Thanks to Coach Alldredge for taking his time to come and address our team and share some wisdom on becoming a better player and in so doing becoming a better person.
We have often heard the idioms that practice makes perfect, practice like you play, and the claim some athletes make that they are not a practice player (which is the prideful way of saying I am too good to get any better). As a coach, the style, tenor and approach to practice is what separate teams. So, how do you get better at practice? There are four elements, which when collectively applied, result in a team rising to the next level.
Show Up and On Time
It is important a player show up to practice and be on time. When you don't come to practice or you don't arrive prepared and on time you are telling your coaches and your teammates this team is not worth my time. We all allocated the time we need for priorities. Coach Alldredge used the great example of a movie. We show up before the movie begins and we are in our chairs with our popcorn and junior mints often before the trailers begin because we prioritize not missing any aspect of the movie.
Why then should practice be any different? You are not only hurting yourself by not showing up at practice but your teammates as well. Certain drills can not be run without a certain number of players present. Teaching and learning new skills often require the presence of players who know the techniques to exhibit them for younger players. The ability to scrimmage and replicate the opposing offenses and defenses often require the entire team to be present.
Finally, show up on time. If practice starts at 6:00pm then your butt needs to be on the field at 6:00pm in the requisite equipment ready to begin. Arriving at the field at 6:00pm is not on time. Forgetting your pads, mouthpiece or any other piece of equipment because it is in another car is your fault because you did not take the time to properly prepare for practice.
I have been coaching for many years and I can tell you early on in a player's career whether he will develop his potential or squander it. The single element which will contribute the most to his success is his ability to give 110% at practice.
Effort does not require a skill set. It simply asks of the player to seek to improve upon his skills set. If a player wants to have success in life then he will steel himself to give 110% at all that he does. Effort requires self discipline and the ability to concentrate on the task at hand. If you take off plays in practice you will take off plays in a game. I am often reminded what my grandfather would say, "A job worth doing is worth doing right." I coach players it is ok to make a mistake.... just do it giving 110%.
Let me let you in on a little secret: when a coach, boss, leader is speaking he is talking to you even when he is not facing you. Nobody likes to repeat themselves. When you are in the classroom, on the field, or at work and someone is offering instruction it is the prideful who elects not to listen. Wisdom and good instruction is not just intended for the person who is being addressed. It is meant for the entire group.
So, how do we listen? We shut off the part of of our brain which wants to think when it should be listening. This is the hardest thing to do because we are so often hard wired to formulate our own opinions while the other person is speaking. We must fight this urge and focus on what is being taught. You want to get better at any discipline.... become a better listener.
Do What You Say You Are Going To Do
If you say you are going to be at practice.. be there. If you say you are going to work out and eat right... do it. If you commit to studying film ... make the time. The world is currently filled with folks who do not know how to make and keep commitments. The goal posts of their lives keep changing based upon their own interests and not the commitments they have made to others.
If you want to be a champion then make commitments and keep them. If you want to garner the trust of your coaches and teammates then become a player who others can depend upon. Trust is earned and is not bestowed. A coach or employer will not give you any more responsibility than you have shown you are able to handle through your commitment to the organization. Set goals and hit them. Likewise, hold your teammates accountable for the commitments they make to the team.
Apply It To Life
Coach Alldredge was correct when he ended his speech to the team by reminding them all four elements to practice are applicable to all that you do in life. Show up on time and be prepared in all that you do. Whether it is your job, your volunteer efforts or your family, be on time and ready to complete the task at hand. Really listen because God gave you two ears and one mouth and the best way to keep your foot out of your mouth is to use your ears. Give the maximum effort. It may or may not be enough to get the job done but you will always earn the respect of those around you when you give it your all. Finally, be a man of commitment. Be the person others can count on because the world is already filled with too many self-interested individuals who can't be trusted to fulfill their promises.