Monday, 26 December 2016

Spirit of Giving

In the spirit of the season I decided to write this blog on giving.  Being a giving teammate is critical to having any amount of success on a team.  There are only a few ways to be on a team either you are giving energy or you are taking energy. There is nothing in between if you are neutral you are taking because there is so much more you could be contributing. Honestly, just staying still and holding back is clearly taking. Teams that give energy to each other are the ones that go the farthest because it doesn’t matter which players are on the court the energy is flowing in the same positive direction. It is incredibly hard to stop that.  

There are so many great parts about basketball that make this game great.  The fundamentals of shooting, dribbling and passing as well as defence are critical to creating a balanced athlete.  Of all of these skills the most underrated, in my opinion, is passing.  Finding the open player, giving up a good shot for a great shot and being selfless to get your teammate the ball are all incredibly powerful parts of this game.  

A long time ago when I was coaching at a basketball camp in California I heard an interesting story about Steve Nash when he was at College in Santa Clara.  An opposing coach was talking about how Steve was such a precise passer that if he didn’t want a particular teammate to shoot the ball then he would pass slightly off so that the player could catch the ball but they wouldn’t be in a position to be able to shoot it. This would help the team with their shot selection and I thought it was brilliant. Passes can be used to set teammates up for success or they can be used to find an even better option.      

In the book A Coach’s Life by Dean Smith I read about how he coached a player that was only looking for himself.  He would only shoot himself and didn’t have any interest in getting his teammates the ball.  After the opposing team scored Coach Smith stopped practice and took the remaining 4 players off the court.  He told the player he was now playing 1 on 5  to which the player asked how he was going to inbound the ball.  Coach Smith responded to him “Good, now you learned you need two anyways.”

Sometimes players get so wrapped up in being a scorer and they don’t realize that being a play maker is so much more powerful.  Scorers can be hard to stop but playmakers are even more difficult because they can create for themselves as well as find other people. Playmakers embody the spirit of giving. 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Rise and Shine - A Craig Sager Story

Craig Sager was a sideline reporter in the NBA and never missed a day of work in his life until he was diagnosed with Leukaemia.  You may have seen him before with his Don Cherry like outfits on the sidelines and his exuberant personality throughout the NBA broadcast.    This week he unfortunately passed away but it was the way in which he fought that was truly a beautiful thing to watch. 

He fought off the cancer twice just to have it return a third time. His family was told he had two weeks to live five separate times but Sager kept fighting his battle.  One of his son’s was a perfect match and donated marrow to help him continue to fight the fight not once but twice. On the third time an anonymous donor stepped up to help him.   

Patients who receive bad news about a terminal illness seem to react so differently.  It often seems that when that moment happens you get a glimpse of who they really are under all of the masks we often wear to protect ourselves from the outside world.  It has been said that looking into someone’s eyes allows you to see the content of their soul.  I think a truer test is seeing how a person chooses to live their life when they find out there isn’t much time left.  

Craig insisted he needed to continue working.  He wanted to continue living his best life and most of all he absolutely refused to give up.  Many of his huge, dominating and successful NBA athlete and coach friends were incredibly touched by his perseverance in the face of such incredible odds.  Craig talked to his doctor and they found a treatment plan that would allow him to continue to work even covering the NBA Finals for the first time in his 34 year career. This treatment plan was virtually unheard of but he used mental toughness and the love of his career as well as support of his family to help to get him through. With the travel schedule he endured matched with the chemo treatments it is hard to imagine how it was even possible. Somehow he dug deep and continued to write his own story despite the odds.    

Shaq said of him that he always asked the right question.  There is power in that.  He conducted himself with class and never would delve into the negative things other reporters might try to dig into.  He worked with the players and built their trust by keeping it positive.  

Last year he received the Jimmy V award for perseverance at the ESPY’s. I have included the link here in case you wanted to watch.  It is very inspirational.  It gives an excellent perspective as to the type of man he was. 

In the video there is three quotes he shared that I find very enlightening so here they are:

Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God and it is not in endless supply.  Time is simply how you live your life.  

