I don't remember if it was a t-shirt or a hashtag when I first saw it. At the time I thought, "This is it. This is me and now I'm justified!" I'm like a lot of you. A lifer. A junkie. I love basketball. I struggle at times to turn off my mind. In my early years, I loved walking into a restaurant and knowing, or at least hoping/pretending to think that "people knew me." I was basketball 24/7/365 and if you weren't, well then you weren't as passionate as I was. Plain and Simple.
Then it happened. I got older. wiser. Actually, I saw a Nike t-shirt that disgusted me. I'm a Nike guy. The only pair of shoes I've had in the last 15 years that weren't Nike were UnderArmour and they were given to me at a camp. But there it was. The shirt that changed it all.
You might remember it....Lazy but Talented.
I was appalled. How could Nike put that on a shirt? Why would they? Celebrating the fact someone is lazy but talented enough to succeed? That notion is almost as insane and insulting as....No Days Off.
I've always been a thinker. So I started thinking about slogans, words, anything that was jargon - good or bad. The phrases you see on t-shirts for teams, words the Coaches use but they don't have a core value or standard behind them. Why and how had we been sucked into hashtags and slogans without thinking about them? Was the phrase No Days Off really what I believed? If so, why did we take days off from practice? I started thinking about our team. I began watching the really talented teams and how they worked. That's when I realized I needed this change more than our team did. So I did and here are 3 things that went into that change.
1. Its Hours Not Days
We give 3 days off from the start of school until October. Every Thursday and every weekend. I know Coaches that cringe when they have to take a day off for something academic or out of their control in the preseason. We take days off and it has benefited the mentality of the Players and Coaches. "I could never give my team a day off. I'm a worker." Well, I and a lot of Coaches are workers. We just work smarter. Ever know a Coach that works just to prove they are working?
A day off from practice is taking a couple hours off. That's how I look at it. You practice for hours, not days. There are times you and your players need time away from the gym (more on that later). If you feel you can't lose those hours, break them up and spread throughout prior and post practices. Add 10-30 minutes to get them back.
If you feel a "day off" is going to derail your team, maybe you haven't spent your time right?
2. Happy, Healthy and Here
I keep waiting for a player to be interviewed at the Final Four and they say "I'm just ready for it to be over." We can probably agree that won't happen. You might argue it is because they are winning. I would agree but I'd point out they are still playing because they are healthy, as a team. We can all think of a team that seems to peak on December 1st. They are in tip-top shape, They have every set play in, Every defense, and they are ready....for a break. Christmas break hits and the players get away for a few days. Then we know what happens. The first day back, Coach decides to "run it off of them". The players are miserable, Coach is mad they had to take a break and now they are going to get it back in 4 hours of practice before playing 3 games in 3 days.
Happy teams want to practice. Teams that are healthy physically and mentally last longer. Probably the mental side is more important to your team's overall health. You have to find a way that everyone is happy to be attending practice, Coaches included. I despise the word grind. There are times in the year where it is difficult, but we get to do what we love. Even when it's hard, it's still what we love to do. When it's not what we love is when it's time to think about our situation.
3. Time Away
We are all coming back from an unprecedented time. Some of you are still in a time where you can't practice with your team. I remember the first day back with our team. Our Coaches spent hours planning how it would go. We covered every possible situation for cleaning basketballs, keeping players away from each other. We were going to make the CDC look bad because of all the work we were going to do. And then the Players showed up. They laughed, they talked. They laughed more. We spent more time on getting back to where we were as a program than we did on basketball. We had planned all these great drills and our guys just wanted to talk. So we let them.
Time away is sometimes exactly what we need. Because you remember why you want to be there. You remember why you fell in love with the game. You remember the fun with your teammates. The locker room, the office.
Getting away is sometimes the cure. If you lose 2 games in a row, take the day off. What you're doing isn't working so maybe give the team the hours off and you discuss with your staff changes. Maybe you take the day off too. Some of my clearest thinking is away from my office. "Well, we just have to work harder." If it is an effort issue, then you would've already made the change. Sometimes you're making great decisions and the result isn't what you want. I try to work smarter than harder in those situations.
The main thing I want to share is this. We all need days off. Days where we don't spend hours thinking about our job. Days to remember why we love our job.
It's October. Hopefully, we are going to need a day off soon....and when you need it...Take it.