Last week, we had our “First” team meeting for summer session 1. We had most of our guys back and some of our new guys were able to make it to campus, which is always beneficial, because it allows them to get ahead academically, and athletically. Over the previous two weeks, we had discussed our typical summer routine, and the ways I thought we needed to change, and adapt, relative to our team, and where we are as a program. Last summer was typical with all that goes into a transition and so many changes. Too many people think basketball at a high level is just the games on TV, and that’s ok, because it is a very important part of what we do. However, the real work – the actual season begins now, because what you do in the summer, is always revealed in the winter. This is when guys get a chance to really ‘#getBETTER.’ Our overriding theme since last fall, has been to ‘#getBETTER’, but as I have studied that and thought about it more, that is not enough. Everyone should be trying to accomplish that, but all of us have different functions and roles within our program, so specific to each individual, what does ‘#getBETTER’ look like to that individual, and how can we measure it for that person in a way that they genuinely know if they are getting better?
I wanted to emphasize to the guys how important this time of the year is, which they have heard from every coach in their career. I really wanted there to be specific items in their own ‘#getBETTER’ vision that could be measured. It’s summertime, when it’s hot out and you would rather be doing a 100 other things than in the gym working at your craft, but it also the time of the year that they can focus on not only their game, but also their life outside the game. We divided their vision into two parts: their “on the court” portion, and their “off the court” portion. We had a form for them to complete which detailed those two parts in their own thoughts and words. Then as a staff we had done the same exercise for each player as well. We wanted them to view our opinion of where they could concentrate and improve the most. After completing the form, I had them not only tell me what they wrote down, but why, and then on the screen, we had produced a power point presentation for each player that included the staff’s thoughts for each individual and why.
Prior to having them do that, I wanted them to better understand what ‘#getBETTER’ meant for me, was different than what it might mean for them. I am 42, married, with 4 children under 13, so my “off the court” vision is completely different than theirs. And it is the same for “on the court” portion of our talk. This time of the year, I am not allowed coach games and are limited with our practice time on the court with the guys, but what is it that I can do to ‘#getBETTER?’ What can I read?…Who can I learn from? So I gave them a copy of my calendar over the past 5 months, which has all the details of each day, some of which involves our team, others that do not. I used that as a reference to explain that my vision was important to me, but how it was also connected to our vision as a program, and how/where I spend my time in the summer, will also be revealed in the winter. I detailed to them what I did, and where I went when they were home after the Spring semester, and why. I told them I went to spend a day with a staff of an NFL team. It was an opportunity to see their routine, sit in on their meetings, observe their culture and how it could translate to us. Last weekend I went to the Indy 500, not because I know anything about racing, but I wanted to get a better understanding of everyone’s role on the race team, and the prep work involved. I only stayed thru the first two pit stops, because it wasn’t about the race, it was about all of the things that went in to the race, and how that was revealed long before the race began. It blew my mind! The fraction of a second, the millimeter of how a car is built, the importance of each person on the team – regardless of their pay grade. The race team moved in complete harmony in such a loud and chaotic session.
I wanted them to have a glimpse of my calendar, and comprehend that things do not come to a standstill for our staff while we have such high expectations for the players in what they do during their daily routine. What can we each do to ‘#getBETTER?’ How can we help each other, regardless of our position or title, to measure their vision for this summer session? Sometimes it is quantifiable, sometimes it is not. How can we hold each other accountable? How can we be graded on our vision? We covered the answer to all of those questions too, but that is too much to write about.
There was nothing secretive about what we are trying to accomplish, or even groundbreaking, but I wanted them to have more ownership in how it was constructed, and be able to explain the “why” of it all. I can give them my thoughts, and my ideas/vision for what they need to do, but until they have ownership in that process, I believe there is a ceiling to it all. Sometimes the hardest part for any of us, is assessing what it is you need to work on, and do it in an honest way.