I'm sure you are wondering what the Beatles could possibly have to do with an Athletic Training Facility. The answer is everything. When each generation discovers the Beatles they think they have done it for the first time but did you know there was a time when the famous band from Liverpool almost wouldn't have been a household name? If it hadn't been for an opportunity to spend years in Germany playing 8 hour days, having to hone their craft, creating new songs to last long sets, building stamina and working on their stage presence they wouldn't have been the huge success they were and continue to be. They had over 1200 live performances under their belt from the time they were a struggling high school band to starting the British Invasion in 1964. They were given an opportunity and they grabbed it by the horns. Not once, but multiple times. They recognized that their talent alone wasn't going to get them where they needed to be. They didn't start as mega stars, they started with talent and they WORKED their way to becoming one of the greatest bands of all time.
"Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard."
"There may be people who have more talent than you do but there's no excuse for them to work harder."
"But effort, no one can judge that. Effort is between You and You."
"The pain you feel today will be the strength you feel tomorrow."
"There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."
Every Facebook or Instagram feed is loaded with quotes about how if you work hard you will achieve your goal and we pass those same sentiments on to our youth athletes but do we really know what hard work means? Do our kids know and understand what that means? It means 10,000 hours. 10,000 hours is the number realized when professionally successful people count back to the number of hours they practiced between a young age and 20. 10,000 hours of dedicated practice and playing that allowed them to hone their craft and move to the top of their field. 10,000 hours of showing up to the practice cage with air pods and music taking swings off the tee, working through drills taught to them years ago: break it down, one knee down and flamingo. 10,000 hours of meeting teammates/friends after school to push each other, feeding balls into the machine on a rotating basis and hitting fungos to one another. 10,000 hours of wanting to not just play the sport you love but working through the failures that will come, pushing through the struggle of the new stance, the change in field distance or physical growth that comes with being a human being. Turns out there is a magic bean, its just going to take 10,000 hours to get there.
Hard work only beats talent as long as the hard work is consistent and deliberate. The first thing you have to consider when making the commitment to your sport is: What are you trying to accomplish? What are your goals? Where do you want to be? There is a reason that a common job application question is "where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years down the road". They aren't asking for travel plans they are wanting to see if you have to ability to see into the future and what expectations you have for yourself. Just like any employer you should want to know and be able to answer, "How far are you willing to take this?".
Coach Saban says, "it takes what it takes." Most people can get by with minimal work that never goes above and beyond what is required and still make their high school team, get an entry level job, afford life's necessities, etc. If those things are good enough -- if achieving on an average level satisfies you -- then you can coast through life fairly easily, rarely exiting your comfort zone, and accomplish the casual goals that you have set your sights on. You don't need 10,000 hours.
If by chance, though, there is a part of you that desires more than the minimum standard, that seeks to be elite, or that longs to be in a class all by yourself, then more will be required -- simply doing what is asked of you will not suffice if your goal is greatness. Jerry Rice said "today I will do what others won't, so that tomorrow I can do what they can't". Being elite is not for everyone -- it requires a commitment and sacrifice that is uncommon and often seems "weird" to others who cannot seem to fathom the dedication required to find success along the journey to greatness.
To begin, it starts with being honest and strategic. Being honest and "exceptionally clear" about where you are and what it will take to get where you want to go can be hard! 1. Study others, after all success leaves clues. The 10,000 hours concept is not made up, it has been scientifically proven through years of study and research of the human condition. 2. Formulate a strategy -- a process -- for how you are going to attack your goals. Hard work is just hard work if you aren't deliberate in what you are doing. You also need to be able to adjust and re-evaluate as you progress.
Next, it requires discipline and sacrifice. Forming a plan and creating habits in the short-term is easy; sticking to that plan when it requires sacrifice and when it becomes UNCOMFORTABLE is perhaps the hardest part. It is not easy to wake up early and prepare meals/snacks for the day before heading to school. It is not easy to miss a social event in order to train. It is not easy to skip a Saturday on the lake to be at a tournament in the next state. No one said it would be easy, the question is will it be worth it?
in 1964 the Beatles jumped the pond and played on small black and white televisions all over the country. They were an instant hit. Had it not been for teenagers realizing that their best opportunity was traveling to Germany and playing 8 hour days/night over and over again you probably wouldn't even know who they are. A high school baseball player has a 5.6% chance of playing college baseball. 10.5% of College Baseball Players have a chance to make it to the MLB. That percentage doubles. It doubles because if you have made it the college level you are more inclined to push yourself even further. BUT first you have to be that 5.6% and that percentage doesn't start at 18. The hard work, the "10,000 hours" begins as a youth. Because the truth is that only .5% of high school baseball players will find themselves on a Major League Field. They are ones that seek to be elite.
By Jennifer Seeley and Cam Beard