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Aggressively Purposeful vs Passively Purposeful - January 24th 2020

How many athletes are aggressively purposeful with their movement during competition? How many athletes are passively purposeful?

 I was a varsity wrestler all 4 years of high school. Put me up against a kid I knew I was better than, I would flatten the lad. Put me up against a kid I considered to be my equal, I would perform well enough to win 60 percent of my matches. Put me up against a kid I knew (thought) was better than me and I probably should have stayed on the bench. The difference was confidence (obviously) and purposeful movement.

 When I think back to those days, I remember feeling no fear against a lesser opponent. I would know exactly what I wanted to do and I would execute on it. No hesitation. Every move was setting up another move. It was purposeful. When the pressure was on and I was up against a bigger challenge, I would panic and resort to some pattern of movement that was really more about avoiding embarrassment than attempting to win.

 Aggressively purposeful movement is driven to succeed. Passively purposeful movement is driven by the need to avert total disaster and embarrassment.

 Lets say you are a high school soccer player and you find yourself battling with an athlete who is stronger and faster than you. A passively purposeful athlete might resort to fouling the opponent to prevent disaster or they might make a panicked play with the ball to prevent a turnover.

 How would an aggressively purposeful athlete handle the same situation? She would recognize the speed/size difference and figure out how to minimize the difference. If two athletes sprint 10-yards from the same starting position at the same starting speed, the faster athlete is obviously going to win every time. But, what happens if the faster athlete starts in an unbalanced position? What happens if the slower athlete gets to start their sprint a second before the faster athlete? Suddenly, things are a bit more level and the weaker, slower but aggressively purposeful athlete can make some plays.

 When I watch my athletes on the field/court, I overhear parents marvel over how much faster, stronger, more talented some athletes are. And it is true that there are some genetically blessed high school athletes roaming the field, however, most of these kids are not all that dissimilar from their peers. What some kids are missing is that aggressively purposeful movement to their game.

 This isn’t a physical skill like shooting a basketball or mastering sprint mechanics. There are no “drills” that can be performed 100 times a day for mastery. Developing this skill takes time and a lot of purposeful practice. This is why I like to use drills where athletes are put up against other athletes who are faster or stronger, or we might use some sort of game in a 3 vs 2 set up. I want these kids to learn how to become problem solvers and thinkers in competition. Figure out how to overcome an opponent who has some physical advantage over you. If you can learn to have an aggressively purposeful mindset on the field, you will be hard to stop!



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