Maximize Your Summer League - WRITE!

We got off and running last week with our summer league, along with the rest of the state. One thing I am working on this summer is tracking all practices, workouts, and games. Not just what we do, but more importantly the positives and negatives within each session. Tracking our growth will allow me to see what the most important things we need to address going into next season. Summer league is a great way to assess where your team is at, and also where you are as a player. Here are 3 things you can start tracking after each practice/game with your team:


What do you consistently hear your coach saying to you individually and also to your team as a whole? It’s important to know what your coach values and what he thinks will help your team reach its potential.


When you are out of the game, watch your teammates and learn from them. Think about what they are doing to help the team, and what they are doing to hurt the team. Reflect on how you can change your game using what you now know.


Set goals for the next game. Make sure they are measurable, which means you might need to ask someone to track something for you. You can ask your parents, or even an assistant coach to track what you are trying to improve. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a traditional statistic. Maybe your team switches screens and you want to see how many times you are able to deny a pass after switching.


Use Your Mornings, Develop Habits

A few years ago, I got to the point where I was tired of saying how much I wish I could or would do certain things. I had to admit to myself that I was all talk. I can remember reading an article from Darren Hardy that talked about bookends. He was saying that there will always be unexpected things throughout the day that might deviate our schedules. But, usually, we can control the beginning of our days and the end of our days. (Maybe different for people with kids) My morning routine is consistent, but I shift a few things around on a couple days. Generally, I begin with meal prep for the day (including a veggie smoothie), get my training in, and then I spend time in scripture and prayer.

I tend to think about things I could have done differently as a young athlete with the knowledge I know now. My senior year, I had late arrival at school which meant I didn’t start class until 9:15 am. Yet, even though I have always been a morning person, I never really took advantage of that time. My opinion is that sleep is crucial to athletic development, so If you are starting school at 7 am, you may not be able to fit as much into your mornings. However, here are a few suggestions that athletes who are serious about improvement should consider:

Foam rolling

Foam rolling allows you to get the stiffness out of your muscles and prepares your body to be mobile.


Drink water when you wake up! You just went 8 hours (more or less) without water.


Don’t go from your bed to the couch. Get your body moving to wake yourself up. This could be as intense as training or as simple as going for a walk.

Start your day off by paying attention to living a disciplined life. Develop habits that will help you grow.


Proverbs 29 and Effective Leadership

The most important piece for a team to reach its full potential is effective leadership. This comes from both coaches and players. I have been intrigued with leadership for the past couple years and learning about what great leaders do and what horrible leaders do. I continually look at my life and see who around my I value as a leader and who I do not. The most effective leaders throughout my life have made me want to accomplish something for their sake, not in regards to my personal gain. The moments in my life when I feel like everything I am doing is for myself causes me not only to reflect on who I am as a person but also who are the leaders that are promoting this selfishness. I love reading books about this topic (if you have any recommendations, please send them my way). However, I think I have come across one of the highest quality lists of leadership in Proverbs 29. Quality leadership is reflected in the attitude of the people. This is usually described as the moral of the team and translated through team chemistry. So how can leaders get people to “rejoice” (29:2)?


(v.15, 17, 21)

Without discipline, there is no standard which we can hold people to. The opposite of this is spoiling and pampering people. This promotes a sense of entitlement and builds characters who resist correction.


(v. 4, 14, 16, 18)

Justice and fairness provide stability within the team. This makes leadership consistent and constant. With favoritism, leaders will face pushback from people who recognize it.


(v. 12, 23)

This could also be seen as the lack of pride. Being able to humble yourself and recognize that even though you are the leader, you do not have all the answers allows your team to see that you value them. Letting go of pride when you are confused as to what to do builds trust and support for the leadership. An arrogant leader will not have lasting success. A humble leader will admit and acknowledge their faults.


(v. 5)

Sometimes the things that need to be said are the hardest things to say. However, being honest with criticism is more respected that lying to flatter someone.


Why Leaders Need Discipline - - Proverbs 10:17

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way of life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Proverbs 10:17

This is my first time reading through the Proverbs. The reading plan I am following has me reading 1 per day (I am on my second round through). One of the main themes throughout the book is discipline. This particular verse proved discipline to be vital to becoming a successful leader.

