As most of you know (or don’t know), I am a coach, I have coached soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball on all levels during my 27 years of teaching. I have never done this before, but I decided that I would share with you some “coaching wisdom.” The following article “The Disease of Me” was written by Alan Stein. It was written from a coach’s point of view. It stresses the importance of thinking of others and playing as a team. In order for a team to be successful, each player has to be unselfish and think about the other people on their team as important as they are. Throughout my years of coaching, I have taught these concepts to many of my players and teams.
I would like to ask you to do is this…when you read this article, read it from YOUR perspective. Consider what YOUR philosophy might be in YOUR everyday life. In other words, where you might read the word “player”, replace it with the word “me” and think of yourself as being that “player”. You will find that these simple suggestions will help give you a healthier perception of your life.
“Many kids today don’t understand that basketball is a “we game” – not a “me game”. They play for the scorebook, not the scoreboard. Am I allowed one more cliché? They play for the name on the back of their jersey instead of the name on the front. OK, I think 3 overused coaching clichés should suffice in getting my point across.
Kidding aside, there are 3 symptoms of the ‘disease of me’ – each of which severely stagnates a player’s growth and development. Having worked a ton of camps and events this summer, I have seen each of these symptoms from players of every age and every level:
1. Too cool
2. Too good
3. Too shy
This symptom is rampant… in fact it is a borderline epidemic. Players are too cool to listen when a coach is talking, too cool to show enthusiasm during drills, too cool to warm-up properly, too cool to get on the floor for a loose ball or take a charge, and too cool let the people around them know that they don’t understand something or need some help. Players are often more concerned with ‘how they look’ then ‘how they perform.’ To paraphrase Woody Harrelson in White Men Can’t Jump – players that are too cool would ‘rather look good and lose than look bad and win.’
This symptom is tricky… because it is actually an illusion. The players who think they are too good – actually aren’t! They aren’t anywhere close to being good enough, much less too good! They are so hypnotized by their ranking, or brainwashed by their entourage, that they won’t admit they have areas of their game that need improvement. They are too good to work on their left, too good to work on their footwork, or too good to work on their mid-range game. Who needs to be able to do those things when you can dribble between your legs 19 times in a row or dunk the ball with ease? Players that are too good are often shoot 1st, pass 2nd type players. Actually, they are usually shoot 1st, shoot 2nd, and don’t pass type players. They never bother with making those around them better. If a teammate can’t hold their own on the court… that is their problem.
This symptom is complicated as well. I don’t know if I would go as far as to say that being too shy is selfish per se; but being shy does stunt improvement. You have to be assertive if you want to get better! You can’t be too shy to ask questions. You can’t be too shy to reach out and ask for help from your coach. You can’t be too shy to verbally communicate on offense and defense. Most kids aren’t shy when it comes to texting, Twitter, and Facebook… but they quickly go into a shell when expected to speak face to face.
If you are trying to be the best player you can be… to maximize your potential and play at the highest level possible… you can’t be too cool, too good, or too shy. You need to find a cure for the ‘disease of me.’”
I’m really in favour of my kids playing team sports, for all these reasons. I’m glad the coach decided to include shyness on this list; my daughter has struggled with anxiety and one of the most empowering thoughts she can conjure to overcome its debilitating effects is to remember that taking risks and being vulnerable with other people is an important way to show that she cares and values others. This takes the pressure off “me” and puts other people first–this small shift in perception centers her as a member of the team and increases her sense of belonging and self-worth.
Great article–lots of good old common sense!
I’m in the “Too Shy” category, but have been working hard to get rid of the “me-ness” of this issue, for I realize that it makes what I do (or don’t) about me. I’d rather live all out for Jesus, and let Him sort it out at the end.
Thanks for pointing out my selfishness. 😉 I needed to be reminded…again!
I think that when trying to do anything with other people, you have to set aside your ego. It has to be about the collective, not the individual.