Three Key Elements to Advance Your Progress
"Speed doesn't always matter. Forward is forward."
Change happens slowly. Season by season, team by team, player by player, drill by drill. We set expectations, build our systems, establish roles, set the culture, and do the work.
Those who are most likely to grow do not get distracted. They take consistent small actions, one more practice, one more drill, one more rep. They understand there are plateaus, and even valleys, but stay consistent. We overestimate what we can do in a matter of weeks or months, and underestimate what we can do over the course of a season, or even a few years.
Player to Player
"The best teams are player led."
Change happens player to player. What do we hold one another accountable for? How are our beliefs and priorities reflected in our behaviours? The coach may try to set the culture, but ultimately the players determine it.
When we see groups of players coming in early or staying late after practice, discussing the team’s warm-up routine at recess, we know they are pushing one another in the same direction. My high school teammates and I would meet at Leto’s Pizza to draw out our plays on napkins and strategize about the upcoming tournament. We would have Ed, our school janitor, open the back door of the gym to let us get in extra reps (stay within the rules everybody LOL).
For a team to change, it usually requires a core group that pushes each other forward. It is rare that it’s the entire team (although ideal). At younger ages, in club or school, when we see a core group of 5-6 players pushing each other, attending camps, lifting weights, we know the players and team are in good shape to progress. The best teams are player led.
"It's what we settle for, or are unwilling to settle for, that changes us."
The key to our growth lies in constantly setting a higher standard. This can be at practice, or in competition. It can be in how we take care of ourselves off the court. Who do we associate with the most, and is this advancing my purpose?
If your current standard is to skip meals because you ‘don’t have time’, and this is causing your training and energy to suffer…you need to be willing to set a new standard for fuelling your body. If your standard today is to arrive at practice ‘just in time’, you can set a higher standard to arrive 15 minutes early to get in some extra reps.
To be the best high school point guard I could be, I ran 3-miles every morning before school. I tracked it all on a poster board and once logged over 250 days in a row without missing my run. I continued this at university while with the Golden Bears volleyball team, running 5-miles every morning with my friend George (aka FOG Volleyball Club “Friends of George”). It's not that I loved running, but this higher standard was required to progress alongside athletes who were much bigger and more physically gifted than myself.
What happened in the past is not that important. We can set a new standard whenever we decide to do it. So start by looking at what you settle for today, and find small ways to 'raise the bar' in a few key areas. To be great at something requires constant change, and this means constantly setting higher standards.