One Surefire Way to Improve Yourself!

One Surefire Way to Improve Yourself!

logo for One Surefire Way to Improve Yourself post 6.9.15

I grew up playing soccer from the age of five around the neighborhood and at parks, even having the privilege of starting for a college team!  I truly enjoy the game and coaching our kids and watching World Cup and Major League Soccer, etc.  And if you apply the principle I learned from a Columbian soccer coach I had during junior high to your life, you will improve.

Hugo and Julio Zabala were brothers and I had the chance to play under them both.  Their skills with a soccer ball were impressive.  Juggling a soccer ball is the act of bouncing it on  thigh, head, chest, and feet while keeping it in the air.  It comes in quite handy on the field when it’s time to receive and control the ball after someone has passed or punted or thrown it to you.  And I remember the first time I saw Hugo Zabala juggling a ball before practice began.  It was poetry in motion, looking effortless and graceful and teasing and taunting me to learn that skill!

We ran our drills and laps, then scrimmaged a bit.  When the end of practice came, I couraged up to ask, “Coach.  Will you teach me to juggle like you?”  In his thick accent he spoke of how important it was and how it could set a player apart from their teammates and opponents.  Then he explained it had to be practiced constantly to truly develop it.  And my first lesson was to do only ONE THING.  Hold the ball in front of my face, drop it, bring my leg up  to meet it and hit it so it came straight back up to my hands.  He showed me.  It looked boring, not nearly as cool and impressive as all those combinations he’d been doing earlier.  I started to say, ‘But…’ but he interrupted to ask if I ‘really’ wanted to learn it.  I said yes and he said, ‘Do it again.’  I did it about ten times as he watched.  Then he demanded I do the same with my left leg.  I chased the ball a lot as that ‘weaker side’ could not complete the task very cleanly.  Then Hugo stated that for me to really juggle well, I needed to do that one thing for a whole week and do it hundreds of times on each leg every day.

I followed his advice.  And by the fall start of the next season, I could juggle pretty well.  That season, Coach Hugo said that the player who could juggle the most touches at the end of the season would be treated to a steak dinner.  I could have cared less about the steak; I just wanted to win.  And I did.  Over 500 consecutive touches, beating out the next best guy by several hundred.  It was a proud moment and still is.

What does this mean to you?  How can my prowess with a soccer ball help you improve your life?

Aside from impressing you with a bit of juggling, here it is.


[shareable cite=”@pastorphillip” text=”Focus and repeat. “]After you’ve decided what is most important to pursue, shut out other things and practice it.[/shareable]

I cannot enumerate for you the hundreds of hours I spent juggling a soccer ball in our yard, basement, schoolyard, campground, and soccer practices.  It was a LOT.  And the result was IMPROVEMENT.

You must practice what you know is most important.  Whatever it is, tune out other things and focus on the skill or endeavor you want to improve.  Unless you do this, mediocre will describe your capacity with it.  Some things are worth our best efforts and many things are worth tuning out!


Some really smart people who study behavior and skill development have posited the theory that until someone has repeated a skill some 1,000 times, they cannot be a ‘master’ of it.  I bet you are a master of a number of things.  Brushing your teeth comes to mind.  Putting on a seat belt (I hope).  Speaking English probably for most of my readers!

When you want to really ‘own’ a certain skill – to improve in a certain area of life – you must repeatedly act on it!  Choosing attitudes, words, and habits that are focused and repeated will definitely improve your life.

The writer of Proverbs pointed to this principle too.

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!  It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers up its food at harvest.”  (Proverbs 6:6-8 NIV)

Have you ever seen an anthill where ants are having a cookout with music and volleyball?  Any observations of ants spending hours on their XBOX or binging on Netflix?  While this might seem ridiculous for me to ask, why shouldn’t we ask it about OURSELVES?  You don’t have to give up everything to improve your life, but you will have to give up something!  A 7-hour binge of even the greatest television show ever created will NOT improve your marriage… or your health… or your devotion to Jesus Christ… or your command of another language… or a musical instrument…

If you want to improve your life, you must decide what’s genuinely most important, focus on it, and repeat.

If you are looking to improve your soccer juggling skills or your faith in God or grasp of Scripture, give me a call and we can work together on any combination of those!

Take care and juggle well,


P.S.  I kind of glossed over the selection of what’s most important.  It is the starting point.  I’ll toss one hint then write another post to address it.  If God, who created all that we ever experience including our own life, says it’s important, it is.

More from Phillip – click here.

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