The season is right around the corner. I want to share a concept that could drastically change the course of your season as well as your overall enjoyment of it. It’s very simple… BUY-IN.
Coaches in every program have to work very hard to get their players to buy-in to their team’s culture and them as a coach. The best teams have the most buy in from their players. Alabama and Ohio State football, Duke basketball, The Golden State Warriors, and the San Antonio Spurs come to mind. Look at the Cleveland Cavaliers last year. When Tyronn Lue took the reins and eventually got total buy-in from their players and coaching staff, the trajectory of their team drastically changed and ended with bringing the city of Cleveland their first ever NBA championship despite being down 3-1 in the finals. We know how important buy-in is to teams in every sport. Every player and every coach knows it. But knowing something doesn’t make it happen.
My question is… Why do coaches have to work so hard to generate buy-in from their players? The answer to the problem lies in the heart and soul of the athlete. Let’s take a look at why players have a hard time buying in…
Whether you like to admit it or not, thanks to our human nature, most players naturally have a few things in common that can hinder us when it comes to buying in.
Some fight their nature better than others. But somewhere, in the deepest darkest corners of our soul, lies the parts of our personality that we don’t wanna talk about at parties. We won’t acknowledge it. But pretending it’s not there is denial and a sure fire way to let these culture killers creep into our athletic souls.
We know these parts of us are there and could poison our locker room any time if we don’t keep ourselves in check. But we don’t have to succumb to these negative parts of us. We can replace them with positives. But you have to choose to make the trade.
1. Trade Skeptical for Coachable
How? Be inquisitive. Ask your coach questions. When players find themselves being skeptical or at odds with a coach’s teachings, there is usually a breakdown in communication and the player’s understanding of the coach. Instead of complaining about something you may not agree with or totally understand, be proactive and try to find out your coach’s WHY. The more you understand WHY your coach believes the way he/she does the easier it will be for you to buy in, share knowledge with your teammates, and perform on the court.
DISCLAIMER- Don’t question your coach in front of the whole team, but you have to try to grasp the WHY behind everything he/she is teaching. If you don’t understand at the time, ask after practice or in the coach’s office. The best players and leaders are always the ones who are most in tune with their coach’s philosophy and teaching points.
And remember, there is more than one right way to play basketball. Your coach has probably been involved with the game as long as you’ve been alive. So let go of what you think you know about basketball and let yourself get coached. Trust me, it’s in your best interest to not be at odds with your coach.
2. Trade Selfish for Selfless
How? Basketball is a TEAM sport. The sooner you come to grips with that the better. It’s not all about you. Be honest, selfish thoughts will creep into your head at times, but you have to fight off these thoughts. Thoughts that start with the word “I” and have a “my” somewhere in the sentence are usually not the thoughts that you need to let hang around in your head. Example- “I am not getting enough shots, and my scoring average is going to go down.” “Why does she play over me? I beat her all the time and my trainer said I’m way better than her.”
Here’s the hard truth- NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT YOURSELF. Whatever you do, DO NOT try to articulate these thoughts to your team- Combat them! When thoughts like these come out of your mouth or are evident in your body language, your coach and your teammates might start to care, but not in a good way. They’ll associate you with three of the most unbecoming qualities a player can have in sports- selfish, a complainer, or a pouter. That’s not how any player wants to be viewed, but too many players aren’t intentional about keeping their selfish thoughts in check and they earn these labels with their poor behavior. TRADE SELFISH THOUGHTS FOR SELFLESS THOUGHTS.
When your starting to feel like a victim or catch yourself thinking selfish thoughts, pause. Just start thinking about how you can help the team- EVEN IF YOU’RE ON THE BENCH. It’s a choice. You can be a pouter or you can be a great teammate. As you’re reading this, you know which is the better choice so decide ahead of time what kind of player/person you’re gonna be. You’ll gain so much respect and trust from your coaches and teammates if you have the ability to get outside yourself. And we all know coaches play the players they trust, and teammates who trust each other have great chemistry. Teams with great chemistry usually win a lot of games and have a lot of fun doing it. So it sounds like a no-brainer to me.
3. Trade Sensitive for Thick-Skinned
How? The best athletes understand that being a wad of feelings won’t get you very far in sports. They also understand that the best coaches usually coach the best players the hardest. If you’re coach gets on you or holds you accountable, it just means he believes in you and isn’t afraid to hold you to the high standard that you’ve set for yourself. Instead of getting caught up in your hurt feelings, you should understand what it is and take it as a compliment. This is what great players do.
In all my years in basketball, the best players I’ve ever seen had the thickest skin. No matter how hard the coach got on them, they could move on and play. This is a sign of confidence. Weaker players… Not so much. The less confident a player is or the weaker his skill set, the more his feelings seem get hurt. So if you find yourself getting your feelings hurt a lot, maybe there is a deeper issue.
Maybe you’re not as good or confident as you think you are. Maybe it’s time to look in the mirror and work on your game by putting in the sweat to master your skills to the point you can earn the confidence you need on the court with your play. Your coach can’t give you that confidence. And he can’t take away confidence that isn’t there to begin with. Think about that before you say “Coach doesn’t give me any confidence.”
As you get better you get more confident, and you’ll begin to like being held to a high standard. And If you already think you’re good, then make sure you act like it. Have thick skin.
You may say “Yeah, well, you don’t know my coach. He…”
I’ll stop you right there. He is your coach this year. End of story. You can’t do anything about that. So you might as well make the most of the season and buy-in. There’s no point throwing away a good year of basketball just because you don’t agree with everything your coach says and does.
It’s your choice.
Buy-in= Have a chance for a great year
Don’t Buy-in= Doomed to a miserable, frustrating experience
Set Yourself Up for a Great Year.