How Do You Treat Yourself After a Mistake?

Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Photo: Mark Nolan/Getty Images

As practice continues for many and approaches for others, we’ve been addressing the attitudes and perceptions that players should consider as they take to the floor. While competing for playing time and a spot on a team is at the forefront for most, this is also a critical time of improvement. Within the context of proving yourself, however, many players easily fall into poor habits of self-talk, especially when it comes to making mistakes.  Let’s take a closer look.

BASKETBALL – Increase Your Activity

Basketball is a game of mistakes. Everyone misses lay ups,shoots air balls, loses the ball, stumbles, and makes poor decisions.  You need to accept that.  Just because you missed 10 shots in a row, doesn’t mean you won’t make the next one.

bildeWe had to talk about that with our team the other day.  As we had our Fall break, we scheduled an early morning practice – our first of the year, and even though we talked about being prepared for practice and we urged our players to take responsibility for their teammates so that we were all ready to go, we were flat.  And, we didn’t just start flat, we had multiple mistakes pile upon mistakes!  We had to stop and reset.  We talked about basketball being a game of mistakes.  We talked about admitting the mistake, understanding the mistake, and ultimately, making up for the mistake and not simply pushing it aside.  You see, too many of us think that all you need to do is forget about it, but you have to be careful with that.  It certainly helps to have “short-term” memory so that you can move on, but you have to move on proactively so that you don’t continue to make the same mistake. We’re talking about that within a new defense we’re implementing when we tell our players “don’t get beat the same way consecutively.”  Learn and adjust.

If you’re not familiar with the camps and resources of Point Guard College, you need to be!  Listen to this instruction about responding to mistakes from former All-American point guard, Dena Evans:


I like Dena’s approach.  Recognize that you will make mistakes, but recognize the mistake and then increase your activity.  Focus in.  Talk more.  Do something positive.

LIFE – What You Say

All of us make mistakes in our life as well, but repeating mistakes and allowing mistakes to define us leads each of us down disappointing paths.  Mistakes, however, are not simple accidents or missteps.  The original meaning of “mistake” is to take in error.  We often play a role in our mistakes and in many cases, what we say to ourselves about our mistakes, is often more impactful than the mistakes themselves!

Seven Steps to Self-Talk Success

Admit the mistake:  “Hey, it happened.”
Own the mistake:  “Yes, I did it. No Excuses!”
Understand the mistake:  “How exactly did it go wrong?”
Explore the mistake’s impact: “What are the consequences of my error?”
Make amends for the mistake: “What person do I need to apologize to and how can I make it right?”
Learn from the mistake: “How can I grow from this?”
Move beyond the mistake: “How can I positively increase my activity?”

The reality is we are all human and we all blow it. The critical question for each of us is this:  How do I treat myself afterward?

FAITH – What You Do

downloadThere is no better example in the Bible of overcoming not just a mistake, but a critical, willful act of disobedience (sin) than King David.  David, “the man after God’s own heart,” willfully acted in a moment of lust to commit adultery with another man’s wife and then compounded the problem by seeing to the man’s death (read all about it in 2 Samuel 11).  If you’re familiar with the story, thess sins eventually led to the model of confession for most of us (see Psalm 51).   Many of us shortchange that account, however, by simplifying it down to “David sinned, David confessed, God forgave, and David moved on from the mistake,” but the truth is that journey took almost an entire year, as Max Lucado writes in his book Facing Your Giants:

It took David a year. It took a surprise pregnancy, the death of a soldier, the persuasion of a preacher, the probing and pressing of God, but David’s hard heart finally softened, and he confessed: “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13).

And, that major mistake (sin) was really just part of a pattern of neglect for his marriage(s) and his children.  As you read more from Lucado and in the Old Testament, David was a lousy father.  Even though he admitted his sin and owned his sin of marital infidelity, it doesn’t appear that he increased his “activity” as Dena suggested.  What if he would have focused in a bit more or communicated more with his family?

Have you made some mistakes?  Do you have sins that stick with you.  Your life can be healed, restored, and rebuilt, just like David’s was, even if it takes an entire lifetime. It’s not an easy journey, but it will be the most worthwhile venture you can choose.  Like David, you will have to be honest with God, and with yourself – but, then you have to increase your activity and you have to consider what you say to yourself.



