According to authors Don Shula and Ken Blanchard in their book “Everyone’s A Coach,” there are four main ways to respond to nearly every situation involving the actions of others: (For those of you too young to remember Don Shula used to coach the Miami Dolphins where they appeared in six Super Bowls and won two of them.
Shula also holds the NFL record for most career wins by a coach and coached the Dolphins to the only perfect season in the history of the NFL.)
Praise. What gets praised gets done! It’s been said that some extrinsic rewards have little value to some people but those same people will crawl a mile over broken glass in order to hear just one sincere compliment.
Redirection. We in the profession call this “coaching” – all the instruction, encouragement, reasoning, etc. given with the goal of getting the athlete or team to change or improve performance.
Reprimand. While redirection is basketball related, reprimands are behavior related. Lack of effort, refusing to follow directions, and bad attitudes would all call for a reprimand.
Silence. This is a common response when a coach becomes frustrated but unfortunately it is usually interpreted by the players as acceptance. For example, If one of my role players continues to take bad shots and I don’t say anything, he will think that I am fine with his shot selection. When it comes to behavior issues, silence can be interpreted as apathy.
All four of these responses are necessary at various times, but coaches should make a conscious effort to use Praise and Redirection much more than Reprimand and Silence.
I recently heard a great analogy used by leadership expert John Maxwell that certainly applies to all coaches and team captains.
As coaches it seems like very little of our time is actually spent with the X’s and O’s part of the game. Instead we are constantly “putting out fires,” as we deal with attitudes, academics, life lessons, personal problems, and the occasional bad decision.
As we are called to help it is often our own initial reaction and response that is going to determine whether our efforts are successful or not. It’s as if we carry two buckets with us to the “fire” – one is full of water and the other is full of gasoline.
If we stay calm and poised and immediately throw “water” on the fire the rest of our efforts will become much easier. However, if our first reaction is one of panic or anger it’s as if we are throwing gasoline on to the fire and the situation becomes immediately worse.
As coaches and captains we all know that “stuff” happens – it comes with the territory. But the first step in fixing something is to not make it worse!
The next time we are called to put out a fire, let’s be careful that our emotions don’t get the best of us and that we are mindful of what we say and do in those first crucial few minutes.
Some of the situations we all deal with are difficult enough without us unintentionally making them worse.
Last night my wife and I went and watched the movie “42” while in Phoenix and was disappointed that there were only a handful of viewers. There are great lessons in the movie for everyone but especially for athletes. In fact, I really think that every coach and athlete, regardless of age or gender or sport should go watch “42.”
Of course the movie only tells part of the real Jackie Robinson story. For example, Jackie competed in four sports – including basketball - in high school, junior college, and then at UCLA.
Football was probably his best sport although he did win an NCAA Championship in the long jump. Surprisingly, baseball was his weakest sport and he turned out to be a much better pro player than he was in college.
After World War II ended Jackie spent a year as the men’s basketball coach at Sam Houston College in Texas before joining the Kansas City Monarchs, which is where the movie “42″ starts telling his story.
I know it sounds silly but knowing that he had a basketball background both as a player and a coach has made me feel even more connected to him and the things that he experienced.
I realize that Jackie Robinson went through more adversity that first year in major league baseball than anyone should ever have to experience, but after leaving the theater I couldn’t help but think that we all owe Branch Rickey, the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, some gratitude as well.
There were several African American athletes who were capable and willing to be the first baseball player to break the color barrier but there was only one owner willing to give someone that opportunity.
I don’t know what Branch Rickey’s ulterior motives were and truthfully I don’t care. All I know is that every sport, including the one that I love the most, has benefitted from his decision.
Thank you Jackie Robinson. Thank you Branch Rickey.
About five years ago, Louisville coach Rick Pitino wrote a book called “The Rebound Rules” which offers a great deal of advice on how to make a comeback after facing life’s difficulties and how to pick yourself up after being knocked down.
As you read the following excerpt from the chapter entitled Gaining Perspective, think of Louisville player Kevin Ware and how he is handling the tragic injury he suffered last week.
Tragedy will test you like nothing else. Keep your faith and rely on it to help you through – even if you’re questioning it at the time.
Let your emotions out and work through them. Catharsis is necessary to avoid bitterness.
Turn your grief into good. Let your hard earned new perspective be the catalyst to a more humble, charitable you.
