Coaching Youth Basketball – THBA Tips

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As a twelve-year professional point guard, adjusting to life in the United States after traveling Central America on a sailboat or living abroad in Europe has always been a struggle for me. Mainly, adapting back to the fast American culture and speed of life is always tough. And second, I was excited to get back and start coaching my first season of AAU basketball, and oh man, have I learned a lot. I have a fun group of boys that are trying to figure out how to win against quicker, faster, stronger players playing AAU downstate.

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Coaching Youth Basketball – THBA Tips

The first rule I should have implemented at the beginning of the season is on how to deal with struggle and my 5 principles for playing time:

  1. Body language.

  2. Consistent Effort (in-season and off-season)

  3. Eye contact.

  4. Coachability.

  5. Being a good teammate on and off the court.

Our Northern Exposure’s goal this season was to develop players and kids into capable young men, yet I know when I look around AAU, there are a lot of people dropping the ball (yes, literally dropping it) and just yelling, cussing, and letting bad habits happen all over the place.

Figuring out how to coach kids on how to win reminds me of my first time playing pick up in at Mott Community College in Flint as a high schooler. Everything I thought worked up North, well, it actually didn’t work at all. I was completely shocked. I struggled. I turned it over. I was inferior on the court. It was like starving sharks attending a chum block party.

Frustrated, I’d come home to my small town of Petoskey, Michigan and realize how much work I had to do and every summer, I’d get a little better at handling the pressure. Every morning before school, I’d work on my dribbling. Every 30 minute lunch time was spent shooting in a gym by myself. I really didn’t care about if I came back to algebra sweaty and red faced.

I was determined to get better. 

As a senior, I actually made those athletic, quick, defensive risk takers in Flint pay for pressuring me. Smirking, I’d score or dish an assist and tell them to back up confidently. The truth is, if teams think they can take the ball from you, they must think you are an inferior skilled individual player or team.

It’s your responsibility to teach them to back up.

Plus, I was sick and tired of guys beating up on me. I was sick and tired of losing. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.

I wanted to have success, so I focused on getting better every day. I mean, what else can you do but try to get better every day?

Then I got to Kent State University. And damn! It happened again! My first 20 practices, I must have turned the ball over 25 times a practice. I turned the ball over like it was a hot potato. Every time down, someone poked it away or made me cough it up. I can still hear my coach Gary Waters voice in my head,  “Trevvvor, you’re soft now. Can’t be soft. You gotta be strong to play this game!”

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And to make matters worse, as upperclassmen would take the ball away from me, they would talk trash to me, “Weigggghhhhhttttttroom Huff. Gimme that!”

And it irked me. It made me mad. It angered me that I couldn’t run the offense, or get by my defenders when I wanted to like in high school. And so something dawned on me. Failure after failure, turnover after turnover, bad practice after bad practice, excuse after excuse… it was time to make a choice.

Option A: it was time to quit, pick up a new passion and focus on that…

or Option B: start getting better at the game I loved…

The problem was me, and I knew it. I got in my own way and I had to admit reality sometimes sucks. No parent could save me. No teacher could pump me up. It was time to understand that I struggled because I wasn’t good enough yet. And that’s okay. There is nothing wrong with admitting what’s really happening. I was turning the ball over because I wasn’t good enough not to turn it over (simple right?)

I hadn’t practiced enough on my own to produce the results I wanted against better division one athletes.

Swallowing that I’m-not-good-enough-pill is hard, but without admitting it and popping that thing down, you will never truly understand the beauty of sports– that sports are a struggle, life isn’t always fair and…

Success goes to the few that are lucky enough to figure out the puzzle of learning how to play well, develop their game in the offseason, and execute the five coaching tips and principles better than the rest of the players.

And yet, as a college player, I lingered and argued with myself in my own head, listening to my own long list of excuses. I had no friends on the team. The cheerleaders didn’t like me. My schedule was tough. I was a freshman. I had no legs. The weight room workouts were too hard. The conditioning was too close to practice. The guys were fouling me. The refs sucked. The coaches didn’t care about me. I wanted to transfer. I wanted to quit. I wanted to play the two. Maybe the level was too high. I wanted to someone to actually coach and talk to me. I wanted, I wanted, I wanted, I wanted…

Guess what Huffman?

