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Basketball on the Edge – 11 Thoughts About Teamwork by Jon Gordon


Jon Gordon’s best-selling books and talks have inspired readers and audiences around the world. His principles have been put to the test by numerous Fortune 500 companies, professional and college sports teams, school districts, hospitals, and non-profits. He is the author of 15 books including 5 best-sellers: The Energy Bus, The Carpenter, Training Camp, You Win in the Locker Room First and The Power of Positive Leadership. Jon and his tips have been featured on The Today Show, CNN, CNBC, The Golf Channel, Fox and Friends and in numerous magazines and newspapers. His clients include The Los Angeles Dodgers, The Atlanta Falcons, Campbell Soup, Dell, Publix, Southwest Airlines, LA Clippers, Miami Heat, Pittsburgh Pirates, BB&T Bank, Clemson Football, Northwestern Mutual, Bayer, West Point Academy and more.

In this article, Jon shares his thoughts on why positive teamwork is so critical to the success of any team.

Click here to read the article.

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Basketball on the Edge – How you can compete with players that are better “athletes” than you?


I recently read the transcript of a conversation between Jim Thompson, Founder of the Positive Coaching Alliance, and Brad Stevens, Coach of the Boston Celtics, the following paragraph is an excerpt from that interview.

I don’t think it’s a big secret. I think it all depends on how you define talent because in a lot of ways we were as talented as anybody in the country. Maybe not from a traditional basketball sense, individual to individual, though we had some very talented individuals, but we had as tough guys, physically and mentally, we had incredibly savvy players; we had guys that were all in for the team, were all in for one goal. I think, at the end of the day, those are all talents and those are all skills; I’ve heard people use the phrase “You need to be great at the things that take no talent” by being a good teammate, by being tough, by being on time, by doing all of those things every single day. Well, the longer I’m in it, the more I think those are talents in and of themselves. The best of the best can live and play with a clear mind and play with a real unselfish attitude and that’s what those teams had. I mean, they were the highest level of that in every which way. They were chock full of people that raised the energy level in the room and that didn’t care who got the glory. That’s what made it a lot of fun.

Let’s pull out one line from that paragraph, “Be great at the things that take no talent.” Although Stevens makes the case that many of those things he mentioned are in fact “talents”, the reality is that they are things that a player can control; being a great teammate, being on time, being tough. There is one thing that Coach Stevens did not mention specifically in this quote that I believe players can make one of their greatest strengths. It is not a “talent” in the traditional sense, but it has a tremendous effect on a player’s performance in games. I know that when I was a player it was something that enabled me to perform at high level against players that were arguably more “talented” than me. What was it?


Simply put I was able to run longer and play harder than my opponents for sustained periods of time. That did not require “talent”. It did require me to put in the effort to be in great physical condition. Why is being in great shape such a key to improving a player’s in game performance? Let’s examine several reasons why conditioning can be one of your greatest strengths as a player.

1. It’s a great way to demoralize your opponent.

There were times I played against an opponent and I could see in their facial expressions that they were sick of chasing me around the court. Several times I can remember, other players would flat out ask me, “Don’t you ever stop moving?” I did my best to stay on the move all the time. I may not have been the fastest player end to end in a one-time sprint, but time after time after time leading to the 4th quarter? I believed I could outrun my defenders simply because I would run harder than they would. That led to easy baskets for me or my teammates. It is demoralizing to play against a player that just doesn’t stop. Being in better shape than your opponent gives you a mental edge before you even step on the floor and that edge continues to grow throughout the game as your opponent realizes they can’t keep up.

2. It gives you an edge when you and your opponent have similar basketball skill levels.

If two players have equal skill levels and one player is in better shape that player will have the advantage. If you can play at peak effort longer than the player you are competing with, eventually you will gain the advantage. That goes for competing with a teammate for a spot in the starting lineup or trying to win a game against another team.

3. It makes life miserable for a great offensive player.

No player enjoys being hounded all over the floor by a defender that just keeps coming at them no matter what. That type of defender is annoying. Offensive players prefer to go against someone that will relax or take it easy on occasion. If you are in great condition YOU can become the defender that offensive players hate to be matched up against.

4. It boosts mental toughness.

To get in great shape players must push themselves through physical and mental barriers. By extending yourself past your own perceived limits during training you will be better equipped to summon the mental fortitude required to overcome difficult obstacles during a game. In essence, you are not only training your body, but also your mind, to fight through difficult or challenging circumstances and come out victorious on the other side.

5. It actually improves your basketball skills.

How you ask? Think about times that you have tried to perform any physical skill when you were tired. Your ability to perform the skill was most likely diminished. The fact is that you are not as effective shooting, passing, dribbling, or making decisions when you are fatigued. Therefore, it stands to reason that if you are not tired throughout the game, your ability to execute will remain at a high level, while those players in poor condition will likely see their performance drop off as they become fatigued.

