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Do You Have 30 Minutes?

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At some point today you will grab your phone (if it isn’t already in your hand), tap on the touch screen to open up your Instagram account and start scrolling, liking pictures posted by both friends and strangers. It doesn’t matter that you opened your phone to google something for your homework, or because you had an idea you wanted to challenge. It will only take a second to go look and see if you got any likes on that last picture you posted.

Wait, now that you have scrolled all the way to a picture you saw earlier, you should move over to Facebook real quick to see if anything is happening there. In between checking your FB page, you get 28 messages from your group chat. Eh (shoulder shrug), you have time, you can check that after you read this long post about how rude some lady at Target was to someone who you are friends with online but can’t recall how. In fact, you don’t know who they are at all.

Now you’re checking your group chat and someone sent a funny YouTube video. You’re all cracking up and start sending funny GIFs to each other. Now that you opened YT you might as well scroll through the accounts you subscribe to and see if your favorite youtuber posted the new video you’ve been waiting for. Nope. Not yet. You put your phone down and go back to doing your homework.

You get to the problem that you were trying to resolve and remembered why you picked up your phone in the first place. 

It’s frustrating. You should have finished this work an hour ago, but you keep getting sidetracked. Your phone goes off again. This time your best friend is on FaceTime and has a story she wants to tell you. You can’t ignore her, can you?  

The concept of repetition is prevalent throughout our lives. It actually fuels everything we do. From the way we wake up to how we go to sleep. Our body and mind operate on involuntary functions that keep us alive and, the conditioning our experiences forged into our memory consistently. When a coach suggests taking 30 minutes out of your day daily to practice basketball, they are not asking you to reconstruct the laws of time and space to add more hours to the day. All that is truly necessary is to replace a habit with a new or better one.

We all get lost in our phones or other devices in a plethora of ways. The scenario described above could very well be a half an hour spent ‘accidentally’ procrastinating during an important task whether at school or work.

Can you reimagine that 30 minutes in a way that helps you become a better athlete?

Grab your basketball, go outside, dribble and shoot. Maybe invite a friend? Do it early in the morning or right after school or homework. Do it every day. 

One of the anecdotes I give about repetition is learning to walk. Many of us don’t remember our first steps. Mine were at 7 months old. I definitely have no recollection of it.

The amazing part is, you don’t actually have to think about how you walk (although many of us should). You’ve done it so much that when you get out of the car to walk over to meet your friends, you don’t have to say ‘start with the left foot, then move the right foot, walk straight towards the group’. It’s a natural movement. Ask anyone who has ever had to relearn to walk in their youth or adult lives. It takes a lot of brain power and neural connectivity and muscular activity and many of us take that for granted.

When you go outside and you form shoot, or do dribbling drills, you create that connectivity and begin to hardwire your brain to store in it’s memory the skill or ability. When you decide to enhance the ability by doing it faster and flawlessly that skill becomes automatic*. But, if you do it for one day a week with your trainer, the process of automation is slowed or counteracted and negated altogether.

 To understand further, let me introduce my friend Mathematics. One hour of week of focused practice or 1 out of 168 hours of practice is about .6% of your entire week. Read that again, .6% of your week. That means 99.4% of those hours, you are barely even thinking about holding your follow through (although you may be on Instagram watching other people get buckets). In a month with 31 days, there are 744 hours. Get this, when you spend just 4 of those hours on focused practice in that month (1 session per week), your devotion to your craft is even lower at .54%. How do you get better if not even 1% of your time per week is spent on honing your skillset and abilities?

Here is a hint: You won’t.

As a person who loves training athletes and wants to earn a living doing it, it’s counterintuitive and even inaccurate to say you don’t need a trainer or coach. Our job is to mentor and provide guidance to athletes who wish to take their skill to a higher level. That’s it. We should be assisting you in your elevation in whatever sport you play.

 Whether you are successful, achieve goals, and get to that next level is completely up to YOU. I cannot stress this enough. A trainer, parent, coach, aunt, sister, teacher can try to take credit for your success if they want to (or if they did all the work and put your name on it). But, truly, no one can make shots for another person. No one can go in the gym for you and build the game or career you want.

Your voluntary and persistent commitment to creating a high level skill set that is automatic rest solely on your shoulders and the actions you repeat every single day.

 You can get caught up for 30 minutes (sometimes hours) a day sitting on your phone staring at the screen or watching just “one more episode” of that new series on Netflix OR you can press pause, take your phone outside and put the timer on for 30 minutes (my favorite timer app is Interval Timer by Timing for HIIT Training).

Spend what would have been just a half hour of neglecting any responsibilities for “a few more minutes” and earn your passion.

In an early morning session this young athlete was able to spend quality time learning the Mikan Drill by breaking down simple basketball movements and building all the way up to being able to perform the drill properly. It would then be up to her if she wanted to take that skill set further and practice on her own in order to solidify and automate the skill.

Sabra Wrice