I was fortunate to be able to present at the Cross Canada Coaches Clinic last evening from here on the East Coast in Canada.
Below are my slides and the download to the original PowerPoint file for anyone who may be interested.
With The Last Dance weekly on every single basketball fan's (and beyond) screen the notion of competitiveness is one I would like to explore. It takes no time at all listening to Michael Jordan speak (or watching his famous Hall of Fame speech) to see what makes him tick.
But is it about competition or is it about winning? Is there a difference? I think there is...
One thing I discovered interestingly this year is that the base of the word compete means "to strive together," the original Latin definition didn't refer to rivalry or outdoing an opponent at all, it was not until later uses that it morphed into that.
To go with this newfound meaning of the word compete goes Peter Thiel's best selling book Zero to One. Thiel founded PayPal and was the first outside investor in Facebook, among many other impressive resume pieces. Thiel spends most of the book arguing against, as he puts it, the "ideology of competition." Rather, he believes in going from "Zero to 1," building something new, and gaining monopoly share. He uses multiple examples of how competition for scarce resources really does not lead the competitors to get further ahead, and how it leads to zero-sum games.
Where these notions come together for me is when placing them under the lens of what you can and cannot control. You do not have complete control over your opponents, their programs, companies, etc. The road to success and championships (in my context) is not by climbing a ladder or going through a maze of competitors, in Peter Thiel's world it would mean you move out of that box and build an elevator, or find your way outside the maze but still ultimately get to the end. In a basketball sense this means spending less time worrying about beating and scouting your opponent and more time building your team and program. John Wooden famously didn't focus on his opponents nearly as much as his own team, or as 49'ers legend Bill Walsh puts it, you want to "Let the Score Take Care of Itself." We spent a whole lot of time this year talking about what is inside your circle of control, circle of influence and what is not. Our team bought into working towards directing all of our energy only towards the elements which were directly in our control, inputs not outputs. As always it's an ongoing process.
This is a set of ideas I look forward to continuing to explore but I think my early conclusion is that competing and winning are not synonymous. You can absolutely win and not spend your time focusing on beating the "competition." This is not black and white obviously but in terms of the Pareto 80/20 principle we would be spending the bulk of our time and energy on what we can control, grow, and actively see improve, which is ourselves.
Lately I've been considering the difference between people or teams who have won vs. people or teams who are considered winners. I believe there is a pronounced difference and distinction.
Being SOMEONE WHO HAS WON is short term, being a WINNER is your identity. These two things aren’t necessarily tied together, you can be someone who has won and not be a winner. A WINNER never stops striving, growing, and bettering themselves and the team (because it is who they are). You may show that you can win, now you need to take the next step.
To become a winner I think it has to be more a character trait than a short term sprint for a championship. In team sports the more of these types of athletes you can have and develop on the team the score and end results will take care of themselves.
New York Times best selling author James Clear addresses this in his book Atomic Habits --
“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”
Throughout Atomic Habits, Clear also discusses getting away from goal setting saying "winners and losers both have the same goals." In an achievement sense this is true. The difference is the type of person you are, how you see yourself, and the actions you take.
If you consider yourself a WINNER and have proof to back that up (HAVING WON) then you take actions to reinforce that identity. As I saw Buzz Williams say recently "The work is the reward."
It's in your bones and just unapologetically who you are, a WINNER.
Related content -- The book "So Good They Can't Ignore You" by Cal Newport argues the point of not "following your passion," blindly and rather finding meaning in your work by being great -- Cal's Blog
Bruce Pearl on Coach's and Player's roles in winning championships -- click on image below
video credit to ESPN
Post playing-career Kobe is just great...I love how he describes the journey and the process. Lots to take away from this short clip. The understanding of what it takes in unseen hours, and daily grinding to excel, is eroding I believe. This generation of instant gratification based on social "likes," and approval, does nothing to enlighten people as to what it takes day-in, and day-out to reach the top of whatever long term endeavour they are engaged in.
Study greatness. Look at those who deliver and execute.
Kobe Bryant won an Oscar (an OSCAR!!) within a year of retirement. He has now opened his own studio of creatives and story-tellers. He delivers. Period.
Shoot until you can't lift your arms, write even though your writing will suck for a long time, run up the hill until your lungs and legs are on fire,,,,,,and if you want to be great........do it all again tomorrow.
The video below shows a quick clip from the Canada vs. Spain U17 World Cup game earlier today in Belarus. With the FIBA rule of a 14 second reset teams MUST have concepts and strategies in place to capitalize on scoring opportunities. There is little time to center the ball for a set offense.
With offensive strategy such as this of trying to space the floor well and re-attack quickly, attention must be paid to the defensive end of the floor as well. On defense, especially on the weak side, defenders need to be on high-alert, knowing that their opponents will be seeking situations to take advantage of. Teams should certainly look at tracking offense after the OREB to see how to improve efficiency.
In this clip the Canadian [weak side] defender relaxes and loses her attention to the ball, giving up an easy layup at the rim. Note how Spain keeps good spacing allowing for the quick attack.
Offensive Rebound Strategy Ideas
Below I've included a template describing 5 very easy shooting drills and how to score each of them. This is taken from a context of gamifying the workouts a bit so players always have a score they are working to beat, but not having to do so always in a very repetitive and boring environment. The consistent scoring throughout the season and off-season nods toward Anson Dorrance and his notion of the "Competitive Cauldron," which is definitely worth looking into. This list was largely taken from a conversation on YouTube from John Leonzo and Coach Josh Loeffler. If anyone reads this and has some good shooting drills which they score please get share through the comments or on the Facebook Page! You can download the document and adapt it to suit you and your team.
Great Kobe Bryant story detailing his level of competitiveness, his incredible intrinsic motivation, and expectations of himself. Lots of impactful takeaways! (credit to Impact Theory - Tom Bilyeu)
Great example here of a step up screen by the Cleveland Cavaliers. By running a side, spaced-out, step up ball screen you put the help in a very precarious position. In the video and the typical rotation is for x3 to rotate over leaving many possible openings. Crowder reads the situation and runs to the rim for an easy lay-in.