When we look at those who have become very successful in their field, we often first think about how talented they are. Talent is a funny word. Sure each of us are born with certain talents, strengths that we have that others don’t excel in as easily. Height advantage, a higher vertical jump, leadership or extrovert tendencies. But Lebron James isn’t the NBA MVP because he was born 6’8” and talented. Warren Buffet isn’t a great investor because he was born with a unique talent that other investors don’t possess. People in these positions of success have worked to get to where they are. To the inexperienced, naive eye, they look like they landed in a place of success, but in reality, they worked diligently, they worked constantly, they pursued in the dark lonely hours, they didn’t take shortcuts.
All too often, we want something and we want it easy and right away. This is not how good things come to exist. If this were so, everyone would have these things. Only those who decide to intentionally pursue this greatness, and avoid distraction and the lure of shortcuts, have a chance at reaching it.
James gets overlooked as a guy who had a natural disposition to be the best basketball player in the world. What the public doesn’t see is that this guy plays 30-35 minutes a night, and then beats his teammates to the gym in the morning and pushes through extra cardio VersaClimber workouts. He has made himself into the playoff contender, MVP, team leader that he is by outworking everyone else. There are a lot of 6’8” athletic guys out there. There are not a lot that work like James. There are no shortcuts to being great. It takes what it takes.
Muscle memory and the mechanics of your shot are so important for consistent shot making. Learning the right form and then drilling it until it is an unconscious rhythm should be the goal for every young shooter. When you are a young player, and just playing to play, you shoot however you need to shoot to get the ball to the rim. Six year olds stay close and launch the ball at the ten foot goal hoping for makes. Nine year olds jack three’s because that’s what they see older players shoot. But if you are a young player, and you want to be a great shooter, stay close to the basket and work on your form.
Simple form shooting with the proper form, over and over again, will build muscle memory, and will groove your shot so that the same form can be repeated each time, from anywhere on the court. As you build the mechanics of the proper form, then you move your range out and begin catch and shoot reps with that same form. What good is practicing jump shots with bad form? It will only take you so far, and then it will leave you way behind.
Do not try to be perfect. You will fail every time. I read about a baseball coach, Ken Ravizza, that would talk to his players about trying to be perfect in a game or practice. He said that before they come to practice, they had to take a “bathtub test”. This test involved filling their bathtub with about two inches of water, and then stepping in and trying to stand on the water. If they couldn’t stand on the water in the bathtub, then they needed to come to practice and expect to make mistakes. If you can’t walk on water, you will never be perfect.
He used this imagery to remind his players that they weren’t perfect, and that the mistakes they made were going to lead to improvement. Mistakes and failure precede growth. Continuous pursuit of the process of getting better is always more important than trying to look or be perfect.
"Get Better" is our PEAK blog, providing you with content to help enhance your game, your mind, and your relentless pursuit of the process! Enjoy.
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