Monday, January 31, 2011

REBOUND FOR SUCCESS: Getting The Shots You Want


So here we are at the end of the first month of the new year. Yeah, I know. It was a blur, right? Look back at the first of the year and let’s review the goals, objectives and resolutions that you set for yourself. How are you doing? Are you motivated or unmotivated? Are you focused or off-task? Are you making progress? Have you turned your misses into makes? Are you holding yourself accountable or blaming someone else? Are you watching or changing the game? Are you part of the 95%?

I stated in my first blog entry of 2011 (Turning Misses Into Makes) that statistics show that 95% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the 15th day of the year.
Clearly it’s easy to be a part of that group. The enthusiasm that you had about starting fresh is susceptible to fading for numerous reasons; 1) The goal was too hard to reach; 2) Time didn’t permit; 3) It’s someone else’s fault; 4) Failure was the result after first few times you tried. Whatever your level of enthusiasm is, I am trusting and believing that you are going to be part of that 5% of people who are sticking to their goals/objectives and resolutions for this year and beyond. If not, let’s get you back on track so that you get the shots you want to take.

Everybody wants to take a shot at something that others may view as unconventional, strange, difficult, unattainable, and even impossible, but very few people actually take the shot. Regardless of what category you fit into for this 1st month of the year, there is one beautiful thing about falling short of your goal; you can always rebound and work toward getting the shots that you want.


When talking about getting the shots that you want it is imperative that you assess exactly how far away your goal is. Most shooters feel that every shot is a their shot. That’s a great attitude to have in theory, but in practice we all know any coach and/or team that relies on one shooter to take every single shot is going nowhere fast. However, getting the shots you want requires more than you showing up. Your reputation or your stats from your last game don’t matter. Neither of those will get you the shots that want during the game you’re currently playing.

In basketball, getting the shots you want are determined by several factors, but the first factor is spacing. In order to get the shots you want you have to look at where you have the ball on the court, how much space your defender is giving you, where your teammates are positioned, and how far you are from the basket. All of these factors must be taken into consideration before you decide what type of shot you will take.

As you apply this to your life and the goals that you have for the day, week, month or year, you must assess your spacing before you decide what kind of shot you’ll take. Often times the biggest space between you and your goal is writing it down. It has been found that 3% of the population who achieve at the highest level achieve because they’ve written their goals down first. After writing the goals down you have to create space through designing a deliberate yet realistic strategy that gets you closer to the goal. This deliberate, realistic strategy will not necessarily result in the goal being achieved the very first time, but it should increase your chances of taking and making shots. No matter how long or short the strategy, PRACTICE is a huge factor in getting there. You must practice writing down the goals daily. You must practice each step of your strategy over and over so that when it’s time to perform and/or present it’s as natural as breathing.

As you go through this week and you re-focus your energy and assess your spacing ask yourself the following questions:

How much time do I have to shoot?
Which shot am I going to take?
Is this shot in my range?
How often have I practiced this shot?
Is this shot in the best interest of my team?

Check back on Wednesday and I’ll explain the second key to getting the shots you want.


Sunday, January 23, 2011


As some of you know, I am a point guard. It's the only position I've ever played since I was 9 years old. In fact, it's the only position I've ever wanted to play. I was born to be a point guard and I truly feel that point guards make the best coaches. Biased opinion? Oh well, sue me. The point guard, without question, is the most important and coveted position on any basketball team. Why? Everything starts and ends with the point guard.

Believe it or not, at some point we've all played point guard or will have to play it one day whether we like it or not. Some of you think, “cool, gimme the ball and get out of the way. I got this.” Running the point is not all about control, it is about developing and fine-tuning your current skill set that allows you to grow and in turn help others grow as well. Through different phases in your life, you'll have 4 other valuable teammates that make up your starting line-up. Choosing your team is instrumental for your journey. More than likely your team will change but your purpose is still the same; to be the coach on the floor that helps your teammates get better and ultimately help your team win.