What?

How about you just get better?

There was a question I didn’t want to hear, but damn, it was 100% right!  And like an old memory I had forgotten, I remembered I had been through this before.

It must have been the younger self reminding me about the young boy that had seen the same struggles; the same voice of doubt; the same questions; the same excuses with a different colored bow and wrapping paper.

From middle school to freshman. From high school to AAU. From freshman to varsity. From Varsity to college. The struggle was there for me at every level, and yet when it happens in real time, you forget that struggle is just life whispering to you to get better.

From good to great business leaders, teachers, writers, to coaches and players– every level you go up, you are going to struggle and have to admit reality.

How do I just get better today?

Humility is a special thing. It teaches us to take accountability for effort. It teaches us how to get better if we can admit that we need work. And that’s just how it is if you want to reach goals in life, whether it’s sports or not.

And I knew then it was my own personal struggle to find out who I could become on the basketball court. And it began with the long, slow, daily building of my own personal Rome.

Rock by rock.

Brick by brick.

Column by column.

Dribble by dribble.

So if you are struggling, listen up.

I was the worst player on my college team as a freshman and I vowed to work to make sure it didn’t stay that way by the time I was a senior. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait that long and ended up breaking my school’s all-time scoring record and getting the chance to play in the Elite Eight and 12 years of professional basketball afterward.

That would have never happened if I couldn’t admit where I was.

To be honest, I’ve always felt like an underdog and maybe that’s why I always focus on getting better. But I tell that story to remind youth basketball players and coaches out there that there is no better recipe for success than getting better every day.

And now, as I coach these boys, I see their struggles, I see my struggles (yes, I called a timeout and put 6 players on the court for the press break up 12) and I remind myself of the process. I am honest with them. I’m not the best coach and not all of us are guaranteed to play or coach next year.

Not all of my players will even play varsity and that is a tough reality.

But I hope I can teach them that none of us are guaranteed anything but struggle in life and if we choose to react with humility and a get-better-attitude, we will eventually succeed by learning the secret that sports teaches us.

Struggle is a blessing, we just don’t see it that way.

I think about my younger self that made the choice to punch struggle right in the face every morning and fight back.

Get better, Trevor.

Just get better.

3 Point Guard Coaching Tips: Who is on Your Team?

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3 Point Guard Coaching Tips: Who Is On Your Team?

Look at this cute little pack of lion cubs!

Oh snap, they are cute.

But just for a moment think about who has helped you become who you are. What people have stopped you from doing something stupid? What friends have challenged you to grow? What family has pushed you to be better at something that you may have quit otherwise? What athletes and coaches have made you better at your craft?

These people are your pack and your pack is powerful.

“You are the average of the 5 people that you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

Thanks, Jim Rohn. Too many kids want to be cool while they play basketball, in practice, and on the court. Too many parents want their kids to succeed at the expense of learning how to deal with failure. Too many coaches don’t demand more out of their youth programs, AAU dads, and players.

Too many kids want to be cool while they play basketball, in practice, and on the court. Too many parents want their kids to succeed at the expense of learning how to deal with failure. Too many programs don’t demand more out of their youth coaches, AAU dads and mom coaches, and their players.

Look at who you spend time with and what or how they influence you. Too many kids want to be cool while they play basketball, in practice, and on the court, yet if you have a leader on the team that works hard, typically the “cool” kids fall in line.

Too many parents want their kids to succeed at the expense of learning how to deal with failure.

I grew up in Petoskey, Michigan and realized rather quickly that Northern Michigan isn’t the mecca of basketball (yes, sorry to break it to you). We are way behind and our athletes are behind. But if we can start to change the culture and who we surround ourselves with, we can make progress.

I like to surround myself with people that work like underdogs and act like champions and embrace a similar pack mentality. I like to surround myself with a team that works together and pushes me to be better. I feel it’s time to start training, practicing, and building your habits so you can succeed out there in the real world.

