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No Shortcuts to Greatness

If you want to go far, you’ll have to practice hard & long.  Practice makes perfect as the saying goes.  Why is this?  With practice means repetition.  With repetition, one is building habits, good habits that are being refined & perfected.  In the case of sports, repetition causes muscle memory.  The more you do a repeated movement over & over the more it becomes natural & a habit.

I’ve learned a lot in the world of gymnastics these past years ever since we’ve moved to Iowa.  My youngest daughter is obsessed with it & loves practicing over & over for hours.  When she’s done at the gym for her scheduled time, she comes home & practices even more on the trampoline or on her balance beam.  She loves this stuff!  Funny thing is, she’s never even competed yet.  Why?  As of right now, these past 5 years have been merely practice perfecting movements over & over again until they’re near perfect & done almost unconsciously because of the repeated movement in building muscle memory.  If you want to compete at high levels in gymnastics, there are no shortcuts.

My youngest has one more group to advance in order to start competing at the Junior Olympic level.  Before she is advanced to this group, she needed to achieve one more skill that kept eluding her.  When watching competitions such as the Olympics, the gymnasts make this skill look easy & effortless at times.  The skill I’m referring to specifically is one of the most basic, but without mastering it, you cannot compete on the uneven bars.  It’s called the kip.

The reason you can’t compete is because it is used in so many combinations of skills on the uneven bars, including in the beginning of your routine just to be able to get onto the lower bar.  If you’ve watched on TV, you’ve seen this before.  The gymnast will jump to grab the low bar, swing their body underneath with arms extended, and on the swing back, pull themselves up above the bar with their waste resting on it.  From here they begin.

This little skill seems so simple yet one of the hardest to master.  In fact, it took gold medalist, Gabby Douglas an entire year just to master it.  The same was true for my youngest.  She was so discouraged.  For the first so many months it didn’t bother her so much.  Then fellow gymnast after fellow gymnast acquired the skill of the kip & advanced to the next group past her.  When speaking privately with us, her parents, she felt defeated at times like she would never get it.  Yet she never quit & kept at the repetition of trying to acquire this skill.  Then one sudden day an entire year later we were doing family prayer time.  She prayed, “Jesus, give me wisdom to get my kip. Amen.”  That little simple prayer is what propelled her over the top.  A few days later she did it!

One time is all it took, now she does it with ease every time since then.  Practice is important, but sometimes, we need a little something more because we don’t have the strength in ourselves to figure it out.  We’ve tried & we’ve tried & we still come up short.  After many exhausting practices for an entire year, my daughter asked for the help she needed & she got it!

There are no shortcuts to greatness.  It takes hard work, perseverance, & the right people in your corner helping you when you can’t do it anymore.  Whatever it is that’s been beyond your reach, don’t stop reaching for it.  Keep pushing forward, & if you’re willing & brave enough to do it, pray & ask that God will give you the wisdom to do what you need to do.  It may just be the extra that you’ve needed all along.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you.  He will not rebuke you for asking.” -James 1:5 NLT