You Can Always Learn to Play Defense

hi-res-158282241_crop_northAs our players step onto the court this weekend, far too many come in with a faulty sense of what they need to do to earn playing time and a faulty sense of what they can contribute. Many will assume that it’s all about scoring, while few will focus, even though we’ve been emphasizing it throughout the preseason, on learning how to defend. That’s a standard for most programs – you have to play defense!  There’s also a standard from God that never changes, but few of us are willing to think about it, talk about it, or follow it.  Let’s explore what players can do at the start of the season to become better defenders and then relate that to the taboo subject of sexual sin.
(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

A while back, I suggested that players in the preseason should spend as much time working on defending a ball-handler as they do working on their shot.  My suggestion fell on deaf ears.  Why would players want to do that?  It’s hard enough to get them in the gym, why would they do that on their own?  I would hope that it’s because they want to play, but for most players, it’s all about scoring.  While I spend most of my time coaching offense, I still believe that defense is the key to consistent winning. My encouragement for players beginning practices soon is to let your shooting and scoring come, but take the time, right now, to be come a better defender.

Consider the NBA’s Tony Allen.  Playing behind Paul Pierce with the Celtics early in his career, Allen found the only way to get on the floor was to become a supreme defender. He parlayed that skill into becoming one of the most respected defenders in the league playing for the Memphis Grizzlies.  His passion for defense, as outlined in a Sports on Earth article from 2013 entitled All D, All Day, provides several keys for all players to become better defenders.  Here are five aspects of defenders like Allen:

  1. Focus – Admit you can get better and focus on getting better, every day and in every drill.
  2. Strength – Defending requires physical strength.  Don’t forget the weight room – ever!
  3. Study & Prepare – Allen studies his opponents – on film, in games, and even against teammates in practice.  Go to school!
  4. Control – Take control of the player you’re defending.  Force them our of their comfort zone and don’t leave it to referees or teammates to bail you out.  Take responsibility.
  5. Overcome – When you give up a score, bounce back.  When you make a mistake, make up for it.
LIFE – Defend the Standard
istock_000017356047small_wide-59a19304fd5e7a5819f1bf20f9796caa43b1fbf7-s6-c10The culture we live in has not just weakened, but in many cases, has abolished moral standards that apply to all of us.  As the presidential campaign unfolds, constant attempts to cover up and spin past indiscretions or to self-righteously accuse the other side of moral failure without looking at one’s self indicate how completely absent moral standards are in our culture.  Though it may seem old-fashioned, moral standards do matter and they are true for all of us.  They don’t change – and most of us know that.  We know right and wrong.  We know what is sin.  But rather than stand up and fight, we allow the culture around us to tell us, “do whatever is right for you.”  And before you know it, we have rationalized our irrational behavior. We put the focus on “consent” or “tolerance” or “individual rights,” rather than on the simple question of right and wrong.  So where do you stand?  Are you defending moral standards or are you allowing the culture around you to entice you into diminishing standards?
FAITH – Defending Morality
God gave us the gift of sex, but also clearly defines throughout the Bible the acceptable role that sex plays within marriage.  There’s nothing confusing about that; but yet, throughout time, we’ve manipulated moral standards to make sex a private, individual matter and try to take God out of the equation.  I’m sorry to offend, but we can’t do that.  God is always with us – in our thought and in our actions.  He knows all of our excuses and our justifications.  Deteriorating sexual morals and our quest for sexual freedom is no different now than it was in the Old Testament, in the Roman Empire, or in the 60’s.  Yet, he still commands:
 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality . . .”  (Eph. 5:3)
In God’s creation, premarital sex is unacceptable. That doesn’t change. Objectifying women or lusting after a man are hints of immorality.   Adultery, being unfaithful in your marriage, is unacceptable to God. It always has been. It always will be. Pornography is unacceptable to God. It’s not just a hint, it’s immoral.
: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Just like Tony Allen’s approach to being a great defender, each of us can learn to responsibly handle sexual temptation within a culture that is in complete contrast to God’s plan.  How do you do that?

  1. Focus – Admit you’re in a battle.  Don’t rationalize it or excuse it.  Work at it – now.
  2. Strength – Condition yourself by staying in God’s Word and surrounding yourself with others who recognize the difficulties of living responsibly.  God will provide all the support you need.
  3. Study & Prepare – Recognize your opponent is temptation and prepare to do battle everyday.  Understand the messages of our culture.  Read Lay Aside the Weight of Lust, a terrific discussion from Desiring God for more encouragement and understanding.
  4. Control  Make a commitment to live morally pure by God’s standard from this day forward. That means having sex only with the person to whom you’re married.
  5. Overcome -When you do act irresponsibly, God is waiting to forgive, cleanse, and restore you. He’ll release you from the shame, regrets, the hidden hurts, and the pain that come from your sin so you don’t carry them into your relationships.
The beauty of God’s story is that He forgives and he helps each of deal with the troubling area of sexual sin. God gives you a chance to come clean and start over.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV)

