Sunday, March 29, 2015

About a Third of the Time

We coach a small prep school which has a few swimmers on it who have never been at a swim meet before. You can imagine the trepidation when it comes to learning to dive off the blocks. At a recent meet one of our girls, Emma, said she wanted to go off the blocks, that it was a little embarrassing to use the side of the pool.
So we went to work and she figured out how to launch herself in a reasonably respectful way. Her dive wasn’t the best nor the clumsiest…nicely in between. What was interesting though to us was that near the end of the 15 minute teaching session, after she had mastered the basics we told her, as she climbed up for one more practice start, “You don’t want to use up all your good starts. Save a couple for the meet.” She looked back a little confused. Us again, “You only have so many good dives in your career so be sure not to use them all up early.” More confusion…then we smiled and said, “Emma, only about a third of what we say is actually true. The rest is just noise. Your job is to figure out which third.” We all smiled knowing that we had shared a teaching moment.
We won’t get into a discussion on the actual percentages here. That’s not the point. What is the point is that no source is correct 100% of the time. Some sources are correct all the time about certain points. Gregg Troy comes to mind when he says, “I know of no pursuit where doing less work brings more results.” (Apologies to Gregg if we have butchered the words but the meaning is crystal clear). But we doubt if Gregg – as accomplished as he is – believes he knows everything there is to know about competitive swimming. We bet he is learning nearly every day.
Love the internet; hate the internet; all that information; all that misinformation. Our task is to sift and find what really works and more importantly, what really works in our individual specific situation. Then add in to the mix we are working with people. Each person is different and so…
You get the idea. Figure out what is true for you and let go of the rest. If every good idea sends you scampering off in a new direction you will never stay the course long enough to know whether your path will lead you to your goal.
It makes life interesting and certainly worth living. See you at the pool!

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