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Deliberate Practice

Practice Leads to Super Bowl


“We think in generalities, but we live in detail.” — Alfred North Whitehead

If the Super Bowl comes down to a last-minute kick, then the Arizona Cardinals will be in good hands — literally.

Ben Graham will be the holder on field goals and extra points, and he has arrived at his position through persistence, initiative and hard work.

Graham told his story to reporters yesterday during preparations for the Super Bowl. He played years in the Australian Football League, then came to the United States to pursue a career as a punter in the National Football League. He had to adjust to a new country, new league and new style. To make himself more valuable to the team, he asked if he could learn to hold on kicking attempts.

Holding for the kicker is a little-appreciated skill. The holder must catch the snap from the center, place the ball on the ground, and attend to details like spinning it slightly to make sure the laces are facing away from the kicker’s foot. He must do this in no more than 1.32 seconds.

And so Graham practices. Since joining the NFL, he has taken thousands and thousands of snaps. He has been cut, re-signed, then cut, then re-signed and cut again. All the while, he has been practicing his craft, trying to be the best at it, to the point where it is automatic. Any time you see the Cardinals attempting a kick on Sunday, it will be Graham holding the ball.

Let’s face it. The person who holds on field goal attempts won’t get the glory if his team wins. People will notice him only if something goes wrong. But the position is vital and Graham treats it that way.

So here’s a question: Do you practice your craft with the same passion that Graham does? Even if it’s not a glamorous job or one that receives lots of credit?

If not, then ask yourself if you’d like your doctor, your airplane pilot or the chef in your favorite restaurant to put in the same effort as you do. Of course not. You’d want them to practice with the same devotion as Graham.


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