One of the greatest things I learned working for Jim Larranaga and his staff at the University of Miami (FL) was how to build myself to be the very best that I could be. They taught me how to wake up on a daily basis with a fire to make today better than yesterday, and help my players grow a little more during the time I have with them. Furthermore, Coach L. and his staff showed me how to evaluate a person and help them reach their full potential. Whether it is self evaluation, evaluating a recruit, staff member or any person in life, Coach L. followed what he called “The 8 C’s.” As I am now two seasons removed from Miami, I find myself constantly instilling these characteristics in people close to me, especially my players. Basketball, as in all sports, is 90% mental and 10% physical, unfortunately many coaches focus far too much on the physical, and far too little on the mental. As Coach L. taught me, before a player can achieve physically, he must first develop mentally. It is our jobs as coaches to develop the mental fortitude in our players. However, as leaders, we must hold ourselves to the same standard we hold others. The first step is instilling the 8 C’s into our own mental makeup.
CHARACTER: Being a genuinely “good” person. Having high morals, values and appreciation for doing things the right way. Someone who can go above and beyond to do things the right way. A person who strives to make a positive impact. This goes hand in hand with competitiveness.
COMPETITIVENESS: Someone who has determination to get the job done. This person believes in himself and his ability, and refuses to take any shortcuts. He welcomes challenges and takes pride in overcoming adversity. Someone who knows how to compete smart and patiently. You’re always looking to mimic the importance of character and competitiveness.
COMPETENCE: The skills to do your job well. Having the ability to complete the tasks you need to completed, and doing them the right way. Being great at what you do, but still striving to improve. Having a GREAT knowledge.
CONSISTENCY: Having the discipline to show up and do your job to the very best of your ability each day. If you are competent and have knowledge, you also need to be consistent in your day to day approach. Consistency is circled around discipline, will and drive. When something is important you CANNOT compromise your principles and values.
COHESIVENESS: Working well with others. Being able to bring out the best in other people and surrounding yourself with those who are optimistic and dream the same things as you. With a shared vision comes cohesiveness. It is always what you can do for others, not what others can do for you.
COMMITMENT: Being willing to make sacrifices to make the team improve and others around you grow. Knowing what you want and need to do, either for yourself or your team, and doing it consistently every single time. Putting the goals of the team and organization ahead of your own needs in order to achieve a common goal. Knowing there is a higher purpose.
COMMUNICATION: 93% of communication is non-verbal. Being able to communicate effectively with others, especially your players, staff and others that you work with. Having the ability to listen first and talk second. Part of communication is confidence and part of confidence is trust. Show others you trust them by never wavering into having bad body language.
CONFIDENCE: Believing in yourself and the people you work with. A calm feeling of knowing the tasks that need to be accomplished will get done. Believing and trusting in your strengths and willing to improve on your weaknesses. Belief can go a long way. Showing others you are confident in their abilities can make the world of difference.
I will forever be grateful for Coach Larranaga and his staff for giving me my start in coaching college basketball. But more than anything I will be thankful for making me grown as a person. Just like Coach L. did to every person and player who passed through the George Mason and Miami programs, he held me to a standard that forced growth, confidence and a consistent mental approach to life and basketball. He showed me that before I can bring out untapped potential in others, I must first elevate myself.
Coach L. required those in his program to carry themselves with a high character and a competitive a drive to improve daily. Members of the program were taught the importance of routines, which led to a consistent and competent approach. Through daily communication, confidence was developed amongst members of the team. With confidence came commitment to achieving the goals that were set, and with commitment came cohesiveness that build a championship team.
As coaches, players follow our lead. They read our body language, interpret our tone of voice, evaluate our daily mannerisms and mimic our approach to life. Realistically, coaches cannot have program standards that they themselves do not follow. We must always coach with a higher purpose, and strive to make every member of our program leave better than what they started. Make the 8 C’s the pillars of your life, instill them as the standard for your program and lead by example. Points are scored by physical ability, but games are won by the mental approach. Basketball, as in all sports, is 90% mental and 10% physical.