I value helping others reach their goals so join my mission if you like, just like this pack of cute lion pups.

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POINT GUARD COACHING TIP #1: If you can’t name five people that push to grow, it may be time to start meeting new friends.

POINT GUARD COACHING TIP #2: If your teammates don’t like to work out, train, or practice every day, it’s time to find someone that does.

POINT GUARD COACHING TIP #3: If your coach or program doesn’t open the gym, the weight room, and help motivate you to get the best grades possible, it could be time to find a new program.

Why?

First reason, because I DO BELIEVE who you spend most of your time with has a big impact on who you eventually become.

Second reason? Duh, because Mr. Rohn said so.

BASKETBALL COACHING TIPS: HELPING PLAYERS FIND THE ATHLETE’S WAY

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BASKETBALL COACHING TIPS: HELPING PLAYERS FIND THE ATHLETE’S WAY

Written by: Trevor Huffman

TrevorHuffman.com is about my life and about getting out of our comfort zone– in sports, in basketball, in building a tribe and surrounding ourselves with people that want to grow.

I’ll be sharing my uncomfortable failures and short-lived successes from around the world as I played professional basketball. I’ll be sharing basketball coaching tips on how I design my basketball training workouts for my THBA Elite and Youth Northern Michigan Basketball Skill Development Academy.

Yet, what I really want to talk about is something deeper. I want this to be something athletes, coaches, humans, and parents alike can take the darker and lighter side of what I’ve learned from my 20 years of NCAA, NBA, and European experiences.

If you want more practical sports training knowledge, here’s another athlete sports blog I love following.

In the end, how we help each other get to where we want to go is all I care about talking about.

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“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

As you know (or may not know), I am an aspiring writer, basketball coach, old ex-professional point guard trainer, and solo travel junkie. Today’s athlete sports blog is about learning how to handle making mistakes and then finding the Athlete’s Way to bounce back. So as you know, I love juicing up kids, parents, and coaches and getting them a basketball workout/fitness plan that gives them access to finding personal and team success.

Today, I see so many flaws in how we are prepping kids to approach their basketball, their passions, and their lives. Entitlement, poor work ethic, and bad programming is a pattern in AAU and development programs.

I don’t have kids, but I understand how you must want to protect them and save them from their feelings getting hurt. No one likes emotional or physical pain, but the truth is, without small amounts (or big amounts) of pain and suffering, it is hard to grow, reflect, and learn how to bounce back.

THREE THINGS WE CAN DO BETTER AS BASKETBALL COACHES, PARENTS, AND PROGRAMS:

  • CARE FOR THE PLAYERS, BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH THEM BUT BE HONEST WITH THEM. IF SOMEONE THINKS THEY ARE WORKING HARD AND THEY AREN’T, TELL THEM. IF SOMEONE MESSES UP, CHALLENGE THEM TO DO BETTER. MAKE PLAYERS ACCOUNTABLE, BUT SUPPORT THEM AND GIVE THEM PRAISE WHEN THEY DO THINGS RIGHT!
  • JUST SHOWING UP ISN’T ENOUGH. KIDS HAVE TO DEMONSTRATE POSITIVE ATTITUDES, EFFORT, FOCUS, LEADERSHIP, AND TEAMWORK IN PRACTICE. ALSO, BY HELPING THEM CREATE A VISION AND A PLAN FOR THEMSELVES, THIS PREPARES THEM FOR THE REAL COMPETITION ON AND OFF THE COURT.
  • ALWAYS HAVING FUN ISN’T THE GOAL. LOSING ISN’T FUN. WINNING IS FUN. PROGRESS IS FUN. WE MUST VALUE GROWTH AND THE ABILITY TO ACCEPT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO MOVE FORWARD. WE MUST HELP KIDS LEARN TO HANDLE MISTAKES, SMALL FAILURES, AND TOUGH CHALLENGES SO THEY CAN LEARN TO BOUNCE BACK AND SUCCEED. BOUNCING BACK SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED AS THE THE FUN PART OF SPORTS.

