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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

PLAYERS & COACHES: ENJOY & EMBRACE THE GRIND

As the years pass by in my coaching career, the athlete dedicated to being the absolute best he/she can be is a little more difficult to find.  Too many of us, young coaches included, want to be the overnight success story.  Players want to excel without executing...play without preparing...position without persevering...acquire without acting...take a test without the test of time...control without concentration.

Coach Dale Brown called it "the instant gratification syndrome" -- some refer it to a "microwave society." 

I have been blessed beyond belief to work with some of the games greats -- players and coaches that achieved the maximum benefits of a dedicated lifetime.  In studying these people I have found one thing in common. 

It's not that they worked hard -- though they did.  It's not that they overcame adversity -- though they did.  It's not that they did the little things necessary -- thought they did.  It's not that they did the things they didn't enjoy -- thought they did.

It's the attitude in which they did it all. 

They truly great ones -- on a daily basis -- over the LONG HAUL -- not only do all the above but they actually ENJOY and EMBRACE the GRIND.

They no doubt groan when they roll out of bed at 5 AM in the off-season, but when they get to the gym, the track or the weight room, the adrenaline kicks in because of the incredible desire they have to excel and the knowledge they have of what it will take to get there. 

These thoughts came to me as I read "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn," by John Maxwell in a plane jetting across the Southeast this weekend.  There was a poem in the book titled "Climb the Steep" by James Casey:

"For every hill I've had to climb
For every rock that bruised my feet
For all the blood and sweat and grime
For blinding storms and burning heat
My heart sings but a grateful song
These were the things that made me strong."
 
If you coach, ENJOY and EMBRACE the GRIND.  Take the road less travelled. Push yourself beyond all limits.  Are you finding time to read -- blogs, books, magazines?  Not enough time?  Kevin Eastman is an assistant in the NBA and he finds an hour each day simply to read -- and GROW!  I can't even begin to imagine his time constraints -- which is why he reads at 5 AM each morning.
 
Are you watching video...not just on your team but other teams...do you have teaching DVDs to study and learn.  Are you attending clinics...working camps...do you have a circle of influence of coaches and people you respect that can take you to another level.
 
The other night I enjoyed a conversation with Jim Boone on various methods of defending ball screens.  Jim is head coach at Delta State and one of the best teachers in the game.  But we both took time out to discuss in detail what we both did defensively.  At the end of the conversation I told Jim he needs to call Brendan Suhr.  Brendan is one of the games great teachers having served under Chuck Daly in the NBA as well as with the Dream Team.  He is the master of the Pick and Roll -- offensively and defensively.  He is now an assistant at the University of Central Florida.  Jim wondered "will he have the time to talk with me."  I said, "Brendan will make time."  And he did!  Jim couldn't believe the amount of time Brendan gave him but we are talking about a guy that besides his full-time job at UCF works with Kevin Eastman the year around to put together Coaching U Live for all of us. 
 
Continual learners...continual teachers!
 
I am not a smart guy by any stretch but I do work extremely hard.  I have for over 30 years and I'm scared to slow down.  I'm reminded of the Steve Nash quote: "If every basketball player worked as hard as I did, I'd be out of a job."  I feel the same way as a coach.  If I stop working..It I stop studying the game...If I stop learning  --  then the smarter coaches will pass me up -- gotta keep working.
 
I heard Kelvin Sampson at a clinic about a decade ago when he was still at Oklahoma and he said, "All coaches have great energy at practice for the first two weeks.  But then a lot of 'em lose it.  They get a little tired or a bored.  The best know how to sustain the energy."
 
As a coach, we are more than two weeks in -- are you still humming along?  Still bringing the juice as practice?
 
Neil Young -- "better to burn than to fade away" -- it's served me well.  How hard are you working.  What kind of example are you giving to other coaches that work with you and student-athletes that you are leading?
 
ENJOY and EMBRACE the GRIND!