We recently got back from a vacation to the beach. It was a wonderful time with the whole family. If your family is like mine, most days you can’t drag the kids out of the bed in the morning. But at the beach, the kids (grandkids in this case) were up well before the adults.

One of my favorite things to do is to cook breakfast. I cook them whatever they want and if there aren’t leftovers, then I’ve misjudged. A couple of the grandkids love to help me and it is a joy to have them in the kitchen with me. The others … not so much. They just wait patiently.

I also cook breakfast every Sunday morning for my wife and myself. I love to have it almost ready and then call her to the table, maybe from a slumber. So, where’s this going? What has this got to do with sports? I’ll get to that in a minute.

I love scrambled eggs. I love cooking scrambled eggs. I’m picky about my eggs. They have to be from pasture-raised chickens. Beat well. Allow butter in the skillet to sizzle a bit. Cook slow. Don’t overcook. A dash of salt and pepper.

So now you’re really wondering if I’ve lost my mind. This isn’t the Cooking Page, it’s the Sports Page. OK, so here’s the deal: Cooking those eggs Sunday morning made me think about how important it is to take care of the little stuff.

If you want to cook really great scrambled eggs, you’ve got to pay attention to the details. If you want to be a great athlete, you’ve got to do the little things.

A colleague shared a quote with me this week: “Inches make champions.” It’s from Vince Lombardi. Coach Lombardi was known for his attention to detail. Nothing was unimportant to him on a football field.

I have been around a lot of very good and very successful coaches in my career. I can tell you that they all have one thing in common. They pay attention to those small details.

David Ellis was the best offensive line coach I’ve ever known. He was a master at teaching young men about life and blocking. And he never stopped addressing the details. His linemen took the right step every time.

Now that might not sound like such a big deal, but it is. If your first step is precise and intentional, you gain an advantage over the player that you are trying to block. The same thing is true for lots of sports. I know that with a lot of basketball moves, the first step makes all the difference.

I get asked a lot what it is that makes the local football teams so successful. That answer is difficult but one thing that I can tell them for sure is the attention to detail. I know that the Maryville football team will still be doing the same drills, the same little things in November that they were doing in August.

I have heard Coach Ellis on many times on Monday during the last week of the season, after 14 games and four weeks of preseason, tell his young charges, “We’ve got one more week to get it right.”

That was just before he led them out to do one more drill to make sure that they got the little things right. That they got their steps down precisely.

What little things should you be paying attention to?

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. Email joe

blackdpt@gmail.com to write to him.

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