I was at the Beach this past weekend. 6th Floor. On the Water. Drinking Coffee.
And I watched a family walking down the beach as many families do when at the beach. This family had three young boys, probably 6 to 10 in age range. And they were throwing each other a football, from oldest, or tallest, to next tallest, to the shortest, who then threw it to the older/taller kid.
I watched their routine for perhaps 15 cycles. And the two youngest/shortest of the three, never once caught the ball cleanly. They fumbled it each time it was thrown to them.
Yet they persisted. They continued to attempt to catch it each time it was thrown to them. The ball being an American football, it bounced all over the beach. When they finally retrieved it, that crazy bouncing ball, they threw it. And eagerly waited for their next turn to catch the ball.
I thought about the practice each boy was getting.
Throwing. Catching, or attempting to catch, that oblong ball.
Each boy threw the ball fairly well, given their ages. But the two shortest/youngest never could catch the ball. At least during my short observation.
They had gotten down the beach quite a way and I could barely make them out, and I sat back with my morning coffee in hand, sitting on the balcony, and I imagined that at some point, on their journey down the beach or coming back up it, both of those short boys would be catching the ball, most of the time.
At some point, out of my clear view, I imagined that they would begin slowly, and catch it occasionally. And then they would catch it more often. And then almost all of the time. And then each and every time until they learned to throw it further, over each others’ heads, making the receiver run to catch it. Run further and further.
And then throwing on the run and catching on the run.
Expanding the skill set.
Of course it helped that they all wanted to learn this throwing and catching the ball. And they were willing to practice and fail. And fail. But continue to try despite all of the failures.
Maybe they didn’t feel that each dropped ball was a failure. The tallest of them didn’t seem to chastise them, the shorter ball droppers, or make fun of them as they played catch while running and skipping down the beach. He simply caught the ball and threw it, to the next tallest.
The feedback system in place silently told those two short boys that they were not catching the ball, that they were dropping it. They tried harder and harder to catch it. But they did not. Not in that round of 15 or so cycles.
But I bet they did.
I’d like to think that their diligence won out. That their persistence paid off.
That practice leads to perfection. Guided practice, yes. With appropriate feedback.
But maybe not each and every time. Perhaps that would take the fun out of it.
On break this past weekend.
# # #