Everybody wants to be a point guard for numerous reasons. Some people want all eyes on them while others simply want to have control over everything, but being able to handle the ball is not enough to be an effective point guard. It's an enormous responsibility and once most people assume it, they often want to give it back. Effective point guards are multi-taskers with impeccable focus. They must have a keen ear for what the coach requires, excellent ball handling skills, superb court vision, as well as effective communication and critical thinking skills. I know what you’re thinking. Sure, you can multi-task, but whether you realize it or not it is your ability or inability to multi-task is affecting you and your team. Need some help? Here are the keys to becoming a better point guard:

God is the head coach who has carved out the game plan for you. If you listen to him and do what he asks, victory is within your reach if you’re committed to his practice plan, training schedule, system, philosophy and the adjustments he makes during the game.

Handling the ball is more than dribbling, passing, and shooting. It means utilizing the best skills and/or resources around you that will get you closer to your goal. Sometimes you have to drive hard to the hole, often times you have to pass to your teammate so they can help you and other times you just have to take the risk, shoot and have no regrets about the outcome.

Your teammates are valuable resources. Emphasize getting them involved on as many plays as possible in order to increase your chances of winning. Utilize your court vision to help them get the shots that they want. You must know your personnel well enough to know that every pass isn’t meant for every teammate. Some teammates you can lead with a bounce pass, some you can lead with a lob pass, while others can only handle a chest pass or a handoff. In other words, some people you have to ask for help in a diplomatic way, others you don’t necessarily have to ask because they will help you even before you ask by calling for the ball knowing that you already plan to pass it to them.

The “DEFENSE” is anybody or anything that is standing in the way of your goal. It’s the negative words, actions that your opponents use against you to take you out of your game. This adversity is meant to challenge you. Regardless of how tough the defense appears there are always openings and weaknesses that you can exploit. First you have to break down the defense in your mind and be more than confident your skills along with your teammates skills can penetrate the seams and get the shots you want. Often times you’ve done the scouting report and looked at film of the DEFENSE and you know exactly whom they attack, how they attack and how they shift in certain situations. Once you recognize and break down the DEFENSE mentally and physically you can get shots whenever you’re ready.

An effective point guard determines if and when their team will push the ball up the floor or slow it down. Through their actions and words point guards communicate what it most advantageous for the team each possession. There are times when you must take care of your daily goals and objectives with an extreme sense of urgency. Other days you have to slow down and practice patience depending on the goal, the positioning of your teammates on the floor and the tenacity of the defense. The most impactful shots you make are the ones that are a result of patiently running the offense that catches the defense by surprise and consistently puts you and your team in position to win.

Regardless of where you find yourself playing this week, know that point guards reap the benefits of thinking pass first. The consummate point guard’s objective is to play hard, play smart and have fun but their focus should be making their teammates better regardless of the outcome of the game. The generosity of a point guard leads to reciprocity from their teammates. Therefore, a team is only as good as it's point guard. Every day you're in the starting line-up. Although the days are different and the opponents are different the question remains the same; Who's Runnin "The Point"?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Are you hurt or are you injured?

During practice if a player falls, I simply blow the whistle and simply ask, "Are you hurt or injured?" Often times players respond, "I'm cool" and I immediately inform them that it's not what I asked them. "Coach, what's the difference?"

The difference between being hurt and being injured is simply a condition where there is a substantial amount of physical and/or emotional pain versus a condition of being impaired or tarnished. No matter how strong some of us appear or claim to be we all will have to endure some emotional and physical pain. It's not a matter of "if", it's simply a matter of "when". Often times on our journey we experience pain en route to achieving our short and long-term goals. Often times we use these very setbacks as the scapegoat for failure reach our goals when in all actuality it's the interpretation of pain as a reality and how we choose to rebound from it. In short, being hurt is a condition that we can play through while being injured is a situation we must will ourselves out of.

A week before Christmas 2010, I had foot surgery that was long overdue. While most would complain about the pain of the actual surgery the pain wasn't the issue. After all, pain is temporary. I surprisingly found the whole experience to be very insightful form surgery to recovery. Yes, I'm injured but being on this injured reserved list without question has been a moment of clarity. I've had the chance to see what life is like being physically challenged for a significant amount of time. Quite honestly, I'm actually extremely grateful for the experience. I'm grateful that I was able to take care of a health problem that I put off way too long. I'm grateful for the opportunity to get some time to get some much needed rest. I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to experience a glimpse of what physically challenged people prepare for and endure on a daily basis. Most importantly, I'm grateful that I had some time to spend reflecting on how blessed I really have been throughout my life.

