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Deliberate Practice

What I’m Learning at Summer Camp

This week I have been shuttling between my own camp and others in the area.

At Scott Illiano’s fine baseball camp at West Essex High School in Fairfield, N.J., I learned about two areas that Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona emphasizes in his work.

First, attention to detail.

Second, managing frustration.

Let’s talk about the second item. We all get frustrated at times. No one likes to fail, and sometimes frustration gets in the way of learning. We get so emotional about the failure that we never see the possibilities for growth.

A winner is someone who has learned from failure. A winner looks at what happened and asks, “What I can I do better?” This is managing frustration.

At our camps we play games, and keep careful scores. Then we tell the campers: “Your score in this drill is not nearly as important as what you do with the information. What can you learn? Where were the points lost? What can you do better?

In 2004, Francona accomplished something no one had done in 86 years when he managed the Red Sox to the World Series championship. You can be sure that managing frustration was a big part of that success. Maybe you’ll never play or manage in the World Series, but managing frustration can make you a champion in your own field!

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This week we’ve been talking about the fire within. Yesterday at another camp I saw a great example of it. The coach had set up a game and said the first team to reach 30 points is the winner. After watching the game for a while, the coach thought that 30 points was too high of a target and reduced it to 25 points.

Shortly thereafter, one team reached 25 points and the coach declared a winner. But one of the campers — her name was Brooke — protested. She said, “You said 30! You said it takes 30 to win.”

She was burning to compete, and as far as she was concerned the game wasn’t over until someone got 30. I want her on my team!


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