Character strengths such as hope, perseverance, creativity, and zest are but a few traits which, when habituated, provide Culver student-athletes the greatest opportunity to improve performance and enjoyment. Hope is about goal-setting and optimism, creativity is about finding alternative strategies to improve performance, and zest is about the enthusiasm that players and coaches bring to the field.

Culver student-athletes who has developed a strong character can call on a foundation of well-formed habits in aspiring to true excellence. The competition of the sports arena, together with a personal goal to optimize performance, challenges the athlete to continually stretch his or her abilities through deliberate practice, a focused and effortful rehearsal. Peter Greer, former headmaster of Montclair Kimberley Academy, said that we must will good habits and improved skills; we can’t just wish them to happen. What separates successful performers from others is the ability to make the most of what they can control in their aspirations for optimal performance. This doesn’t mean that anyone can become an elite athlete, but it does mean that athletes can strive to perform to the best of their ability levels – aspiring to excellence as individuals and as members of a team. Malcolm Gladwell’s August 1999 article in The New Yorker, “The Physical Genius,” supports these assumptions. The “physical genius” wills performance, rather than wishes it. Deliberate practice requires concentration and doing what needs to be done. This provides the athlete with the knowledge of what to do at the right moment on the playing field. Gladwell writes:

What sets physical geniuses apart from other people, then, is not merely being able to do something but knowing what to do – their capacity to pick up on subtle patterns that others generally miss. This is what we mean when we say that great athletes have a “feel” for the game, or that they “see” the court or the field or the ice in a special way. If you think of physical genius as a pyramid, with, at the bottom, the raw components of coordination, and, above that, the practice that perfects those particular movements, then this faculty of imagination is the top layer. This is what separates physical genius from those who are merely very good.

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