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I am not sure why we humans end up where we do, doing what we do, other than we decide to value that time we have and do it the right way. I constantly have a conversation with kids: “What’s your workout plan? What have you written down to do the moment you step on the court? What are your weaknesses and what drills are you working on to improve them?”

By having a plan, writing it down, and carrying it with you wherever you go, you start to value your vision and goals because every second you have on the court, or in the weight room, or with your team is PRECIOUS. 

LIKE LITERALLY, PRECIOUS.

For me, playing basketball with a team is over. The wins, the losses, the setbacks, the injuries, the anxiety, the exhilaration… it’s all over as a player.  During this amazing process of ups and downs, I learned what I call THE ATHLETE’S WAY.

The Athlete’s Way is a mental approach to sports, life, business, anything and everything, and it is part of my DNA now. After 20 years of training, practicing, and competing at the highest levels, I want to help others find the Athlete’s Way in their own lives. I want to help teams and players understand the value of the time they have on the court and bounce back from anything and everything that happens to them in life.

Building Your Own Inner Athlete’s Way

Now, my current use of the Athlete’s Way is helping others approach their game and lives in a way that promotes growth faster and helps kids bounce back from mistakes.

Now, it is helping teams and players understand the value of the time they have on the court by having and creating a plan, so they can truly put all of their efforts into a drill, a rep, practice, or the next workout.

Now, my intense two ball basketball dribbling routine is being handed on to the next college hopeful (as I yell at them to get out of their comfort zone).

The edge I sought in the weight room is being taught to the next dreamer.

The camaraderie I had winning championships is what I’m trying to build with my new teams.

Most of these sports moments of learning the Athlete’s Way are over for most of us after high school.

Not all of us, but most of us. For the select few that value their vision and create a plan, sports continue into college and beyond.

Playing basketball for me is done, but everything you learn from it isn’t.

What’s next, young athletes, parents, and coaches?

The Athlete’s Way is next.

It’s what sports teach you. The Athlete’s Way is still inside me, beckoning me to find my next craft.

Okay, Yoda, but what is the Athlete’s Way you ask?

The Athlete’s Way is that voice that pushed me to do what others would not. It was that voice that woke me up at 6:00 am to dribble in my basement. It was that voice that wouldn’t let me get off the bus after a bad shooting game without getting more shots up that night. It was that mental obsession that would watch tape on my opponent over and over and over until their moves were engrained in my mind. It was the workout plan I taped to my ceiling every night.

I had a plan as a kid and little did I know, I was developing my own inner Athlete’s Way.

The Athlete’s Way is beckoning me now; to find my next team, build my next project, explore my next passion and know my next purpose. Yet, I’m not there. I just don’t know what it is, but I am getting closer. I don’t believe in typical American society telling me or conditioning me to do what it bids. I didn’t listen to people when they told me I would never play division one basketball and I won’t listen to people tell me to do something, “for the sake of doing something.”

  “Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken.”

SO WAKE UP! YEAH, YOU! I’M TALKING TO YOU. GRAB A PEN, A PAPER, AND WRITE DOWN WHAT YOUR WORKOUT LOOKS LIKE EVERY TIME YOU STEP IN THE GYM. NEED HELP, THEN LISTEN TO THIS!

The 2nd Secret of Basketball Championships

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“Welcome to the hood,” Andrew said, grinning.

“Drew, you sure I’m good here man? Everyone is looking at me.”

“You’re with me. Relax.”

I glanced around, slunk down in his passenger seat. I had just turned 20 years old and suddenly wasn’t sure of my choice to accompany Andrew to his mom’s home in inner city Detroit. At any moment I thought bullets were going to pass through his car and rip through my body.

But there was good news (no, it wasn’t the Kevlar jacket I had on), I had just survived playing in St. Cecilia, one of the most famous basketball gyms and runs in the country. St. Cecilia was a cracker box gym with no space and a raucous, engaging crowd. It was my first time playing there. I was surprised I was even allowed on the court to be honest, because every time I touched the ball, or defended the ball, a certain murmur and electricity went through the stands and opposing players.

“Attack him.”  

“Score on him.”

“Go at him.”

“C’mon, get this dude off the court,” they laughed.

