Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An analysis.

Sorry about the ‘bland’ title. Couldn’t help it.

Anyways, what follows is a very-very long entry(around 1600+ words). It’s just me rambling. But, if you like sports, you should probably give it a read. I’ve done some analysis on Volleyball and (kind of) published my results here.

Here goes,

While we were sitting on the sidelines watching our classmates play volleyball (terribly), my friend retorted “I don’t understand this. All of us started playing the volleyball at the same time but, why are some better than the others?” I just shrugged off the question at that moment but, it sure did get me thinking. Especially after I watched like 3 hours of the Big Bang Theory(the sitcom) on the Television.

                There are a number of possible reasons for the above being true. I’m going to list them all here and explain my views about each one of them.

                Yes, it’s true that all of us started playing volleyball at around the same time(around two years ago). However, that in no way indicates the amount of time each one has spent.

                While I was thinking about all those who played well, something jumped out on me. Everyone one of them owned a volleyball. But that doesn’t mean that you’ll be good at volleyball if you own a volleyball because there’s this one kid who indeed does own a volleyball but, he isn’t that great in playing it. There must be something else behind this. That is practice. I think that’s the main thing that separates those who play well from those who doesn’t. Atleast in my case, it does.

                While other’s just played/practiced at school only, the volleyball bug caught me. I bought a ball and started practicing it at home as well. I’m no athlete, let me tell you that. But, when I catch a bug, it gets pretty crazy. Volleyball dominated my life during that time. I mean, if I wasn’t at school, I was in front of my house practicing volleyball using the walls of my house. Even when it turned dark, you could hear a constant hammering sound inside the house. That would be me banging the ball on the wall.

                I used to do it for like 1-2 hours a day. Now, I don’t know how much time I exactly spent on doing this or how much time the bug had me but, it was enough for me to be ‘better’ than the average kid at the game.
                That’s one reason, more practice.
                However, that’s not the only factor that I think led to this disparity among the students. Something called ‘motivation’/ ‘desire’ also played a big-big role.
                I’m a stickler for sports. I love playing them(not what you’d expect from a nerd eh?). I especially love team sports. When we(my class) started playing volleyball, we were complete beginners. Seriously, I didn’t know the abc of volleyball. People had to coerce me into playing it at the start but soon, as I like to say it, the bug caught me. I began finding volleyball more and more fun. I wanted to get better and better. There was a desire inside me to be better than the rest and that made me try and give my best at the game(or at practice for that matter). All the good players that my friend was hinting at, love the game. That’s what matters, you’ve got to love the game to be good at it. It’s pretty much the same for everything that you do. If you want to be good at it, start loving it.

                What else? Well, I think your agility too plays a very important role for this specific game.            

                You do know what agility means, don’t you? It basically means your ability to move around. If you are agile, you can move about pretty quickly and that definitely helps. Especially in this game. Actually, moving away from the topic, the first time I came across this particular word was when I was playing with those Pokemon cards. Each pokemon had a measure of agility and that was the first time I came across that word. See? Cartoons do help!

                Anyways, as I was saying, agility also played a very important role. At least I think it did. Now, I pride myself for being agile. I may not be able to touch the ground with my hands without bending my legs but, I can move about pretty quickly. Every time I fall, my hands move like lightning to break the fall and cause as minimum damage as possible. There have been times when I managed to duck just in time. However, you cannot call me graceful. I’m agile but, there’s not even an iota of gracefulness in me. Seriously, I might look really ‘idiotic’ while running or moving about on the court but, I get the job done! Sigh. How I wish people understood that one thing.

                Coming back, one other thing that I’ve noticed in all those who’re better in volleyball is that they’re agile. Those who weren’t sure did have a disadvantage.

                Also, your willingness to learn also matters a lot. I for one have been very open about my desire to learn volleyball. I browsed stuff on the internet, read books, asked my coach for some advice and all. Some people just didn’t want to learn and now, I see them messing it up on the court and when I tell them that I’ll be in their place because they aren’t doing it properly and the team’s suffering, they tell me “I’m learning Adarsh. Let me.” Seriously, my blood curdles when they reply that. YOU DON’T LEARN ON THE COURT! YOU’VE TO LEARN OUTSIDE IT! If you aren’t willing to put the time or efforts then you aren’t going to get well at doing that anytime soon.

                One other pet peeve that I have is that I hate it when people think somebody is watching them and try to serve in a ‘cool’ way and that serve just ends up going outside. Volleyball is not a spectator sport! Actually, it probably is a spectator sport but please don’t mind them! Stop trying to look cool while playing, it does more harm than you know of.

                There’s one last thing that I think separates those who play well from those who don’t. TEAM WORK. Those 8 letters are really really important if you want to do well in any team sport. Volleyball isn’t a game where a single player who plays really well can make up for the rest. I’ve learnt that time and again and it’s probably settling into my brain finally.

                While I was thinking all this, some unusual things came up. What I said above doesn’t explain why someone is good at serving, why someone can play the upper-arm pass okayish but is pretty terrible at the under-arm pass, why someone plays the under-arm pass extremely well but upper-arm pass not so well, why someone is an expert in the under-arm serve and not in the upper-arm serve, why some of us play better than the others?

                Now, I’m a scientist(say it's true for the time-being) and I believe that there’s an explanation for everything.(except for one thing that humans can’t fathom. I’ll talk about that later.)

                How could I explain the above? After a bit of thinking, the answer dawned upon me.

                I’d read this ‘different’ book sometime ago. It was called Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. Once I remembered it, it all began making sense. I got the answers to all of the above questions. Now, before I go any further, let me tell you this. I’d suggest you read that book but there’s a warning that I’d like to give. To some people, the book may seem ‘depressing’ but for others, you’ll be a bit dazed. I was one of those who were dazed and not an iota of depression. But, it’s a good read. Try it out, you never know which one of them you’ll turn out to be.

                The book basically deals with different stuff but, for my explanation, you just need to know one thing. When people spend more time on one thing than the others, they get better at it. If you spend round about 10,000 hours on doing something, you’ll be an expert in that particular field. But, that 10,000 hours is just an estimate. It may take 9,000 or 11,000 or maybe even more.

                Anyways, so basically, if you spend more time on doing something, you will get better at that. You are probably like “Duh! What’s new in that?” What you fail to notice is how that one thing explains all the questions that came up.            

                AAA. He’s somebody who’s good at serving. Why? When we first started playing, we were all assigned positions. Each one was given a position where he played best. AAA was in the serving position. He had this teenie-meenie advantage at the start in serving so he became the server. Now, that teenie-meenie advantage soon turned into a huge one. Why? Because, he served every single ball. He got loads of practice during the match itself and soon caught hang of it. Hence, he’s good at it.

                The same goes for the rest. The kid who’s good at the under-arm pass and not at the upper-arm pass is so because when he first started playing the position he was assigned to was the back ones. That made him use his under-arm more than his upper-arm and hence, he became good at only one skill and not the other. The vice-versa goes for the kid who’s good at the upper-arm and not at the under-arm pass. The one who serves well using the under-arm is so because he uses that serve mostly and not the upper-arm one.

                See? It all makes sense now.

Alright. Alright. I'll stop. Just get up. I don't like people touching my feet and begging me to stop #kidding.

That concludes a post that I'd written a long time ago but never really got around posting it.

Thanks for reading,


(PS: btw, I’m probably bragging a lot nowadays :P)


  1. I read the first few lines and got reminded of 'Outliers'. And loh, you had mentioned it ;)