Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gotta Have Game Time

Gotta Have Game Time

Fundamentals are so important. Basic skills of a sport laying the foundation of good play should be studied and practiced. However, they cannot be perfected unless there is some game time. Little Junior has had somewhere around 14 years of sports experience (and therefore Mom has had 14 years of sitting-in-the-stands-watching experience). I’ve noticed there can be holes in both the foundation of fundamentals and the perfection of skills if there is an imbalance of training and game time. I’ve seen kids thrown in the game without training of fundamentals. They typically emerge with bad habits that either (1) limit their abilities (2) hinder their progress or (3) set them up for injury of themselves or others. Conversely, I have seen kids practice fundamentals over and over, taking lessons, doing drills without being given much game time. They (1) get discouraged and quit every sport they try or (2) get so nervous in the game that they forget their skills and end up out of the game…..again.

Relationships are much the same. You have to have, “game time.” To perfect lessons learned and skills developed, you have to get in the game and allow yourself to play through the stress. The game shows our gaps and the gaps of the opponent. The game is fluid….it’s always changing and causes you to tinker with your skill and style at a second’s notice.

As The Man and I have reached the place where we are thinking of ourselves as a couple and not just “hanging out,” I have been surprised that all of the bad habits I have “gotten over,” start to reappear. This reappearance (much like the reappearance of a once thought dead soap star) has alarmed me and has set the stage of a few tense moments in the past few weeks. Listening skills I knew were perfected seemed to float out the window in the heat of a debate, encouraging words disappear from my vocabulary, once eradicated expressions of, “fine” and “whatever” have reappeared with a vengeance.

What has happened? Why have I reverted to old relational habits? I have been practicing, learning, trying……… why are they back?

After a conversation with The Man about soccer….it hit me. He was talking about kids and sports and the need for game time. The Man spoke of the importance of playing under the stress of a game and how it changes everything. Split decisions have to be made - - last second modifications based upon the other player have to be done. He said that nothing can compare to the lessons learned in the game.


It’s not that I haven’t learned new habits…….it’s not that I haven’t changed my playing style……however, I need “game time” to perfect those skills (as does he). The stress of a relationship - how much time is spent together, unmet or unrealistic expectations, hurt feelings, differences of opinions….all these things put into practice the lessons we have learned. Sometimes we will fail…..sometimes the old habits will come back.....sometimes the game is just hard….. If we take our toys and move on….if we quit playing…if we give up…..our skills will never be perfected. It takes time….but in the words of my horse trainer, Linda Black…..”I take the time now so that I don’t have to the time later.” In other words, if I allow myself extra time now (even if it is inconvenient) to work through issues and not sweep them under the rug, they will not keep reappearing…..getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Quite the converse! If The Man and I take the time now to work through issues that come up in our relationship in a healthy way, those issues will get smaller and smaller and smaller until they are but blips on our radar.

Besides……it’s much more fun to play the game than merely practicing our skills or watching others play!!

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