Welcome to another week. After another busy Sunday (involving a disappointing game of colts footy) I am going to try and write something meaningful without letting the frustration of coaching seep onto the page…I have John Lee Hooker on the stereo to help calm me down!
First off, a big thanks to everyone who got to the gym last week – we really appreciate seeing all of you – AND a special congratulations to everyone who fought their way through the first week of the ‘Try July’ adventure. Anytime you challenge yourself to do something ‘new’ is a positive time in your life…well, ULTIMATELY positive, but initially very hard. New stuff puts you out of your comfort zone by asking you to perform unfamiliar tasks…and in this case, unfamiliar physical tasks which would also mean you are probably super sore…anyway, I don’t want to make the blog all about the challenge but ‘Well Done’.
What do I want to make the blog about? Well, I am going to try and tread the line between footy stuff, gym stuff and life stuff (going back to the challenge) and I am probably going to make a mess of it but here goes.
As footy nerds would know, the National U18 Championships have been held over the past month or so. I was lucky enough to coach the WA team for 3-years (2012-2014) and this year 5x boys from my colts team at Perth played in the successful WA team (‘we’ won the title for the first time in 10-years – well, the boys won, I watched…but it still counts as ‘WE’ right??). I was also lucky because this year one of ‘my’ boys (Regan) from the Perth footy club won the game (and the championship) for WA by kicking a goal with the last possession of the championships. Which made me smile and tell my kids ‘I taught him that!’ (which is a lie really but FUN to say!!).
Now hard work is incredibly important—you can’t get to or stay at the elite level without it. We can debate later whether the u18’s is ‘elite’ I guess, but in the context of the age group, you cant do more than be selected to represent your state. But once you’ve made the preliminary squad, hard work is not enough. To continue to rise up through the ranks – to actually PLAY in the games and to make an IMPACT in the games you play, well, you have to work smarter, more efficiently, than everyone else. Malcolm Gladwell alludes to this concept in his book Outliers . Gladwell makes a compelling case for what he calls “The 10,000 Hour Rule”—that is, that you need ten thousand hours of practice to become ‘world class’ at anything. Now, there has been a lot of debate in the ensuing years as to whether or not Gladwell was right or wrong, but the case he makes in the book is pretty compelling and I have copied a section of it here:
With the help of the Academy’s professors, they divided the school’s violinists into three groups. In the first group were the stars, the students with the potential to become world class soloists. In the second were those judged to be merely “good.” In the third were students who were unlikely to ever play professionally and who intended to be music teachers in the public school system. All of the violinists were then asked the same question: over the course of your entire career, ever since you first picked up the violin, how many hours have you practiced? Everyone from all three groups started playing at roughly the same age, around five years old. In those first few years, everyone practiced roughly the same amount, about two or three hours a week. But when the students were around the age of eight, real differences started to emerge. The students who would end up the best in their class began to practice more than everyone else: six hours a week by age nine, eight hours a week by age twelve, eight hours a week by age twelve, sixteen hours a week by age fourteen, and up and up, until by the age of twenty they were practicing well over thirty hours a week. In fact, by the age of twenty, the elite performers had each totalled ten thousand hours of practice.
By contrast, the merely good students had totalled eight thousand hours, and the future music teachers had totalled just over four thousand hours. Ericsson and his colleagues then compared amateur pianists with professional pianists. The same pattern emerged. The amateurs never practiced more than about three hours a week over the course of their childhood, and by the age of twenty they had totalled two thousand hours of practice. The professionals, on the other hand, steadily increased their practice time every year, until by the age of twenty they, like the violinists, had reached ten thousand hours.
(Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers – The Story of Success, Penguin Books)
Now, when Regan took a mark 35 metres out in the final game of the championships (vs Vic Country) with less than a minute remaining there were only two possible outcomes:
– The ball goes straight and WA win.
– He misses and WA loses.
It’s as simple as that. Now, the fact that he is an incredibly hard-working kid cannot be lost here as the pressure would have been immense. The pressure would have been immense ++ in fact as he hadn’t kicked the footy all that well throughout the tournament – holding his place in the team because of a pretty incredible work rate/willingness to sacrifice for his team-mates rather than his skill execution. BUT. He has done it before. He ‘REALLY’ practises (rather than just rolling up at training and hoping for the best). And because of all of that, well, he kicked a goal and lobbed on the back page of the West Australian newspaper.
Where am I going with this? Well, this message is for people who are new to Round 1 or those who are just getting started with ‘Functional Fit’ through the ‘Try July’ challenge. It is OK to struggle with new movements and skills – it really is. No-one is asking you to go back and kick a goal as time expires in the championship game. All you are being asked to do is maintain a positive attitude and ‘keep going’…if you just keep showing up, you WILL improve and get better. Don’t stress. There are movements that the trainers battle with – everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses – and that’s OK as well. If today’s session wasn’t ‘good’…if you battled through with your technique and it seemed ‘everyone’ else found it much easier than you (and by the way, they didn’t), well, tomorrow is another day. And you WILL get better if you just keep turning up.
It takes 10000 hours for mastery. You aren’t going to reach that in one 45-minute class. Stick at it, keep going, and – like Regan – you will come through when the game is on the line.
Anyway, that’s it from me.
See you in the gym. (And go the WA boys!).
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