I played water polo through high school and college in Southern California. It is among the toughest and most physically demanding sports. The goal is to swim from one end of the pool to the other, wrestle with your opponent and try to hurl a ball past a goalie into the goal, all while trying to both keep your head above water as well as remain quick and mobile. The skill set one needs to play water polo besides the obvious exceptional swimming ability is the ability to tread water with an eggbeater kick, to stay mobile by keeping your hips on the surface, out maneuvering your opponent who is trying to grab, hit and kick you, and accurately passing the ball from any position.
This last skill mentioned, accurately passing from any position, is particularly important because we usually were knocked off balance by our opponent who grabbed, hit or kicked us. Plus, if we made a bad pass, we often times turned the ball over and then our team had to sprint back to defense without an offensive opportunity due to our error. We learned the best way to keep our balance is to keep our egg beating legs underneath us for a solid foundation, keep our hips on the surface for quick mobility, and to rotate on our hips to catch, pass and shoot the ball with power.
However, sometimes we received a bad pass that would require stretching out to grab, which threw us off balance. We learned how to catch a bad pass and quickly snap back into balance. If a pass went too low behind our head, for example, we would lay back to catch it and let the momentum of the ball bring us back around to our balanced position. We called this “bettering the ball.” Bad passes were inevitable, but there was no excuse for a bad pass just because we received one. Our coach would yell, “I don’t care. Better the ball” when we complained. So we learned that one bad pass was to be expected, but the pass that followed had better correct course. We just had to better the ball.
I was reminded of the concept of bettering the ball while watching water polo in the 2012 Olympics. Bettering the ball, as it turns out, is a great metaphor for life. Every proverbial pass you receive will not be perfect. You can bet that you will receive many bad passes in your life. “I don’t care. Better the ball.” There is no excuse for allowing a bad pass to throw you off balance and cause you to throw yet another bad ball. Especially when you can use the momentum of life’s bad pass to bring you back around to balance.
The best way to keep your balance is to:
- Keep your egg beating legs underneath you for a solid foundation. For me, my faith in the Lord and Christ keeps my foundation solid. Whenever I feel off balance, I go back to my center and reset.
- Keep your hips on the surface for quick mobility. This one is tough for me, but it is paramount to be able to quickly and accurately react to any situation with a solid foundation underneath you.
- Rotate on your hips to catch, pass or shoot the ball with power. In life this means to be able to go after what you need with grace so that you can gracefully go after your goal with all your might.
I have received many good and bad passes in life. I have failed and succeeded in bettering the ball. The point is I continue trying to better the ball. Bettering the ball consistently requires a lot of time spent trying to better the ball. Through the trials of life, this means to not waste your time complaining about a bad pass or situation. This is really an opportunity to prove your self to your self. When you prove your self to your self enough times, eventually you will no longer have to, and the world will notice. Every encounter, good or bad, with school, work, loved ones, spouses, children etc., is an opportunity. As you two grow older and eventually become adults, professionals, spouses and parents I hope you will take each opportunity to better the ball and make your passes even better.
I love you with all my heart and all my soul.
~ Love Daddy