Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Looking for an advantage -- even in socks

Yesterday, I mentioned the importance of focusing on details. I thought more about it last night and went to my bookshelf looking for Pat Williams' book "The Pursuit."

In it, he writes about a question he asks when speaking to an audience:

"How many of you have ever been bitten by a elephant?" Never has a hand gone up. So he asks, "How many here have ever been bitten by a mosquito?" Every hand goes up. "You see? The little things get you every time."

I've read where, on the first day of practice, UCLA's legendary Coach Wooden would demonstrate to his players the proper way to put on their shoes and socks. The players would roll their eyes and giggle, but he was focusing on the little things.

From his experience, guys who didn't put their socks on correctly would often develop blisters, which affected their game and, when serious enough, could lead to missed playing time as the sores healed.

Here's how Coach Wooden describes it:

"I think it's the little things that really count. The first thing I would show our players at our first meeting was how to take a little extra time putting on their shoes and socks properly. The most important part of your equipment is your shoes and socks.

You play on a hard floor. So you must have shoes that fit right. And you must not permit your socks to have wrinkles around the little toe -- where you generally get blisters -- or around the heels.

It took just a few minutes, but I did show my players how I wanted them to do it. Hold up the sock, work it around the little toe area and the heel area so that there are no wrinkles. Smooth it out good. Then hold the sock up while you put the shoe on. And the shoe must be spread apart -- not just pulled on the top laces.

You tighten it up snugly be each eyelet. Then you tie it. And then you double-tie it so it won't come undone --- because I don't want shoes coming untied during practice, or during the game. I don't want that to happen.

I'm sure that once I started teaching that many years ago, it did cut down on blisters. It definitely helped.

But that's just a little detail that coaches must take advantage of, because it's the little details that make the big things come about."