Recently I was listening to ESPN Radio in my car and ex-quarterback turned announcer Trent Dilfer provided the following "analysis" of [an unnamed quarterback]. It sounded more like advice than analysis, and it struck a cord in me, so I thought I would share. Here it is, paraphrased:
Work ethic might be part of it, because you might think you're working hard, but you're not working hard enough. Dilfer says he was the same way earlier in his career. He thought he was working hard, but didn't realize there was a whole other level of hard work. You have to talk to the right people and be introspective. You can stay after hours, do some reps, and watch some extra film and think you're putting in extra time, but there's a whole other level that comes with perfecting your craft. Every single day you're working on your mechanics because confidence in your mechanics leads to confidence on the field. You don't just watch film, you dig through layers of it and go deep into it and come up with every contingency plan for every look you'll see. You don't go back to California in the off season, you stay and work with your teammates.
So how many of us work on our mechanics every day? How many of us study the rulebook every night? Analyze video during the off season? Work on our conditioning?
I realize that although amateur umpires are paid, it is still more hobby than vocation. But on the other hand there is PRIDE, and WORK ETHIC, and COMMITMENT. We all want to be great umpires, but there is a price to pay to get there.
The point is that improving your skills takes hard work and a time commitment. Attending a camp or clinic every year, typing a clever response on an umpire message board, or perusing the BRD while on the can is not enough. You have to work hard enough, even when no one is watching and it doesn’t seem to matter to anyone else.