Attention to details the building blocks of dreams
By Joe Black | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I see it every day — dreams in the making.
Maybe it’s an athlete working out at the fitness center that serves as the view from my desk or maybe it’s somebody on my football team. It could be somebody in the batting cage next door or one of the many outside at Maryville Little League.
Exercising, working, sweating, and yes, hurting ... all in the pursuit of an athlete’s dream.
Sometimes the dream is a big picture like the running back that dreams about scoring the winning touchdown or the basketball player that leads their team to victory.
We never dream of failure — always success. Always driving in the winning run or getting the last strikeout. Of kicking a field goal as time expires. But before you get to that point, there is a lot of work to be done.
You’ve first got to learn the basics that provide the foundation for further skill acquisition. Nobody goes out and high jumps six feet on the first try. Speed, technique, and practice have got to come first.
It is the little things like perfecting the gymnastics dismount or the handspring roundoff. At some point, it might have been just getting to the end of the balance beam without falling off. Or hitting free throws consistently.
Those small pieces that make up athletic success. I guess my point today is pretty simple: That focusing on those little parts is what ultimately leads to the bigger success. Some coaches call it “attention to the details.”
I know I see that every day too. Coaches running the same play again and again until it is perfect and then running it some more so that it becomes automatic. That is often what separates those that persistently succeed from those that too often fail.
Let’s look at the progression of a successful running back. At first you run. Then you learn to run faster. Then you learn how to start fast at the snap of the ball. Along the way you learn to change directions and evade a tackler. Then you learn how to read a defense and hit the seams open to you.
The good ones seem to have an innate sense about when they are about to be tackled. More than once, I’ve seen a good runner accelerate once they are in the open.
Or take tennis. First you learn the forehand, then maybe the backhand. The overhead comes in there sometime and the volley. Next you start to put the game together and can actually begin to play the game.
Maybe all this is why I have no interest in league championships and that sort of things for children. Save that stuff for when it means much more. In my opinion, the perfect little league season is when all teams hover around .500 (winning about half of their games). That means that working on the basics — giving kids the skills to later put together winning performances-is the most important thing.
Giving children opportunities to build that foundation is the best thing that you can do for them. In other words, the most important thing you can do for your budding superstar is to have them learn how to move and use their bodies. That means that they play different sports and try new things.
As I’ve said here before, my son’s first sport was gymnastics where the balance beam was his favorite activity. I’m willing to bet that the balance he learned at 3 under the tutelage of Pat Dial made him a better athlete later on.
His first team sport was baseball, where you do lots of different things (throw, run, catch, hit a moving object) and then soccer, where you learn to use your feet. His final sport, football, was where he was most successful.
I think those basic movement skills he learned earlier and elsewhere served him pretty well.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (email@example.com)