“Hustle”: Top 10 Truths

This entry is part 29 of 28 in the series Leadership

My wife and I just finished reading “Hustle” by Joshua Medcalf. If you’ve never heard of him or his partner Jamie Gilbert, now you have. They have hustled to become great through their organization “Train 2B Clutch.” If you haven’t read the book, you should. If you have read it, it’s probably time to read it again. It speaks truth. If you can’t handle it, then don’t waste your time. Keep living your life in your comfort zone. If you can, you’ll be glad you did.

Mr. Medcalf asked us for the things that affected us most. It’s so hard to pick only one. So here’s our top 10.

  1. Being great is about hustle, dirty work and sacrifice. Nothing more, nothing less. What have we done?  What are we doing?
  2. We need to pray more. We need to pray harder. We need to be more in touch with God’s will.
  3. Are we putting ourselves in uncomfortable positions? Are we doing that for others? Are we helping people cut their ropes or are we only reinforcing their beliefs of inadequacy?
  4. Are we preparing in the right way for the future? Are we using our 86,400 seconds in proportion to the size of our dreams? What do we need to keep doing? What do we need to do differently?
  5. Would we invest in ourselves? Are we taking risks?  Do we hustle regardless of the outcome?
  6. “The true measure of a man is not how hard he fights back when provoked, but how much provoking he can endure, and still respond in love.”
  7. We need to become what God made us to become, but it ain’t gonna just magically happen. It’s going to take patience, perseverance, and hustle.
  8. Are we missing the back door?  Are we afraid to go through it? Are we acting outside the box?
  9. We are thankful for hardships and obstacles. They are making us better. Keep them coming. We have embraced our desert. We are thankful for closed doors. We are ready for more.
  10. We need to say “No” to chasing waterfalls, partially controllable goals, and our “problem addiction.” We need to be more picky about when we say “Yes”.

“Chop Wood, Carry Water” is next. Then we will read “Burn Your Goals.”  I’m guessing there will be more awesome truths in these books as well.

Coaching with the Phrase “I Need”

This entry is part 22 of 28 in the series Leadership

The need in the picture is pretty obvious. This guy needs to go to the bathroom.Need

One phrase that I hear a lot from coaches is “I need…”

“I need more from you.”

“I need you to be on time.”

“I need you to make your time.”

“I need you to get in the gym.”

“I need you to work harder.”

“I need you to set a better screen.”

“I need you to make a good pass.”

I’m sure you’ve heard this a lot. You may have even said it yourself.  Honestly, it gets on my nerves when I catch myself saying it. It rubs me the wrong way. What we say matters. Our words are so powerful. I suggest we stop using these two words together.

It’s only two words, but they are two words that hold a lot of weight. Let’s break it down.

The phrase starts with “I.” Last time I checked, we coach for the athletes not for ourselves. Last time I checked, we were in it to make them better, to help them learn and to give them a good experience. It isn’t about us; it’s about them. Right? Starting a sentence with “I,” immediately makes our statement self-centered. What we say is no longer about them. It has become about us. Are we servants or dictators? Are we leaders or bosses?

The second word is “need.” We all “need” air, water, and food. We all “need” safety, love and security.  Going through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs would be overkill, but those are needs. I need to get a good night’s sleep every night. A player needs to work harder for themselves and for the team, not for me. Players need to be on time because it’s a good lesson for them to learn, not because I said so. A player needs to eat a healthy diet, not because it helps me, but because it’s good for their mind and body.

Trust me, being on time is important. Working hard is important. Eating a healthy diet is important, but not because I need them to do that. Those things are important because it’s what’s best for them. It is also what’s best for the team.

We are all about helping people be better people, right? I don’t need them to be better people. I want them to be better, but more importantly they have to want it for themselves. They aren’t on our teams forever. We aren’t going to follow them around through their lives to make sure they are making all the right decisions. They need to learn to do these things for themselves and for each other.

Being part of a team is a privilege, not a right. If they continue to make poor decisions and do things that are detrimental to themselves or the team, then maybe they don’t need to be part of the team. No player, no matter how talented, is more important than the other players on the roster. We don’t need any one that badly.

If you ever hear me say “I need” to a player I coach, you have the right to tell me “You need to stop.”




This entry is part 21 of 28 in the series Leadership

Spending the last week at Tampa at the Women’s Final Four was a great experience. There was plenty of learning going on about offense, defense, recruiting, and numerous other topics. Tons of information was presented to make any program better if we choose to use it, but that’s not the reason it was a great experience.

