POINT TO PONDER
An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.
- Mahatma Gandhi
Vince Lombardi, two-time superbowl coach and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, was known for his relentless dedication to practice. He would line his players in formation to run a play. The players would run the drill. Any variation or mistake, however minor, would lead to Lombardi yelling out, "run it again!"
And they would run it again. This time something else would be off. "Run it again," Lombardi would bellow.
And again they would run the play. And again. And again...
After a while the players had run it so many times that they could catch the mistake themselves and would bark at each other, "run it again," before Lombardi could chime in. The players would line up and run the play over and over until they knew what the play felt like free of error.
REFLECTION by Rajiv Shah
Vince Lombardi didn't just tell his players how to play, he provided the framework to allow them to feel what it was like to get the play right. Lombardi wanted his players to achieve mastery of the play, that action, not through lecture but through execution. Once mastery is achieved a player doesn't have to think about the play, he can just feel it and be fully present in the job at hand.
Repeated practice led to mastery and mastery allowed his players to enter what psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi termed a "flow state" - also known as being in the groove or in the zone. And to be in the zone you can't be thinking about how you are performing an action but instinctively acting and reacting in the moment to any given stimuli.
In the acting world, Stella Adler (famed teacher to Marlon Brando, Robert DeNiro, and Benicio Del Toro) spoke of rehearsing to the point where you stop thinking about what you are doing or how you are doing it, but you just do it in the moment. Adler called achieving this state as getting back to zero. Zero being a place of simplicity, connection, and effortlessness. But Adler believed that effortlessness came from many hours of preparation, so many hours that you could no longer see that preparation at work.
Lombardi was getting his players back to zero. They repeatedly ran plays so that in a game situation the players were able to act and react to given circumstances fully present in the moment. Vince Lombardi understood that through repeated practice the players would learn for themselves the right execution. He didn't tell them how, he showed them.