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Beating the Odds

Happy Rodney Dangerfield Day!

Remember Rodney Dangerfield? He was the comedian whose trademark line was “I don’t get no respect.”

Dangerfield’s line inspired the New York Mets to dedicate a game — their second game of the year — to him.

The point was that the second game of the year doesn’t get any respect. It’s not like Opening Day, when everyone gets excited and the mayor shows up to throw out the first ball. The second day is just an ordinary day.

But here’s what’s important: The score of the second game is just as important as the score of the Opening Day game. Every game counts. And so does every practice.

The true champion knows this. Anyone can get excited about the first day of a new project, whether it’s Opening Day, or quitting smoking or a new semester. But the champion is one who can see wonder in each new day. A true champion is one who, when the initial excitement has faded, can continue to do what is necessary.

You can bet that the teams in the Final Four — VCU, Butler, UConn and Kentucky — didn’t waste too many practices. The margin of victory is just too small.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that mental skills come in handy only in pressure games. That’s wrong. Mental skills are needed all through the year, both in practice and in games. Players and coaches alike must find the motivation to get the most out of every day. They must find the discipline to engage in deliberate practice. This is a life lesson as well as a sports lesson.

Rodney Dangerfield aside, champions respect every game, whether it’s the first, the second, or the 140th.

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Mike Tully speaks to sports, business and educational groups. He also works with coaches, athletes and teams to make their practice time more productive and efficient. He and Gary Pritchard are co-authors of “Ten Things Great Coaches Know.” To see Coach Tully and Coach Pritchard discuss “Seven Ways to Prepare for Adversity,” click here.


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