Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Value of Sports What's True on the Basketball Court Is True in Life, Says a Coach

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

The Value of Sports What's True on the Basketball Court Is True in Life, Says a Coach

Article excerpt

In my years of coaching I have worked with many players and seen a variety of attitude problems. Some players were selfish. Some weren't as committed to the team concept as they should have been. I can live with all that. What I can't live with is a player who won't work hard. If players are willing to give the effort, they have no problem with me.

And you know what?

What's true on the basketball court is true in business and in life. You want to succeed? OK, then succeed. Deserve it. How? Outwork everybody in sight. Sweat the small stuff. Sweat the big stuff. Go the extra mile. But whatever it takes, put your heart and soul into everything you do. It's what I've done ever since I graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1974 and began to coach. I learned quickly that motivating people would be the most important responsibility of my career. When I became a head coach at Boston University, I was just 24 years old. I was stepping into a program that hadn't had a winning season in years. I knew that if I didn't find a way to get the players to play appreciably better in a very short time, my dream of coaching was going to end in a small college gym somewhere. I began reading about coaching legends like Vince Lombardi and John Wooden, looking for clues as to what had made them connect with their players. What I found had nothing to do with strategy but rather with how these great coaches motivated players to achieve victory. Very early on, I learned that I was simply unleashing the potential in the people I was coaching. I was motivating them not by intimidation but by showing them that it was their choice to win or lose. I have been successful because I've been able to get people to do things they didn't think they were capable of doing. An example: When I became Providence College coach in the spring of 1985, I inherited a basketball program that had been languishing near the bottom of the very competitive Big East Conference ever since the conference began in 1979. In one of my first meetings with the team, I listed on the blackboard the four supposedly most important parts of my players' lives: basketball, school, work ethic, family. …

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