Principles First. Build Your Foundation.



The other day a coach reached out to Alan Stein of Stronger Team and me on Twitter asking a question about how to get his kids to communicate. He had a unique situation I’d never really heard before, or necessarily knew how to address at first. I love getting questions I don’t know the answer to because it makes me think strategically, reflect and grow.

This coach was having a challenge with his players communicating in games. According to him they communicating to his level of expectations during practice, but it didn’t carry over to the game, and was looking for a way to create this carryover.

I suggested that he find something measurable he could track in games and then share this with his players. While you can continually preach “communication” to your players I think you have to specifically define what this looks like.

A simple example is defensive communication.

You’re either on ball, in the gap/denial or in help position. If this is the challenge you can easily have managers or a coach track each one of these communication points during a game and share with your players. Set a baseline and always look to improve on that. Stats do not lie.

Alan’s advice was to “ sit them. Nothing is a bigger motivator than the bench”, which is many situations is great advice.  Especially when you are dealing with behaviors that are completely within your control. No matter how tired your legs are your mouth doesn’t get fatigued.

The coach responded that “it would be tough to do for extended times because our bench is really short”.  I have not followed up with this coach, but am 99% sure this is the response a lot of coaches would have. And, although it might be the truth here lies the problem.

You’re placing instant gratification, in this case winning, in front of instilling principles. And unless you put principles first you are always going to be dealing with this same issue. No matter what it might be. Over and over and over again until it emotionally wears on you and drains your energy.

By placing your principles ahead of instant gratification your building the foundation of your team, which is going to give you the ability to persist through adversity. Through away crowds, bad calls and off shooting nights.

Principles first.

Build your foundation every day.

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