I recently watched a professional ice hockey game and heard the commentator say, “He makes it look so easy.”
Over the course of the break in play, the commentary pair made parallels to other sports and athletes in such a way that seemed to overlook a reality we’ve all heard about, few of us have lived, and even fewer can fully appreciate or understand.
Watch enough professional soccer games and you’ll hear similar phrases: “They made it look so easy with that movement but where’s the end product?”
Here’s something we already know…it’s not easy.
It looks easy, but it’s not.
It’s something else.
And so, it got me thinking about a topic I discuss with players, parents, and clients all the time.
The behind the scenes efforts.
During a recent training session, I demonstrated a few technical movements and some agility and fitness work to make sure my expectations were observed and absorbed by the players. I also model this when necessary to reaffirm that I will never ask my players to do something I haven’t done myself, couldn’t do myself, and won’t do myself.
That’s just my style. Yours may be different. That’s OK. Back to the point.
A player struggling with the work scoffed and said, “That’s easy for you, you’re the coach.”
I was glad they said this because it was a teachable moment.
I told the player it’s easy for me because I’ve worked on those skills, movements, and abilities my entire life…when nobody was watching and when nobody cared.
I then told them it was largely in preparation to play but ALSO to coach THEM.
It hit home (thankfully). Their attitude shifted and it was one of those rare moments were the message was received by the person AND the player (it’s important to consider both when coaching).
Here’s a premise I take to players and clients so they can think about the process and journey on which we are embarking.
How much do you really know about someone if you’ve only seen them their best? Or perhaps, if you’ve only seen them in a performance?
People often look at someone on the surface and come to a series of resounding and assured conclusions.
This is risky and it’s dangerous.
For most people, it’s quite easy to look at the finished product standing there before them and make assumptions that hide valuable information and details that can be applied to their own journeys.
Looking at the personalities, habits, and traits of the greats in any sport is valuable.
What’s even more valuable, however, is examining athletes in disciplines and arenas in a variety of sports, contexts, environments, and even the time or era in which they honed their skill-set.
Much like Cristiano Ronaldo is lauded for his insane and obsessive physical and technical supplemental training habits, or Michael Jordan’s and Kobe Bryant’s obsession with winning and competing in ALL facets of life aided their development and approach to honing their craft the fact of the matter is we must understand one very important principle:
“Championships aren’t won in the theater of the arena. They are won in the thousands of hours of training and the 5 AM runs in the rain when everyone else is sleeping. That’s where it’s won” -Greg Plitt
Truth be told, if you want to unlock the contributing reasons Steven Gerrard or Frank Lampard — two footballers known for getting extra sessions in on the training pitch, in the gym, and with their coaches — it’s important to understand what we’re really looking at when we see them on the pitch on match-day.
We’re seeing the thousands of extra repetitions, hundreds of extra hours studying and working on their craft, and countless of hours spent in preparation for the performance.
The same is true in any discipline. Musicians rehearse for hours until their fingers bleed, backs ache, and bones hurt for an audience of none.
Runners who train in the dark, puke on the track, get torn up on the trail, and train years for a single race or event.
Weight lifters who are methodical in their diet, sleep, rest, and workout patterns while everyone just believes it’s steroids that make them strong
The artist who sells his work for cheap on the street corner or gives their work away for years before they ever get a place at an expo or is picked up on contract by an creative agency who will pay them to pursue their passion.
You get the idea.
Now let’s think about ways to connect this closer to home.
Think about the mother and/or father who coaches, volunteers, takes on more jobs, has side gigs to buy the right boots for their son or daughter, works longer hours at job they’d rather not give more of their time to so they can provide knowing they’ll get no praise or be shown no gratitude for enduring.
Hell, I know parents who want to help and contribute by setting out cones and reading books I recommend so they can feel more in-touch and in-tune with their child.
They do this so they can have some sense of self-worth.
I see it when perhaps their child or spouse does not.
This is honorable in my opinion.
The point is the end product is final stage of the pursuit, which is itself a journey laden with struggle, triumph, progress, change, pain, and sacrifice.
Doing the hard thing is often the right thing.