Basketball on the Edge – 12 Championship Habits

Not every team, player, or coach can win a championship every year. With March Madness starting this week, there will only be one team that goes home with the trophy. The rest of the teams will fall short of their ultimate goal. Does that make their season a failure? Certainly not, if the team has built championship habits that will last a lifetime.

What are championship habits? They are actions that your young player can take day in and day out regardless of the outcome. Championship habits are focused on the process of what it takes to be great. Your young player cannot always control the outcome of a game or a season, but they can control the process that leads to long term success.

Championship habits mean doing the little things that make the big things possible.

Here are some examples.

Be life-long learner.

Players and people who think they know it all rarely get better or maximize their talent. Help your young player learn from great coaches and role models. Give them opportunities to read books about those who have had success both in the game and outside of it. Great players learn from their own experiences and the experiences of others. Learn what it takes to be great!

Don’t allow others to limit what you can accomplish.

A personal story – When I was being recruited in high school, a coach from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta (an NAIA school) told me on my recruiting visit that if I chose to play Division 1 basketball at Kent State that they would recruit over me the next year and I would never get a chance to play. On the other hand, if I came to Oglethorpe I would be a key contributor and would have the opportunity to score 1,000 points in my career. That message, which the coach probably never thought twice about, drove me as much as anything to play Division 1 basketball and show that coach he was wrong. I never forgot what he said. My proudest individual accomplishment at Kent State was scoring 1,006 points in my career. I did not allow that coach to limit my goals, instead I used his comments as motivation to fuel my passion for the game.

Actions speak louder than words.

Don’t talk about being great. That is easy. Put in the time and effort required to be great. Teach your young player that their actions must match their desire to be great.

Start today.

The best day to start getting better and training the right way is today. Sure, your young player could wait until it gets warm or when they get a new ball, but champions start working now!

Habits are built every day.

Your young player can’t work hard once in a while. Championship habits are built daily. Show up every day and give it your all regardless of the circumstances.

Here is a quote from Seth Godin, a popular business and marketing author.
Wouldn’t it be great to be gifted? In fact…
It turns out that choices lead to habits.
Habits become talents.
Talents are labeled gifts.
You’re not born this way, you get this way.

Don’t complain or make excuses.

Help your young player realize that complaining doesn’t help them to reach their goals, it only develops a negative state of mind. Look inward for the answers, don’t place blame on factors that are out of your young player’s control. Help them take responsibility and learn valuable lessons from adversity.

Embrace the journey.

The journey is what great players enjoy. They love to train. They love to play. They love to compete. The end result may or may not be a championship, but the daily grind is what great players live for because they love the game.

Take pride in hard work.

I used to love the fact that as a player I worked harder than other payers. I once had an assistant in college tell me I was the toughest player on the team. Hard work and toughness were two things that I could control. I took a tremendous amount of pride in my work ethic. Not everybody works hard. Help your young player develop their work ethic and you’ll give them a life-long advantage over others in basketball and in life.

Have a plan.

Young players have to know why they are playing and then have a plan for how to reach their goals. When players are young they play for fun and to be with teammates. As they get older other goals may become visible on the horizon. What are those goals and how do they get there?  As a parent or coach you can help your young player have a plan. Championship habits aren’t an accident.

Be coachable.

A coach’s criticism is intended to make your young player better. It shouldn’t be taken personally or looked upon negatively. As a coach I am often hardest on my best players. I want to get the most out of them. Body language says so much about how a player accepts coaching. Teach your young player to look the coach in the eye and nod when they are done speaking. Great players listen to and accept criticism as a conduit to improving their game.

You are who you hang out with.

Does your young player hang out with players that fool around during practice? Friends that don’t take their schoolwork seriously? Teammates making bad choices off the court? Champions surround themselves with people that create a championship atmosphere.

Set high standards.

Good enough is never good enough. Highly successful people are never satisfied that they have reached a goal and can relax. The next challenge is always around the corner. Champions have grit. They are willing to go the extra mile to be the best.

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