I spent a large chunk of the last three days in Titusville, a town slightly less entertaining than the wake of a man with few friends and fewer enemies. I was engorged with pent up energy, and figured I would work out in the weight room with my basketball players. I was weighed measured and found wanting.
You can hide on the court or the field. There are shortcuts in the ebb and flow of every game, but in physical training you are naked. Your strength, speed, stamina and will are isolated and exposed.
I retired after a few drills, and watched a war of attrition. Voices lowered, smiles faded, as each player internalized the struggle to hold form and finish the drills. At 4:30, we walked out of the weight room and onto the court and started to smile and joke again. It was subtle, not jubilant, but it was clear we had been through a temporary hell. It was hopeful that it may have forged some steel.
At 6:00, I watched a group of soccer players from FC America go through a similar experience. The setting was a patch of grass between two soccer fields filled with cones. The trainer was former Olympian Ernest Wiggins. For over an hour the boys stretched, jumped, sprinted and crawled.
The internal battle the same. The player visibly struggled. It was undoubtedly the most demanding work out Bryson has ever had. The players were pushed beyond their known physical abilities to the point where the mind must make the decision to continue or give up.
It is here that I found the true purpose in physical training. Muscles will get stronger, muscle fibers quicker to react, but the mental part of physical training is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Reaching the question of whether to continue or not reveals the character and commitment of the athlete, trains the instinct to fight to the end of every game and conjure victory where all seems lost.
On the ride home, I asked Bryson what Ernest said during the drills. His most prominent quote was giving 200 percent: 100 physical and 100 mental. I loved it.
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