I truly believe that one of my greatest strengths as a player was my ability to work harder and longer than my opponents. I took great pride in being in the best possible physical condition. (Although I often wish that I was growing up today with the knowledge we have about training and nutrition that wasn’t widespread when I was playing).

Every player can control their conditioning. Think about this quote from Kevin Garnett, “Your greatest asset should be your work ethic.” Make a commitment to get yourself in great shape if you want to be a great player. Be willing to do what few others will do and pay the price of being the best conditioned player on your team. You’ll reap the rewards now and for seasons to come!

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Basketball on the Edge – The One Question All Coaches Should Ask Their Athletes by John O’Sullivan


Coaches, imagine if there was a way to gain insight, understanding, and connection with your athletes by asking a simple question? There is. let me explain how.

A few years back, I coached a talented, yet underperforming sixteen-year-old girl I will call Maddy. She was incredibly inconsistent in her play and often looked very depressed. She was definitely lacking in confidence. Her friends told me she was unsure whether to continue playing or not. After trying multiple ways to help her play the way I believed she was capable of, I called her in for a meeting.

I spent the first 30 minutes of our time together offering my thoughts and suggestions, but as I rambled on and on I could tell she was simply tuning out. Here I was, the highly experienced coach, offering my years of wisdom, and she wasn’t listening.

“Maddy, if you don’t start taking my advice, I can’t really help you. I don’t know what else to say,” I shrugged.

“It’s all good stuff coach, but none of that stuff helps me with my problem,” she replied.

“Really?” I exclaimed. “Then perhaps you better tell me what the problem really is, because I clearly am not helping right now.” I waited for her answer…

Click here to read the article by John O’Sullivan

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Basketball on the Edge – Ask The Experts! What Are The Three Most Important Life Lessons You Learned From The Game Of Basketball?


I am dedicated to bringing you the most value possible as a reader of Basketball on the Edge so I recently reached out to three master coaches for their opinion on the question What are the three most important life lessons that you learned from the game of basketball?  It is an honor to share the wisdom of these three outstanding minds in the world of youth sports.

Alan Stein, Jr. – Alan Stein, Jr. is a veteran basketball performance coach, corporate speaker, podcast host and social media influencer. He has spent the past 15 years working with the highest performing athletes on the planet (including NBA superstars Kevin Durant). Alan delivers high-energy keynote performances to develop genuine leadership, authentic team cohesion and true mental toughness. He inspires his audiences to take immediate action and improve their mindset, habits and productivity. In other words, Alan teaches organizations how to utilize the same strategies in business that elite athletes and coaches use to perform at a world-class level. He is an amicably divorced father of 7-year-old twin sons (Luke and Jack) and a 5-year-old daughter (Lyla) and lives just outside of Washington, D.C.

You can learn more about Alan at

John O’Sullivan – John started the Changing the Game Project in 2012 after two decades as a soccer player and coach on the youth, high school, college and professional level. He is the author of the #1 bestselling books Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes, and Giving Youth Sports Back to our Kids and Is it Wise to Specialize? John’s work has been featured in The Huffington Post,, Outside Magazine,, Soccer America and numerous other publications. John is an internationally known speaker for coaches, parents and youth sports organizations, and has spoken for TEDx, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America, US Lacrosse, IMG Academy, and at numerous other events throughout the US, Canada, Asia and Europe.

You can learn more about John at

Trevor McLean, “Coach Mac” – Trevor McLean is the founder of Basketball For Coaches. He is a passionate youth basketball coach, player, and overall lover of all things basketball. He has had experience coaching on and off at the youth basketball level for the past 8 years. He started his blog a couple of years ago to give back to the game he loves. As Trevor was growing up he was fortunate enough to have many coaches and teammates that had an incredibly positive impact on his life. He was taught first hand that basketball is a fantastic medium for players to learn life lessons and develop long-lasting relationships. Trevor learned that the best coaches aren’t necessarily the ones that win the most games, but the coaches that impact the most lives. His mission is to have the same positive impact on the next generation of players that his coaches and teammates had on him.

You can learn more about Coach Mac at

The question that I asked each of them was, “What are the three most important life lessons that you learned from the game of basketball?” There are great insights to take away from each of their answers that can make you a better player, coach, or parent.

Alan Stein, Jr.

Lesson #1: Develop Positive Habits

There are two things that make the best the best. One is the mindset, rituals, habits and discipline they have during the Unseen Hours. It’s what they do when no one is watching. The other is that they make the most of every opportunity to grow, to develop and to improve. They take advantage of every chance to get better. And both of these become habits. You must acknowledge that your habits are a choice. You choose your habits and your habits dictate your success. Therefore, success is a choice. Success is not a result of what we do occasionally. Success is a result of what we do all of the time. Truly successful people in all areas of life have embraced this fact, have taken full ownership and have chosen to create and implement positive habits. They understand that you can’t be selective when it comes to excellence. The best know that how you do anything is how you do everything.

