Saban is the football coach at Alabama. His team is most likely going to face Notre Dame in the college Championship game this January. Before last week's matchup with Georgia - which his team needed to win to play Notre Dame - he was asked how he focuses his players on winning the big games. We found his response interesting.
He said something to the effect that while they wanted to win it was most important to play the game the way it needed to be played in order to win. He said if you execute your basics you will win; therefore in prepping for games he has his staff and players working on the process not the win. He said, "If you work the process you will win" but if you play to win and forget to pay attention - in practice and on game day - the little things go wrong. When the little things go wrong in a close game you usually end up on the wrong side of the score.
We also read recently that an NFL coach said the following... and we paraphrase here, "Every single offensive play, if executed properly, will score a touchdown. The problem is that on every single play in a game something goes wrong. Someone does not execute and therefore not every play produces a score." Imagine that; even at the professional level "something goes wrong on every single play."
Picture a moment the swim race and the various components...we simply here...the start...the dive...the entry...the underwaters...the breakout...the turn...the finish...the various amounts of energy (we call it pacing) used in the various segments...the tempo...the distance per stroke...the breathing pattern. We think we are safe when we say that no swim race ever goes perfectly.
To get your cut or to win your race you must focus on the process (including in practice!). Of course you have your goal in mind but where is your focus?
The baseball player knows his team needs a hit, could surely use a home run. S/he has a much better chance of doing it if the focus is on the task, not the desired result. Yes, the result is in mind all the while the focus is on the task.
Work the process in practice; work the process in warmups; work the process in the race…the win will come if you trust the process.