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Friday, June 12, 2015

THE BEST PLAY IN THE PRESENT, NOT IN THE PAST

One of the terms we utilize with our players comes from Coach Don Meyer.  We tell them we want them to be NBA players.  NBA stands for Next Best Action.  In other words, we want them constantly player in the future and not in the past.  Great shooters have poor memories.  They never remember their last missed shot but instead, work to get their next make. 

It is the process oriented teaching that Coach Nick Saban drives home to his players.  He is not interested in his players checking the score or time on the clock as that information has nothing to do with them "dominating their opponent" on the next snap. 

While at LSU, baseball coach Skip Bertman had a small toy toilet in the dugout.  When a player had a bad at bat, a fielder committed an error, or a pitcher had a bad inning, they came in and "flushed" the toy toilet as a physical symbol that it's over -- it's gone -- time to focus on the here and now.

Of course this isn't an easy habit to develop -- especially for great competitors.  In his book "How Champions Think," Dr. Bob Rotella recalled a conversation where Dean Smith spoke to Michael Jordan about letting go of a bad game:
 
I remember hearing Michael Jordan speak some year ago about a lesson he’d learned from Dean Smith about dealing with failure. Michael had left the University of North Carolina and player a couple of years in the NBA. But he returned to Chapel Hill in the off-season to play pickup games with other Tar Heel alumni and talk with Coach Smith. 
 
On this occasion, he was talking to the coach about how hard it was for him to accept the seemingly cavalier attitude of his Bulls teammates toward losing. After a loss, he said, he would stay in the shower for an hour, replaying everything he did wrong as the hot water pounded over his body. Or he’d sit by his locker with a towel over his head, marinating his brain in images of mistakes. His teammates, on the other hand, would shower and get out of there. Michael thought they didn’t care.
 
Dean Smith disabused him of that notion. He told Michael that if he wanted to become the player he could be, he ought to give himself no more than ten or twenty minutes to reflect on a bad performance. That would be enough to learn everything that could be learned from it. After that, he advised Michael, he ought to think about playing great basketball in the next game—or do something else and not think about basketball at all. “If all you do is keep reliving your mistakes, you’re going to destroy yourself,” Dean said.