Friday, December 15, 2017

Rhetoric, Motivation, and Change

"Rhetoric is what makes anything you say memorable." 

Good ideas come from anywhere and everywhere. Education changes behaviorWe want sticky ideas. Emblazon ideas upon player consciousness. 

Phraseology formulas create memories. "The ball is gold." Coach Lane imprinted that upon us. 

Alliteration is omnipresent and omnipotent. "Winners want the ball."

Forsyth shares the technique progressio, saying something and its opposite. Ecclesiastes 3: "There is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to weep and a time to rejoice, a time to kill and a time to heal..." Well, "there is a time to shoot and a time to hold the ball, a time to play fast and a time to stall, a time to press and a time to lay back..." 

Forsyth celebrates Katy Perry as a master of rhetorical progression. 

We can use other techniques, too. Americans have an attachment to chiasmus, turning a phrase. "We put an end to turnovers or turnovers put an end to us."

We use antithesis. "Fight like champions or lie down like dogs," or "the hardest criticism in basketball is being called soft." Billy Ocean knew chiasmus. 

Colin Firth used antithesis in Kingsman

We've all used hyperbole (exaggeration). In a following season, a player told me, "you told us, you play basketball as you live your life. You can't let other people push you around. That really stuck.

Keanu Reeves used tricolon in The Replacements, phrase comprised of three equal parts. 

"Pain heals, chicks dig scars, glory lasts forever." 

"Rhetoric is what makes anything you say memorable. Rhetoric is what makes what you say stick...rhetoric is what persuades people of your position...rhetoric is what provokes emotion." 

Learn and teach how to change the world, possession by possession. 

Lagniappe: Spurs SLOB - Scissors, Zipper, Stagger

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fast Five: Top Questions to Ask Ourselves Today

Tom Brady explains his success as "having the answers to the test." What questions belong on our daily self-examination?

1. How do I improve today? Be specific. 

2. What does my team need now? We're young. Mike Krzyzewski's advice, "it's about making plays, not running plays." We're playing a lot of 'small-sided games' (3 on 3) in confined spaces. 

3. How can I simplify the game? Everything offensively starts with spacing. We're starting to understand how "ball gravity" is negative for offensive flow.

4. Is this drill/activity translating directly to game play? 

I repeat this drill. The girls really "got it" as far as attacking with this last night. 

5. And from Michael Useem in The Leadership Moment, the after-action review:
   What went well?
   What went poorly?
   How can I improve what went poorly?
   What is the enduring lesson? 

Fast Five: The Psychology of Performance

We have great tools available.

We know that you need emotion to make decisions. We cannot trash emotion and make decisions. The opponents come out and score the first six points. Do we take a timeout by emotion (to stop the run), by rule, or do nothing? 

But emotion gets layered upon other "business" analysis, such as perceived quality, value, and growth prospects. How good is my "team" (family, work, sports team), where is the value, and how can we improve? 