Whatever I might have imagined a terminal diagnosis would do to my spirit it summoned quite the opposite — the greatest appreciation for life itself.  So I will never give up.  I will never give in. I will continue to keep fighting sucking the marrow out of life as life sucks the marrow out of me.  I live my life full of love and full of fun it’s the only way I know how.   

If I have learned anything through all of this it’s that each and every day is a canvas waiting to be painted.  An opportunity for love, for fun, for living, for learning. To those of you out there who are suffering from cancer facing adversity I want you to know that your will to live and to fight cancer can make all the difference in the world.  The way you think influences the way you feel and the way you feel determines how you act.  

I think the last thing he said applies to anyone not just those who have cancer.  The way you think does influence the way you feel and the way you feel really impacts how you act. In the face of terrible life circumstances Craig Sager chose to take some terrible events and use them to Rise and Shine!  I think we can all find a ways to do that and that helps to carry the memory of him on. Thanks for being that amazing example Craig!     

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Sports Drink Drawbacks and Alternatives

Although sports drinks are very popular and are marketed to promote recovery and hydration.  There is some science that supports they may not be the best thing for athletes in every type of situation. This article has been put together to show some of the downsides of using sports drinks in the wrong circumstances and to bring up some alternatives that may be better suited for athletes at different points.  When considering the use of sports drinks there are a couple of things to make note of.  

Let’s start off first with some important facts Gatorade was formulated in the 1960’s by Florida scientist to help football players to restore electrolytes lost during competition. Gatorade is owned by Pepsico and their competitor Coca-Cola owns Powerade.  The two of those companies together make up nearly 100% of the market.  This market is about US$4.8 billion according to Forbes magazine.  Keep in mind that both Coca-Cola and Pepsico are in the business of selling pop which is an not an ideal beverage for an athletes to consume. Although  this is a sports product there are some drawbacks in terms of how healthy they may actually be.  

Sugar Content 
Gatorade has a lot of sugar in it and not just regular sugar but refined sucrose type of sugar.  This is highly addictive and very saturated within this drink.  The recommended serving of Gatorade on the label is 8 ounces which contains 14 grams of sugar.  However, athletes typically would consume the entire bottle which is usually 32 ounces.  This is about 56 grams of sugar being ingested which is the equivalent of sugar in nearly 2 cans of pop. Regardless of how much energy is being expended that is a lot of sugar especially considering the kind of sugar being used is the kind that spikes blood sugar which is definitely not ideal when it comes to optimizing performance during a competition. Spikes in blood sugar are incredibly challenging to overcome.         

Bad for Teeth 
Citric acid is also found in sports drinks this is very harmful to teeth on its own.  It is increasingly detrimental when mixed with sugar. According to the American Dental Association both citric acid and sugar can erode teeth and promote tooth decay.  According to a study by the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry Gatorade was more harmful to teeth than Coca-Cola and second only to Red Bull.  

Artificial Colours
For aesthetic purposes and to differentiate the flavours from one another sports drinks come with artificial colours.  Although these colourings are government approved there is some evidence that the colours associated with these beverages can have an impact on children and may not be as safe as previously expected. For example there is evidence that seems to suggest that with the blue dye that is used it does in fact turn your tongue blue. It also may discolour other parts of your body tissue including the brain. Some of these colours impact lab rats with cancerous tumours and also impact children with ADHD.   

One of the things that sets Gatorade apart is the brand ambassadors that use the product like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams as well as other professional athletes. What may be the most surprising thing of all is that although they may use sports drinks they may not be using it to the degree that people think they are.  Water is probably the biggest source of hydration these athletes use. They often use the signature green bottles which disguise what is actually being consumed.  According to some sources may even be a completely different sports drink called Biosteel which was the case a few years ago in the NHL. Please see the links below for more information on this.    

