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Deliberate Practice

The Warrior Within

Yesterday we wondered whether great athletes come from the desperation of poverty or from the expensive skills camps of the suburbs.

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali offers a third possibility. He once said, “Champions aren´t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision.”

Researchers have said they haven’t figured that one out — why some people burn for success and others can accept less.

Yesterday I happened upon a ritual of summer here in Montclair, N.J. It was Sami Hirch, a goalkeeper for the Syracuse University soccer team. As she is every summer, Hirsh was out there all alone, with her water, her stopwatch and her strength and conditioning guide.

She sprinted, checked her watch,then sprinted again. Every once in a while she would check her strength and conditioning guide.

Asked what motivated her, Hirsh replied, “I wouldn’t want to NOT be doing this when others were WERE doing it.”

After watching Sami Hirsh for a while, I proceeded to my own camp, where we had 28 girls in volleyball camp.

Besides teaching skills, you’re always looking for that one person who, like Sami Hirsh or Muhammad Ali, burns within.

Here’s something I’ve learned from years of doing camps: You can’t necessarily find out the real warriors on the first day. In my experience, real warriors aren’t the ones who stick out on first impression. They kind of sneak up on you, impressing you with their day-to-day approach to things. Sometimes you discover them too late!

That’s why it’s important to approach every day with fresh eyes. You never know what you’ll see!


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