When we look back on our days of playing school sports, we're brought back to the small details: the smell of fresh-cut grass, the orange slices someone's mom brought for halftime, the scattered clapping from the sidelines, and even the rank smell of our shinguards and shoes after the game.
But beyond these wistful sense memories, what we remember with clarity are pep talks from our coaches, littered with phrases -- and often, cliches -- that somehow became our personal mantras.
We've partnered with Sony's "When The Game Stands Tall," in theaters August 22, to bring you some of the nuggets that have stuck with us over the years.
It Is What It Is.
Image: Fabulous Femme
USAGE: Often invoked after a team loss to stem the tide of tears and tantrums. Frequently followed up with ice cream sundaes.
LESSON: When you’re a kid, nothing feels more unfair than trying your hardest and coming up short. This tautology allows you to accept reality and move on. “We lost,” says Coach. “Let’s get over it. Do you want chocolate or vanilla?”
USAGE: Recited ad nauseum to the opposing team as a show of good sportsmanship after the game. Usually accompanied by a waist-level high-five (see above). Occasionally uttered in the same tone you used when your parents told you to say “I’m sorry” like you really meant it.
LESSON: Graciousness in the face a loss -- or a win -- can be extremely difficult. But sportsmanlike conduct serves you well in all areas of life.
It’s Not About Whether You Win Or Lose, It’s How You Play The Game.
USAGE: Fodder for pre-game pep talks. This is one of those phrases that never made much sense: Everyone knows that by its very definition, a game is about winning or losing.
LESSON: If you want to walk away from a match with your head held high, avoid unsportsmanlike conduct (playing dirty, cheating, name-calling) and focus on giving your best effort.
You’re Only As Strong As Your Weakest Link.
USAGE: In a practice setting, this encouraged stronger players to share their talents with others. Instead of disparaging a less experienced teammate for “dragging the team down,” this encouraged you to make that weak link stronger.
LESSON: Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork.
Practice Makes Perfect.
USAGE: Frequently associated with pain or discomfort. Yelled during particularly strenuous drills, from 400-meter repeats to hill workouts to “quick feet” exercises.
LESSON: Drills are tedious by design, encouraging muscle memory and mental stamina. The hard work pays off.
The Closest Distance Between Two Points Is A Straight Line.
USAGE: Used to put a stop to showboating or an aimless offense. Your coach sits you down and reminds you of a little thing called the Pythagorean theorem.
LESSON: You’re making things way harder than they need to be. Don’t let distractions get in the way of your goal, whether it be literal or figurative.
Don't Work Harder. Work Smarter.
USAGE: Heard most frequently in the weight room, this is the updated version of "no pain, no gain." While you might be tempted to exercise to exhaustion -- and injury -- Coach reminds you to be more strategic about your efforts.
LESSON: Sure, you can always be better, faster and stronger, but you won't be able to do anything if you run yourself into the ground.
Let's Go Back To The Fundamentals.
USAGE: After a whistle, in the midst of a sloppy practice. This usually leads to groaning and whining, as it means walking through a play for the millionth time, doing conditioning drills, or running until you drop.
LESSON: No matter how good you think you are, you've gotten there by building a strong foundation. Don't forget to maintain it.
Make sure you check out Sony's "When The Game Stands Tall," out in theaters August 22.