Perpetually Dissatisfied

By John Kessel | April 12, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

I was looking back as my previous blog posts and comments, as our website is soon to be moving to a new provider and taking on a new look, while wondering if the comments would be lost.  One comment caught my eye, that brought this blog to life – related to the Olympic motto of Citius, Altius, Fortius.   Here is part of the exchange, found under the blog about changing from club to beach/high school volleyball seasons “A Change of Seasons.” 

Hugh McCutcheon, our USA Olympic head coach for 2008 and 2012, has often said that his job is to be perpetually dissatisfied. This fact of coaching is another way of saying the “er” is the focus, by players and coaches. This is part of deliberate practice, the balance of being aware of and celebrating improvement, while pushing to be better each and every day, and not rest on your laurels. The motto of the US Olympic Committee is related to this push – “It’s not just every four years, it’s every day…” 

So many things come to mind when you  are constantly striving to get better just a little bit each day. An important thing is to make sure you focus as a coach on YOUR side, where you have a bit more control. It’s going to be won or lost on your side – and a coach can only control his line ups, time out and subs… My message continues to be to remind us all of the huge importance of focusing on what you can control. When you play for the USA, you might be the third best player in the world at your position, and yet you will not be starting on the court.  It does not change your focus on being the best you can be – and you cannot control that you on a team. If you missed it, my blog on “What a Player can Control” is found here.. http://www.teamusa.org/USA-Volleyball/Features/2012/February/03/What-Can-a-Player-Control.aspx

Indeed, in golf, things are much more in your own control - as it is not a team sport... Just finished reading Alan Shipnuck’s Sports Illustrated story on Master’s winner Bubba Watson - “Power and Grace – Ridiculously long, sublimely creative, yet absolutely just a regular guy…”    For me, I love it that he learned to play, by playing. Admits to not having taken golf lessons, nor hired a swing coach – he just played golf to get good.  These are other quotes from the article I found great....in a playful yet perpetually dissatisfied way, as Bubba coaches himself...

"When he came out on Tour he was so hard on himself he scared people away with his brooding. As he has learned to minimize the negativity...."

“His late father, Gerry, a Green Beret who was forever admonishing his son to swing harder at the Wiffle balls he batted around in the family’s back yard. ‘My dad taught me everything I know,’ Watson says. ‘It’s not very much but it’s all I know.’”

“They imbue their club and tournament with an absurd solemnity, but Bubba knows that golf is supposed to be fun, and he plays with a childlike wonder.  At 313.1 yards he is the PGA’s longest hitter by almost six yards. He swings a driver with a macho pink head and shaft for cancer awareness, and for all four rounds at the Masters his attire was all-white, in support of children with disabilities.” 

“Oosthuizen, who dueled with Watson for 20 holes, was still trying to digest what had befallen him; ‘That’s really entertaining to play with him, to see the shots that he’s taking on and shots that I don’t really see or I would ever hit’….Watson may be a trick shot artist but he is no fluke….has become one of the games most consistent performers, finishing no worse than 18th in eight starts this year….As Jim Furyk said on Sunday, ‘The most important thing at Augusta is creativity, and Bubba can do that as well as anyone.’”

So balance the tens of thousands of errors your team will make, with the success and improvements. It is the job of a great teacher or coach to be perpetually dissatisfied, but it is also the job to sit back and note, even celebrate, the successes also sure to come along the way. You all earned it…

And in a timely postscript….Stacy Sykora said on her amazing return to the National team practices, just four months after nearly dying  - “These are my teammates, they are my sisters…”  It is hard to believe  that accident happened a year ago today, on April 12, 2011. Stacy spent April 12-23rd not cognizant. Now she says simply “ I’m going to enjoy every ball….”  THAT is the mark of a player who loves the game…and one not likely satisfied until the knows she has done all she can to be the best she can be, and even better than before the accident.  High five from afar to Stacy for all she has done. 

   

Comments
The following comments were made on our previous web platform and have been transferred here to maintain the historical record.

On April 17, 2012 Dan Higgins wrote

John, you are a legend. Please keep up the great work you do, Many coaches down under are avid followers of yours.

On July 18, 2012 Adam Konifer wrote

John is a legend in his own mind.

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