3 Life Lessons I Learned Coaching Youth Basketball

I coached youth basketball when my kids were young. I loved the game and I love kids so it was a great match for me. Basketball is a perfect mix of skill and strategy. This was also evident in the kids. Some where great athletes and some made it through being smart and working hard. I was a student of the game. I studied and observed different defenses and offenses and also what made up good mechanics and personal skills. While I was the teacher when it came to basketball, I learned some valuable lessons that have been ingrained into the way I manage people and the way I look at the world. Yes, these are big statements, but they are true. I still go back to these truths and use them for teaching moments when I am mentoring or problem solving.

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Here are these truths:

Talent Blindness: Some coaches are great at judging talent but most are not. The reason is not because they are not skilled or unintelligent- they are human. We have a very tough time being completely objective. Coaches will tend to provide preference to the kids they like. The kids that make them feel good. The kids of the parents they like. The same can be true in the business world. We provide preference to the folks that are like us. The ones that make us feel comfortable. The ones that make us feel good about ourselves. We can be so talent blind! We judge talent based on how we see the world and how we feel. We can easily miss a diamond because they are different, peculiar and not like us.

Another Set Of Eyes: When I was coaching, I would sometimes get caught up in concentrating on the nuances of the offense and defense and miss big things that were going on. Sometimes I would leave kids in the game too long. Sometimes I would miss that a particular player had a hot hand and was scoring and I would inadvertently pull them out of the game. Its hard to watch everything. No really its impossible. I valued my assistant coaches to speak up and set me straight. In business, we can miss the big picture while we are drilling down on particular issues. I must have a group that I empower to tell me whats really going on and have the guts to confront me when I am doing something stupid. A support group. A few trusted advisors to help us avoid getting caught up in the game.

Emotion Cloud: I struggled with the referees. Kind of a lot. They were often times volunteers and high school kids and their skill level varied. Some were pretty good and some were just horrible. I remember throwing my clipboard on the gym floor of an auxiliary gym once in the middle of a game and then- the gym went completely silent! Not a shining moment for me but a great lesson. You just can’t let emotion take over. People will let you down and do things that are wrong and out of line. You can count on it. It’s how you react that matters. Once I let emotion rule, my head goes to mush and all I got is to fire back. A poor example of leadership no matter where you are. Keep your cool and keep your head!

These are a few of the valuable lessons that I learned while coaching. It’s funny how I consistently learn while teaching others! Learning just never ends. I am always seeking the lesson in things that happen to me. How about you? Are you learning as you go? Do you see the world as a giant classroom? Stay alert to things going on around you. You will be better for it. I promise!

So what do you think? Have you learned while you are teaching? Did this story remind you of a lesson your learned? Click on “Leave A Comment” and tell me what you think!

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5 Ways That Processes Protect You from Losing!

Years ago, I coached boys and girls middle school basketball.  We would run structured offenses and defenses and set plays that we practiced for hours over and over again.  Girls, for the most part, ran the offenses with surgical precision.  Boys, on the other hand, typically were sloppier.   It took time for me to get “buy in” from them- to see that the plays really worked and the power in following the rules of the offense.  See, most of the boys felt they were already basketball stars, so when they had an open shot, they took it.  Three point line, even further!  We worked hard to get them to make the extra pass and get the lay-up or easy inside shot instead of taking the long shot from the outside hoping that it goes in.

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I remember calling for time out during the games when the boys would get out of the offense over and over again.  I would tell them if they continued to freelance outside of the offense and play “streetball” that I could not help them win the game.  They were on their own.  I couldn’t tell what the defense was doing or how to attack the other team’s weakness when they were out of the order of the offense.  They might win or they might not.  The only thing I knew was that I couldn’t help them. 

I became a spectator, instead of a coach.

Anything could happen and all I could do is watch.

The same is true with business processes.  As you may have guessed, I am a big believer in solid business processes.  Following a structured process will keep you out of trouble and give you dependable results.  In the construction business, we follow strict processes in most areas.  We have written processes and procedures to guide our projects and what we do as a company.  Processes provide the following advantages and protections:

Filters out Most Common Pitfalls:  A good set of processes and procedures will help to avoid most common problems and issues.  The design of the process forces you to think through the needed steps and formulate a plan that addresses all of the common problems.

Plug and Play:  Solid processes allow you to easily switch up personnel.  If all of your work is accomplished in the same manner, you can move personnel from one project to another and they can pick up the work without loosing a beat.  You can use your bench!

You Can Watch The Weak Areas:  Strong processes will identify areas of weakness where you need to place your focus and resources.  Instead of watching everything, you can concentrate on the areas of weakness and let the process do the work on the majority of the work.

They Give You Power:  If you follow the prescribed process then you have the power of the entire company behind you.  You are not on your own.  If the process does not provide an acceptable result then the issue is the process, not you or your efforts.  Failing to use the process puts you on your own, without support.  You are playing streetball!

Provide Expected Steps and Results:  With structured processes you never have to question what is next.  You follow the plan to the finish.  At every step you know where you are and where you are going.  The process is familiar.  You do it over and over again.  You notice problems.  You make changes.  You are a coach not a spectator!

Don’t overlook structured processes as a method for improving your business.  Every part of your business process should be examined and documented.  I have had great results through the years making the effort to solidify our construction and management processes.  If we make a mistake it costs us big!  We rely on systems and processes to protect us. 

Standardizing processes and procedures will make a powerful impact on your business.  Get in the game!  Guide your team and stop being a spectator.  You will see that, with strong processes, everyone is a winner!

So what do you think?  Do you have a time when processes protected you?  Press “leave a comment” and let me know what you think!