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Playing Up

In sports, playing up is a core skill to improving your game. 

I remember as a student at Moody Bible Institute, watching scrub players play pick-up basketball with visiting NBA players. The scrub played better basketball because of the NBA players. They made shots they didn’t normally make. They played better defense. They saw the court better. When playing with 2 NBA players on their team they looked like a Division 1 ball player.

A few years ago I volunteered at a PGA Tour event. I kept score for the Pro-Am and watched a single PGA Tour player make the rest of his foursome better. (One guy went -8, 64!) They drained putts from 30 feet. They made smart decisions when their ball ended up in trouble. And they all were surprised by their scores. The PGA Tour player pulled the guy who shot 64 and told him to try to qualify for the Tour.

Even as a high school coach I always wanted my freshmen and JV players to play up against the varsity any time I could. And we intentionally pitted our league champion golf team against the best teams in the state knowing they would likely get beat. Why? Because even if they lost it would make them better players.

When you play with better competition your own game will always elevate.

Rise and shine

Here’s the deal. It doesn’t matter what you do for a living– you need to play up to improve your game. 

I learned the power of this a long time ago and it’s paid of for me over and over again.

Want to be a better writer? Play up.

Want to be a better designer? Play up.

Want to be a better speaker? Play up.

Want to be a better husband? Er, don’t play up there. Love your wife.

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3 Responses to Playing Up

  1. Ben Patterson November 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    I really like this concept, but it’s rooted in comparison. How does it play out in a ministry setting?

    • Adam McLane November 3, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

      I’m not really sure that comparison is altogether and necessarily bad. I think this plays out pretty easily in a ministry setting. Are you asking to do things that are beyond yourself? One example, I preached in “big church” many times and I think that made me a much stronger communicator with my students. 

      • Ben Patterson November 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

        Alrighty, I appreciate the “asking to do things beyond yourself” aspect of your reply. 

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