The more I learn, the more I realize the need to unlearn.
The ability to unlearn things that are actually limiting you as a player, coach or leader is the basis of a growth mindset.
If all you do is add to what you know, you end up with no identity. And when your identity is cloudy, you fail as a leader.
My friend Phil Beckner just reminded me that “you cannot give away that which you don’t possess,” and we cannot attempt to lead others into a clear identity if we don’t have one ourselves.
The poet and sculptor Degas once said, “beauty is in the rejection of things.” Coaches want great basketball players on their team. Plain and simple. And sometimes, the most effective way to learn how to become one of those great players is by understanding what you should eliminate.
Simplicity wins. The quickest way to have a better batting average in baseball is to eliminate swinging at bad pitches. The best way to make better decisions is to eliminate your worst ones. The best way to improve your players is to add constraints. Simplicity eats complexity for breakfast, and has time for a workout afterwards 🙂
There’s six common traps players fall into which derail their game and cause their careers to end sooner than they should.
Don’t do these six things. Simple.
- Don’t try to be a star –
Get good at what happens most in games. When players spend time on things that happen least, they are getting overly complex and getting a poor return on investment. Star players use combo moves, lots of isolation scoring, step backs, floaters, contested finishes and shoot from 35 feet. Your career will end when you can’t take care of the ball and make open shots. No one gets cut because they can’t make a stepback jumper.
- Don’t get screened –
One of the simplest ways to show a lack of toughness is to get hit by a screen and quit the play. It tells your teammates you aren’t giving your all and shows your coaches you lack competitiveness. Build your toughness by becoming a pest on defense that no opposing player can screen. Once you remove excuses, you improve performance.Constraint develops creativity.
- Don’t forget shooting –
Shooting is the equalizer. It’s the number one basketball skill, and developing a shooters mindset is essential to you reaching your full potential as a player.
If you’re paying money for someone to get you better, they better spend the majority of the time making you a better shooter.
Working on anything else as a primary focus is a waste of your time and money.
Shooting gets paid. See Duncan Robinson, who just signed an $80 million dollar contract.
- Don’t believe the hype –
For the players ahead of their class, or better than their peers, this is for you.
Avoid the temptation of listening to teammates, girlfriends, boyfriends, trainers, coaches, and parents hyping you up. Don’t believe the hype.
The instant you let it go to your head is the same moment you plateau as a player. Adversity strengthens. When you buy into your own story, you begin to expect comfort and ease. When you look around and don’t have adversity or obstacles to overcome, you get weak. Lean into adversity, find it and attack it.
I’ve seen thousands of players on a trajectory for success when suddenly, they fall off because they found it easy, and stayed there. They lose the hunger, work ethic, and desire to improve, which leads to them getting passed over by their peers in the next few years.
Train yourself to seek the truth, which can be found in times of adversity, not comfort. You will know the truth because it holds you accountable.
It says, “don’t get complacent. Don’t get lazy. You can do this.”
- Don’t Fit In –
If you want to be different from everybody else, do things that make you stand out. Don’t fit in.Don’t do drills at the same pace. Don’t show up at the same time. don’t follow the crowd, or you end up becoming one of them. Anyone who has done something special throughout their life has taken the road less traveled.
Victory defines a win as a habit of excellence in everything you do. Don’t look at the outcome of a game for your victory.
True victory is so much more and so much harder than winning.
Victory is a process not a destination. That’s rare, don’t fit in. Your victory defines how you show up each moment.
- Don’t be afraid to quit –
One of the worst pieces of advice is, “finish everything you start.” If Thomas Edison never moved on from his first experiment, we’d be sitting in darkness right now. If Karl Benz, who invented the automobile, never moved on from his first idea for building the car, we’d still be riding horses to work each day.
While I’m not suggesting you quit because something becomes difficult, remember adversity strengthens. I am saying, Identity is who you are committed to becoming. And you must know when quitting is the best thing you can do to become who you truly are.
Often, your time could be spent more wisely somewhere else, with someone else doing something else. Often, a drastic change of who you spend time with or where you spend your time are the keys to achieving the next level. Know when to stop working on the skill that is pointless for your game. Know when to quit hanging out with people that bring you down. Give everything you got but don’t be afraid to quit.
The best players and leaders quit losing strategies and losing people constantly. They try something new. They fail. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Perfection is the enemy of growth.
Too many coaches and players get caught in a rut because they fail at the things above. You deserve to go through your career equipped and confident to become the best coach, player or person you can be.
So, don’t sabotage your chance at greatness. Do the things that will give you the greatest chance at becoming all you were meant to be.
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