This past week (and upcoming one) has had us driving A LOT. We started in Redding, CA and finished the last show in Walla Walla, WA. I am actually writing this while driving mindlessly from Walla Walla to Helena, MT. After many comments people have made about a previous posting related to not having time to see anything, I am happy to report that we have decided to take the scenic route and are driving along US 12 which happens to be the Lewis & Clark trail. The last couple hours have been spent driving right next to a river and I must admit, it has been gorgeous. We had the option of driving north to Spokane and taking the Interstate, but I’m glad we didn’t.

Just as night was falling on our drive, we spotted a teenage boy with a weed whacker doing his deal to the side of the road. I couldn’t help but stare because there was NOTHING around. We drove almost a half-mile along neatly trimmed grass before coming across the driveway he started at. What would possess a young man to spend his Friday night whacking weeds when there were probably hundreds of other things he would rather have been doing? I’m sure it wasn’t by his choice that he was out there, maybe it was a job, maybe it was his parents ,who knows? The point is he was out there whacking weeds whether he saw any point in it or not.

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to work with thousands of people around the world teaching jump rope. Normally I teach a session for people after they have seen a performance and it never fails, they all want to learn the flashy hard stuff. There is also one other constant, I never teach them those skills right away, if ever. Difficult skills are always the culmination of countless hours practicing the small, tedious tricks. Do you want to learn a difficult skill like the Scooby-doo? You had better spend the time to Master the following skills: E.B., Inverse-Toad, Criss-Cross and the Quadruple Under. If you can’t do all of these skills without thinking, you’ll never be able to pull off the advanced version.

I’ll never forget watching Karate Kid and seeing Daniel-son painting the fence, waxing the car, etc. He had no clue why he was doing those things, but they were an integral part of his training, designed by the master to make sure he was ready for the hard stuff. If you’ve got a coach telling you to do something that seems unnecessary, do it anyway. Whether you understand why is irrelevant, there’s a reason they’re spending so much time on the basic jump, or the cross, or whatever. If you want to do the flashy stuff, you have to be able to do the easy stuff proficiently.

Take the time to master the small stuff and you’ll find that the difficult skills aren’t as scary as they could be. Whack weeds for miles, you’ll be amazed at how far the tedious stuff will advance you.

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