I have been a part of teams that have won championships at every level; as highschoolers we won the state championship, as college athletes we won championships, and as a college coach we won championships. I have also been a part of teams that have been the worst in the conference – both as a coach and an athlete. Through these experiences I have learned some poignant lessons that will benefit you if, that is, you are in the business of winning championships.
In 7th grade, I participated in my first science fair. I had been home schooled up until that point so I was very excited about the opportunity to display my creativity to someone other than my mother and my imaginary friends. I picked an extremely original idea for my first science fair; I chose to craft a volcano. I worked tirelessly for a week. I refused any assistance from my parents and even Bagbom, the most intelligent of my imaginary friends. I was quite proud of my creation and couldn’t wait for Friday to show it to the world.
Friday came around; I put on my Smurf glasses, tucked my t-shirt into my jeans, and carried my volcano to the car. I was one of the first to arrive. I set up my station, unfolded my cardboard display and set my tiny, non-working model in the center. I stood with pride to survey the competition as the other students began to arrive and unfold their creations. (By creations I mean the fully functional monstrosities that their parents paid NASA to create out of rare metals!) I began to feel betrayed by Bagbom the imaginary friend. To make matters worse, just across the row from me was Timmy. He also had made a volcano. His, though, was the size of a small SUV, with lava pumping out the top, smoke he could turn on and off and audio bellowing sounds of desolation and destruction. It was the soundtrack of my pride going up in flames.
I quickly packed up my sad little mole-hill of a volcano, and ran home. It was 10 miles away. On the way I blamed the teacher for not explaining the assignment properly. I blamed my mom for not helping me more. I vowed never to play with Bagbom again. I even fogged up my Smurf glasses with my tears.
Since my recovery from this experience, I have asked thousands of athletes to update me on their season. I ask how their team is performing. The vast majority of the time I hear them tell me how their coach isn’t very good. How their team doesn’t care enough. How no one is as committed as they are. How their big man won’t rebound. How their point guard won’t pass the ball. How their team doesn’t defend.
I then ask what they do every day in practice to change the issue. I am answered with a blank look. Most athletes don’t own their teammates’ – like I refused to own my sorry little volcano.
What these athletes failed to realize – as did the younger version of myself – was that champions own each drill they participate in. Winners own the performance of their teammates. Special players will not allow a teammate to do something incorrect over and over again throughout a season. Leaders take ownership of everything.
I have a group of elite 15 year olds that I coach. They are the best players for their age in the area. We have had our first week of practice and I was amazed at how easily they allowed each other to be average. When I asked them if they knew their teammate was doing the drill incorrectly, they said yes. When I asked them why they didn’t say something, they said that it wasn’t their job.
I asked them then, ‘Is it your job to win?’
All athletes seek to own the success of their teams. Most athletes will easily celebrate a pass they make that leads to a basket. Winners, on the other hand, will always seek to own the missed passes too. Special leaders seek to own the mistakes made every day in practice. They know that failure lies at their feet and that is why they are driven with manic energy to be constantly reminding, encouraging, correcting and inspiring their team every moment they are around them.
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PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.