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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winning Cultures

This past week I had a conversation with a coaching friend who took over a basketball program. The coach is very experienced and has been very successful.

He described his first year at his new school. Initially parents greeted him with how excited their sons were because they were really hungry to win. The parents pointed out how bad the last coach had been- the message being that past failures were certainly not their kids fault, the old coach had screwed things up.

The players told the coach how anxious they were to work and get after things. They told the coach that old coach did not push them hard enough. Again the message- we are willing to do whatever we can to win, the old coach screwed things up.

Now a little over a month into the season, the new coach has gotten the following feedback from parents and from players-

“Why do we have to have two practices a day in preseason, we’ve never done that before?”

“Do we really need to practice more than two hours?”

“During vacation, why do we have to start practice so early? (They started at 9:00am)

“Over Christmas, our family always goes to a time share in Florida for a week. This year we can do it and I will only miss 2 games.”

The obvious is that everyone SAYS they want to win. But often they are not willing to make the sacrifices needed to win.

My coaching friend is trying to change a culture. I would argue that he is trying to change a culture that is selfish and as a result is a “losing culture.”

I am reminded of something Paul Westhead said at a clinic- “When you tell players that you are going to be a fastbreak team, the players all say that is what they want to do. But once you start running and running in practice, the players realize it was not what they had in mind.”

Today, I read a quote from Duke great, Jay Williams, "Most teams have guys who want to win, but aren't willing to do what it takes. What it takes is to give yourself over to the team & play your part". 

As we take a break for the Holidays, the conversation with my coaching friend made me appreciate the players I get to work with. We have players who have bought into a culture of unselfishness and of hard work. Our players make each other better. Our players through their work and their sacrifice inspire their teammates to do even more.

Thanks team for your effort and your attitude!! 

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