educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom

I Finally Did It!


It finally hapened.

On July 18 five years ago, I compiled a list of challenges that I had to reach before my 40th birthday. That list was called my 40 by 40 list. (Click HERE to see the list.) Many of the items were completed, but there were several that were left undone.

But this morning at 7:00, one of those challenges was finally accomplished. I shot and made 20 consecutive free throws.

I actually did it twice. The day before yesterday, on the five year anniversary of creating my 40 by 40 list, I actually hit the 20 consecutive free throws. But when I went to check the video, I noticed it cut off after shot number 16 because I ran out of storage space on my smartphone. And the rule was that it doesn’t count unless all 20 free throws were made consecutively on video.

You’ll see the video in a moment, but there are five lessons I learned from doing this challenge.

  1. Deliberate Practice. When I didn’t hit my goal years ago before my 40th birthday, I abadoned the challenge. But the thing I never abandoned was a free throw drill called “Plus One, Minus One”. When I started improving on the consecutive free throws, I decided to return to the challenge this week.
  2. Consistency. There is no way to reach a goal without doing what works consistently over long periods of time.
  3. Have Good Resources and Proper Documentation.  Years ago when I started the challenge, I didn’t have a smartphone. I used a cheap Canon digital camera. It was tough because the camera was oddly shaped and there wasn’t a good place to set it up in the gym. However, having the smartphone this time made things a lot easier. About 4 years ago, I hit 19 consecutive free throws, but it wasn’t on camera so I had no proof. A couple days ago, I hit the 20 free throws, but it wasn’t properly documented because I didn’t have  enough storage space. Having the right resources, checking those resources, and properly documenting my progress helped me reach the goal.
  4. Eliminate or Manage Distractions. People would often walk on and off the court, and people were sometimes playing ball on the opposite end of the gym. I dealt with those distractions by choosing to go early in the day (at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning) when people were less likely to be a distraction. Then it became too quiet, and the distractions started to appear inside my head. I would pay TOO MUCH attention to how tired I was, or an itch on my nose, or my own internal running dialogue. The internal distractions became worse than the external distractions. This whole thing was mentally tiresome. The key was to simply focus on breathing, form, and the basket.
  5. Manage the Pressure. The hardest shots were the first shot and the final shot. I already knew that shot #20 would be tough because of the pressure to either hit it or start over from scratch. But I had no idea how frustrating the first shot would be. The thing about hitting shot #20 is that I had nineteen shots before it that helped build a rhythm and confidence. The first shot was harder because I had to establish the routine. It’s tough to explain. Try to imagine me deleting videos from my smartphone to have enough storage space, setting up the camera so it won’t fall, hitting the record button, stepping up to the free throw line, missing the first shot, and then walking back to the smartphone to reset everything. It sucked. After doing that a LOT, the pressure started to build to just make that first shot.

Okay, enough with all that. Click HERE to see the video.





One comment on “I Finally Did It!

  1. Karen Marie Peterson
    July 21, 2016

    Awesome!! This is so cool that you never gave up.

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This entry was posted on July 20, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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Soulquarian Quote of the Day

"There is no hip hop manual for growing old...The 22-year-old college grad who used to love the Roots in 1994 never left. He’s just 40 now and has a wife and kids and doesn’t feel like spending all night at a club."

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