A few lessons extracted from Market Mind Games

Key Concepts
The task in trading is to predict the future perception of other market players. (What can the other team do to give us trouble? Experienced teams understand context. Younger players can't color within the lines because they don't see the lines or connect the dots. We have to provide a lot of structure while teaching context.)
Beliefs are pre-existing conditions that create implicit context. (We know that good teams need to create and defeat pressure.)
The Spectrum of Fear
On the left: Fear of Losing (Teams need to play to win, not to avoid loss.)
Middle: Anxiety due to Ambiguity / Uncertainty (paralysis by analysis)
On the right: Fear of Missing Out ("If only")
Hold On to Winners by Improving Self Awareness.
Do more of what works and less of what isn't. We can improve - WRITE down what is working and what isn't
“Emotions as Data” — Monitor Your Emotions for Analysis
"Reams of research indicate that putting feelings into words does indeed provide a great benefit, it not only reduces anxiety but verbalization can actually allow us to work more effectively on a thinking level."
Unconscious Motivations Are Dangerous
"What am I doing and why?" Are my actions consistent with my stated (written) intent? 
Accept Your Emotions as Natural and Stop Blaming Yourself
But-I-Know-Better (BIKB) trades set up feeling and emotional contexts of self-recriminations. Just catching yourself in those — and the feelings surrounding them — will impact your bottom line in a positive way. 
Get used to admitting to yourself (and if possible to someone you can trust) what you are feeling. 
Walk Away When Your Emotions Get Intense 
Stay grounded. Be the adult in the room. When the feelings and emotions you are experiencing become the most intense, you can be assured that it is not really about the markets or the money.
Use Your Emotional Awareness for Risk Management and for Reading the Market
The more conscious you are of your emotions, the more you can use this knowledge first as risk management and eventually as a tool for reading others. 
Maintain your Physical-Psychological Edge
Trading (Coaching) is actually a physical game. Playing the “sport” of trading should be handled as if you are the quarterback of an American football team.
Rest: Being well-rested is an edge.
Diet: When one really concentrates, the body and brain use an inordinate amount of energy. Eating properly keeps your energy up and adds to that physical-psychological edge.
Exercise: Exercise gives us a physical boost that makes us feel more optimistic, and that counts as psychological capital.
The body counts essentially as much as your intellect. If the body is feeling the static of tired or drained, the feelings and emotions of risk-management and people reading can’t properly communicate their data.
Why Pros Trade the Close, and Amateurs Trade the Open
Use available data to make better choices. "Literally, your mind has more contextual details to make a judgment call about what the next play will be." (Simple is better. It's always tempting to teach to a higher level.)
Why People Fight Trends
Trends are facts. Why do we choose to deny facts? Sometimes it takes time to identify the facts. "I have yet to find someone who habitually fights trends that doesn’t ultimately reveal a very clear and specific reason that arises out of their personal and family history." (Our emotions can betray us.)
Lagniappe: a HORNS SLOB

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

That Which Is Seen and That Which Is not Seen

In 1850, Frederic Bastiat wrote a lengthy essay, "That Which is Seen and That Which Is not Seen." He reminds us that easy actions often have unintended consequences. "The sweeter the first fruit of a habit is, the more bitter are the consequences. Take, for example, debauchery, idleness, prodigality."

We are all economists, weighing finite resources such as practice time, playing time, roles, and our personal time. 

Practice time. Amidst practice time, we determine time spent offensively and defensively, and allocation within those domains.  Applying and defeating pressure owns time, the half-court game, specialty situations like inbounds plays, end-of-clock and end-of-game management. Conditioning within drills does double duty. Within our choices, is every activity transferrable to game play

Playing time. Chuck Daly noted, "every player wants 48 - 48 minutes, 48 shots, 48 million dollars." More time for Peter means less for Paul. Competition for those limited resources motivates positive and negative behavior. Situations impact lineups and the goal is to succeed with the players who play the best together not the best players. Nobody pleases everyone.

Roles. Players earn minutes. Define your role and excel within. Dominate defensively or rebound, and offensively become facilitators, scorers, screeners or combinations. When insight and work ethic match aspiration and skills, the possibilities are limitless. If unhappy with your role, ask the coach how you can contribute more. "Do more to become more; become more to do more." 

Personal time. Coaching and playing can consume us. Attend to our family, personal growth, exercise, sleep, and proper diet. Bastiat counsels us, "Let us accustom ourselves, then, to avoid judging of things by what is seen only, but to judge of them by that which is not seen."

Lagniappe: layup under pressure drill. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

What's Your "Wow" Factor?

Tony Hsieh at Zappos discusses "wowing" his customers. Zappos uses 'wow' as a verb. What can we do as coaches (or players) to wow our program? 

To wow prioritizes relationships and exceeds expectations. 

Communication. Relationships come first. Build relationships, trust, and loyalty. Greet every player by name within the first minutes of practice. Catch people in the act of doing something right. Find successes to praise, "I believe in you." 

Investment. We invest in our teams in many ways. They don't have to be expensive. Notebooks and handouts are simple and inexpensive.

Add value. Teach. Encourage a growth mindset. Share something great. 

Last night I distributed this inspirational quote poster to each player and to my assistant (to hang in his high school classroom). Almost all of the girls knew of Mia Hamm. "How did you know she was my favorite?" 

