As the NBA Playoffs move toward conclusion, the rest of the basketball world is anticipating the draft, welcoming new players to college campuses for summer school and individual workouts, and developing standards for summer teams, camps, and training. It’s a time to focus on getting better and one of the best ways to get better is to stretch your mind. Once again, the wisdom of Coach John Wooden rings true,
One author making an impact within the sports world, but more importantly inspiring all of us through many of the lessons in sports, is Jon Gordon. His book, Training Camp, encourages each of us, athletes or not, to be the best that we can be. It serves as a playbook of sorts for striving for excellence.
BASKETBALL – How can you help your players grow?
Gordon wrote Training Camp after speaking to the Atlanta Falcons in their first training camp under head coach Mike Smith. Written as a fable, Training Camp follows an undrafted free agent rookie trying to earn a roster spot. The lessons he learns are directly related to what all athletes, in any sport and at any level, experience. This is an outstanding resource to use for team studies or to inspire any athlete or coach. The discussion of these principles can help teams and is well worth the investment of time. In fact, I’m proud of my son for picking it up, reading it in a day, and then using Gordon’s 11 Traits of the Best of the Best for the basis of team talks with the JV summer team he’s coaching. Sure, all Caleb needs to do is organize a substitution pattern in a summer league, but he already sees value in sharing principles with the young people following behind him. It will help him develop as a coach, if that’s what he wants to do, but will also leave an impact. Isn’t that what coaching is really about?
LIFE – Find time to read!
A few years ago, I was talking with a former Marquette player who was playing in the NBA. As a shot-blocking, defensive specialist he landed a big contract, but never seemed too enamored with playing professionally. He was grateful, but he found the life very difficult. For one thing, he was a deep thinker and well-read scholar. He found life in the league difficult because he rarely found teammates who invested time to grow through reading. And for as much as he tried, he just couldn’t influence others to stretch their minds. Without the opportunity to have meaningful conversations, he found life on the road to be a lonely experience. That’s left an impression on me. Even if you don’t read for entertainment, why wouldn’t people in any profession look to improve themselves and stretch their minds? Today, we have even made the process simpler with the tech boom – tablet readers, blogs, and websites make it so easy to expand your mind. Coach Wooden had it right, what you achieve and what you will become will be determined, in part, by what you read. It doesn’t have to be much, so find the time.
FAITH – If you read anything, read this!
Many coaches right now are preparing for their next training camp and many will be revising playbooks and picking out required reading materials. As Christians, too many of us avoid going back to camp and fail to read the playbook God has prepared for us to use as a guide for daily training ( see 2 Timothy 3:16-17).
In 2007, the mega-church in Chicago, Willow Creek, conducted an extensive study of the people they reach. The study divided church attendees into groups according to their level of spiritual formation: those who are “exploring Christianity,” those who are “growing in Christ,” those who are “close to Christ,” and those who are “Christ-centered.” (Read more about the findings of the study and what it can mean for your church in Reveal.) One of the important findings came from asking each of these groups what actions have had the most impact at moving believers from one level to the next. The clear-cut winner was reading the Bible on a daily basis. Through reading God’s word, we receive all that we need for navigating our way in a difficult world. Do you want to get to know God better? Do you wonder what the Christian life is all about? Do you have fears and doubts? Do you want to truly be the best of the best? God speaks to us when we consistently read His word. Try it for yourself – just take 15 minutes a day. Choose a time that works best. Find a quiet, comfortable place. Grab a cup of coffee and let God speak to you. Just like a well-run training camp, it will change your life!