“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” Max DePree
It happens in the military. It happens in the classroom. It happens in business. It happens in relationships. It most certainly happens in a basketball gym. It is simply team dynamics. Every pack needs an ALPHA. Every soldier has a commanding officer. Every classroom has a teacher. Every business has a CEO. Every husband has a wife (kidding…kinda). Every team has a coach. If you are that coach then it is your responsibility to lead your team.
Imagine it is the first day of practice. Your players arrive and notice that the coach has 4 trash cans in each corner of the gym. They already know what this means. This means conditioning. When you think of conditioning you might be thinking of running until your legs cannot move another inch. When I think of this type of conditioning I know that it is meant to break a person’s spirit. This much running usually does more harm than good physically. But mentally it teaches players where their physical breaking point is, and then how to develop the mental strength to overcome it. The reality is that in a game there will be a point that a player cannot physically ask for much more from their body. There will be a point in the game, and usually late in the game when it counts the most, that players have to dig deep down into their core and pull the hardened soul into their mind so it can take over their body. Coaches who push their players past the breaking point, especially early in the season, are saying, “On my team you are going to be mentally tough. On my team you are going to puke your guts out, wipe off your mouth and get back on the court.” That ladies and gents is the reality on that team.
Each coach has a chance to define their reality. Each coach sets the stage for THE most important thing. I believe the most important thing is not conditioning. It is not skill level. It is not talent. I think the most important element in any team sport is loyalty. In any group dynamic it is imperative that there are no cracks in the ship, that there are no chinks in the armor and that there are no wondering eyes.
Here is an excerpt from the eBook that explains it in more detail…
Since this is a team sport one of the best expectations you can set is that of loyalty. Loyalty is strong sense of allegiance. Loyalty is having another person’s back. A loyal person supports and protects another person’s best interest. Teams cannot function if each player is not working to help their teammate. You have to set the expectation that loyalty supersedes all else. You can do this by showing the players you have their best interest at heart which directly connects with the team’s best interest. You are setting the expectation for your team. If you support and protect them they will see this as the reality and follow suit.
People have to understand that only a team wins consistently. Individual performance is vital to the team’s performance. Individual performance is not more important though. This is because a team is a system. MerriamWebster dictionary defines a system as a regularly interacting or interdependent group of items forming a unified whole. If you only have individual players you will never have a system that works. Systems help you regulate performance. A car is a complex set of systems that work together to go from point A to point B. If the engine does not start see how far you get. If the engine does start, better make sure you can shift into gear. Otherwise you might move too slowly or in the wrong direction. If the engine starts and you get it into gear, you should be in good shape unless the tires are flat. You get the point. Each player must understand that without each other it will be impossible to reach the summit of success.
So how do you do such a thing? How do you get a team to become loyal to each other? How do you get a team to operate as a unit? Read the rest of the book to see how I break it all down How to Coach Basketball: 5 Actions You Must Take to Improve Your Basketball Team
“You are your only opponent”
Coach Thomas Wilkins
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