An unusual sport indeed.

I’ve made countless references to the unique nature of our sport over the years. While the Sanctional model provides many more opportunities than years past, it has only heightened the need to be ready year-round. It has also held true to the nonstandard testing methods that produce a certain level of anxiety about whether your programming is checking the right boxes or not.

These oddities facilitate a disguise that can render your mountain of hard work trivial. Countless hours in the gym have a way of creating a groove that grows slowly enough that you never realize it’s happening. The result blurs the lines between preparation and execution so much that you forget you’re playing a sport when it comes time to do just that. The adrenaline of 3, 2, 1, GO lasts for a few minutes before you slide back into the cozy little groove that you inhabit back home.

The strategies and efforts and focus you give back home are precisely what is needed to prepare, but mistaking their place for what needs to happen in a competition is misguided. Successfully playing a high stakes sport against a field of individuals not only takes more than your everyday energy, but it also takes an entirely different approach.

Just about all of us have previously been in a competitive arena, whether it be sports specifically or any pursuit that requires a depth of focus that can only be conjured in a big moment. Use those experiences as reminders to be ruthless, cunning, and unabashedly demanding of yourself when that moment comes.

So yes, it’s an unusual sport. But it’s still a sport, and your hard work is begging for you to start acting like it.