Basketball on the Edge – The Power of One

Head Start Basketball CampThe Power of One. If you want to improve a small part of your basketball skill set try this concept for yourself if you are a player, with your team if you are a coach, or with your child if you are a parent.

When you watch a youth basketball practice, you know that there are literally hundreds of small, subtle mistakes that are made by players throughout the practice. It is impossible to correct them all as a coach. I remember my first year coaching JV basketball at a local high school. I had no assistants. It was just me and 12 kids out on the floor for practice. As a young coach I was totally overwhelmed. I saw so many mistakes and had no idea how to correct those mistakes while still conducting a productive practice. I had no focus. I wanted everything to be better and as a result nothing was better. As I’ve grown as a coach I’ve come to understand that my players, my teams, and my own children learn better when I focus on one objective at a time.

My fourth grade boys’ basketball team last year was not very tall and we were consistently being outrebounded by a wide margin costing us the opportunity to win several games. We practiced boxing out throughout the season, but it wasn’t translating to games. During “rebounding” drills the box-outs were fine, but then they quickly disappeared. I tried to think of a better way to get players to box out during a game. What I discovered was the Power of One. As a coaching staff we focused on boxing out in EVERY drill. It became a clear objective in all situations. The players focused on boxing out because they knew it was important. Over the course of several weeks boxing out became a habit. We still weren’t a great rebounding team, but we improved. You could see players out on the floor during games being conscious of the need to box out when a shot went up. By putting the focus on one skill our players created a new positive habit (boxing out) to replace a negative habit (standing and watching the ball). It was that singular focus that led to a new habit and to improved game performance. That is the Power of One.

It is easy to overwhelm a team of young players with ten or twenty skills at one time. They may improve marginally in some of those areas, but if you want big improvement, put big emphasis on one skill or concept at a time. The Power of One translates because everyone is on the same page. Everyone knows what is important. Everyone is focused.

I would recommend coaches create a list of 4-5 concepts or skills you want your team to improve upon each season. Focus relentlessly on making sure your players perform the chosen skill at every opportunity so it becomes a HABIT. Don’t focus on the next skill until the first one is a HABIT. As you move to the second concept continue to reinforce the first concept as well. You may turn all five skills/concepts into habits during your season or you may only get one. Your odds of success are much better with a singular focus and the Power of One.

Players should create a similar list for themselves. What do you want to improve on? For example, maybe you want to work on not getting beat baseline on defense. Really focus on that in every drill or scrimmage situation for a week or two of practice. Make cutting off the baseline a habit. If you can be mindful of one concept at a time, you can create a new habit and then move on to add several more skills to your game over the course of the season. Remember, the Power of One. Focus relentlessly on making sure you perform the chosen skill at every opportunity so it becomes a HABIT. Don’t focus on the next skill until the first one is a HABIT.

Parents can use the Power of One as well. What are some areas of your child’s life that you want to see them improve upon? Instead of trying to work on all areas at once, which we know doesn’t work (from experience on my part) pick just one skill. Focus relentlessly on making sure your child performs the chosen skill at every opportunity so it becomes a HABIT. Don’t focus on the next skill until the first one is a HABIT.

Here is a great quote from Ghandi that sums up the Power of One, the necessity of creating habits, and how those habits impact a person’s entire life.

Watch your thoughts; they become words.
Watch your words; they become actions.
Watch your actions; they become habits.
Watch your habits; they become character.
Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

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