Let’s be honest. We’ve heard most of that information before. Was there any presentation that was earth shattering? Did a coach drop knowledge that was so completely new and innovative that every program who attended will be doing things in a radically different way next season? Not really.

Compare the information from conventions over the last 5 years with the one in Tampa. The lessons from all of these presentations are pretty comparable. It’s always good to hear things again. It’s always good to have topics reinforced over and over.  Sometimes that’s the only way to get it through the thick skulls of coaches. We are some of the more stubborn people out there. Let’s be honest though; a lot of the presentations are a rehash of the previous years.

Part of what made the Final Four a great experience was the meaningful relationships that were fostered. Some of them were new relationships that were forged. Others were existing relationships that were made even stronger.

Even that’s not the true value though. The real value is in the fact that I realized I need to do a better job fostering a relationship with God. If I commit to having a good relationship with Him, then everything else will take care of itself.

I have a great relationship with my wife, but just imagine if it was better?  I have great relationships with family and friends. What if I could have better relationships with them too? I could have the Final Four experience every day. Isn’t that what life is about? Is it about drills, or recruiting or strategies? Is it about “moving up”?

Or is it about relationships? And not just superficial surface level relationships.Those leave you wondering what you’re missing out on. Some of them don’t even give you that much curiosity.  It’s the deep and meaningful ones that matter. It starts with a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God. That is the answer. Now it’s time to get to work.



The Simplicity of the Game

This entry is part 12 of 12 in the series R&R Intro

I’ve watched a lot of basketball over my lifetime. I’m not that old but I’ve coached, played, or watched hundreds of games. It is so simple and so basic. The simplicity makes the game beautiful. Yet I feel like we make it so complicated.

One team is trying to score. The other team is trying to keep them from scoring. Then the other team gets the ball, and the roles are reversed. It isn’t scripted. It can’t be. Every possession takes on a life of its own.

Yet it all boils down to the same basic things.

On offense…

Shooting, dribbling and passing when a player has the ball. Movement and spacing when they don’t have it.

On defense…

Defending the player with the ball and being in position to defend the other players if they receive the ball.

Gaining possession when it’s up for grabs…

This could be loose balls or rebounds, but teams have to be able to get the ball to increase their number of scoring opportunities while at the same time limiting the other team.

Transitioning between each of the phases…

Physically and mentally being able to switch from defense to offense or visa versa is critical.

The teams that collectively do these 4 things the best win.

At some point it turns into a big game of one on one. Who is better? Me or you? And then the next person catches the ball and its a new game of one on one.

Yes there needs to be structure on both ends of the floor and in transition. Yes we can’t just roll the ball out and say “Have fun. Good luck”. But really, how hard is it?

All the X’s and O’s don’t matter much if your X’s are better than my O’s. Sure I might be able to compensate for some of that as a coach, but really?

Of course there’s the mental component. Who can make the best decisions? Who wants it more? Who can execute under pressure? Who takes the competitive challenge and cherishes it? Who can make up for physical limitations through mental skills and effort?

But really, why do we make the game so complicated? Isn’t it just about 5 people working together to complete a task? Isn’t it about each player beating their opponent at the given task as many times as they possibly can when the opportunity presents itself?

There are tons of different ways to go about it. At the end of the day, the game is simple.

We aren’t playing American football where we have one group that plays offense, another group that plays defense, and we can huddle before every play. We aren’t playing hockey where we can substitute anytime we want. It’s not soccer where one goal could be enough to win.

It’s basketball. It’s team. Even slow tempo games or defensive struggles have significant amounts of scoring compared to other games. There’s a reason football is turning into a up tempo game.

I would like to challenge coaches that through all of the schemes and game plans that we don’t lose sight of what makes this game great. It is its simplicity.

Passing is Communication

This entry is part 17 of 28 in the series Leadership

I have the ball.  I might want to throw it to you.  Are you looking at me?  Are you ready?  Are you open?  Will you meet the pass?  Can I trust you to catch it?  What kind of pass can you catch?  What kind of pass am I comfortable throwing? Should I be throwing it to someone else because they are more open, more ready, more trustworthy?

I have some extremely valuable information that I can only tell one person.  I might want to tell it to you.  Are you acknowledging that I might want to tell you? Are you ready to receive the information? Will you come closer to me if you need to so that I don’t have to talk as loud so that no one else will hear me? Am I able to communicate clearly? Can I trust you with that information? Do I need to tell you in a certain way so that you understand it clearly? Can I communicate information clearly? Should I tell someone else?

