From the Book Pile: The Hoops Whisperer (Is it Time For a Turning Point?)

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Personal workout trainers have carved out a niche in the world of basketball as they conduct private, individual or small group workouts for NBA stars, future pros, and even young players trying to gain an edge. As a coach, I’ve had mixed feelings about placing individual development ahead of team development, but I understand it and know that pushing individual development can certainly help the team.

Recently, trainers working with elite NBA players have received some notoriety, even publishing books about their experiences. The first book I picked up was Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by trainer Tim Grover.  I struggled to finish it as it left me with an uneasy feeling as he described an ultra-competitive world of NBA stars in an attempt to motivate readers to tap into the same type of driven, laser-focused lives of great players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and Dwayne Wade. It was a shallow attempt that basically makes you feel that if you’re not driven to the point where you ruin every other aspect of your life, you’ll never be a superstar.  It did provide some interesting insights – enough that it at least led me to pick up the recent release from another personal trainer, Idan Ravine. This time around, the quick read about Ravine’s style and purpose left me feeling better about the role that personal trainers can play and the role that passion plays in helping each of us make changes and improvements in our lives.

BASKETBALL – The Whisperer

Idan Ravine

Idan Ravine, The Hoops Whisperer. New York. Gotham, 2014. 256 pp., $18.11

Ravine has a fascinating story.  Born into a traditional Jewish family to an Israeli immigrant couple, Ravine relates his love affair with basketball that survived limited physical skills, being cut from his seventh-grade team, playing out of the spotlight at an all-Jewish high school, and being denied a walk-on spot at the University of Maryland.  And even though he pursued a career in law, Ravine found himself being repeatedly pulled back to his passion and turned a chance encounter with graduating college star Steve Francis into a career, despite being ignored in every other attempt to crack into the world of professional basketball:

Ravine’s story is important at the start of the New Year when we often think about making changes.  The key to making any change is finding those things in life that truly matter to us.  For basketball players, the only way to make changes or to improve is to be passionate about it.  As Ravine learned through his own career, but also through the careers of the elite players of the game, it doesn’t just happen.  Here’s more wisdom in a more extensive interview with Ravine:

LIFE – Turning Points

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

At this time of year, many of us think about, talk about, and disillusion ourselves with resolutions.  We vow to make changes as if the only time we can do that is at the beginning of new year.  Art Briles, who I mentioned recently because he has turned around the football program and consequently the entire Baylor University athletic program, suggests that making changes, real life changes, can happen at any time.  In fact, life is full of the opportunity to make changes.  He calls them “turning points.” Turning points are not a simple resolution or some lightning bolt from the sky that points you in a new direction.  They are the daily opportunities to make a decision and head in a new direction – but for them to stick, they have to be more than just a momentarily good idea.  Briles has been whispering that mantra on the Baylor campus and over the last five years, the culture has turned around.

If I make a resolution to lose 30 pounds this year, the odds say that I have an eight percent change of that resolution coming to fruition.  The only way that will happen is if I am passionate about what my life will be like after I lose those pounds.  If I don’t really value the results, it’s doubtful I can achieve that weight loss; but if I choose each day to improve my habits and if I listen to an encouraging whisper from somebody like my wife, I know this year can be a turning point in my personal health.

FAITH – Transformation

LukeMany of us who follow Christ need some turning points in our faith walk. God whispers to us through the Holy Spirit that He wants us to trust and obey Him.  He wants each of us to walk more closely with Him.  That requires more than just a resolution.  You may have known Jesus since you were a child or you may have heard His voice through an emotional experience, but that moment is just the start of a turning point.  God promises you that if you draw close to Him, He will draw close to you (James 4:8). That’s the transformation we each can have and it starts with loving Jesus above everything else in our lives.  How often we forget that! We blame circumstances or blame other people and even blame God, rather than realize that we haven’t resolved to follow what God tells us. We wonder why God seems distant or we make promises and resolutions in trying to please Him, rather than simply love Him above everything else:

Anyone who wants to be my follower must love me far more than he does his own father, mother, wife, children, brothers, or sisters—yes, more than his own life—otherwise he cannot be my disciple.  (Luke 4:27 TLB)

Do you want to have a turning point in your life?  If you haven’t already, allow him into your heart, listen to His voice, and love Him more than anything else in this world. And if you already know Jesus, choose each day to lean on His promises and take Him at His word. The Bible is full of if/then statements that will transform your life – If we do this . . . God will do that . . . It may not happen as quickly or in the exact way that we want it, but God will transform your life if you listen to His whisper.

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