Revisting Blind Spots

As our team struggles through a rough start to our season, we are having difficulty establishing some of our core principles with a new group. For some reason, it has been difficult to help our players be more aware of what is happening to them on the court. It drew me back to a topic we discussed in the past and thought it was worth taking a second look!

My only chance to see Magic Johnson play in person was from the upper deck of the Summit in Houston against the Rockets in 1985.  It turned out to be a perfect view of his ability to see things that no one else could see! Check out this NBA video:

Observers would say that Magic seemed to have eyes in the back of his head, but like any player he had some flaws or blind spots – those weaknesses or habits that were difficult to see in himself.  The good news is that while even the great players have blind spots, if you’re willing to stick with it, most of us can do something about our blind spots.  In fact, living in a world in which so many changes occur in rapid fashion, we have to learn to deal with our blind spots.  Thankfully, God gives us wisdom for just that!

BASKETBALL – What’s your blind spot?

Few of Johnson’s observers report flaws in his game, but it can be pointed out that Johnson’s perimeter shot was inconsistent and his impatience with teammates could often get the best of him.  More widely reported, though, were his blind spots off the court as his self-admitted promiscuity led to his battle with the HIV virus.  To his credit, he’s used the consequences of his blind spot to be a major voice in educating society about responsible life-styles.

I confess that I have so many blind spots as a coach, I need corrective lenses to evaluate myself!  One of my blind spots, something I fail to see, is my tendency to lose my patience when teaching a new offense or set play.  I think I’m getting better.  I take questions and I re-explain, but when players make the same errors over and over, I tend to get short.  I lose my patience.  On the flip side, I encounter players every year who have similar blind spots – not using their weak hand, hugging their man on the weak side, over-dribbling in the paint, and rushing on the FT line.   No matter how many times an issue is addressed, some players repeat the same mistakes.  They seem incapable of seeing and correcting a weakness they may have.  In our system, we teach an unselfish style of offense based on doing whatever you can to help your teammates score.  By doing that, we hope to utilize the unique strengths of all of our players.  Each year, we have a player or two who really struggles with seeing that his style of play is selfish.  Helping players through that is one of my favorite rewards in coaching!

LIFE – We each have our own blind spots.

Think you’re immune to blind spots?   Psychologists have studied our tendency toward blind spots as shown by this fun test:

Judith Glaser helps CEOs of major companies consider the strategies involved in competitive markets.  In her article “Blind Spots – A Wake-Up call to Reality” she shows us that there are seven common blind spots:

  1. Denial of Reality Feeling so strong about our own beliefs that we deny the beliefs of others, or deny facts right in front of our eyes.
  2. Control Seeing ourselves as being more responsible for things than we actually are, or having more control over things and events than we truly do.
  3. Made-Up Memories Making decisions based on memories that did not happen. Often we confuse our imaginations, or our dreams, with reality.
  4. Reality Distortions Distorting reality to conform to preconceptions.
  5. Know it All Thinking that we know more than what we really do. (We simply don’t know what we don’t know.)
  6. Listening Only to Validate What We Know –  Failure to listen to others.
  7. Undervaluing What We Do Know Listening too much to others, and allowing others’ beliefs to talk us out of our beliefs.

So, I guess there’s more to these blind spots that we may have thought!  What are yours?  Do  things in your life prevent you from seeing reality?  For many of us, coming to grips with these blind spots is the only way we can learn to see and deal with reality. Check that list again.

FAITH – God has a way to help you with your blind spots.

Earlier in my coaching career, one of my blind spots involved letting coaching become an idol in my life.  At times, I was so wrapped up in my identity as a coach that it took priority over my marriage, my growing family, and my faith walk. Even though I felt called to coaching as a ministry, it became an idol in my life.  One of the things missing in my life while I was moving in the world of Division I coaching was having true, reliable friends who understood the demands of coaching, but also the responsibilities of being a Christian husband and father.  I went several years without having any colleagues with similar circumstances and my blind spot was not seeing how important that was for my accountability as a Christian.  That’s why God tells us that we don’t need to go it alone.  He is with us and through his word He reveals our blind spots, but he also encourages us to share our burdens:

 Two are better off than one, because together they can work more effectively.  If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him. (Eccl. 4:9-10 GN)

Coaches and teammates can help a player see his blind spots.  A trusted college advisor can help students see weaknesses and a loving spouse can help a father overcome mistakes.  That’s how God created us – so, who helps you with your blind spots?


Offensive Flow With the Golden State Warriors

Photo: Ben Margot, Associated Press

Let me begin by saying that our Division III college men’s basketball team is not the Golden State Warriors, nor do we expect them to be.  However, with the Warriors at the top of the basketball world, many of us in the coaching profession have attempted to emulate or at least find applications from the Warrior offense – and our staff is no different.  We don’t have Curry, Durant, Thompson, and Green, but we do have some terrifically gifted young players.  The Warriors’ style of play, which has often been called Flow, fits our team well and over the past few years we have adapted many of their actions into how we play.  Not only does it work for us, but it aligns very well with the attitude we want for our team.  We want to spread the ball around, play unselfishly, and allow each of our players to find a role in our offense – much like we strive for in our lives off the court and in our faith.  The challenge, though, is to make it flow. Continue reading


Pour Yourself Into A Teammate



Last week I wrote about the RUC attitudes we are instilling in our basketball team, with the U being unselfishness.  It’s not an easy attitude to develop, but recently I came upon a terrific story about former NBA all-star Chauncey Billups that demonstrates the power of unselfishness between teammates, while at the same time I uncovered a similar example from some reading I had been doing about the Church Reformation of the Middle Ages.  This week the Protestant Church celebrates the 500th anniversary of the movement that has directly impacted our Christian faith.  I spent time digging deeper into some of the ideas and history that have greatly impacted my own personal journey.  Martin Luther has a similar story to Chauncey Billups about the unselfishness of teammates, so let’s take a closer look at how their examples can help each of us. Continue reading