Don’t demand answers tot he inexplicable. Sometimes there are none.
Don’t miss the lessons you can learn in these trying moments. A child’s act of grace can teach you so much.
Don’t marinate in bitterness or preoccupy yourself with revenge. Both are unproductive.
I just finished watching ESPN’s “30 for 30” documentary called “Survive and Advance” featuring the improbable 1983 NCAA Championship run made by the late Jim Valvano and his North Carolina State Wolfpack.
While Coach Valvano’s post NCAA Championship celebration has been shown hundreds of times since then, neither the championship nor the celebration is his biggest claim to fame.
On March 4, 1994, Coach Valvano, who was diagnosed with bone cancer nine months earlier, spoke at the very first ESPY Awards show and gave one of the most emotional and memorable speeches in television history. Here is an excerpt from that speech:
I’m going to speak longer than anybody else has spoken tonight. That’s the way it goes. Time is very precious to me.
I don’t know how much I have left and I have some things that I would like to say.
To me, there are three things we should all do every day. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day.
Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought.
Number three is you should have your emotions moved to tears. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. You do that seven days a week; you’re going to have something special.
With ESPN’s support we are starting the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research. And its motto is “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.” I’m going to work as hard as I can for cancer research and hopefully, maybe, we’ll have some cures and some breakthroughs. . .
I know, I gotta go, I gotta go… I want to say it again. Cancer can take away all my physical abilities, but it cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart, and it cannot touch my soul.
And those three things are going to carry on forever. I thank you and God bless you all.
If you haven’t done so already take the time out to watch “Survive and Advance.” You’ll laugh, you’ll think, and you’ll get emotional!
The following post was taken directly from an email newsletter distributed by Janssen Sports Leadership and certainly applies to basketball teams, coaches, and players everywhere.
Arkansas Softball has taken to heart a story about two dogs. As the story goes:
A Cherokee elder was teaching his grandchildren about life… He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me, it is a terrible fight and it is between two dogs. One dog is evil – he is fearful angry, jealous, and negative.
The other is good – he is happy, peaceful, positive, and content. The grandchildren thought about it for a minute, and then one asked his grandfather, “Which dog will win, Grandfather?”
The Elder smiled and replied, “Whichever dog you feed.”
The moral of the story obviously is to choose to feed your mind a steady diet of positive and productive thoughts instead of the negative and destructive ones that often are starving for your attention.
To emphasize this positive approach and put a Razorback twist to it, Arkansas softball coach Mike Larabee has painted the words “Feed the Positive
Hog” on their dugout wall. He also made silicon bracelets with the mantra on it for everyone to wear.
How can you too use stories that convey and reinforce key messages to your team?
The world wide basketball community is full of both good and bad examples of teamwork. However, today’s post is centered on an object that is found in nearly every grade school, middle school, high school, and college classroom.
In 1958 a teacher named Leonard read wrote an essay called “I, Pencil” and it contains an invaluable lesson that is definitely worth learning. Read the beginning of the essay below carefully as the lesson is hidden in one, single word.
“I am the lead pencil, the ordinary wooden pencil that is familiar to all boys and girls and adults who know how to read and write.
Simple though I appear to be I have a profound lesson to teach. And I can teach this lesson better than can an automobile or an airplane or a mechanical dishwasher because – well, because I am seemingly so simple.
Simple? Yes, but not a single person on the face of this earth knows how to make me.”
Did you find the key word? (I left you a hint in the second paragraph above.)
The key word is “single” as in “not a single person… knows how to make me.”
A simple wooden pencil is the combination of wood, graphite, paint, glue, brass, rubber, canola oil, sulfur chloride, clay, candelilla wax, etc. Those are just the ingredients that need to be grown, created, and gathered.
Now add in all the processes of cutting, forming, and grooving the wood, drying it in kilns, painting it, adding the graphite, and then assembling the eraser and the brass holder.
Throw in all the logistics of shipping the materials back and forth and you can easily see that no ONE person knows how to make a simple pencil all by himself.
A great team is the exact same way. On the outside they are simple, and elegant, and efficient but what you don’t see is all the work and combination of efforts that goes in to producing an outstanding product! From now on every time you look at a pencil think of your own team and ask yourself if you are doing your very best to contribute to the overall success of the group.