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Life Lessons

The Power of Precision

First master the fundamentals.” — Larry Bird

If you ever get a chance to visit St Louis, check out not only the famous Gateway Arch, but also the video on how the arch was built.

Workers constructed two legs that soared to a rendezvous 630 feet into the sky. But as the video emphasizes, the engineers had to measure each leg frequently to ensure the structure was on course. A mistake of a fraction of an inch at the bottom would be multiplied many times over as the leg climbed higher into the sky. How embarrassing not to meet!

Fortunately that never happened. The final piece fit into place, completing the arch and leaving coaches and athletes a lesson to appreciate.

Like the measurements that went into the arch, sports fundamentals require constant attention, because a small flaw in technique at the beginning can translate into major problems later.

By the time a baseball batter detects a flaw in his swing, his slump is well under way. Something that begins as small and unnoticed can send a batting average plummeting.

Champions have a deep appreciation for precision. Ben Hogan once asked his caddy how far it was from the ball to the hole. “About 150, 151 yards,” the caddy replied. “Well, which is it,” Hogan snapped.

When coach Vince Lombardi asked his linemen to line up a certain number of inches apart, he meant EXACTLY that distance, and anyone who didn’t comply heard about it.


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