And yet, there was Andrew, playing alongside me, just grinning like a little kid in a candy store.

“Let’s go Huff– you have to earn everything here.”

The 2nd Secret to Winning Basketball Championships.

And this secret came to me decades after realizing and reflecting on the formative years of my college career and how they were about learning how to build relationships inside your tribe or team (even if you have to wear Kevlar from time to time), find your authentic self within your obsession and your tribe, and learn to go through psychological and physical pain or suffering with them to improve your skills.

First of all, it’s a simple idea or personal philosophy to build relationships with people that embrace the struggle to be the best within the same field or obsession as you. I loved the game of basketball, just like Andrew did. I saw Andrew suffering and struggling to be the best everyday. I saw where he came from and how hard it was for him. He didn’t have the resources I had, but yet, we both had our own struggles to get where we were.

Sports offers us an even playing field, where the athlete that can embrace the struggle and the pain, and can build skills for themselves. The more skills you have, the more valuable you are on the court.

Simple right?

Yet, playing at the St. Cecilia with my teammate pushed me out of my comfort zone and brought us closer together.

So focus for a second.  Ask yourself some questions.

  1. Who is in your basketball tribe?

  2. What kind of people do you need in your tribe to be successful with your obsession?

  3. Who will push your kid or program to develop their skills and learn to embrace struggle and create radical self-reliance on the court?

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I can’t answer these questions for you, but I can help you ask yourself the right questions.

There won’t be many people willing to suffer with you, sweat with you, shoot with you, rebound with you, play 1 on 1 with you, and push you to be your best.  And maybe you (yeah, you kid) just like the idea of being a college basketball player. Maybe you just like the idea or vision of being on TV, or in the paper, or having success, but don’t actually enjoy the struggle to get there.

That’s okay if you don’t, but go find a struggle you actually enjoy.

The truth is, you have build a tribe around your obsession to win championships.

Your team has to stick together. Your team has to have strong bonds. And that happens on the micro level first. I learned quickly that building a tribe helped me improve at the game of basketball quicker than if I was trying to do it on my own. And so it begins, when you have a tribe around an obsession, you have quicker growth. And when you have quicker growth, you reach your potential and self-actualize your goals faster.

You have success faster and when the team has more success, you get more accolades. A team that acts as a tribe cherishes those moments together.

 

—————–

 

“Attack them Huff. Attack them every time you get the ball,” Andrew would whisper, as he snatched a rebound out of the air and passed it to me.

Then he would wave his hand, beckoning me forward– beckoning me to face my fears, to grow, and to stop being passive. But we all have to go through our own internal struggles, and to put it simply, I just wanted to fit in (and maybe that was because before I stepped on the court, I gawked and watched NBA great Jalen Rose score 60 points without sweating, only trash talking to everyone that guarded him).

“You’re not in Kansas anymore Huff.”

“No kidding,” I said back, trying to feign a smile, but eventually the game progressed and I started to forget I was a stranger there, what color my skin was, and where I was from. The game doesn’t care what color you are. The ball doesn’t go in the basket because of your religion or race.

Basketball is basketball.

So again, who is in your basketball tribe?

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I left St. Cecilia gym feeling grateful, grateful Andrew took me into a place where legends were made and played and developed their basketball skills at a level most players never get to see. He took a chance on me and I appreciated it. But after playing at the St. Cecilia and visiting Andrew in his home, it started to make sense why he had won a state championship in Detroit East Catholic High School.

Andrew wasn’t afraid to be different. He wasn’t afraid to challenge what society had told him he had to be.

He had a community that never let him settle for anything but his best. He had a brother that pushed him and challenged him. That’s what parents and family and tribe is for– to push people to be the best versions of themselves, through struggles and suffering and all the stuff we don’t usually like. See, Andrew Mitchell was overlooked. People said he was too small. Too light. Too fragile. Kent State had been one of his only suitors.

In my eyes, every championship team I ever played on had players that were developing this obsession and culture within the team. And when that happens, magic happens. So the Kent State University Men’s Basketball tribe formed. This culture was passed down to us, and we passed it down to the next generation of incoming freshman.

