everyday and worked hard towards a common goal with the team.  I did not do anything extra during the season and the only preparation was my efforts in the off-season that really consisted of a lot of running.  I never paid particular attention to practicing ball control, footwork, and agility in preparation for the season.

Fast forward to my collegiate days and I expected to make the team, which I did, and I expected to play, which I didn’t.  The reality is that I could not continue with the same routine that I had in the past and it was clear to me that I needed to change my old habits.  Realizing that I needed to change habits did not come easy until my brother gifted me the book The Edge, By Howard E. Ferguson that really impacted my thought process on how top athletes become the best in their respective sport. 

"To win, you have to have the talent and desire - but desire first" - Sam Snead

"The harder you work, the luckier you get.  If you hit erratic shot, you get erratic breaks.  If you hit perfect shots, you don't have to worry about breaks." - Johnny Miller

"You don't have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things - to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.  The intense effort, the giving of everything you've got is a very pleasant bonus."  - Sir Edmund Hillary, First Man to Climb Mount Everest 

All Above From the book The Edge

After reading The Edge I started to self analyze and questioned my ability to play the game, since game after game I rode the bench.  I decided to take action and ask my coach why he chose not to play me in games, after all I was good enough to travel with the team and ride the pine.  He was open with me and told me that my foot skills needed work and that other players possessed far greater skills on the ball.  “So how do I become better with my feet?” - I asked, keep in mind I played the game since I was 4 years old and this was hard for me to swallow; he said “Go to the wall (racquetball court) every day and play with yourself”, he was from Poland so I let the verbiage slide without a chuckle.  I heeded his advice and went to the wall everyday before practice and I even added extra running before we even started our two-hour practice.  The first couple weeks it was extremely difficult and I was not seeing results since I was completely exhausted during practice and when we had games during the week I did not even want to play since I was working extra everyday, even on game days.  Eventually my coach started using me in games on a regular basis and I even started to score more goals and helped the team to a winning season.   Starting the game was my goal but that did not happen since I started the new work ethic late in the season but it did help secure a starting spot on my new colligate team (USIU) and I finished my last two years in college as a regular starter, eventually captaining our team.

It has been more than two years since I put down my soccer boots and started my quest to be a better more consistent golfer and I am now starting to see the results from my weekly commitment to tedious and tenacious practice.  The other day I had the opportunity to play 27 holes with my Dad and my good friend Ryan Kramer.  Kramer does not play on a regular basis but I do see that he has the talent to be a scratch golfer in the future.  He mentioned on a few occasions during our round about my heightened performance and he mentioned “it must be all the road biking you are doing” and I could not help but think that it’s the countless hours I spend on the range in concert with my commitment to living a healthier and cleaner lifestyle that has contributed to my achievements on course.  We played 27 holes and I felt like I could have played 18 more as my confidence continues to grow. 

If you are continuing to struggle with the game of golf, look at what you are currently doing and see how you can enhance your game by getting advice from a PGA Professional.  Much like asking my soccer coach on how I could improve; I asked a professional golf instructor (Kevin Weishan at Del Mar Golf Center) why I am not shooting lower scores, and he said, “there is a correct way and an incorrect way, you are doing it incorrectly”.  Improvement will start to come with practicing proper techniques and tenacious commitment to be a better golfer. 

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Vince Lombardi victory speech for promoting a soccer game in England.