To Be Perfect or Efficient: A Perspective within Elite Performance

By Stephen McCarthy, The McCarthy Project

volleyball-835890_1280Over my recent history, I have noticed a trend that athletes feel that if they are perfect, do every action more perfect than somebody else that they will become an elite athlete. Or said in a different way, the more perfect I am, I will be better than you.  Well, I hate to break it to young people, being more perfect is not the answer.  The answer is can you perform a coordinated action that produces the results needed exactly at the time you are producing those actions.

Athletes today need to realize that practicing is needed and perfecting your sport is a worthwhile goal, but the term we are looking for is efficiency in the moment, not perfection.

To further my point, click here for an interview I completed with head volleyball coach Tom Black from Loyola Marymount around the same subject.

Still looking for more information, take the following athletes:

  1. A tall person who can jump out of the gym, but does not have any sort of sport IQ.  But can produce amazing amounts of speed and power on the court or field.
  2. A relatively tall person who can jump relatively high and is not real fast, but fast enough, but can out think and read the situation faster than another athlete

Which one is the better player?  I would argue number #2.

Again, my hope is not to solve the world of sports problem with one small post, only to challenge young people to think through what and why they do what they do.  Don’t just strive to be perfect in every way and think that the good grade will correlate to success on your sport.

Lastly, quoting Michael Johnson, a Olympic gold medalist in track and field,

I want you to work the way I have, to arrive at a place where you are running your own particular races at 95,96,97 percent efficiency. And every once in a while, as with me in Atlanta, you might come within a whisper of the very limits of your ability, within sight of perfection.   -pg. 205, Slaying the Dragon

So the question is to pursue perfection realizing that getting it right all the time is not the answer, it is the pursuit or chasing of elite efficiency in the moment is the way to chase elite performance life and sport.

Bio on Tom Black:

black_tomTom Black enters his sixth season as LMU’s head coach with the start of the 2015 fall indoor volleyball season after being hired on January 19th, 2010. Serving as head coach since its inception, Black recently completed his fourth year as head coach of the LMU sand volleyball program in the spring of 2015.