December 10, 2014

Are You A "Pat on the Back" Or "Kick in the Butt" Type of Player?

Me trying to pull off the "totally natural" pose in my number 3 jersey.
(Whatever the opposite of "nailed it" is, I did that.)

Yesterday morning on Mike and Mike (a sports talk show, for those who don't watch ESPN), the Mikes were talking about Colin Kaepernick (the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, for those unfamiliar with the Mikes).

Specifically, the Mikes were discussing how Colin needed a hug because Colin is a "pat on the back, not a kick in the butt" type of player and Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers' coach, works exclusively via butt kicking. (See below.)

Now, although I know that NFL players are supposed to be big, burly, beef-jerky-eating men, I couldn't help but feel for Colin... Because I am the exact same type of person.

You see, I have never been motivated by criticism, something that every one of my former coaches quickly learned. Whereas some girls needed that "kick in the butt" to get them to concentrate on their foul shot technique, I would essentially shut down if a coach yelled across the court that my free throws were horrible.

Scratch that; I'd shut down if my coach even hinted that my free throws were slightly inadequate.

And the reason is pretty simple: I always knew when I messed up and my response to this knowledge was usually self-doubt. Whereas some girls would make a bad pass and think, "That pass wasn't that good," or even, "That was a great pass! Someone should have been there waiting for it," my line of thought usually went something like, "What a bad pass. No, what a horrible pass. No respectable passer would have ever made such a disgraceful pass. What kind of passer am I? Maybe I don't deserve to be passing."

Now, usually what would happen is that my next pass would be alright and my fears of being an incompetent passer would subside. But if my coach yelled at me for my bad pass before I was able to make a good one... well, my suspicions would be confirmed: I was indeed a bad passer.

And then I would not be able to pass for the rest of the game.

Luckily, my skin is a bit thicker now than my high school shooting guard days. (Frankly, DC law firms don't exactly hand out self-esteem stickers.) I've learned that often times, the pass wasn't as bad as you thought it was and more importantly, that just because you make a bad pass doesn't mean you're a bad passer.

But it will always be something I need to work on because my inner-Nicole is a tough son-of-a-bitch and will really go to town if I let her. And nothing gets inner-Nicole fired up with the self-doubt like a good 'ol kick in the butt.

So Colin, if you're reading this, consider this your virtual back pat. Don't let inner-Colin get you down; it was just a bad pass.