The fuel for the Inferno of Success

  • April 8, 2018
Pakmen Volleyball Players

Kaushik Chatterjee
Researcher at Pakmen

Commitment is what fuels success. It is what builds the roads needed to get to your destination. Without commitment, all other components of achievement are voided. Commitment is required in all aspects of life: your education, your job, your friends; everything. And there is perhaps no clearer dictation of the weight of commitment than in sports. Volleyball is a pristine example of this. In order to achieve success in volleyball, you must first understand the commitments required. Not only is there an individual commitment, but a team commitment too.

We look at player commitment first. In volleyball, a select set of skills must be mastered. These basic skills are passing, spiking, serving, and hitting the ball. Every player must master these skills. Sounds easy enough – what’s there to be so committed? Anyone can learn these skills, but not everyone can master them. When you master a skill, it means that when it matters, you’ll make that shot. You know the skill in and out, so when it comes to game play you can improvise and adapt. Every individual skill must be mastered in order to become a complete volleyball player. And, again, this all comes down to commitment.

What does this mean? Surely, you can’t just declare yourself committed and you’re an all star suddenly. Commitment means waking up at 5:00 AM just to get in the extra practice before school. It means reading through magazines and books in your free time. It means putting the game above everything else. You wake up, thirsty for more. You don’t want to be the best; you need to be the best. You ensure that you practice and perfect every skill required, even if it kills you at the end. This may sound extreme (and, indeed, rather cutthroat) but if you truly love the game, all of this will come effortlessly. You’ll want to spend hours on the court, rehearsing every skill. You’ll want to read every book available. You’ll want to push yourself past the limit. All for the love of the game.

We’ll come back to the ways you can achieve mastery of individual skills. For now, however, we shift our focus to team skills. Unity forms the foundation upon which a team is built. Teamwork is an art; it incorporates communication, leadership, experience, courage, and knowledge. If a team is able to master all five of these aspects – you build not a team, but an army. When you look in the Olympics, this is what you see. Players moving like clockwork, communicating and displaying unbelievable feats of athleticism.

To achieve this level of play, it requires commitment. From every single player. Every player must be committed to constantly improving themselves (see above), and have a burning passion for the game. All the other five players must display this. When you see a union of six dedicated competitors, it is beauty in motion. Now, there is a second part of this. The team must understand it’s internal components. Every player has their own unique niche; the team must evolve to incorporate these distinct niches. The team must practice every free second they have – a lot of university teams practice for 2 hours every single day. And they practice hard. Commitment here is having the motivation to meet with other players, and practice a variety of drills at an intense pace. Testing different formations, different patterns, finding the best position, etc. – all of this is hard work. Only a team with extreme commitment will ensure that no area is left untouched. This is a team which wins; a team of champions.

If you are committed, and enjoy the game, then you will find you level of play increase at a rapid pace. If you truly want to become world class at volleyball, then you must dedicate 10,000 hours of meaningful practice. This comes from an intense study done by Anders Ericsson in 1993. It took place at the “Hochschule für Musik” [a music school in Berlin]. He divided the students into three groups: those aspiring to be solo performers, those striving to tour with an orchestra, and those striving to be music teachers. The ones aspiring to be solo performers all had 10,000+ hours of dedicated practice. This rule can be traced to a multitude of successful personnel. In order for you to truly be the best, you must dedicate at least 10,000 hours. It’s recommended that you practice for 1,000 hours a year for 10 years (~2.7 hours a day).

Commitment is what fuels the fire of success. It is what keeps the embers of a team alight. We have seen exactly what commitment means, and how there can never be success without commitment. But in order to demonstrate commitment, you must love the game. If you love the game, you’ll find the hours of practice just fly by. You’ll want to keep going long after the lights close. Even if you’re amazing at something, you’ll never excel unless you love it. Sports are a beautiful medium of expression, and this is demonstrated most clearly in team sports. The passion, the drive, and the commitment. It’s truly a beautiful journey to the top.

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