Talent, luck and persistence – pick any two to achieve true success.
To some degree, what most people refer to as ‘talent’ is nothing more than passion. If you love to do something… you will do it every chance you can. And the more you do it, the better you get. Now obviously there are several uncontrollable factors that determine someone’s ultimate talent and success on the basketball court (height, athleticism, etc.), but in many instances, talent comes from non-stop, obsessive and deliberate practice. I have never met a great shooter who didn’t put in the work… who didn’t make thousands and thousands of shots every week. Being a ‘talented’ shooter is controllable.
There is no debate that Kevin Durant was born with numerous physical gifts. But so are a lot of people. So how come KD is the NBA’s MVP, scoring leader and a perennial All-Star? Because KD has an unparalleled passion for basketball and he works on his craft every single day. KD has made himself ‘talented.’
The same is true in coaching. Who are the most ‘talented’ coaches? Coach K? Gregg Popovich? Billy Donovan? Doc Rivers? Do you have any idea how much time and effort those guys have put in to their coaching skill sets? They have worked relentlessly for decades to become ‘talented.’
Talent is the ability to make the most of what you have with where you are.
Honestly, I don’t believe in luck. I think unsuccessful people use luck as an excuse. I believe luck is when preparation meets opportunity. Damn I love the quote.
So that means, in order to be lucky, you need to be well prepared when opportunity knocks.
Do you even know how to prepare? Players, what do your daily workouts consist of? Do you just jack up 300 shots or do you take game shots, from game spots, at game speeds? Are you a shot taker or a shot maker? Do you practice stationary ball handling drills looking down at the ball or do you do drills on the move and force yourself to see the court (even though you may lose the ball initially)? Do you visualize a defender in front of you when making moves to the basket or do you just do the drill? Do you have a solid strength & conditioning foundation or do you just play pick-up? Equally important, are you a great teammate? Are you the type of player other players like to play with and coaches like to coach? Trust me… you’ll be a lot luckier if you are!
Coaches, do you just study the X’s and O’s or do you work on your leadership skills? Do you put all of your focus on your out-of-bounds plays or do you spend time learning how to most effectively communicate with every member of your program? Do you reinforce great work habits with your players 365 days a year? Do you read, watch film and network with other coaches?
I realize many resources cost money… camps, clinics, DVDs, and trainers, which can be a limiting factor for some. However there are numerous resources that don’t (like this blog or Pure Sweat Basketball Youtube). Find them. Use them.
If you want to be lucky, you need “to be in the right place at the right time.” Instead of waiting for that to happen, you need to make an effort to create real value in every place you go and every person you come in contact with.
When opportunity knocks, will you be prepared to answer?
This one is pretty obvious. Don’t give up on anything you can’t go a day without thinking about. Never quit. Keep practicing. Keep working. Most people think they are persistent, but in reality, they give up after a couple of “no’s” or a few minor failures. Be too stubborn to quit. Don’t be so pig-headed you won’t try to new approaches or make adjustments along the way… just don’t quit. Ever.
My twin sons, Luke & Jack, are 4 years old and my daughter Lyla is 2. The 3 of them have an unyielding persistence. They don’t stop until they get what they want! They are relentless and they don’t take no for answer. While that has certainly caused me some grey hairs, I hope it is a quality they never out grow. If they apply the same persistence to the game of basketball as they do to get ice cream for dessert, a Power Rangers figurine or watch an episode of Paw Patrol… they will indeed be McDonalds All-Americans in 2028!
Bottom line is this. If you want to be successful, on the court, or in anything in life:
Create your talent.
Make your own luck.