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Effort Counts Twice

I do my best to read a little bit every morning. My reading interests are generally tied to psychology, sociology and economics; that is, different topics that influence our motivation. Having hit a bit of a lull in my regular reading, I decided to thumb through one of my favorites, Grit by Angela Duckworth. In the book, Duckworth covers all of her research on motivation and achievement. She has boiled it down to "grit", rather than talent, is a much better indicator of future achievement.

What is Grit?

Grit is that sense of stick-to-it-iveness. That inner calling to dust yourself off after a failure and try again. That motivation to put in hours upon hours of practice with one specific goal in mind. In the book, Duckworth discusses the four pillars of grit (interest, practice, purpose, hope), but for now, I want to focus on her leading point: effort counts twice.

Effort Counts Twice

As lacrosse coaches, I think it's easy to let first impressions seal the deal during tryouts. The player that is already fluid with both hands and has the fastest 40-yard sprint, despite limited exposure to the game of lacrosse is going to receive a lot of attention. Said player is obviously talented, but what does this player look like at the end of the tryout session? Are they still leading sprints with pride? Are they chasing down every ground ball? The player that continues to show maximum effort at the end of practice is likely to have higher levels of achievement by season's end than simply the most talented player. Here's how we get there:

Diagram borrowed from Angela Duckworth's, Grit

Developing Skill

Talent is obviously important in this equation. Talent is our natural ability to learn new skills quickly and is ultimately what sets our maximum potential. By applying effort to that natural talent, we are able to develop skill. This is fairly easy to illustrate: a new player with naturally gifted hand-eye coordination is going to be able to develop their stick skill fairly quickly with a small amount of practice. To reach that same level of skill, a less naturally gifted player will need to be more focused and deliberate in their practice to overcome their lesser talent.

Working Toward Achievement

Now, we need to apply that skill in a competitive setting. Since both skill inputs are now equal, consider which player will perform better by reapplying their developed effort. The less gifted player required focus and hard work to develop their skill and will now be able to channel that same effort into a live-play setting, while the more naturally gifted player has not challenged themselves with the same focus and effort and may not be able to increase their effort when it comes to game time.

This is certainly an oversimplified example; not all talented players lack grit and effort. In fact, the most talented players that possess grit will ultimately yield the highest levels of achievement.

As we continue through tryouts, I will challenge all of the coaches out there to evaluate a player's GRIT in addition to their stick skills and athleticism. By season's end, those players that didn't show early talent, but a huge amount of grit will likely surprise you!


For more information on Angela Duckworth's research, I strongly recommend everyone go out and give it a read:


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