Monday, September 26, 2011

Gifts are for Birthdays

I hate to be Mr. Negative on a Monday morning, but I need to question a word that we hear probably everyday, especially in the athletics world.


I now cringe when I hear it.  Similar to the evil 1950's teacher scratching the chalkboard at school, which you now must visualize and it probably made you clench your teeth in imaginary pain.  My apologies.  However lets think about how the we and the media use the word gifted.

What are gifts?  Something you receive without compensation.  We then look at our elite of the world, and see them as very gifted.  Sure Kobe Bryant was gifted with his height and probably a couple more fast twitch muscle fibers than the rest of us, but to say his game is a gift?   Ludicrous.

If you ever meet Kobe, I dare you to tell him his game was just a gift.  His jump shot?  Yeah, it was carried down from his father in that jump shot DNA strand scientists just discovered. Oh his ability to control his body to get the defender off balance, yeah that was his Christmas present from 1999.  The real gift is that his Dad was a professional basketball player, and he had the opportunity to watch and emulate for his entire childhood.  That was the real gift.

When we see the elite perform, we forget about all the time they've spent working incredibly hard on their craft.  The countless hours of deliberate practice and how much many of these people have sacrificed to be able to perform at the highest level.  So please give them there credit.  Their skill is not a gift from the DNA God's.  Yes they might have a couple advantages when it comes to genetics, but I bet we could find thousands who had those same genetic gifts who didn't end up in the elite.

This classic Jordan commercial sums up my thoughts completely.  Choose your words wisely and all but eliminate the word gifted when describing elite performers.


  1. Hey Casey,
    I've been following your blogs for a while now. I play for Adelaide Uni (div3 women) and one of the boys put me onto this. There have been some 'difficulties' at training lately. One of your blogs talked about you practicing your jump shots undefended and how that didn't help you in a game situation. How do you encourage deliberate training without stepping on toes?

  2. You trusted one of those boys? ;)

    Some basics for deliberately practicing shooting...
    Lets take shooting off the dribble. You could even narrow it to a mid range. First I would try and have a training partner. If you don't I would try something like this. Instead of doing the same move over and over so that you get it perfect, I would vary the distance between 10-17 feet. Maybe practice going right to left, then left to right. Crossovers combined with step backs, practice in ways where your brain can't get comfortable. You can repeat a shot or move to give you a useful repetition. What I was saying is that I use to just practice shooting in an autonomic state where I wasn't pushing myself to get uncomfortable. I see that a lot in sports. The biggest part is your mindset towards the practice. Make it uncomfortable to a point where you might be making 60-80%. Once you hit 80+% I would find ways to make it a little harder.

    Does that help?

  3. Yeah that helps, I'm normally a post player but have found myself shooting more midrange as we have recently had taller bigger players join the club.