Fast, Deliberate, Slow

It is exhausting for a fan to what a pitcher step off of the mound time and time again to re-read the signs, adjust his glove, his grip, his uniform, and various body parts. Put a runner on base and the agony can be exacerbated – check the runner, throw to first, check the runner, check the runner, throw to first, throw to first, check the runner, consider pitching, check the runner, throw to first…

Slow play is a problem for fans, for players, for the foursome behind you on the golf course. In golf, it has become a scarlet letter – with the AJGA monitoring the “@getcrackin Pace of Play” at events and country club members fearing reprisals of peers if they search a bit too long in the woods for a golf ball. Although it still occurs, it is rare a kind word will be heard about the athlete that acts like a tortoise when the ball is in play or he has stepped between the ropes.

Fast is good? Not typically – consider the reality that choking on the playing field is typically correlated with increased pace of actions during down time and agitated play when things “count.” Have you ever watched a tennis player race between points, picking up loose balls as if they are about to run away? Fast too often ends up hasty… and as we’ve all heard a time or two, “haste makes waste.” Making waste of precious opportunities to get ahead on the playing field is costly especially as the level of play improves.

The reality is that pace of play really is not a time thing, it is a deliberate thing. Playing as if you are James Bond strapped to a nemesis’s world ending (and you ending) device with timer counting down too often is a good sign of mindless play and avoiding simple stresses of competition. Ruminating over the ball like Sergio Garcia circa 2002 – waggle, waggle, waggle, repeat 23 more times – seems to be a good sign of fear filled perfectionism. Deliberate play lies somewhere between the two. It may even look like ‘fast” play to the untrained eye 😉

Pace of play matters – it’s good for rhythm, it’s good for the mental game, it’s good for performance. Make sure every pitch has a purpose, every play has a plan, and every swing a target – to neglect such ideas would be to drift towards mindlessness. Furthermore, reasonable comfort trumps feeling perfect over the ball and a twinge of uncertainty about the upcoming play’s outcome is part of what makes sports so exciting – settle in and play.

If your pace of play is slow, speed up and trust yourself a bit. If your pace of play is rapid fire, slow down and center yourself a bit.

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