Lagniappe. Lagniappe means 'something extra.' Find ways to help them do more and become more. Last night I had them play "Ultimate." Ultimate 1 is full court, no dribble pass and cut with the goal of getting a "touchdown" in the end zone (two feet catch over the end line). If the ball touches the floor it's a turnover and the other team plays the ball from the spot. Ultimate 2 changes to the goal to scoring and allows bounce passes. Ultimate helps 'cure' the disease of excess dribbling. In our world, we make the rules.

Authenticity. "You can't fool children, dogs, and basketball players." Don't let the short-term (a bad loss on Sunday) corrupt the big picture. We change lives but it doesn't happen overnight. 

Purpose beyond passion. Can I help create better people, who care about their teammates and their community as well as themselves? I hope I live long enough to find out. 

Last Night's New Drill: "Bradleys"

Each group has a shooter and a rebounder. The shooter holds the ball (at the block) at least at shoulder level. She "bounces" three times, maintains balance and shoots. I tell them to say "bounce, bounce, bounce, shot." The goal: get more elevation, balance, and better releases in close. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Defense 101a: Position and Rotation

"Technique beats tactics." - Gregg Popovich

Size and athleticism help but don't replace technique. Proper defensive positioning emerged as an issue for us today. It won't happen automatically or overnight. But it's on me to help our team understand and execute. 

Alertness and awareness inform defensive reaction and execution. Players have to "see both" the ball and defensive assignment. As a middle schooler, we faced a grim reminder of losing vision...a volleyball would come flying out of nowhere at us. We learned... although this would never be acceptable today. 

"The ball scores." x4 helps but other help defenders, like x3 must "help the helper" to protect the basket. Communication with help and recover actions are at the core of team defense. 

Even if a young team spaces well, 4 and 2 won't hurt you consistently with perimeter scoring. Get into position to help and then recover to your assignment. 

Fast Five: Finding Mentors

Our knowledge, wisdom, experience, and perception are both imperfect and limited. Mentors can help us work within our limitations. We can acquire mentors in different domains - our job, hobbies, interests. 

Overconfidence in our beliefs and process informs hubris. Overconfidence exposes us to errors. Mentors provide feedback, ask relevant questions, and modify our perspective. 

Tim Ferriss suggests that we are the average of the five people with whom we associate most. We define our truth. 

Kentucky Coach John Calipari has a personal "board of directors" with whom he meets several times yearly. Could we do the same? If so, whom would we impanel? 

Consider seeking mentors in literature and communications (e.g. books and podcasts). Aristotle, Lincoln, or Marcus Aurelius sustain thought leadership through time. Our mentors sharpen our process. 

Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto, Better, and Being Mortal enlisted an experienced surgeon to oversee some of his cases to suggest improvements on technique and process. As a young Navy doctor, I often lunched with senior physicians. My colleagues asked, "why are you eating with those old guys?" I answered, "they know stuff and willingly share." 

Want to improve. Mentors add value to us that we can redistribute. Their legacy literally informs ours. Sideline our ego not by asking "am I right" but by seeking "how can I improve?"

Ask better questions. What's specifically wrong? Can we do this better, simpler, smarter? I use Michael Useem's "question set" from The Leadership Moment. 
  • What went well?
  • What went poorly?
  • How can we do better next time?
  • What are the enduring lessons? 
Understand meta-attention, attention to attention. Improve the contrast and the vividness of the picture before us. When you got out of bed this morning, which foot hit the floor first (my left)? We train our attention and memory just as athletes train their muscles. 

Explore ways to enhance your strengths. Mindfulness exercises encourage focus. 

10 Best Ideas: What do the world's best do?

1. What would this look if it were easy?
2. Macro versus micro. "Decisions determine destiny." Focus on now.
3. What failure helped you succeed? 
4. "Crush one platform." Manage your energy. "The main thing is the main thing."
5. Self-esteem is how you see your reputation. Improve your personal reputation.
6. Extreme ownership...via the Navy SEALs. 
7. Make your life what you want. 
8. "Discipline equals freedom." Our process defines us. 
9. Ask better questions. 
10.Honor the struggle. It's the grind. 

We take life's raw materials, refine them into intermediate goods and finished product. We can always do it better with a little help.