In the article “Is Gatorade Dangerous for Your Heath?” on the website the Heath & Fitness CheatSheet author Lauren Weiler wrote: 

So, is Gatorade really dangerous? It depends on your level of physical activity and how much of the drink you’re consuming — if you’re a marathon runner or someone who partakes in hours of strenuous activity, then the electrolytes that Gatorade offers may benefit you. But, if you’re just working out for an hour at the gym, then the excess sodium and sugar are not necessary, and water will do just fine.

It should be noted that when Gatorade is most useful is when athletes are training significantly and sweating profusely.  If they have multiple practices or games then sports drinks are useful if it is just one game or practice than water is fine.  

Post Workout Recovery 

Is Gatorade the best option for a post workout recovery?  One of the best things to drink is chocolate milk, chocolate almond or soy milk as it has so many positive proteins and nutrients which sports drinks don’t have. Take a look at this website for more information.

If you wold like to know more information about BioSteel which is a healthier alternative to other sports drinks.  These two links are highly recommended.  

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Playing with Passion

Whether it is music or a sport there is no substitute for playing with passion.  Going through the motions is so detrimental to growth, purpose and the performance itself. It also interferes with the ability of the audience to really get into it the way they want to.  It is such a waste to be gifted in something and then not show the passion to keep learning growing, evolving and displaying that skill to the highest level. When a player plays with passion it is like having a spot light on them. They stand out for so many great reasons.  They don't have to be perfect or do every single thing right but it is playing for a higher purpose that is so compelling.  

If you have ever been to a concert of music that you might not normally even like there are times when you can still be pulled in with the passion and the presence of the performer. It isn’t always exactly clear why they just might be incredibly captivating. Passion is a big time difference maker and can be responsible for extremely high level performances as well as the amount of time someone stays with their craft.  

Let’s be honest basketball is a “young person’s game” in that at some point it needs to be given up and moved on from.  Even if you can still play eventually every player declines from where they were in their prime.  This  goes for athletes that get to play the game at the highest levels of professional sports too.  No one is exempt from having to either stop playing or accept their decline when the time comes.  This is why learning to tap into playing wish passion is critical at younger ages.

Some athletes get the opportunity to choose when the dimer switch starts to turn the light off on the game and other times it is a switch that the athlete has no part in the decision making process because they may be injured or be dealing with other circumstances outside of their control.  This is why learning to tap into the passion of the game early is so critical because when the process is over it always feels better knowing that you gave what you could.  

Dig deep 

There are obstacles that get in the way of success like injuries, relationships with coaches, other players and so on.  Passion can help you to figure out why you are putting yourself through the challenges and it can also help to provide the motivation on how much you are willing to persevere through the situation in order to be successful. Passion can be tapped into so that those situations aren’t as painful to go through.  It helps you to be clear about why you are doing what you are doing and find a way to get through to the other side of the obstacle.   


It would be impossible to play with passion without some form of hustle as the two go hand and hand.  Hustle is a skill that must be practiced. You can’t turn off the hustle and then turn it on again with any degree of accuracy.  Hustle works best when it is utilized liberally.  On the court when someone is hustling it becomes very apparent that they are passionate because they are willing to do the little things that make an impact.      

Be infectious 

When a player plays with passion it is incredibly infectious to other teammates.  When you give more your teammates are often willing to do the same.  Passion helps to ignite energy within other players and really can shift the team in a positive direction.  

Here are some ways to be infectious using passion: 
  • Cheer on the bench when you are on the bench 
  • Celebrate your teammates when they do something amazing 
  • Make hustle plays
  • Give energy to your teammates by giving them high fives and positive encouragement 
  • Helping them up when they go down after a hustle play 
  • Take a charge
  • Dive for a loose ball 
  • Chase down a defender so they don’t get an easy look at a basket 

In closing, learning to play with passion is key.  Having a good idea of the reasons you play is very important to utilizing passion properly.  It helps you to persevere when things aren’t going your way and also helps to cope when you have to transition to another part of your life.  Passion and hustle go hand and hand to bring the best out of the player.  Finding ways to be infectious will help your teammates as well as yourself to tap into your passion more readily.