And let me brag on Andrew for a second. In my opinion, he was one of Kent State’s greatest competitors and one of the Mid American Conference’s greatest basketball winners. I was lucky to have him as a teammate. He wasn’t the only teammate that pushed me, but he was the first at Kent State. And best of all, no one would tell you that our team would go onto win three MAC championships, three MAC tournament championships, and three NCAA tournament appearances (including our Elite Eight run), and break every Mid-American Conference team record ever made by some of MAC’s NBA greatest players and teams-– from Dan Marjele, Ron Harper, Bonzi Wells, Gary Trent, Wally Szczerbiak, Nate Thurmond and Earl Boykins.

And it all started with our obsession for basketball and building that brotherhood. That’s one of the biggest secrets to winning at anything in my book.

To your continued success,

Trevor Huffman

PS. Need some help with your basketball mind? Join the THBA tribe and start my Elite Mental Training course!

The 1st Secret of Basketball

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“The most important measure of how good a game I played was how much better I’d made my teammates play.”– Bill Russell

THBA on Winning Championships: The 1st Secret of Basketball

(three part series- 10 min read)

 

In the summer of 1994, I was 15, weighed 120 pounds, and figured out the secret to winning basketball championships after almost throwing fists at my best friend (and teammate’s) face. After that day, these basketball secrets spread into who I was during my high school, college, and professional teams. That day made me sit down and think about what winning meant to me. I may have forgotten a few (there was my 6th grade recreational championship, but I left that one out), but I counted over 12 high school, college, and professional championship teams that I’ve been a part of. Yet, these basketball secrets grow from within and over time, like a slow rising tide start to become part of who you are, part of the team’s identity, and the feeling is undeniable.

Isiah Thomas referred to one of these basketball secrets in a meeting he had with Bill Simmons in the Book of Basketball. He said, referring to why his Piston’s teams won championships: “…Cause everybody does something good. That’s what makes us good… we created an environment that won’t accept losing.” See, in my opinion, winning in basketball isn’t only about basketball. It’s about you and your teammates. It’s about chemistry. It’s the family atmosphere that despises laziness and bad work ethic and unauthentic players. It’s why teams and coaches like Greg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs have won so many titles. They get basketball players that have high character, know their role, and check their egos out at the door.

Championship teams can’t be built without players that understand human nature and are self-aware of their egos.

But where do you start in building championship caliber teams and programs?

Start with yourself.

Start with caring.

Start with being authentic in every encounter you have with anyone on your team from this point on.

If you start with yourself and you care, you are off to a great start.

Bill Russell used to throw up before big games. Caring is why players throw up,  it’s why certain players can’t watch certain losses after their season is over and why championship teams always have a bond and feeling that remains intact for decades. It’s why I still haven’t watched my Elite Eight game loss against Indiana (this is actually my Sweet Sixteen win, see, I won’t even let you see it!) or my loss in the Michigan Final Four in high school to Marshall. It’s why I would shut my eyes for 30 minutes before every game and try to visualize giving everything I had to win the game and execute our game-plan and ask for guidance from the Universe (God, higher power, whatever you label it) instead of vomiting into the toilet.

It all starts with you caring.

And when you care, you are starting on a good foundation, but it takes more than just caring to create championships. So let’s talk about that, because we all want to win. I’m going to break down my three basketball secrets so you can do your part to help bring a championship to your team or program.

BASKETBALL SECRET #1: BE AUTHENTIC, BE SELF-AWARE OF YOUR EGO, AND UNDERSTAND HUMAN NATURE AFTER YOU WIN

 

Pat Riley talks about “The Disease of More” and it refers to process NBA teams and players go through when they win titles and the change in psychology that happens after success comes to you. I had to learn the hard way after winning the championship title in one of the biggest Gus Mackers in the world (Belding, Michigan) as a 14-year old teenager.  We came back the next year and “The Disease of More” had started to seep into me. And that’s just it, it’s human nature to expect more after winning.

More shots. More newspaper clippings. More popularity. More ego. More attention from your classmates and the kids that are labeled “cool” at school. But I learned that summer, (rather quickly) that the secret to winning championships isn’t always about basketball talent or athleticism, it is about understanding human nature and then being self-aware of your ego WANTING MORE.

