(We’ve put together a five-part series to help the coach get in the right mindset to plan, teach, coach, lead, inspire, and fulfill a successful basketball season.)
Basketball season is right around the corner, which means every basketball coach I know is gearing up for preseason or just getting going.
We are too.
We’re spending more time thinking specifically about basketball and revisiting some of our favorite coaches (virtually—we are reading and watching their stuff!) players and teams.
In doing so we came across this quote from a 2017 article on coaching in the NBA:
“Some players take losses to heart, to be sure. But coaches wear them like a woolen coat. Numerous coaches have spoken of walking the streets in their home cities after especially grueling losses, replaying key moments repeatedly in their minds.”
Oh man, we remember that feeling!
The stress came from different directions, the decisions seemed endless and losing, well losing sucked. But looking from a longer lens, could the pressure have been managed in a way that reduced stress and added if not joy, peace? Or better yet, equanimity.
And equanimity matters right?
“According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it means “calmness and composure, especially in a difficult situation”—though that general definition doesn’t capture the true essence of this powerful meta-virtue.” (themindfulword)
We are all energy beings and players feed off their coach’s energy.
Phil Jackson was one of the most calm and collected coaches in the game. He would sit on the sidelines, as cool as the other side of the pillow, even under immense pressure. This translated to his team taking on that same persona.
Teams feed off of their leader; if their leader demonstrates a “we got this” mentality, it’s destined to rub off on the players.
So, why would we bring it up now when everyone is feeling the excitement of the beginning?
Coaches are getting prepared for the players to show up at the gym on the first day. Each hopeful her/his players will be prepared and ready to go. Certain that this is the year that it will all come together and dreams will be achieved.
Well we are with you coach.
But this is precisely the time to prepare yourself—you the coach—for the totality of a college season. The length, the long days, the player management, teaching, film, decisions—big and small—and results, the highs and the lows.
You want to be ready to handle it with the cool of Jackson while bringing the energy of Texas A & M’s Buzz Williams the warmth and calmness of Brad Stevens and the decision making prowess of University of South Carolina’s Dawn Staley.
How prepared are you right now to attend to yourself, to manage your own emotions, to deal with stress and maintain a healthy lifestyle? We want you to think about it now and not when you find yourself living in the middle of the whirlwind.
Are you ready? Do you have a plan to stay healthy, energized, focused and balanced through the season? If so, awesome. You may find a tip or two below that you can add into your regimen.
If not, read on and consider if you can create the plan now or at least add in a few habits that will be of help.
Because no matter how excited you are right now, you know the season brings stress, long hours of work, and the pain of loss along the highs of winning.
So, let’s talk about a few things you can start right now to help through the season:
Put Exercise on Your Schedule:
Remember, standing on a court is not exercise. Standing in a weight room is not exercise. Standing at the front of the meeting room is not exercise. Despite the fact that all three can be tiring leaving you feeling as if you are exercising.
So, how will you make sure you make time to do cardio for 30 minutes a day and lift a couple days a week? Or, if not cardio and lifting how about trying something that will build your physical strength while also bringing about more mindfulness.
The “Zen Master” Phil Jackson was known to be a yoga practitioner, but did you know legendary Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski “Coach K” Victor Cruz, New Zealand All Blacks, rugby team and LeBron James also has done a downward dog or two? James credits yoga as the catalyst for his incredible stamina. The New Zealand All Blacks likes the relaxing aspect of yoga and doing visualization of the game ahead.
Whichever of these you choose we encourage you to put it on your calendar and honor the commitment.
Even if your actual exercising ends up shorter than you intended, it is a good habit to maintain.
Schedule it. Do it. Do something.
Exercise, it will give you energy.
A coach needs her/his rest just like an athlete.
According to Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of Center of Sleep Medicine at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Sleep deprivation leads to depression, high blood pressure, weight gain and heart disease.
So, set a time to get to bed regardless of what is on your agenda.
Stick to the schedule and aim for eight hours a night. Seven hours is your minimum.
We know this feels impossible once you get into the season and winning and losing, but you can commit to this through preseason. Try it and see how much better you feel.
One of the many benefits of sleep in clear thinking. See if you are more effective? More energetic? More productive?
As Chris Barnes says in an HBR article, “If we don’t get enough sleep, we’re less likely to feel positive and less able to manage or fake our moods; it’s very difficult to pull ourselves out of an insomnia-induced funk. Furthermore, leaders who discount the value of sleep can negatively impact not just emotions but also behaviors on their teams."
Positive results over the next three weeks will provide motivation and evidence that sleep helps during your season.
Drink plenty or water, less soda, and no alcohol.
It will make a huge difference in your hydration, your sleep and your energy levels.
Dropping alcohol is one of the quickest ways to increase your productivity.
Alcohol is a mind altering substance, it changes the way you think and feel and influences how you act. Alcohol can make it hard for you to think clearly and make good decisions. You may miss it at first, but you will love the increased energy and restful sleep at night.
You might even drop a few pounds.
It may feel like soda is a jolt of caffeine but sugar brings highs and lows.
You probably have thought a lot about what your athletes will be eating this preseason. That's good!
It means you will have healthy food available to you.
Just don't eat the same quantity as the players. Said with a smile.
Avoid desserts and unhealthy or fake-healthy snacks.
Highly self-aware individuals are able to understand what they are feeling moment by moment. This makes it possible for them to be aware of how emotion is affecting them before they take action.
We already mentioned yoga, and meditation provides space, but what about journaling about your own process and not just the team?
Peter Drucker said, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
Stay connected to close friends and family who are not a part of the sport. Just a few minutes a day will widen your perspective and add a different dimension to your thinking.
You’ll be reminded there is more happening then just basketball and that many people love you regardless of the score.
One last thought, the tendency to ignore our own health during season is universal.
As one NBA coach said:
“We’re all told what to do, but we don’t do it,” one coach said Sunday. “We’re all told we have to eat healthy, we have to exercise and we have to get our sleep. All of us. Every coach. This is not like, ‘oh, wow, I never thought of that.’ But it’s hard to do it.”
We know it’s hard. Especially when the season really gets going. So, prepare and do your best.
Be kind to yourself when your habits slip, but try to get back to good habits. Like in all learning, progress isn’t linear.
But ask yourself: What would be the difference in your season if you changed just one or two of these things?
Good luck this season!
Co-authored by Cathy Andruzzi and Marcia McDermott
Cathy Andruzzi writes at Druzz News. You can follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyAndruzzi, Instagram at coachdruzz and LinkedIn.
Marcia McDermott writes at The Coaching Conversation. You can follow Marcia on Twitter @SoccerChicago and Instagram at coachconversation.
A shorter version of this article was included at The Coaching Conversation.