Dick DeVenzio, a legendary, inspiring mind in basketball, shares his thoughts about leadership with coaches and players on and off the basketball court in his book, Runnin’ The Show. Here’s just one of his wonderful notions. Motivate yourself, your team and/or your teammates to be the best, ALWAYS…
How do you get yourself and your teammates to practice diligently every day? In my opinion, it takes a constant effort of imagination before you can begin transmitting this energy to your teammates.
For example, I often say two things to athletes while they are practicing. First, a simple question: Are you practicing right now in proportion to your aspirations?
Most athletes who are working out in the summer or practicing with their teams in the winter are aware that many other athletes are also working out at the same time. During any given summer day, there are literally hundreds of basketball camps going on, all claiming to make athletes better. During winter, tens of thousands of teams are at practice. There are literally thousands of drills, techniques, and lectures going on at any given moment. Hundreds of thousands of athletes are vying for several hundred spots on college teams.
This simple reminder often has a sobering effect on athletes apt to “fool around” instead of practicing to improve.
Sometimes a second reminder is even more powerful:
“Imagine ten minutes from now, shortly after we break from this huddle. You are back out there playing, and Michael Jordan strolls into the gym and looks around. Maybe he isn’t even watching intently. He could be talking with a coach or Scottie Pippen, with a friend or acquaintance. How would you practice? Would you go through the motions in the same way? Would you stay so quiet, be so listless? Would you fail to touch lines or make sharp cuts? I doubt it. Most athletes, upon knowing that a star athlete was in the gym, would run faster, work harder, and be more animated than ever before. They would want to catch Jordan’s eye and win his admiration, even if he weren’t watching intently, even if he didn’t stay long enough to find out anyone’s name.
“If you would pick up your practice effort with Michael Jordan in the gym, then you better find a way to imagine Jordan in the gym every day to draw the best effort out of yourself. What sense does it make to impress Michael Jordan for a single moment during a distracted conversation? Better to impress everyone around you every day and improve your skills so that when your chance to make your dreams come true finally comes, you can do your best.
“If it helps to raise your level of play by imagining Michael Jordan in the gym, then bring him in every day.”
Dick DeVenzio gave his life to sports and to a set of beliefs, ideas and convictions mostly related to the intelligent pursuit of excellence in sports. His writings and basketball programs, such as the nationally acclaimed Point Guard College, have inspired and influenced countless coaches and athletes. Dick died in 2001 at age 52.