Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Giving Up

The other night I played a couple of games of five on five, pick-up basketball (see me below making a lay-up). The teams were a random, hodgepodge of players who happened to be at the gym. I knew no one, but easily was able to assess each player after a few minutes. All players had there strengths and weaknesses. After forty-five minutes of playing you get an idea of what your teammates can and can't do and it gets a little easier to play like a team.

One player on my team stuck out because of what he did or didn't do. He wasn't the most skilled basketball player, but not everyone is. But, what stuck out was that he would just give up. When he got the ball, he made a bad pass and missed a shot. Then, he would just hang his head and stand there. He didn't hustle or try harder. He just would stop and sometimes not even walk down the court to play defense. Now, I know it is not the NBA, but put forth a little effort. I know I missed some shots and made a bad pass, too. However, I wanted to do better. I wanted to hustle for the rebound or play tighter defense to make up for the mistakes.

Giving up extends beyond basketball or even sports. It is even studied in rats and is termed 'learned helplessness' in the psychology arena. And of course, giving up is classic in fitness. By this time of year, many have given up on their New Year's resolutions (five weeks is plenty for a lot of people). I don't know why I noticed one basketball player giving up when thousands of gym-goers have given up at any given time. Maybe it is perspective. Only 10 percent (1 out 10 players) was giving up in the basketball game. In fitness, it is more like 90 percent. It is eye-opening when a someone does actually stick with a program consistently for six months.

So how about you? Have you given up on training? Have you given a small effort, failed, and then hung your head? Or, have you stuck with it for the long haul. Have you told yourself that if you work hard enough, good things will come (the Paul Bunyon syndrome). Have you realized that fitness is not a quick fix, but a life-long endeavor?


Janet said...

I appreciate your perspective on learned helplessness. I know an athlete (a wrestler) who struggles with the same problem. He seems to depend on external sources for positive reinforcement instead of believing in himself, and gets himself stuck in a downward spiral. Until he gets past this, it's unlikely that he'll reach his athletic potential.

Not sure that this fits in with giving up on training, but couldn't resist chiming in!

Janet Ziems

Slar said...

I'm giving up on being a couch potato!!! ; )

Liz said...

I think giving up on being a couch potato is allowed:) Keep up the great work