You have the ball.  I want the ball. Am I looking at you?  Am I ready to receive the ball? Am I open? Am I ready to meet your pass?  Can I catch any pass that you might throw?  Can I make the right decision when I catch it? Can I execute that decision well?

You have a secret.  I want to know that secret. Do you know that I’m willing to listen?  Am I ready to hear whatever it is you have to tell me?  Am I ready to work to clarify any misunderstandings before they become a problem? Am I ready to protect that information when you give it to me?  Do I know what to do with that information once you tell me?

Clear communication is a key ingredient to successful relationships.  Clean passing is essential to successful offensive basketball. Deflections at best throw off the offensive timing. At worst they lead to uncontested fast break lay-ups.  Poor communication leads to confusion and often ruins relationships.

Passing is a communication between the ball handler and the receiver.  Each have their own responsibilities.  We must work hard to make sure passes reach their intended target, accurately and on time.

How is that any different from a communication between two people?  I say it isn’t at all actually.  How can we teach players to communicate better by teaching them to pass better? How can we teach them to pass better by teaching them to communicate?


The Process: Knowing vs Doing Part 6

This entry is part 16 of 28 in the series Leadership

The process is so important in the development of our players and our team. We talk about the process with our players. We want them to practice hard. We want them to get better with every repetition. We want them to focus on the task at hand no matter what it is.

Do we live that? Are we concerned about our process? Are we growing and developing? Are we getting better every day? Are we identifying our strengths and weaknesses? Are we finding ways to enhance our strengths and overcome our weaknesses? Or are we sitting in our ivory tower and barking orders to our minions?

I believe that even if the players don’t recognize it consciously, they follow our lead. If we aren’t focused on the process, then they won’t be focused on it either. In fact, when we send our players mixed signals, it can make things even worse. If we’re saying one thing and doing something else, that can be a really dangerous situation and one that is difficult to manage.

The saying goes “practice what you preach.” Well it might be better to “preach what we practice” so that everyone is on the same page. It might be better to have our team focus on results if that’s what we’re focused on ourselves. I don’t think that is a recipe for long-term success though. We won’t be perfect coaches, but we should always strive to do the right things and coach the right way. We must be very cognoscente of our actions. We set the standard for our players whether we mean to or not. We might as well be intentional about what we do and the messages we send.

There are so many things that coaches have to be worried about. Our players well-being, performance in the classroom, personal growth, athletic growth, offense, defense, skills, practices, games, injuries, workouts, leadership, parents, film, scheduling, recruiting, travel, fund raising, community relations, and equipment are some of the items that cross our desks. What is our process for these things? How do we handle them? There is more than one right answer. Every situation is different. It is imperative that we are focused on the process of doing our jobs so our players and teams can be focused on the process of doing theirs.

Thoughts on Giving

This entry is part 15 of 28 in the series Leadership

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” Luke 6:38

A player came in today and told a story about giving and how that she received more in return. She gave money, and received much more money in return. Witness to the truth of this verse, she was humbled by her experience and thankful for it. But then I asked, “What do you give to people who don’t need money?”

I wonder how much money is given all the time all over the world. There are numerous organizations who collect money and use that to feed, clothe, and care for people all over the world. To discount these efforts would be tragic and calamitous.

However, how often do we give love? How much do we give our ears? How much do we give compassion? How much do we give things that people really need that can’t be bought?

See the problem is that we give money, because we will get it back next week at work. We give clothes because we’ve collected so many over the years that we don’t even wear them all. We give food to people and will never miss it. Don’t get me wrong, these are good gifts.

I say give great gifts. We can give these things “in the name of love.” How much do we give love? How much do we show love? How much do we give things that can’t be bought and sold?

I wonder if we’re scared to receive that much love in return. Could we handle love in “good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over?” That’s a lot of love…hope…faith…whatever it is you’re giving.

It’s easy to take a bunch of money and throw it in a bank account. What would we do with that much love?

I think it would make us want to give back. I think it would make us want to love even more. What kind of world would that create? How different might it be if we lived like that? We have to get outside of ourselves. We have to get out of our comfort zones. We have to give something that we can’t just get back in our paycheck next week.

If you gave your last dollar, then I’m sure you’ll never want for money again. Would you give your last bit of love away?