• Joel Ryan

Dude Perfect, Trick Shots, and the Power of Perseverance

Updated: Jul 2

If you’ve scrolled through YouTube at all in the past decade, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve stumbled across the viral phenomenon that is Dude Perfect. You may not know the name, but I’m sure you know their game.

They are the five, amped up, high-fiving, hat backwards, sports entertainment wunderkinds who became a YouTube sensation for their insane trick shot videos.

Using basketballs, paper airplanes, water bottles, boomerangs, hockey pucks, Nerf guns, frisbees, playing cards and countless other random household items, the members of Dude Perfect, which include the Tall Guy (Cody Jones), the Beard (Tye Toney), the Twins (Cory and Coby Cotton), and the Purple Hoser (Garret Hilbert), as they casually refer to themselves, have since turned their massive social media following into a multinational sports conglomerate with over 51 million subscribers on YouTube and close to 11 BILLION views of their trick shot, stereotype, battle, and overtime videos. That’s right. 11. BILLION. VIEWS!!!

Just putting it out there. I will buy court-side tickets to the next Lakers' game for my 51 millionth subscriber, and if this blog ever hits 11 billion views, I’ll be happy to get that person seasons tickets for life if that day ever comes. Anyway…

What started off as college roommates betting sandwiches to whoever could sink the best trick shot on their backyard basketball hoop has since turned into one of the most successful and profitable social media brands in history, earning five Christian dudes from Frisco, Texas sponsorships from companies like Nerf, Pringles, and Bass Pro Shops, appearances from sports superstars and Hollywood celebrities like Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, tennis star Serena Williams, singer Luke Bryan, and actor Zach Efron, and even the marketing power to launch an entire line of sporting goods, video games, and phone apps, all featuring the signature Dude Perfect energy and enthusiasm for sports, competition, and friendship.

So why I am writing about Dude Perfect other than the fact that I am also a competitive guy who enjoys Nerf battles, trash talk, playing games, and hanging out with my friends? What do trick shots and YouTube have to do with writers and the traditionally introverted creatives who are often the antithesis of Dude Perfect?

Well, if you’ve ever watched any of the Dude Perfect trick shot videos, which you definitely should, it’s hard not to be impressed. The margin for error for most of their trick shots is often minuscule, whether it’s a ping pong ball ricochet into a tiny cup or a blindfolded bow and arrow shot at a target a hundred yards away. Their shots get more ridiculous, more extreme, more elaborate, and more impossible with every attempt. But they always manage to hit their target. Or do they?

What we sometimes forget is that the guys of Dude Perfect actually don’t hit the target a majority of the time. We only get to see the one attempt that sinks the putt or puts the ball in the basket. But how many attempts did it take before that happened? Ten? Fifty? A hundred? Maybe more. We don’t know. Only they do.

Unless we watch Dude Perfect outtakes, most of us will never know the countless failures that went in to making each trick shot. We only see the successful attempts, edited into the final video.

So what’s the point of all this and how does it apply to writing?

Well, I think too many young writers expect everything they write to be that perfect trick shot or first attempt hole-in-one. They see the end goal, and know what they’re aiming for, but are disappointed when their work doesn’t hit their intended target.

They see the flag at the top of the mountain but not the mountain itself.

The problem is, most young writers simply haven’t accepted that failure, practice, and persistence are part of the process. They aren't patient. They just want the final celebration and believe that every amazing book they’ve read or movie they’ve see is that writer’s perfect one-shot trick shot. This is simply not the case.

As author Jason Reynolds said at a recent book signing, and I'm sure he's borrowing from someone else in saying this, "no one ever sees the blood on the floor of the ballet."

We don’t see the long nights, heartbreak, discarded drafts, countless bad ideas, and mental breakdowns “successful” writers have gone through to get their work to that target ideal.

We praise the perfect manuscript, not the five hundred crumpled up pages and rejected manuscripts on the floor of their office.

To be blunt, most young writers simply aren’t that good… yet. Most first drafts aren’t very good either. Both can get better with time, practice, improvement, and perseverance.

Unfortunately, too many young writers give up far too early. They see their target, miss the mark on their first few attempts, and call it quits. But in doing so, they’ve not only missed the mark, they’ve missed the point of what it means to be a writer.

The guys of Dude Perfect didn’t create a multi-million-dollar brand by sinking impossible trick shots on their first attempts. They were just five regular dudes willing to take as many shots as it took to make the basket. They aimed big, made the right adjustments, improved upon their mistakes, and had fun trying. And when they finally made the impossible shot, after countless attempts, they celebrate and then try something even bigger and more impossible.

So when it comes to your writing, don’t emulate just the final product. Emulate the process. See where you want to go but develop a persistent, patient process that drives those you admire to keep going and keep pushing through one bad draft and failed attempt after another.

Success isn't never failing; it's failing often and knowing how to overcome that failure.

Your writing will get better if you put in both the time and effort. You may not hit 51 million subscribers or accrue millions of dollars in sponsorships and celebrity endorsements, but you can improve your work to the point that you hit the target of quality writing you’ve been aiming for. You just have to keep throwing, keep practicing, and keep improving upon even your tiniest mistakes.

Anyway, those are my perspectives for this week. Thank you so much for reading. As always, if you liked this post, hit the heart icon below, and if you loved it, don’t forget to subscribe to Perspectives off the Page for updates and new content. And spread the word to others you think might like reading my work. Once you have, get back to writing!

Until Today, Storytellers

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