It really is about the basics…

I thought I was spent. I wrote my “momma, we grew up to be cowboys” blog and settled into a reading frenzy. I discovered the flip side of ego gratification that comes with a featured post recently and I am attempting to visit, read and comment where applicable on all the people that read mine. Who knew????

While perusing blogs, I came across a fine little thing posted by Aaron that referred to a lesson he learned back in Pop Warner football. His focus was on 100% effort. He mentioned that each year his team would improve. He acknowledged the various basic skills that the team was taught.

The basic skills are at the root of performance. I agree that motivation can get you at the top of your game, but if you do not have the basics, you will be at the top of a mediocre performance. Oh, it is also true that a mediocre effort will bring poor results regardless of your skill level. It is a wonderful marriage of mind and matter.

Skills. Practice makes perfect. Learn your craft.

(This blog is temporarily interrupted for a tidbit that is a HUGE fact regarding the previous statement)

          PRACTICE DOES NOT MAKE PERFECT. PRACTICE MAKES PERMANENT!

You must constantly check what you are practicing to be sure you are not creating bad habits that will become entrenched in your everyday practice of your profession. Make sure you understand every instruction. Basics are basics and best not left to guess work.

(we now continue with your regularly scheduled reading)

Now, for the rest of the story. I was a coach of first graders many years ago. It was flag football and for most of the children, it was their first introduction into organized sports. On the first day of practice, I gathered them all around to introduce myself and lay down the ground rules for participation.

I began my speech. “Welcome to the Laytonsville Elementary School Flag Football Team. In order for us to teach you the game and so we will all have fun this year, we have some rules to follow.” I could sense that I was losing them. There was a fellow walking a very large St. Bernard off to the side and a few boys were allowing their attention and eyes to wander.

I continued. “These rules are important. They are designed to help you help us help you. The first rule is..” Now I knew the whole help you help us help you was a bit over the top but they were all watching this huge dog walk by, poking one another and pointing at it.

I was losing control……. “Stop watching the DOG” ……15 sets of eyes turned to me. I looked out and saw fear.

I gathered myself, held up my whistle and said “when I blow this, everyone stop where you are and freeze, just like freeze tag. If you can not make it to practice, please have your mom or dad call me and let me know. We will make sure that everyone that comes will have a chance to play in every game. If you have a question, raise your hand. One of us coaches will be glad to answer it for you. Now, I want you to pair up with another player and begin tossing the football back and forth.”

Mission accomplished. Soon pigskins were flying and children were laughing. Then footballs began flying farther and the boys began running around in circles  and chaos was breaking out. I grabbed my whistle and began blowing it. The free for all continued.

“Hey….Hey…..Hey”, I hollared at the top of my lungs. (For God’s sake, did they forget, I am the coach!)

As quickly as the riot broke out, it stopped. Those same fearful eyes looked at me from various vantage points on the field. I was exhasberated. I turned to the boy closest to me and asked “What was the first RULE, you know rule number one?”

In a very quiet voice, he said…. “Stop watching the dog?”

Oh from the mouth of babes. You see, make sure you are clear on the instructions you receive when practicing new techniques. Like I said, practice will not make you perfect……but what you practice will become permanent.

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