Be Uncommon in the Off-Season

Gwyneth Roberts/Lincoln Journal Sar

Gwyneth Roberts/Lincoln Journal Sar

I agree with Nebraska’s women’s basketball coach, Connie Yori – players who are willing to work on their skills in the off-season are uncommon.  Read Game is Overcoached and Undertaught from the Lincoln Journal Star.  Most young players have fallen into the common trap of only “playing” the game.  Yet why are we surprised?  We live in a society that not only encourages, but expects, us to do common things.  Even in the church, many Christians fall into the trap of playing faith, without working at faith.  Why do we do that?  Why do we have to be common?

BASKETBALL – How can you be “uncommon?”

As the NBA heads into the playoffs, the rest of the basketball world has already stepped in to the “work” phase of the season.  Depending on a player’s level, he may have organized skill workouts, work with a personal coach, or attend camps, but most will simply settle for “playing” in open gyms, on summer league teams, or with travelling club teams.  That’s the common way.  The uncommon way may or may not include the playing but does involve developing skills.  Many players will give lip service, but few will follow through!

During my time with the women at Marquette, I had a chance to watch two of the most “uncommon” players I’ve ever seen.  Steve Novak made himself into a terrific NBA shooter with his persistent dedication to a shooting routine and Travis Diener, an undersized 6′ 0″ point guard, was arguably just as important as Dwayne Wade in leading Marquette to the 2003 Final Four.  Whether it was a Thanksgiving morning in an empty practice facility or while fans were leaving from a women’s game, both of these guys had an uncommon discipline for working on their game.  As we head in to the off-season, I’m hoping to find players who attack the game uncommonly.  To be uncommon in your workouts:

1.  Be Consistent – do at least a minimum amount of work at least five times a week.  Use a set amount of time, a set number of shots, or a specific routine .

2.  Don’t Make Excuses – time conflicts, lack of a workout partner, or facility issues should not prevent you from doing a workout.

3.  Apply Pressure – use consequences and rewards to simulate realistic pressures of speed and production.

4.  Use the Basics – shoot free throws, work on lay-ups and paint shots, and handle the ball.

5.  Narrow Your Focus – choose one or two areas to improve.

Players who actually do this are uncommon!  On You Tube, you can find a variety of workouts to use to build your own.  Check out Basketball HQ, ImPossible Training, and San Antonio Basketball for a few new ideas!

LIFE – Are you comfortable being “uncommon?”

UncommonIt’s far too common for most of us to let society determine the standards we’ll follow.  Sadly for many Christians, we resist the idea of working at and integrating our faith into our daily activities.  We save it for Sunday.  It’s no secret that I admire the work and thoughts of former NFL coach, Tony Dungy.  His second book, Uncommon, is a challenge to men to stand up against the expectations from our culture.  It’s not easy, but it can be done!  And as a parent, I’m learning more and more how important it is to teach and encourage my kids to take that approach when it’s needed; not to be rebellious, but to take a personal stand.  As a family we grew a lot through a wonderful book called Weird.  It has inspired us to look for times when we need to do things differently from the world around us, like working at our faith!

FAITH – Jesus was anything but common!

Wisdom comes when we read God’s word.  If you want to know how young people should spend their time, why not check the life of Jesus?  One simple passage in Luke 2 tells us how He spent His youth:

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

To be uncommon, as Tony Dungy says, why not focus on what Jesus did by growing in faith, growing in wisdom, worshiping God, and learning how to relate to your fellow man?