In sports, especially, it seems, football, there’s a saying that states, more or less, “Having the will to win is not the key to success. Rather, it’s having the will to prepare to win.”

I concur with that. I think it’s totally accurate. After all, everybody has the will to win, but only a veritable few have the will to prepare how to make that happen.

Little kids – even some bigger kids – never think about something like that. And even if they did, they wouldn’t understand it.

But the fact of the matter is that just about all kids do it – willfully, but unknowingly plan for success – at this time of year. I know my buddies and I did it back in the day.

I’m talking about Halloween trick-or-treating, which will be going on everywhere, in big cities, little towns and every kind of community in between.

Success at trick-or-treating is all about planning. It’s just that with kids doing it, it has another name.

When you put “free” and “candy” in the same sentence, and then push them together next to each other, it becomes a kid’s fantasy. It’s the old saying, “like a kid in a candy store,” coming true.

In thinking about it, trick-or-treating, in some ways, is better than Christmas for kids since the kids can control what they get with candy gathering. They don’t have control over the Christmas presents they get. At least they don’t have the final say.

So to make it work to their benefit, kids don’t leave a stone unturned or a detail neglected. That’s planning, in their way.

Fifty years ago, we looked back at previous Halloweens and made a mental note of which houses had the best candy, and which ones didn’t. We avoided the latter and flocked to the former.

We also figured out the neighborhoods where the houses were the closest together. The less down time, the better. It’s more productive. And it’s all about being productive.

Most trick-or-treats are scheduled to last two hours. That may seem like a long time, but it really isn’t, not when your candy-collecting fulfillment depends on it.

It gets to be a game. It’s a competition. How much candy can you get? You want to get enough to nearly burst your sack or whatever into which you’re dumping your collection. If it gets heavy enough to hurt your arms, then that’s good. There are such things as a good hurt – a good pain – ya know.

But all good things must come to an end, and when the two hours are up and the porch lights are turned off to indicate that the party’s over, it’s time to go home. Drat.

It is then, though, where the science of Halloween comes in. This is where kids learn the value of bargaining, and wheeling and dealing.

I didn’t – and still don’t – like licorice. But the kids across the street loved it. They didn’t think much of Clark bars, however, so, as we met the next day, dragging our harvest through the door in an old suitcase, that was an easy swap. It got harder to find common ground, though, when the other kid had candy that he liked, but you liked more. You had to throw in some extra stuff – such as Tootsie Pops – to sweeten the pot literally and figuratively so a deal could be struck.

At the end of the session, when there were no more trades to be made, everybody said goodbye and headed home with what would be their final take.

It was then, as you gazed upon all the candy you had gotten, that you had to determine if you had executed your plan to your full benefit. If not, then it was back to the drawing board to further hone your skills for next year.

Like in sports, in trick-or-treating, there’s always next year.