Improving with "baby steps" is nothing new. But as coaches, do we do a good enough job of explaining and outlining this to our team? Often, when looking at the need for improvement to get your team to the next level, it can often seem staggering when all that is needed is for each player to improve a little. If you can get each player to buy in and improve a little in one phase of their game over the course of a season (or in the off-season), it can mean a dramatic improvement for your team.
An example would be you want to improve your ability to score. The stat sheet shows you are shooting only 41%. A conventional thought would be we need everyone to become better shooters. But that is not always possible. Your approach could be to do the following:
1. Get more shots for your best shooters
2. Limit shot opportunities for other shooters
3. Work daily to improve your transition game
4. Stress offensive rebounding
5. How can we get to the free throw line more?
Now if you improve ever so slightly in those five areas listed above, it could dramatically improve you ability to score. It is a much more effective approach then pressuring your team to "make shots."
You can take this approach in wide variety of ways in regard to your team's play.
Here is an excerpt of an article written by James Clear titled: What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains
It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.
Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time.
And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change.
So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.
Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.
And from what I can tell, this pattern works the same way in reverse. (An aggregation of marginal losses, in other words.) If you find yourself stuck with bad habits or poor results, it’s usually not because something happened overnight. It’s the sum of many small choices — a 1 percent decline here and there — that eventually leads to a problem.
In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse. (In other words, it won’t impact you very much today.) But as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don’t. This is why small choices (“I’ll take a burger and fries”) don’t make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.