Today at Hammer practice I found myself thinking about the vast improvement that some of the attending athletes have already made this summer. It is incredible how much kids have improved in such a short amount of time with literally only three total hours of work each week. I mean think about that mathematically. There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week. That calculates to 168 hours in each week. 3 hours out of 168 total hours equals 1/56, or approximately 1.8%. So that means that these kids are dedicating 1.8% of their time in a given week to get better at this specific skill (wrestling). The crazy thing is that they are seeing improvement, and some of them are displaying massive growth.

Now let’s apply this approach to anything in life. Pick one thing that you want to change or seek betterment in. If you merely dedicate 1.8% of your time towards that end, in a few months you, too, could see the same development of my wrestlers. How insane is that concept? If you can’t set aside less than 2% of your day to work towards a specific goal, then, honestly, you don’t deserve to achieve it. 1.8% of a 24 hour day is only 26 minutes. I realize that there may be some days where we really do not have 26 minutes to spare. Well, then the next day you’re going to have to work for 52 minutes. It’s that simple. And it doesn’t even take that much time. It may not be easy, but it’s simple. Remember, there is a difference.

I’m going to take this one step further and push for a little more. I think that this 1.8% of your time is probably the bare minimum. If the goal at hand is an important one, then we can do better than that. I’ll apply this to wrestling for now as that is my arena but it can be utilized in any aspect of life or sport. If you, as a wrestler, truly want to reach your full potential…If you want to win a state title, a national title, or even a world title, then you need to view your skills in wrestling as a means to that end. You need to be a student of the sport. Always learning, watching others who have been successful, open to new ideas, seeking knowledge, and never becoming complacent in this effort. You can always learn more. You can always get better. And there is always someone out there who is either better than you, or working to get better than you. No matter your age or ability, do not think that you know it all and never miss out on opportunities to improve. I’m 29 years old and I find myself learning from high school and college kids everyday. They are 15-21 years old, yet they often have things I’ve never done or different methods of doing the same technique.

This old Zen story exemplifies my point perfectly:

The Full Cup

A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked on and on about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring.

The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself,

“It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted.

“You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup

If you do not have an open mind, you will never reach your full potential. Empty your cup and be receptive to learning and improving.

Put in the time and effort to perfect your skill. Be a student of your trade. I truly believe that you need to work at least an hour a day towards your goal in order to be deserving of achieving it (Sundays are the exception). If you can’t dedicate one hour a day to be a champion, then you can not be disappointed if it does not become a reality. I learned something in college that has stuck with me to this day and I share it with whomever I coach regularly. You need to focus on getting just 1% better every day. That’s it. Just 1%. In a matter of time you will be 100% better. And so on and so on. Focus on this and you will succeed.

I will leave you with one final thought as I know the summer is coming to an end and school will start up soon. Wrestling will begin as well. I know that some of you put in the work this offseason to get better, while some of you have probably been lacking (only you know who you are). I saw this on a t-shirt once and it is so true. Here it is. Take from it what you want.

“A year from now you’ll wish you started training today”