Sports: Athletic Success Can be Measured by “The Little Things”

How many of you have heard the statement, “It’s the little things that make all the difference?” A lot, I would assume. Whether in this form or another, it is a commonly referenced statement in sports (at least from a coach’s standpoint).

And as a former competitive athlete, it is something I subscribed to as well. In fact, I believe it to be the deciding factor in most areas where one’s success or failure is something measured.

However, many take that statement as is, without a true understanding of what it really means. You see, the little things…they center largely on preparation—being physically and/or mentally ready!!!

From an athletic standpoint, a focus on the little things forces a deeper concentration on the right “pieces of the puzzle,” the aspects which allow for better performance. It includes breaking something down into its principal parts (either literally or metaphorically), working toward perfecting those parts, and then putting those highly improved pieces back together. This holds true whether it be one’s skill set (the movements that allow one to play “the game”), the offensive or defensive game strategy one uses, an athlete’s sports fitness training, or whatever else might encompass the “game” being played.

It (this concentration on the little things) is the willingness to take one’s strengths to the level of mastery and turn one’s weaknesses into strengths, allowing for the ability to do so. Leaving no stone unturned…it means to focus on doing the things that most aren’t willing to do, climbing a ladder, so to speak, most aren’t willing to climb.

Using a simple example from volleyball, say…the defensive specialist or libero position, let’s take a look at this more deeply.

One skill the libero must try to master, at least if they want to be good, is passing. It is the ability to receive a serve and pass that serve (direct the ball with one’s forearms) to target—where the setter’s optimal position is. They need to be able to do this with topspin serves, floater serves, jump serves, etc.; any type of serve that they are presented with.

This passing skill can be broken down into several parts; anticipation, preparatory movement (feet, body), positioning, platform, contact point, and say…cushion/touch. When a player, in this case libero, has trouble passing the ball to target, it is usually because of a problem in one, or more, of the areas just listed.

A focus on the little things, in this case, would include some sort of training and high level of concentration (deep practice), in all, some, or one of these pieces to the passing puzzle. And whether it is actually breaking the skill apart and working each piece separately, or a matter of simply bringing more focus to one specific area when passing, what matters is the added concentration on the smaller part (the little thing or things) needing work. And this holds true for any skill in any sport; it is comprehensive.

I am sure you have heard the statement “going through the motions” before, right? Well…this focus on the little things, that is the polar opposite—a deeper practice leading one up that ladder of success. And as stated earlier, it is something most aren’t willing to do.

Take your abilities, along with the team’s, to the next level by concentrating on those little things…it truly can make all the difference.

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