The Key to Progress
Remember the story of the Spanish prisoner. For many years he was confined in a dungeon...One day it occurred to him to push the door of his cell. It was open; it had never been locked.
-Sir Winston Churchill
Social media may be the best and worst thing to happen to athletes. On one hand, it allows open communication and insight into some of the best coaches in sports and strength and conditioning who are usually willing to share their ideas. On the other, it robs time, creates problems that don’t exist, and often an unnecessary feeling of being behind. Comparison can feed the feeling of the need for the quick fix.
Does the competition have better genetics, training program, training partners, supplements, or experience? The answer, in my mind is simple, it doesn’t matter. Comparison can feed the feeling of the need for the quick fix. The outcome is never fully controlled, but focus and work needs to be put in to deserving to win. When you deserve to win, you will. Athletes finish where they deserve to finish and the sooner that mentality can be owned, the more control they can have over their success. John Welborne put it simply, “mental toughness is just a whole bunch of not quitting.” Brooks Kubik called it the iron will to succeed. Title it how you want, to reach one’s athletic potential, you need to have an unwavering drive and the patience to progress. Always take the smartest approach to your goal. It’s taking your lifts pound by pound, doing monotonous technique drills, and to developing your sport specific conditioning the best you can, however minuscule the gain year after year. Success is only success when it’s consistent.
As athletes, work is not limited to effort on the field and in the weight room. Constant evaluation must be made and commitment to changing something if it needs to be changed. If there is a better way to do things, do it. Mistakes and change are part of life, but serious effort should be put in so that you don’t make the same mistake twice.
Accept that it takes time to develop, so gear up for the extended battle. There should be a constant challenge to improve weight, reps, technique, speed, sport specific skill, and mental concentration. Bring them up simultaneously. Set goals and work relentlessly to achieve them. Percentages, volume, density, specificity, and recovery are irrelevant without effort from the athlete. Effort is central to progress.
My defensive coordinator told me the following story and it always stuck with me: There is a story of a pottery class that was split in half with two different objectives. Half of the class had to make one perfect pot that day. One pot, that's all, and they were judged strictly on quality. The other half was given the task of making as many pots as possible during that same day. They were judged solely on quantity. At the end of the day, the “quantity” group had created a much better pot than the group judged on quality...because every time they made a new pot, it was a little better than the last. There is no better way to progress than to DO, EVALUATE, and then DO again.
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