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How to Win

Developing a Routine

If the Orlando Magic wind up winning the NBA title, they may owe their success in part to a song that was played at halftime on Sunday.

The song helped Dwight Howard relax at the free-throw line, and his 14-for-19 shooting — well above his career average of 59 percent — contributed to his team’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“I just tried to shoot,” Howard said after the game. “I heard a song playing at halftime. I just kept thinking about dancing. If my free throws are going in, I might have to keep up that routine.”

Correction, Dwight. You will have to MAKE it part of your routine. One time does not make a routine. A routine is honed after careful study; trial and error.

Anyone devising a routine can learn from the comedy team of Burns and Allen. Years after they toured together, George Burns described how they fine-tuned their comic routine. It was nothing fancy or complicated. If the audience laughed at a joke, it stayed in the show. If people didn’t laugh, the joke went out. Over time, the show was filled with nothing but winners.

Anyone can follow this formula to prepare for a game. You can include anything you want: what you do before going to bed the night before, what you wear, what you have for breakfast, the music that you listen to. If the results are good, keep it in. If the results are bad, throw it out.

As gametime approaches, the routine can become a ritual. A ritual is a series of actions, repeated in the same order and at the same time intervals.

For instance, big-league baseball teams have their pre-game batting practice timed to the minute. This is for maximum time management, but it also lends a sense of order and rhythm.

So congratulations to Dwight Howard for his great performance at the free-throw line. But let’s not call it a routine — yet.


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