In basketball, like in life, mistakes are unavoidable. As much as we would like to escape them, they’re going to happen. The teams that make the fewest mistakes, the majority of the time win.
Occasionally, teams that make a lot of them win. How so? They don’t chase them.
Instead, they replace the mistakes by pursuing the greatness that inevitably comes behind them.
As a coach, I see mistakes as experiments; they give us opportunities to improve, whether that is in team practice or individual workout sessions. All in, we get chances to create positive outcomes to help us grow above and beyond together as coach and player.
Coach Dean Smith, Hall of Fame Head Coach at the University of North Carolina for 36 years said this about mistakes, “What do you do with a mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it.”
This is a great reminder to us all in pursuit of becoming the best version of ourselves. I share Coach Smith’s impactful words with the players that allow me to coach them by introducing them to Mr. R.A.L.F.
In basketball, there are only five players per team on the court at one time, so it is easy to identify which player made the mistake. I’ve seen both sides of the spectrum from coaches when players make mistakes.
Some coaches will bring up your mistake so often that it creates resentment in the player and a lack of desire to play to their top abilities. This coaching tactic also generally drives down the team morale and sucks the fun out of the game.
The other side I’ve experienced is when coaches encourage their players through mistakes. This is done by using the Sandwich Approach (positive-negative-positive).
This approach begins with acknowledging the player’s effort and intent of doing their best (start with a positive note). Then, the mistake is brought up to collaborate on possible upgrades so the player can avoid repeating the same mistake (bring up the negative event). Finally, decide on a couple of best practices to implement if the same situation arises in the future (end on a positive note).
Ownership and accountability do not equal “finger-pointing” blame and shame!!!
Don’t automatically spout off the infamous “my bad” or other default expressions like this. Why? Because most of the time we don’t really mean those words, we are just using them to avoid criticism or judgment from a coach or teammate.
Instead, express accountability by saying what Coach K, another current Hall of Fame Head Coach from Duke, teaches his players, “Next Play.” Simple and to the point.
Concentrating on what’s next gives each player an opportunity to see what’s happening now vs having their vision clouded by the mistakes of the past.
This is the practical side to correcting mistakes, including finding ways to work on them in practice through repetitive on-court drills, studying and watching film.
Remember, this is not the time to berate or remind players of their mistakes.
Practices should create an environment of empowerment and collaborative growth opportunities.
If you can achieve this, players will look forward to coming and giving their all as they know they have a voice and will yearn to grow both for themselves and for the betterment of the team.
The most successful people in the world have this in common…they are good at forgetting.
I remember listening to Warren Buffet discuss how he became a standout businessperson and investor. He stays present and he doesn’t bring up what happened yesterday. In other words, he does not live in the past. He stays current on what’s in front of him now.
The key for me to truly forget and not chase mistakes is through forgiveness, which is my bonus tip.
In order to chase greatness, we must find a way to forgive ourselves for making mistakes. Let’s face it, we don’t go out each day looking to make mistakes, they just happen. And guess what? That’s OK!!
I remember times as a player where I would try so hard to not make any mistakes that I avoided any playmaking situations.
That cost me dearly as there were constant fear and frustration that lingered from not playing up to my potential. Fast forward to the present day, and as a coach, I go above and beyond to ensure my players have room to make mistakes.
In fact, the more mistakes they make, keeping RALF in mind, the more they start to sharpen their awareness and play.
It’s a beautiful thing to see players play with courage and passion because they know they have room to grow.
So, in every aspect of life, keep Mr. R.A.L.F. in mind and give yourself the grace to continue onto the “Next Play!”
– Coach Charlie Miller
By the way, if you share my belief that you can coach positively, and at the same time, demand great effort and great attitude, I highly advise you check out Breakthrough Basketball Camps!
This is what attracted me to Breakthrough Basketball and motivated me to become a lead camp instructor.
It was the unique ability to create an environment with a laser-like focus on maximizing skill development while still impacting young athletes beyond the game of basketball by teaching character, mentality, confidence, leadership, and much more!
You can find hundreds of camps across North America for youth and high school players. You can search by state as well. Spots are also limited for each camp to ensure high quality instruction.