As I wrote last year after attending BST, the players wake up early and face rigorous conditioning by design. I happened to be observing the baptism of this particular group of players for this summer. BST Director Rick Gorman pressed upon the players to “Roll the Dice” to promote mistakes as avenues toward growth as well as to “Dig in” to the demands placed before them. The theme I observed watching was to ignore what the mind was telling the body. Players were being shown the way to develop a mentality that they were limitless.
Put the Phone Away in the Gym
Gorman set the expectation for the players before any formal instruction. BST typically begins at 7:00, but there are opportunities to put shots up before players are formally directed. “If you’re going to come at 6:30 and just sit on the bleachers to check your phone, show up at 7:00.” The message Gorman sent is not an indictment on just millennials. Next time you are in a traffic jam just look at the drivers beside you. Discipline issues with screen time is a problem for everyone.
The Arizona Cardinals new coach Kliff Kingsbury had thoughts that reflect an addicted society. “You know they need to get that social media fix, so we’ll let them hop over there and then get back in the meeting and refocus.” The general idea of giving players breaks during long practices is something I’m in favor of. To make it about social media instead of calling family, mediation, or socializing with a teammate is not being efficient with team controlled time.
Gorman and the other coaches are consistently trying to squeeze every minute to make players better. They want players to buy into showing up early or staying late. Gorman routinely enables players to come early by being there early himself. After that the kids are on their own, and most of them will choose to use that time on their phones. BST wisely promotes that they wait their turn.
Pushing Past Limitations
Gorman told players that they had to push past their perceived limitations. On day one of a brand-new group of players the coaches at BST are not afraid of scaring a player off because of the conditioning “Seven Stations from Hell”. The types of characters the coaches want are players that cheer loudest and are most supportive throughout conditioning. Most people will always default behavior to the environment and conditions they are accustomed to. On this day, the coaches were looking to reward the group that stood out the most in their enthusiasm and limitless mentality.
At the beginning of a season, many coaches are afraid to confront limitations in conditioning. The reasons for being softer are not just for a coach to feel well-liked. Many coaches must face a reality that there might not be a JV or freshmen team if only a couple players quit. This is a legitimate problem, but coaches can find a middle ground. Try to be diplomatic and encouraging to players that struggle with the conditioning and pace of a practice. Veteran players can also be counted on to deliver the same level of encouragement.
Coaches cannot take difficult conditioning away out of fear of player mutiny. There are many prerequisites to enjoying basketball, but the first of which is usually being good. If players are not fit, they will not be good. If they are not good, they probably will not enjoy basketball.