The essential follow through

Sometimes we do things without really thinking, and they just become habits.

Especially in sports.

I’ve played sports my entire life, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the term “follow through.” In basketball, you have to follow through when you shoot; in baseball, you’re supposed to follow through with your swing after you make contact with the ball and when you throw the ball; in golf, you follow through with your swing, as well; in volleyball, you don’t just serve the ball and stop your arm motion once you hit it—you follow through with that serve; in tennis, you swing your racket and follow through as you hit it over the net; in soccer, you follow through with your kicks by continuing your leg motion; quarterbacks have to follow through with their throwing arms in their efforts to hit their receivers; and I’m sure there are many more examples to go along with these.

Simply put, the “follow through” in sports is essential in order for physical actions to be executed properly and to the fullest potential. I’m sure there is some science behind it, but I’m not really interested in that. (Side note: I read an article on the MIT School of Engineering website that argued the follow through is not needed in golf. I’m curious to see how this professor does on the fairways.) From everything I have been taught in life, though, I just know that following through is necessary.

Follow through on punches
Follow through on punches

And this goes beyond sports.

I can think of many times in life when people have said things to me and never followed through with those things, and I know I have done the same to others, as well. “Hey, let’s go grab a cup of coffee soon.” “We should do dinner next week.” “We definitely need to get together and catch up!” “Let me get your number so we can hang out soon.” Yet, those things don’t always happen. It’s like we just get caught up in the moment and, whether we have intentions actually to do these things or not, we make suggestions or promises that we don’t keep.

But there are hearts involved in these situations, not just sports science.

What if you ran into an old friend who said y’all should get together and then never followed through with catching up with you? What if one of your close friends made plans with you and then didn’t follow through and make time for you? What if a guy told he was going to call you and didn’t follow through with doing so? What if you went to a church and filled out the “Get to Know You” card, but no one followed through with actually reaching out to you to get to know you? How would it make you feel if you were on the receiving end of these things? Or, even further, what if you were the one not following through with examples such as these?

How are real-life relationships supposed to be successful if we are constantly not following through with things we say we will do?

If you doubt my claims on the importance of following through in sports, according to a coach who posted on an Internet forum—and it’s on the Internet, so it obviously must be complete truth—a follow through (though he spells it “thru,” the cool way) in basketball reminds players of proper shooting form, because the ball will always go in the direction in which the hand sends it. Therefore, he says it helps with shooting accuracy. Similarly, I think it can be argued that our own follow throughs can help show us if we are living as genuinely as we should be. If you have no follow through whatsoever, then your form probably could use some adjustments. I think it all boils down to something simple: Mean what you say, and say what you mean.

Again, we are all imperfect and are sure to mess up on following through with things. Truth be told, life happens and often distracts us from some of our original intentions. However, I think we could all be better about trying to live intentionally and not just say things we don’t mean. Sure, it was funny in FRIENDS when Chandler couldn’t not say, “I’ll give you a call sometime” to Rachel’s boss, though he blatantly said he wasn’t actually going to do so, but something like that really isn’t very humorous in real life—especially if you’re in the shoes of the boss.

In sports, improving the follow through takes practice, which takes time. But you make time for the things you want to make time for in life.

Even if it seems no one around you really cares much about the follow through, just know that there is Someone who follows through with everything He ever promises.

And His shot is one that hits nothing but net every single time.

I love you, and I mean that

Far too often in life, people say things that they don’t actually mean.

And words are some of our most powerful weapons.

The movie Diary of a Wimpy Kid was on television over the weekend, and I was watching the first part of it until the NBA Tip-Off show came on before the game. The main character said something that made me laugh but then also made me start to think. He was referring to hearing a conversation in the hallways of middle school, and he said something along the lines of, “I don’t understand why girls our age can’t just talk like normal people.”

Welcome to the beginning of years of confusion, kiddo.

I think it’s really important to put meaning behind the things we say. If we pay someone a compliment, I think it should have sincerity behind it and not just be a way either to get a compliment in return or to flatter someone as a means of selfish intentions.

“Mean what you say, and say what you mean” shouldn’t just be a trite expression.

As much as I hate to admit this, there’s a huge population of people who tend to say one thing and mean something completely different: women. “No, I’m not mad.” “This dress makes me look fat.” “It’s not that important.” “It’s really cold in here.” “Give me two minutes.” “I don’t mind where we go eat.”

Much of the time, those things are translated differently than what your ears hear. “I’m very mad and even more upset that you don’t know why.” “Tell me how good I look. Now.” “It’s probably the most important thing in the world, and there’s no way I’m exaggerating about that.” “Turn off the AC, stat.” “This could take a while.” “I really only want to go where I want to go.”

I’ve never been in a relationship, so I’ve never used girl language in that regard, but I know there have been times in the past even with some of my friends when I’ve said things that perhaps I didn’t completely mean. But I’ve learned over the years how important it is to be upfront, because I’ve also been on the opposite end where people have told me things that they didn’t mean.

And that hurts.

While I don’t think people should be flat-out cruel with honesty–like saying, “Geez, your hair sure has seen better days”–I do believe in honesty that is genuine and pure. For instance, if you’re not interested in a person, it is better to let that individual know early on rather than leading him or her on and breaking a heart even worse later. Trust me, insincere intentions and broken promises are more powerful than we often realize. Sure, sometimes life happens, and you can’t always live up to what you say, but there’s a difference in that and knowing you won’t follow through with the words coming out of your mouth.

Mean what you say.

I also think we sugarcoat our own feelings when people ask us how we’re doing. A lot of the time, it feels like saying, “Great, thanks. You?” is simply the expected response. I don’t think it’s necessary to pour your heart out to a random person, but I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with responding with, “Well, things are kind of rough right now, actually,” when a friend checks in with you.

Say what you mean.

The poor kid in the movie just didn’t understand girls, and who can blame him? I think too many things are misunderstood because of what we say–or what we don’t say. If you say, “I love you,” mean it, because love is pure and shouldn’t be a word carelessly tossed around without true meaning behind it. The way that love is lived out will reveal how strong the meaning is behind the word.

In my efforts to live a life of more boldness, I’m trying to be more intentional with my words. So, hopefully if I ever get a boyfriend, he won’t have to have a decoding book handy to try to determine what I’m trying to tell him. It shouldn’t be that complicated.

Words are incredibly powerful, and the more meaning we allow them to have, the more beautiful this world will be.