March Madness will be here before we know it!

I know, I know, 2017 isn't even over yet and I'm already obsessing about March 2018?

Well, yeah, kind of. High school basketball across the country officially kicks off it's season next week. Not only is there a lot of excitement brewing in the air but also a bit of anxiety (for parents and players) around how the next five months will play out. And while we all have dreams of making it to "post-season" play, as individuals, we don't have a lot of control over exactly how the win-loss record will go.

We do, however, have a few things we have 100% control over.

Here are the Top 3 Non-Negotiables I work with my clients (and my own kids!) on as they get their mindsets ready prior to the start of his/her season:

#1: Start with YOU.

#2: Growth Mindset. 

#3: Be like Monmouth.

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#1: Start with YOU.

"It's not my fault." 

"She never passes the ball."

"That call was SO lousy! We would have won if it wasn't for the refs."

It's VERY easy to pass the blame. But if we are always looking for a scapegoat, we are going to miss the true opportunity to learn. Words carry a lot of weight in how we perceive a situation. So ask good questions.

Players ask yourselves: "What can I do better?" "What responsibility do I have in the outcome of this game? Did I give my best effort (on and off the court)? How was my attitude? What support did I give my teammates? Did I have fun?

Parents ask yourselves (before giving feedback to your child about a game): "What feedback is helpful in this instance?" Give yourself 15-20 minutes after a game before chatting to your child. Sometimes I just pick a different topic all together when getting into the car with my kid after the game. 

If you can't think of a helpful question to ask, just say, "I love to watch you play." If your child wants to talk about it, let them drive the conversation. There is no need for you to re-hash every missed pass or poorly taken shot (by a teammate or your child.)


#2 Growth Mindset.

Having done decades of research on what drives motivation, achievement and success in education, sports and business, Stanford Psychology Professor, Carol S Dweck Ph.D is considered the pre eminent authority on how we can not only coach but more effectively teach our children to be more resilient, gritty and willing to work for long-term goals. 

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.

Tip: Check out to learn more. 

Double click on this image below. Print it and put it on your kid's bathroom mirror! (Our minds are so powerful. If you're seeing this regularly, you'll start to incorporate this into how you give and receive feedback).


#3: Be like Monmouth.

Head Coach for UConn's Women's Basketball program, 11-time Division I National Championship winner & 7-time Naismith Coach of the Year, Geno Auriemma has some very poignant advice for athletes:

  • "Be happy for your teammates when they are playing well."
  • "Our coaching staff puts a HUGE premium on body language."
  • "When I watch game film, I'm watching the bench."

TIP: Click on the image to the right hear from Coach Auriemma. 

What if your kid isn't a starter or doesn't get much playing time?

I'm working with a high school client, Tom, (not his real name) right now who's getting ready for the start of his basketball season and one of his top desires is to increase his playing minutes

Here's what we've been working on and some of the coaching I've shared with him:

He is a fabulous athlete and competitor, (which you have to be to make your high school team these days!). He's already gone directly to the coaches individually to find out what he needs to work on. They have acknowledged his hard work in practice and that he's getting stronger in his shooting. This is a great first step, and one to keep working on throughout the season.

TIP: Keep asking for feedback (growth mindset) and checking in with coaches and teammates.

So the second, more subtle, step is deciding how he shows up to practices and games. Whether he's out on the floor getting minutes or on the bench cheering his teammates on, bring the attitude that makes it impossible for them not to play you. 

Have you ever heard of Monmouth University, in West Long Branch, NJ? Neither had I until a couple years ago when their basketball team's bench (not the team!) started making ESPN's Sports Center's highlights.

Does YOUR team's bench look like Monmouths?

What's your version of this? We are ALL made up of energy, so when we share positive energy, it's infectious. It spreads.

What type of energy are YOU spreading?