So let’s rewind to our Gus Macker title defense when I learned this lesson. My teammate Johnny was a better scorer than me. He could shoot from anywhere. He was relentless in his accuracy and creativity around the hoop. But I wanted to squabble over who was better, who could score more, who could do this or that better. I wanted to prove it to him, to our teammates, to anyone that asked, and to myself. Basically, my ego wanted to be known. It wanted to be stroked. It wanted to be told it was better.

It wanted more.

Right before the game started, as we argued on the court about who was better, who could score more, right before I threw a haymaker, his mother stopped us, yelling, “What are you two doing? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

I put my head down and walked off the court. Fifteen minutes later, still humiliated, we tried to pull it together and play our game.

We got smashed.

Our title defense looked like Jordan’s Bulls whipping on the Charlotte Hornets without Larry Johnson or Alonzo Mourning and worse, this was a classic case of Riley’s “The Disease of More.”

It was the disease of me and the disease of more.

"Detroit Country Day's Shane Battier against Petosky in a March 13, 1997 game."

There I am(#24) chasing Mr. Basketball, Detroit Country Day’s Shane Battier against my team Petoskey in our Final Four loss on March 13, 1997 game.

Yet, losing can shine the light on growth and self-awareness. And as I was watching ego self destruct team chemistry, I quickly realized that winning took precedence over everything.

On the ride home, watching the highways unwind out my window, I thought about Johnny’s strengths, about mine, and the rest of the team’s. Johnny was higher up on the food scoring pyramid. No if’s, ands, or buts about it. He was just a better scorer than me. Little did I know, he would be one of three players to go onto score over 2,000 points in high school and college.

Maybe Shane Battier did that as well?

Who knows (lucky for me, four years after our Gus Macker loss, I got to guard Mr. Basketball Battier in the Michigan Final Four of my junior year, eh hem, we held him to single digits, but he had the flu, so much to my chagrin, we can’t take full credit for that defensive effort).

My teammate Johnny and I went onto to fully realize our full potential (as well as our team’s potential). We won three league championships, three district championships, three regional championships, and had two final four appearances. Now, we didn’t win the ultimate goal of a state championship, but we were one of the only Northern Michigan teams to ever have that much success.

This happened again in my college career.

And again in my pro career.

And every year, after winning championships, I would have to reflect and look for that ego finding a way in. And every time I thought about wanting more, I started to reflect and utilize my self-awareness. Was I rationalizing for my ego? Was I being greedy? Was I doing enough to make my team better? Myself better?

With letting go of my own ego, of wanting more for myself at the expense of the team, I gave up “The Disease of Me” and got more winning and team success in return. And the funny thing about winning is that you get more individual accolades this way. Ironic isn’t it? That when you actually focus on the team success, you actually get more individual success.

And this can only happen if your team has a certain chemistry, trust, and bond with your team. This takes authenticity. From you. From others. From accepting differences, but never accepting losing or poor effort.

If someone got out of line, a leader on the team spoke up.

If you are wondering how to create team chemistry for your team, start with authenticity and letting go of your ego.

Go first. Be the change you want to see in others.

Rebound for someone.

Play one on one.

Fall 2016: Trevor Huffman Traverse City Basketball Training-Camps-Workouts

TrevorHuffman.com

If you are the coach, bring in your leaders. Make them set the tone and make it expected that losing is unacceptable and that anything less than 100% is unacceptable. Make that your culture. Ensure team building and opportunities for your team to grow outside the court. Take them on a trip. Show them a new city against a new team. Take them to Europe in the summer.

Are you the leader of the team?

Demand them to make the extra pass and demand the same in return.

Only accept 100% effort from yourself in every drill and workout, and then demand the same from your teammates.

Talk to them.

Ask them to pick it up.

And in the end,  when you are authentic, you are aware of your ego, and you don’t allow human nature to creep in after your have success, you can focus on what really matters.

Winning. And being part of a team that cares so much about one another, words are hard to describe the bond that develops.