I thoroughly enjoy watching the movie Training Day. To quickly summarize the film, Agent Alonzo Mosley (Denzel Washington, Academy Award Winner) takes Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawk) out in force and shows him the corrupt side of narcotics detective work. Although it was supposed to be a day of indoctrination, Ethan Hawk was forced to defend his life. As a result, Training Day could have been renamed Game Day. At one point, Denzel Washington declares, “This is chess, it isn’t checkers.” So true! Checkers is a game that requires little preparation, strategy, or patience. Chess, on the other hand, is a game that requires all the aforementioned assets, and the only way to becoming proficient is through training.

One sport that is analogous to life, regarding training days and game days, is professional football. It is similar because there are far more training days than actual game days. Pre-season withstanding, there are seventeen weeks during the season. If we eliminate the rest days and travel days, then there are approximately 90 to 95 training days and just 16 actual game days. Five-time pro-bowl selection Sterling Sharpe, once rhetorically asked, “What did you do on Wednesday?” His point was that some players became so caught up thinking only about the game day that training days were neglected. Game days are often viewed as the most important, when in reality, game days are merely reflections of the culmination of training days.

Kaizen is the Japanese term for continuous improvement. In the 1950’s, Toyota popularized this philosophy by focusing each worker’s attention on the achievement of short-term goals. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are training for our game days in our chosen endeavor. Similar to Kaizen, the importance of training days is most easily conveyed as an attitude.

The correct attitude begins by viewing training days as opportunities to improve rather than punishments, inconveniences, or chores. Next, every training day should establish what aspect we will improve in our chosen passion. We could focus on a myriad of ways to improve, from enhancing technique, increasing physical or mental toughness, increasing competitiveness, improving our attitude, or finishing strong. Often, Training days are actually hidden within Game days. My massage therapist is a competitive marathon runner and recently mentioned entering a race every month as a way to improve actually racing. Once we identify aspects for improvement for specific training days, then each time we embark on any task will serve as an opportunity to improve.

“The Tour de France is actually won in December and January”- Lance Armstrong

Start Strong…Finish Strong…

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Bell is a professor, sport psychology consultant, and caddy on professional golf tours. Dr. Rob Bell is committed to helping athletes and coaches develop the mental toughness necessary to acheive their best.

Rob Bell, PhD, Professor of Sport Psychology at Ball State University, can be reached at (865) 591-7730 or robbell@bsu.edu. Visit the website at drrobbell.com © 2009