Get to Know Your Coach

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

For the past three years I’ve been presenting my ideas about basketball and a variety of issues in life and faith, mostly from my perspective as a coach.  We’ve explored trends in coaching, styles of play, practice planning, and leadership and have found applications for daily life and for living out a Christian faith.  As the season approaches and many of us return to the court, I’d like to speak directly and honestly to players and as I do, I hope that you’ll see once again the many ways that basketball is a tremendous gift from God in helping us navigate life in a confusing world.



download-1It’s the first day of practice and players will step onto the court in a completely new situation You see, even if you’re playing for the same team as last season and even if that team is coached by the same coaches, it’s a new year. Coaches adjust.  After evaluating the past season and after being evaluated by their superiors, coaches often adjust.  And if you are playing for a new team or playing for a different coach the lesson is still the same:  Don’t wait for your coach to get to know you. Get to know your coach.  Successful teams value relationships, but relationships are a two-way street.  One of my lasting impressions from this year’s U.S. Men’s Olympic team came from watching a video of one of the team’s first practice sessions.  As the players walked onto the court, almost all of them walked in with a coach or some other support person for the team,  It was obvious they’ve learned the lesson of taking the time to build relationships!  Here are a few suggestions for getting to know your coach once you hit the floor:

  1.  Actively Listen:  Stay involved when a coach explains a drill or teaches technique. Too many players zone out and try to catch up while watching other players. Listen to hear what points are stressed and listen like it’s the first time you’re being taught.
  2.  Follow-Up:  There’s a fine line between being an inquisitive pest and confirming what you’re hearing from a coach, but take time to ask clarifying questions. Genuinely seek for background explanations on your coach’s methods and philosophy – just do it without interrupting the flow of a practice or meeting.
  3.  Exchange Opinions:  It can easily begin with basketball, like what happened in an NBA game or about what’s happening on the college coach or transfer carousel, but having conversations with your coach on a variety of subjects will help you get to know their perspective, but also express who you are as a player and as a person.
  4.  Open Up:  Unloading on your coaches may feel a bit threatening, but players who wear a false front often struggle with their relationships with coaches.  Be who are and let your coaches know why you’re playing the game.  That helps your coach find the best ways to keep you motivated.

LIFE – Spend Time

downloadAs the busyness of life consumes us, the quality of relationships can easily take a hit. One of my biggest regrets in my life was that as a Division I coach I allowed far too many of my closest friendships to fall by the wayside.  Let’s face it, it was difficult enough to focus on my marriage and a growing family. But taking the time to truly invest in nurturing friendships was too often overshadowed by professional networking, which can often be superficial,or in the typical church social settings in which so many people rarely scratch the surface of what is truly going on with others.  I’ve been challenged in this area recently through Craig Groeschel’s book Dare to Drop the Pose: Ten Things Christians Think but Are Afraid to Say.

Many of us hate to admit it, but as life becomes more complex many of us can feel extreme loneliness.  As Groeschel suggests, we might conclude. that we have to perform for others, we can’t trust others, and that other people do not truly care about us.  That may seem extreme and pessimistic, but many of at various points in our lives may feel that kind of loneliness.  The only solution?  You have to spend time and take the risk of reaching out to others, rather than wait for them to reach out to you!

FAITH – Spend Time

I’m amazed when I hear Christians, including me, say “I really want to trust God more, but why doesn’t He speak to me in more obvious ways?  Why can’t I hear Him?”  Like a player who wants his coach to understand him better and to relate to him more, we need to spend quality time getting to know God.  If you want to know God, you have to be near God.  If you want to hear God, you have to clear out the distractions, open up, and actively listen.

The Bible tells us:

“Be still and know that I am God”   Psalm 46:10

That’s how you get to know Him.  You take the time, you open your Bible, and you talk to him about your perceptions, your concerns, your ambitions, and your challenges.  And then, you follow-up.  You act on what He tells you.  If you make the effort, God will respond.

Next week, I’m anxious to get to know our players – both on the court as players, but also as young people finding their niche in a difficult world.  The best relationships I have had have grown from players who are willing to get to know me, just as I extend myself to them.  For some, it’s not an easy thing and can take a while – but like our father in heaven, I’ll patiently keep after them.