Lesson #2: Hold Yourself to a High Standard

In 2007, Stephen Curry was a college counselor at the Kobe Bryant Skills Academy. It was after his freshman season at Davidson… and before he became the Stephen Curry we are all enamored with today. In fact, at that camp, most of the coaches referred to him as Dell’s son. He was clearly the least heralded of the college players there… but there was something about him that was special. Despite his lack of a physical presence, there was something about him that stood out. For starters, he was always the first player laced up and on the court. While other guys were too cool for school… and casually walking around in flip-flops and headphones, Steph was already going through a purposeful shooting warm-up. He always made at least a hundred shots from different spots by the time the workout officially started. When the very first workout was over, he grabbed me – we had never met before – and he asked if I would rebound for him. He said he doesn’t leave the gym until he swishes 5 free throws in a row. Yes, swishes five in a row. Which means he could swish 4 in a row, hit the rim on the fifth one… and even though he still made it… he would start over. He did this at the end of every workout… and if memory serves, it never took him longer than 10-12 minutes to swish 5 in a row. Stephen Curry will go down as the best shooter in NBA history because he holds himself to an unparalleled standard. And I say ‘holds’, in the present tense, because the general mindset, rituals and routines Steph used to become great are on par with what he does to remain great. Now, he has had to tweak them. He’s had to improve them. He’s had to level up. Because what got him ‘here’ won’t get him ‘there.’ But the framework is the same. Can you imagine him saying, “I don’t have time to practice this week” or “I’m already pretty good, I don’t need to practice anymore.” Of course not! So why do so many people feel this mindset is acceptable? The best hold themselves to a high standard all of the time.

Lesson #3: Embrace Discomfort and Adversity

As human beings, it is wired in our DNA to crave comfort. To subconsciously make things as easy as possible. But that’s not how you grow. You grow through discomfort. You grow through challenge. You grow through adversity. If you want to maximize your potential as a leader, you must condition yourself to be comfortable… being uncomfortable. How many times have you heard that you need to work hard to be successful? Probably more than you can count. But no one really defines what hark work is or what it means to work hard. Here is my personal definition: Hard work is intentionally leaving your comfort zone with purpose. If I had you all start doing push-ups right now… what would most of you do when it started to get tough? You’d stop, right? Unless you were insane. I mean once your chest and shoulders and arms were on fire… and burning… and you were shaking… you’d stop. But what if I told you that the reps you do after it becomes uncomfortable are the ones that make the difference. They are the ones that allow you to get stronger. The same is true in business. It’s only after a few no’s… after initial resistance… that the best ideas surface. I want you to think about a firefighter. The brave men and women that run in to burning buildings while everyone else runs out. Like firefighters, the best constantly run towards discomfort.

John O’Sullivan

The three most important lessons I learned from sport, lessons that were reinforced by my parents along my athletic journey:

1.Work your hardest

2. Fulfill your commitment

3. Enjoy yourself or it is not worth doing.

Coach Mac

1. How to Control Emotions

When participating in youth basketball, players will go through a full range of emotions. They’ll suffer countless defeats, they’ll experience the elation of winning championships, they’ll be cut from certain teams, etc. Through all this, players are forced to understand and learn how to deal with their emotions.

2. Success Require Sacrifice

No one LOVES waking up early on a cold morning to get in the gym and get up shots; but it’s crucial for all players who want to give themselves and their team the biggest chance of experiencing success.

3. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Through competition, players will learn to take advantage of their strengths and avoid their weaknesses. Players will still work on their weaknesses, sure, but it’s important to understand what you’re good at in all aspects of life.

Big thanks to Alan, John, and Trevor for sharing their thoughts with us. I hope you find as much value in their answers as I did!

I’d love to hear from YOU on this topic!  Please submit your own answer to the question, What are the three most important life lessons that you learned from the game of basketball?”  I’ll publish the responses sometime in the coming weeks.  Thanks!!  Send your responses to

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Basketball on the Edge – What I Would Want My Kids To Know If I Died Tomorrow by Alan Stein, Jr.


Simply a powerful article by Alan Stein, Jr. about the lessons we can impart to our kids, our players, our students, and ourselves.

In full transparency, I think about death. I think about it a lot. Particularly, my own death. Not in a fearful or morbid way… but I simply ask myself a series of questions:

Have a maximized my life to the fullest? Have I made deep connections with those I care about? Have I pursued incredible experiences? Have I made a difference in other people’s lives? Is the world better for having had me as a guest?

As long as I can answer a resounding ‘YES’ to these questions… then I feel I am, as my man Jesse Itzer would say, ‘Living Life for a Living.’ And anytime I can’t answer with an emphatic ‘YES’… I begin to recalibrate.

And as a father, I need to ensure I am planting the necessary seeds with my children so that they have the awareness and emotional tools to answer ‘YES’ to these questions in their own right.

So… even though my kiddos are young… if I died tomorrow… here are 52 things I want them to know…

1. Life isn’t fair. Expecting it to be fair is a mindset of the weak. Play the hand you are dealt…

Click here to read the article by Alan Stein, Jr.

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