How To Get Better At Anything

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The short answer is ask. The better answer is ask the right person. A harder task when we live in a world where everyone claims to be an expert. Also hard, when most people cannot tell you why they are good at something. In fact many successful people do not know why they are successful. So you also have to learn how to ask the right questions.

As a ball player I was blessed with many accolades that frankly I cannot believe as I approach middle age (it hurts my ego to even say middle age). As a young man and since then over the years I have met and played with amazing athletes and amazing personalities. It is from studying my own and their personalities and behavior that I believe has given me success and a fundamental understanding of what works and does not.

It has been that study that has led me back to football, and to coaching now being my 9th year. It really has been a way to understand how could I have been so successful as a ball player, while so many other players with more skills and more God given possibility went unused.

The answer is simple really. I just heard Arnold Schwarzenegger say it has to do with vision which creates the will to go that extra step when you do not want to.

I had a vision since at the 4th grade to play College football. That carried me thru with the will to get past the many adversities that presented themselves along the way.

I had a teammate in high school who had a vision to play in the NFL. Al Smith played for 11 years in the NFL. I didn’t. I played 4 years of College ball. I guess Al asked the Genie in the bottle for a bigger wish. And it was not given to Al. He was drafted in the 6th round. Not usually a good spot right?

Al lived in the gym and looked like he had two legs coming out of his shoulder pads for arms. He was probably on every NFL strength team for his whole career.

Al Smith 2 time Pro Bowl Ten Years NFL.

Al Smith 2 time Pro Bowl Ten Years NFL.

If I did anything right it was to seek out athletes who were the best at what they did. I looked for the best at knowing what to put into their body as an example. And I am not talking about rote individuals who knew how to count calories. Bah!

Excuse me but I could get that by reading a book.

So I looked at people who could find ways to increase their speed, increase their power. And in fact, over the years I have found that some of the worlds best at what they do could be had for almost nothing.

I mean I talked to world great body builder Mike Mentzer by merely joining his gym. It was called the Muscle Mill in North Redondo Beach. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow his advice to the letter, but I did get to learn from one of the best in the world.

He learned his craft partially from the man who created the Nautilus gym, the eccentric genius Arthur Jones.  He believed that basically , less is more.  And Mike and his brother Ray were testaments to Jones ideals.

I went to the Muscle Mill the Summer before my Senior season of football at Pacific. Some of my teammates were “juicing”. I chose not to juice. My growth would be natural.  And I knew that Summer that the coming season was to be my last hurrah. (remember, I forgot to ask the genie for more time)

I woke up, ate, and would be off to the gym.  I would work out with my lifelong pal Dave.  I then would return home. Eat , rest and then meet my high school chum Wayne at the steep Ramona hill in Hawthorne.

Why the hill ? Because people who were fast told me hill work would make me faster.

I found that the Iron and the Hills bring out the truth. Something about a couple 100 pound barbels over your face that puts a visceral reality onto ones day to day. The hills do make you faster. In fact, I found you cannot run hills without using better form. You see speed is about form. For example, try and run with your elbows out on a hill .  You cannot without not only noticing your inefficiency. It is almost like your forced to run better.

Today , everyone is an expert. Everyone is a coach or trainer. However, there are few coaches or trainers that I trust with my kid.

Because of that I even made a video for my team to be able to workout at home on their own. What I teach here is stuff I learned way after football when I got back to the gym in my mid 30s. Again, I went to some experts and found that I was able to explode my gains as well as cut up.

Some of the techniques I mention above is used in this “ghetto” workout. The point of my video is to show you that you do not need a gym to gain strength and power. Watch as these specimens find ways to workout on the street in the hood.

Warning some foul language. Tame by today’s standards but foul nonetheless.

Today, my son participated in a speed camp that I endorse all the way. The Coach is training these kids to get faster and quicker for football. Like I said above, I do not latch onto a Coach just because he call himself a Coach. Anyone can get a few letters after their name these days.

I prefer masters. By the way, if you saw the Arnold quote above and it turned you off because of his history of infidelity. Then you are missing the point entirely.

This is not about modeling his marriage skills, but rather his skills at achieving success when he did achieve success. And his successes in his life are nothing short of amazing.

Do yourself a favor if you want your kid to excel at his or her sport. Give the Coach over there a call. Tell him Coach Tim sent ya.;-)

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