Sky Hoops with House

January 19, 2012

What’s happening Sky Fans! It’s been a fantastic week watching NCAA games and working on free agency. Great stuff going on!

I thought I would share some thoughts with you on what every college team is going through right now. The midseason, start of conference play and... LOSING. This is a critical juncture of the college basketball season. The elite teams have finished the “easy” portion of their schedule. Are they ready for the heart of conference play?

Let’s look at HOW TO CHANGE LOSING INTO A POSITIVE and turn around a struggling season into an NCAA tournament run.

Losing stinks.

I know a lot of elite level players who feel the same way and use their distaste of losing as a major source of motivation.

As much as losing burns at our core, I do hope we can all agree that losing a basketball game is not the end of the world. As important as basketball is, you have to keep things in perspective. Nevertheless, I still stand by my opening statement → LOSING STINKS.

How you handle a loss and deal with adversity speaks volumes about your character, your competitiveness, your commitment to excellence, and determining whether losing will become a habit or the initial spark that ignites success.

Currently, there are many teams in the NCAA world that have lost some games they feel they should not have.

First thing, even though losing is not the end of the world, losing should hurt. When you invest an inordinate amount of time, effort, and love into something like the game of basketball, losing should hurt. It should burn at every fiber of your being. If it doesn't hurt, then you don't care. And if you don't care, you shouldn't be playing. If you have players that don’t care – you have the wrong players. College teams can’t change players, so you have to instill this mindset. Doing so in mid season is challenging, but not impossible.

However, you can't let it hurt for long. You can't wallow in self-pity. Feeling bad for yourself accomplishes nothing. You must lick your wounds, learn from the loss, and quickly move past it. If you don't, it will happen again. And it will continue to happen until the reasons you have been losing are corrected. Critical analysis of your play (both self and by coaches), your abilities and weaknesses are key. We do that as coaches daily. We work with our players to do that with them. Most elite athletes have risen to their level because this is who they are. Critical analysis is seen as a positive with elite athletes, not a personal attack.

Attention to detail about the corrective measures needed must occur. Follow through on working on those corrective measures with repetition is the final piece to the puzzle.

Losing, like any other setback or failure, should be looked at as a learning experience and a way to grow and improve. It is very important to learn from every loss and use it as a stepping-stone to future victory. You don't want to let one loss rattle your team's confidence and snowball into a streak of losses. You need to learn from it and nip it in the bud! Correct what you can correct and get to the next one.

Failure lives in the past... success lies in the present.
Stay in the moment.

This is truly the only way teams turn the negative of losing into a positive. If not, it stays a negative and leads to future failures.

In order to learn from it, you must honestly and accurately identify why you lost.

In my opinion, there are only three reasons you lose a game:

•. You weren't as talented as the other team.
•. You didn't execute or make plays. Including physical and mental preparation and knowledge.
•. You played with a lack of effort, intelligence and/or toughness (mental and/or physical.)

Determining why you lost is the most important factor when deciding how to handle it and how to bounce back.

If you lost because the other team was more talented... did you still compete? Or did you play scared?

If you lost because you didn't execute or make plays, was it a mental thing (lack of focus, lack of poise under pressure, lack of discipline)? Or was it just a poor shooting night? If it was a poor shooting night... had you (as a player) spent extra time in the gym on shots you get during games? Self discipline to work your craft.

If you lost because you lacked effort and the other team outworked you, was it because...

Scratch that, there is no because. There is never an excuse or reason for playing with a lack of effort. EVER. That is absolutely and completely unacceptable. Losing from a lack of effort is the only time you should punish yourself at the next practice. And you should make a statement to make sure it never happens again. Like killing an ant with a sledgehammer.

I can accept and admit when the other team was better. I can accept and admit when we had an off night (poor shooting)... but I cannot and will not accept losing from a lack of effort.

In addition to identifying why you lost, it is equally important to evaluate how you lost. Did you show proper sportsmanship to the other team and the officials? Did you play like a team or did you play selfishly, point fingers and make excuses?

Obviously no one likes to lose, but it is very important you learn how to handle losses like a professional and with character... not like a petulant child.

We win together, we lose together. No one player or coach wins a game alone and no one player or coach loses a game either. Missing a shot at the buzzer or throwing the ball away with three seconds left is never what actually loses the game. It was an accumulation of the previous 31 minutes and 57 seconds.

Make sure as a player and/or coach, you take some time to reflect and evaluate both why you lost and how you lost and use it as a learning experience for your next practice, next game as well as for the rest of the season.

FIGHT ... FOCUS ... FINISH ... FOR 40

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