There is no doubt that deliberate, directed practice will give you a chance to get better. But you still have to have the tools. A plow horse can’t win the Kentucky Derby, but it can become a faster plow horse through proper training. Training endless hours, however, is not the answer. It can be part of the answer, but if all you had to do was put in the time then anybody could be an All-Star. Your goal, regardless of your genetic endowment is to maximize your potential through practice. It’s not the practice it’s what you put into the practice that counts. Your preparation must be mindful, purposeful and directed. You can’t just put in the time and expect to be successful.
You can get by on talent and skill for a while. Work smart and you’ll achieve success and extend your career. To ensure success, limit the time spent in activities not directly related to your development. Surround yourself only with people vital to your success. Avoid those with no goals and negative attitudes. They’ll drain your energy and bring you down to their level. Given the choice between work and play, choose work. You’ll have the rest of your life to play when you retire. Allow only two things to take priority over your profession – your family and your religion. Take charge of your future. Start closing the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
How you train will affect your success and future. If you’re in shape, you can give better effort, avoid injuries and accomplish more work. There are many factors that you can’t control, but you can control how you prepare. There is no reason that you should ever get beat because the opposition was better prepared. To compete for a Championship, you must give 100% from start to finish. Preparation separates the successful from the “could have beens.” Look around. You know most of the guys at your position. How hard are they working? If you’re competing for the same prize but doing less work, something is wrong. Adjust your priorities.
The choice is really up to you. You can work and be the best you can be or you can enjoy the moment and do just enough to get by. If you take the easier path, however, someday you might regret what you didn’t accomplish.
Cal Ripkin doesn’t have any regrets. He says, “Along the way, I’ve watched a number of players retire. And they’ve always told me, I wish I had played more, taken better care of myself and taken it more seriously. I wanted to be able to say that I took full advantage of the opportunity. I didn’t want to have any regrets.” Ripkin’s approach was relatively simple – “when you come to the gym or ballpark, be ready to work or play.” The only form of discipline that lasts is self-discipline.
Gene Coleman was the Head S&C Coach for the Houston Astros from 1978-2012 and is currently a strength and conditioning consultant for the Texas Rangers and Professor in the Exercise and Health Sciences Program at the University of Houston – Clear Lake.