FINA and USA Swimming recently banned all hi-tech swim suits that had contributed to the breaking of so many world records at the last Olympics. For a lot of athletes, this new ruling has sent them spiraling into a major crisis of confidence. No longer aided by their “fast” suits, they feel unable to compete the way that they used to.
This situation begs the question, “How much of that good game, match or race can be solely attributed to the equipment?” Sometimes athletes become too dependent upon the external trappings of their sport, i.e. a special racquet, glove, bat or suit. While the situation in swimming is very real and will definitely lower swimmers’ overall times, the power of the mental component to negatively affect your performance can not be underestimated.
The following is a story for all those athletes who have allowed themselves to become too emotionally dependent upon their “high performance” equipment:
Niccolo Paganini was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist and composer as well as one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time. A story is told of one of his more memorable performances.
Paganini takes the stage to a thunderous standing ovation that lasts a good 5 minutes. When the applause finally dies down, he gently puts his violin case on the ground and kneels down beside it to take out his concert violin, a priceless Stradivarius. However, as he opens the case, he is shocked to see that his concert violin is not in its’ rightful case. An old practice violin is there in its’ place. For some reason there had been a mix up at his home, and his priceless Stradivarius had been left behind. Paganini turns white as a ghost, puts down his practice violin and then inexplicably walks off the stage to the stunned silence of the crowd.
Five minutes later, the great musician returns, gently bends down and picks up his practice violin. Without explaining his mysterious departure from the stage, he begins to play. Within the very first few notes, those listening realize that they are being treated to one of the virtuosi’s greatest performances ever. Paginini plays with a skill and sound like never before.
At the concert’s end, he is greeted by an even longer standing ovation and deafening cheers of “BRAVO!!!!” that rock the concert hall. After everything has died down and Paganini is in his dressing room preparing to return home, there’s a knock on the door and one of his closest friends enters. The friend congratulates Paganini on his wonderful performance and then inquires about what happened at the beginning of the concert when he inexplicably walked off the stage.
Paganini explained about the violin mixup and how his concert violin was accidentally left at home. Then he turned to his friend and said, “I learned a very valuable lesson tonight. I always thought that the music was in the violin. Tonight I learned that the music is inside of me!”
It’s not the lucky socks, bat, club or glove that makes you great. It’s YOU that makes you great! The music is always inside of YOU!