Monday, November 14, 2011

Knowing What You Are in Sports

Colin Cowherd made the point on his radio show today that a big part of sports (football specifically) is knowing who you are and what you’re good at. While it’s definitely true in the NFL and each good team has an identity, I think it’s important at the individual level as well.

The best example I can give is my own experiences as an inline hockey player. I took up the sport later than most (age 22) and because of that, had some catching up to do. My skating was always pretty good, and I’m a small, fast, agile guy, but my puck-work always lagged behind. When it eventually did start to catch up, I still wasn’t lighting up the scoresheet. I realized at the beginning of my third year that I wasn’t making the best use of my skills. I’d always been a pass-first player because that’s what I was good at first. But I came to realize that at 140 pounds of muscle I had a unique combination of strength and a lack of size. Because I was strong and yet so light, I could accelerate and turn faster than everyone in the league. But that’s not exactly conducive to a pass-first mentality.

In short I needed to make use of my newfound ability to keep the puck on my stick with more control. I could either outskate everyone until something opened up, or create space for myself to score. My goal totals went from 4 in my first year, to 6 in my second to 22 in my third. Once I realized who I was and what I was good at, everything opened up for me. My style of play took on a definitive shape and even though my opposition also realized what I was, they were hard pressed to stop me. (It felt like using a cheat code.)

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