Thanks to my teammates who started a food fight in the cafeteria, my boot-camp drill-instructor-like coach decided we were not going to practice one evening, we were going to run sprints for the whole two hours.
Now, if you’ve ever had a coach like mine, you know that this kind of running wasn’t made to be fun. It was the type of running that made you feel like there was no tomorrow, like there wasn’t enough air to breathe. My lungs seemed like they were on fire and that sharp pain in my side got worse after every breath. Still, my legs had to keep running as fast as they could because you couldn’t dare be late crossing the line after the stopwatch was up and the whistle was blown.
After 500 sprints I was barely making it across on time, and then those painful words, “Get on the line,” screech out for the 501st time.
It was like I was in another world and time stopped ticking. There were countless moments when I felt like I wanted to walk out of the gym and just forget about all I worked for.
I knew that practice made me stronger and more focused during game time- but really, admitting this never made practice any easier. I still hated practice, like deep down in my soul, I seriously hated it.
The only practices that I was even OK with were 6 a.m. practices, because eventually we would have to stop playing in enough time to go to class at 8. Still, having a 6 am practice meant we had two-a-days and yeah, that’s a good enough reason to hate those too.
Oh and don’t let us lose last night’s game by one or two points. My teammates and I would become sick to our stomachs during school dreading afternoon practice. The teammates were the only ones who could remotely understand the pre-practice illness.
It would take everything I had to make it through practice, but on game day it was worth it.
I was never tired and playing the game came easy since I was in shape. My mind was more focused in the fourth quarter than on my sore body. There were even times I passed up water during time outs just because there are more important things to worry about on the court.
We all know practice makes all the difference. Too bad it requires sore muscles, aching joints, tired feet, dry mouth, soaking shirts, abnormally fast stopwatches, yelling coaches, irritated teammates, and an exhausted mind to experience the impact it can make during game time.
Practice is a hate-love relationship. You hate the pain, but love the rewards it can bring. If you practice hard, you can play harder. All you have to do is keep pushing.