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Practice makes perfect in sports, armed forces

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gregory Sevening
  • 60th Contracting Squadron Commander
Our Airmen are asked every day to perform extraordinary duties in the defense of our great nation with the expectation that the result of their actions is nothing less than spectacular. Failure is never an option in our line of work, so each and every Airman must continuously strive for perfection, and that requires practice.

In the words of Roger Staubach, former Dallas Cowboy quarterback, "Spectacular achievements are always preceded by unspectacular preparation." We must never forget the importance of the level of effort necessary during times of unspectacular preparation.

There are countless examples of professional athletes and teams - Larry Bird, Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods and the San Antonio Spurs - who have been able to compete at the highest levels of competition with continuous success. Each example shares a common story. They practiced hard and practiced often.

Larry Bird is well known for having spent 2 to 3 hours after every practice shooting, which equated to points and buzzer beaters when it really counted. He said, "I don't know if I practiced more than anybody, but I sure practiced enough. I still wonder if somebody, somewhere was practicing more than me."

Peyton Manning spends hours upon hours with his receivers to perfect the timing of his throws, which equates to receptions and touchdowns when it really counts.

Tiger Woods spends hours on the driving range or putting green before and after playing a round of golf, which has equated to 73 PGA tour wins and 14 Major Championships.

Last but not least, the San Antonio Spurs throughout the last decade and a half have been inspired by coach Gregg Popovich's use of the following Jacob Riis quote, "When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before."

This has reminded and pushed his players to give 100 percent in practice work. It has equated to 15 straight playoff appearances and four world championships.

Our Airmen may not be professional athletes, but they are professional warfighters. It is only with hard work and practice that they will be able to perform and execute to perfection for those who count on them. Whether it is a training event, Operational Readiness Exercise or the performance of our everyday jobs, it is our duty to practice hard every time and practice often, so we can execute when it really counts.

I encourage each and every leader and follower to ask this question, "Am I working as hard as I can during these times of unspectacular preparation, so when my nation calls my performance will be spectacular?"