Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Having a Basketball Philosophy

Coaches recognize the importance of having a basketball philosophy that embodies the team's style of play.

This philosophy provides the basis for how the team will move forward and eventually be that "thing" they become known for.

Maybe you've got a speedy squad on your hands that likes to push the ball up the floor as quickly as possible?

Or are they a slower systematic kind of team that flourishes in the half court set?

Perhaps, your team's calling card is their defensive grind it out style of play?

How do you decide which way to go?

A great starting point would be to conduct an evaluation of the team's skills and abilities. Having a good understanding of what their strengths are can help determine the style most suitable for them.

Conversely you'll also have an opportunity to determine the areas of improvement.

For example, if your team is made up of athletic players who can run the floor then perhaps playing at a quicker pace is the more logical choice.

Arriving on a style of play that makes sense for the team now allows a coach an opportunity to design strategies, organize practices and select other players that fit within this framework.

When it comes to evaluating your team as a leader, the same principles apply. This becomes increasingly important for cross functioning groups with a variety of skill sets.

Ideally, leaders want a productive, high functioning and efficient team to work with. The best way to achieve this is to put its individual members in situations where their skills can be fully maximized.


Determining your team philosophy can't happen without knowing who they are first.

"Vision is the art of seeing the invisible."

— Jonathan Swift

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

An Inspiration Named Tessa

During the fall of 2007, I ran a weekly basketball skill development program with a group of volunteer coaches for approximately 40 elementary school aged girls.

The girls were a lot of fun and had a great time. The coaches and I did everything possible to make the experience beneficial from a skill development aspect in a fun atmosphere.

They were all great to work with and one of the more memorable players was 12 year old Tessa.

She was a fantastic player but it wasn't her skills on the court that stood out, rather it was her love for the game.

You could tell just by watching her how much she enjoyed playing basketball. But what was even more significant was the positive effects her good nature had on others.

She made it fun for everyone and she seemed to never stop smiling.

In January of 2008, Tessa started to experience severe headaches which later was discovered to be a brain tumour.

This was the starting point of a difficult battle for Tessa. However, she never stopped smiling and maintained her positive spirit throughout the chemotherapy treatments.

She was so much of an inspiration that the staff and students at her school, St. David of Wales held a Toonie for Tessa walk to raise more than $3,000 for their friend.

The doctors gave Tessa a short time to live after two unsuccessful surgeries to remove the tumour were performed.

Tessa's strong spirit bravely fought the cancer for two years battle before she sadly passed away on May 17, 2009 at the age of 14.

Tessa served as an inspiration to many and will be missed by family, friends and coaches.

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Leaving a Positive Legacy

Wayman Tisdale, a 12 year NBA veteran and jazz musician died at the age of 44 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Wayman was more than just a former NBAer who became an accomplished jazz musician after he retired. He was an inspiration to so many others as he battled a disease that eventually claimed his life.

Wayman never stopped smiling and maintained a positive attitude even after the doctors were forced to amputate his right leg in August 2008 to try and stem the cancer.

I had the honour and privilege of interviewing him on The NBA Breakdown in March of 2009.

Wayman said, “I’m getting through it and keeping a positive attitude about the whole situation.”

He also said, "People who make it through things like this are the positive people and that's what I want to be known as."

Wayman Tisdale left a legacy of a positive person despite the adversity he faced.

As we travel through this on this road called life, it's important to know that we can all be examples through the things we do.

In most cases, we never fully realize the impact of our positive actions on the lives of others or the residue it leaves behind.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Definition of a Leader

Leadership is both art and a science.

One of the keys to understanding leadership is realizing that we all can be leaders through our individual actions and behaviours.

You don't have to be in a designated "leader" role to be impactful and make a difference on the lives of others.

Listen to the link below and hear the similarities between leaders and basketball point guards.

Click here to listen to the podcast.


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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Gold or Bronze?

Having a successful team takes more than just assembling the most talented players in world and expecting them to be winners.

Making sure you have the right group of people who's blended skills can complement one another is vital to the team's success.

We're talking about collaboration, exceution and chemistry.

The 2004 US Olympic basketball squad is a great example of this. They were the finest basketball players in the world who's goal was to bring home the gold medal. However, their dreams materialized into a bronze finish.

While there isn't an official do's and don't list when it comes to assembling a team, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Communicate the goals of the team clearly from the onset to make sure everyone knows the game plan.

Try to assemble a group with varied skill sets and strengths, this will give members an opportunity to show off their individuals talents.

Having a vision of what the team's identity will be can help you select the most suitable members.

Align tasks with strengths of the members to best maximize contributions.

Have a clear system on how you choose to evaluate prospective team members. Instinct vs references

In Closing...

Keeping these points in mind could be the difference in having a team that brings home a gold medal versus a bronze.

“Coming together is the beginning;
keeping together is the process;
working together is success.”
– Henry Ford

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