When I think of discipline, I think of three ways to define it:

Being disciplined - receiving consequences for actions

Having discipline - being able to do what is needed to be done, whether you want to or not

A discipline, or act - something that is done for growth

Each form of discipline is beneficial to the growth of an individual and also necessary for a leader to be effective.

Leaders must be able to handle feedback while also giving their teammates feedback (leading vocally).

Leaders must be able to do what is necessary regardless of how hard it is (leading by example).

Leaders must do little things on a daily basis that help them reach their full potential (leading by setting the standard).

The outcome of leaderships’ attitudes towards discipline will determine the development of your team. Will you show the way, or lead others astray?


Setback, or opportunity?

I recently received an email from my church that the class my wife and I had signed up for had been canceled due to lack of interest. Apparently, they have a minimum need of 10 people to sign up. While I understand the policy, I question why so many people pass up this opportunity to study and gain more knowledge in a subject they are obviously interested in? Westside A Jesus Church is not a small place. There are four services and each are highly populated. What kind of opportunities are you being given that you are not taking advantage of?

Many times in athletics, we have opportunities that we fail to recognize. In fact, we see them as setbacks. A personal example that I have (and that I see year after year) is being a Junior on the JV team. This can be hard, because players typically advance from Freshman team to JV team then to the varsity team as a Junior. My first reaction was that it was a huge setback and I was getting left behind. Years later, I was able to reflect and realize that I was given the opportunity to play in games more than I would have at the Varsity level, which allowed me to grow as a player.

There is always opportunity to grow in whatever situation you are in. If you feel like something is a setback, find the opportunity in it.



Being Coachable - - Respond AND React

There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. - Matthew 21:28-31

I can remember first hearing about what being coachable is from former Willamette University head coach Gordie James. He said that being coachable was not about saying “yes, coach” or telling the coach all the right things and having a good attitude. While those traits may in fact be good, they may also be a front. Being coachable is about taking correction from a coach and applying it, whether that be on the court or off.

Look at the two sons in Jesus’ parable. One says, “I will not.” A stern answer, a blatant refusal to follow directions. The other says, “I will, sir.” A response of submission along with addressing his dad with a respectful name. If the story stops here, it would be obvious which son was more coachable. But as we look deeper, the one who refuses at first ends up following his dad’s direction. The son who appeared to be respectful ends up insulting his dad by refusing to follow up on his word.

Being coachable requires actions in addition to a response. Coachable players will find their game improving throughout the season. The more players on a team that are coachable, the closer that team will get to reach its full potential. Remember that your coach only wants to help you improve when he is giving you advice. His goal is not to make you feel bad or inadequate, but to give you the tools to become the best player you can be.



Screen Time and Your Lack of Focus

“To watch television as a default would be to waste our many gifts.” - Tsh Oxenreider  

The above quote might use television as an example, but I think this quote relates to overall screen time, including phones, Ipads, and television. The screen has become the default activity for society, and is even more of a problem with youth. While smart phones may seem to only distract the individual for the time being, the lasting effect is real.

Abundant screen time can lead to attention deficit, lack of physical motivation, and, worst of all, stupidity (the last one is based off of observation and personal experience). About a year and a half ago, I got rid of my smartphone (and social media) and came back to the flip phone. It was one of the best decisions I have made in recent years. This caused me to talk to people face-to-face and engage in situations I would usually hide behind my phone in. It also encouraged me to explore new hobbies and activities.

As an athlete, screen time can be a huge hindrance on your development. Hobbies such as TV and video games, if abused, can deflate your goals. Abusing your phone can lead to mental distractions. I see a lot of players who are attached to their phone, on it before practice, and reaching for it first thing after. That means that in the 2 hours of practice, their mind was on something other than basketball.

I think technology has provided us with many great opportunities. However, we all need to be cautious as to the amount of time and attention it can take away from us. It’s easy to notice the time, but the lasting effects are the ways it distracts our mind in what we are doing currently doing.