Trustworthy Basketball Players

Since my One Word for this year is TRUST, let’s consider another side of trust in basketball.  While coaches have the responsibility to build an atmosphere of trust, successful players will take ownership for their own part of the trust equation.  And for many of us in our own lives, taking personal responsibility for being trustworthy is often a key to happiness.  Basketball is no different.  Let’s face it, most players feel their coach trusts them through two words, “playing time,” and most players feel their teammates trust them if they do one thing – pass them the ball.  Is it really that simple, though?

BASKETBALL – Earning Trust

Basketball players begin with a level of trust from their coaches and teammates, but once you join a team, everything you do will either build that trust or tear it down.  Every player has the opportunity to develop the trust of his coaches and of his teammates.  Here are some quick ideas for how players can become trustworthy:

1. Actively Listen – Coaches trust players who listen, ask clarifying questions, and do all they can to understand the expectations of a coach.  Coaches trust players who convey that they not only listen, but act appropriately on what they hear.

2. Communicate – Basketball requires constant talk on the floor and that talk builds trust within a team.  Teammates trust players who talk on defense, verbally remind each other and provide encouragement.  As a result, coaches typically play those players more.  In addition, trust is also improved when players respond quickly to texts and emails and immediately follow through with communication off the court.

3.  Accept Coaching – Players who do their own thing or present an unwillingness to develop and grow from criticism and instruction rarely build trust with their coaches.

4. Invest Time – When a player sacrifices time to invest in becoming a better player and teammate, trust is strengthened.  Through extra time in the gym, watching film, and by participating in team functions, as well as informal socializing, players earn more trust.  Those that don’t often find themselves struggling to keep up.

5. Come Eager – Coaches trust players who show up on time, are properly rested and prepared for practice, and are anxious to compete. Can a coach really trust players who just show up?

6. Consistently Produce – It’s one thing to try hard, communicate, and do the right thing, but in the end, players need to produce.  Players build trust on a daily basis by how they produce in drills, scrimmages, and games, no matter what the circumstances may be.

If you want a coach to trust you more, even if you view trust simply as a matter of playing time, focus on improving in each of these areas and you’ll see any coach growing to trust you more.

LIFE – Reliability = Happiness

Trustworthiness and reliability are hot topics in the sports world these days, so let’s step away from hoops and consider Heisman Trophy winner, Jamies Winston.  He is considered the top player in college football, yet because of his repeated acts of stupidity, former NFL coach, Tony Dungy said on The Dan Patrick Show  that if he were still coaching, he wouldn’t trust him enough to draft him!  Some would say that talent on the field outweighs mistakes in a player’s personal life, but time and time again we see that very few of us can separate aspects of our life.  Inevitably, character traits show up in whatever we do.

Being trustworthy and being a person who others can count on, in small things as well as major things, leads to happiness.  If people can’t trust you, life will be pretty miserable. Think about it for a moment – are you a person of integrity?  Can people count on you?  Do you pay your bills on time?  Do you show up on time and when people need you?  Do you take responsibility for communication or do you leave it to others?  Are you the same person in all areas of your life?  Do you keep your word? Are you trustworthy?  If you are consistently, not only will you experience more happiness and fulfillment, but you’ll be in a position to positively impact those around you.  Whether you’re an athlete on a team or not, being trustworthy is a trait each of us can develop.

FAITH – Can God trust you?

I love the imagery found in Scripture and Solomon delivers another gem of wisdom about trustworthiness when he wrote:

Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat — refreshing!” (Proverbs 25:13 MSG)

Being a trustworthy person, as a player, a coach, or a friend helps us deal with a world that often lets us down, but it’s also an important step for followers of Christ to live as a reflection of God.  He expects us to be trustworthy in all that we do.

In Psalm 15, David takes it a step further when he asked a basic question, “Who does God trust enough to live with Him in heaven?” and then answers with a short list of items, which includes verse 5,  “Keep your word, no matter what it costs you!” While none of us can ever perfectly meet  requirements like this, God does set a blueprint for how He expects us to live as His followers.  And those traits we develop, like being trustworthy, should show up in all that we do – including basketball!