Wednesday, February 8, 2017

#66 Building a Basketball IQ

The world is not limited by IQ. We are all limited by bravery and creativity. --Astro Teller

I'm sorry if these blog entries often ask you to be my very inexpensive psychotherapist, but I feel like I am usually venting to those who can relate to me as a coach, parent, present or former athlete or maybe just an aspiring one of those.  Any way, I appreciate that so many of you come back and listen and sometimes share your thoughts or own experiences.

I will paraphrase Matthew McConaughey from Dazed and Confused, but the older I get, the younger [my players] seem to get.

It is amazing to me how little basketball a group of young men aged 15-18 actually watch.  When I was their age, I knew every player, what college they went to, their stats, their height and weight, their favorite moves, etc.

I memorized the details because I wanted to be those guys playing D1 or in the NBA, so I would not only learn about them as people, but I would go outside and mimic every move I learned the night before.

I don't think I was born any different than the average Joe, but I worked terribly hard to soak-up every ounce of wisdom from any person I looked up to.  I don't know when that changed or if it changed, but of the 15 young men I coach day in and day out, I only see 1 of the 15 as having the desire to grow and engage with anyone older than them that may be able to steal something to make their future brighter.  This young man is not the fastest or quickest.  He is probably the worst athlete in our program.  However, he is far and away the one with the brightest basketball future with real potential to play on TV some day and make money dribbling, shooting and passing a basketball.

What makes this young man "special" you ask?

The answer is not what you would expect, but it is the thing I cannot get past:  "His eyes."

His eyes are so very humble.  Without saying a word to me, I know he is listening; he understands; he is hungry for more; and he is very much appreciative of the information the coaches have to share with him.  Isn't that amazing?

I have been coaching for over 25 years.  I have been a Head Coach at some capacity for that long, and this is the first time I have truly understood why a kid will thrive or won't thrive on the court.  Many kids have those eyes every once in a while, but this young man shows those same humble eyes whether I am chewing him out or praising him in front of his teammates.

The big question comes back to #14 Significance vs. Success.  How do we teach kids to grow or build their basketball IQ, so it truly becomes a part of who they are?

You may write me (and I hope you do) with a much different perspective, but I have boiled it down to 4 major components:

1.  EARLY FAILURE;  Too many of us parents don't make our kids try new things.  We don't challenge their self-worth and then allow them to fail.  If a kid fails enough at something, they begin to realize that the failure isn't the end of the world.  And, if they keep trying, they learn from their mistakes and begin turning those failures into successes.  If we don't learn to fail, we can never really learn to succeed.

2.  HUNGER:  The great Hall of Fame college basketball coach, Al McGuire, once said "If they have grass on their lawn, I don't want them."  He was referring to kids who didn't know when their next meal would be or if they would have a place to sleep next week.  He knew that kids who knew what it was like to be hungry would work harder than anyone else because they never wanted to be in that position again.  I have learned that philosophy does not need to be as extreme or absolute as Coach's perspective.  A hungry kid could just be one that has such a big dream that they don't see obstacles in their way of achieving it.  Those kids will do anything to get better and fight for the next opportunity that presents itself.  How do we create that?  If your child says that they really, really want something, show them how to earn it.  If you just give it to them, they won't find a way to earn it when they can just come back to you each time.  [See signs in the forest that read "Don't Feed the Animals"]

3.  OPPORTUNITY:  If you take a dry sponge and throw it in a sink of water, it will quickly fill up and ingest every ounce of that water it can take.  Kids need the same.  Put your kids in situations where they can ingest.  This happens not only by putting them on teams and in leagues, but by taking them to games (HS, college, pro).  Show them what the best looks like.  Give them a chance to be inspired.  Put them in front of people who have done what they want to do.  Teach them to ask questions and expect answers and fight for those answers.  Be a sponge!

4.  FEED THE FIRE:  If your child wants to go to the park or go outside and shoot baskets or play catch, find the time to do it.  You don't have to be an athlete yourself to go for a run or shoot some baskets or just sit down and watch a game together.  When there is a fire in your child, you must nurture it or find someone who will.  I see so many kids with that fire and they quickly see me as the gasoline for that fire, but I can't go home with them.  I can't be their fuel every day.  I wish I could, but my family likes to see me every once in a while (I don't know why, but they do.)  So, bend a little.  Break a bit, but do all you can to feed the matter how small the flame!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.