By virtue of being injured, I'm more organized, punctual, intentional, mindful, patient, focused and most importantly, more determined. Being on the injured reserved list has awakened a sleeping giant within that is more competitive and tenacious than before. If I had a choice, I'd rather be injured. Being injured puts things in High Definition with Bose Surround Sound and makes you realize how blessed you are to have the gifts God gave you.

If we, in fact, consider ourselves to be champions we must realize that our opponents are there to beat us. Often times they'll play dirty physically other times they'll trash talk and try to get us out of our game. Sometimes, they'll succeed in inflicting pain on us but we determine if we are able to play through the pain because we're hurt or if we will ask for help to rehab from being injured.

The only time we suffer a career-ending injury is when we allow ourselves to give up.

So I ask again, Are you hurt or are you injury?


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

REBOUND FOR SUCCESS in 2011: Turning Misses Into Makes

Happy New Year!

With another year in the rearview mirror and the new year in full gear people are breaking their necks to break old habits. Thus, million dollar question; what’s your New Year’s resolution? While most promise to improve their physical health by vowing to exercise more, eat right, others vow to improve intellectually, financially and spiritually as they vow to read more, make more money, spend money more wisely and/or spend more time with family and attend church regularly. No matter what the resolutions are or how good their intentions, 95% of new year’s resolutions are broken by Jan. 15th. While I’m not saying this to discourage you, I’m saying this to put things into perspective as we strive for personal improvement. I’m gonna put a new twist on the new year’s resolutions. Most people say they're making resolutions when in all actuality they are simply setting goals. Is there a difference? Absolutely.

A goal by definition is a terminal state of a race while a resolution is defined as the act of determining or analyzing a complex notion into a simpler one. The common thread between the 2 concepts is that we set goals and make resolutions yet never finish the race nor make complex notions simpler. Instead, we do just the opposite. We start each new year with new energy and vigor and when we miss the mark, we give up, blame something or someone else as to why we "missed the mark". Missing the mark isn't failure. It's simply a temporary inconvenience. We've been convinced somewhere along the way that missing is failure when in actuality missing leads to success It helps us turn our misses into makes.

From my days of coaching I used to suggest that my players do the following in order to minimize their number of missed shots and increase their number of makes:

1) BRING THE GOAL CLOSER TO YOU: If you want to succeed you have to start inside and work your way out. You have to make sure the goal is up close and personal in order to become more acquainted and confident before you set and achieve bigger,more difficult goals. Bringing the goal closer means waking up thinking about it, praying about it, visualizing it, planning for it, practicing it and then going to sleep reflecting on it only to get it up the next day and do it all over again. Therefore, write down your goals and place them on your bathroom mirror and other places where you will constantly remind yourself of what you will accomplish. Set your smart phone to ring at strategic times of the day, email yourself, program your google calendar, and send yourself voicemails in order to remind yourself of your daily goals.

2) FINE TUNE YOUR MECHANICS : As you set out to achieve your goal your focus has to be intense, your form has to be perfect, and your body as well as your mind must be thoroughly immersed in your actions. Pay close attention to detail when you miss your goal and when you make it. Once you fine tune your mechanics you'll know what works and what doesn't. You may have to drastically change your form in order to improve your chances of achieving your goals. Once you find the form and rhythm that works best stick with it. Be mindful, it could take more time than you want to turn things around, but attention to detail is the path to greatness.

3) HOLD YOUR FOLLOW-THROUGH: As you pursue your goal hold your follow-through and do it in such a way that you know that you've already achieved it. Your follow-through is having the proper attitude even when you miss, however your pursuit, form and rhythm are all the same. Holding your follow-through means your body language indicates your connection to the goal. Holding your form means that your will speaks louder than voice, your focus is intense and your passion is perfect. Make or miss, your follow-through is turning your determination, tenacity, integrity and intensity up to the highest volume and leaving it there.

If you have more makes than misses today, will you be satisfied or will you still be hungry?
If you have more misses than makes today, will you respond or react?