Nothing But Net

basket-801708_640Sports have always provided excellent metaphors for success, and at this time of year college basketball takes center stage. Here in Lubbock, we’re celebrating the new NCAA Division II Women’s National Champions (Lubbock Christian University’s Lady Chaparrals), and the first trip ever to the Division I Final Four for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Obviously, basketball fever is running high in West Texas.

The road to any championship includes numerous stories of personal adversity and team achievement. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy playoff seasons and even the Olympics. There’s always someone who defies the odds. There’s always a team that shouldn’t be on the leaderboard. Underdogs make for compelling television; but when it comes to winning, they share many traits in common with the perennial top seeds.

It starts with strategy. Winning teams begin with a roster of talented players and a leader – a coach – who knows how to maximize their abilities. After building a team with the desired skill set, a strategy is formed. A style of play is developed and communicated. Assignments are given out and expectations are set. Goals are established and progress is measured. Does your team have a comprehensive, written strategy?

A strategy requires discipline. Every player accepts and embraces their role. Skills are honed and expanded. Teammates come to rely on each other and trust that each is doing their part for the team’s success. The coach promotes a culture of accountability. Mistakes are made, but every eye is on the prize and no one slacks off. Ability grows. Does each member of your team approach their role with discipline?

That discipline allows for flexibility. With the basics securely in place, teams gain the flexibility to change things up as necessary. They can adapt to different opponents and circumstances. They ramp up intensity when needed to overcome unforeseen obstacles they encounter. They begin experimenting with new strategies knowing that the fundamentals aren’t in question. Has your team developed the ability to shift as needed to address unexpected change?

In short order the 2019 NCAA championships will be over, but that doesn’t mean the work will end. Even now, most teams are analyzing the data from their season and revisiting their strategic plans. They’re looking to recruit new talent and identifying skills that need to be improved. There’s no time for looking back, because the future lies ahead. Winners are always moving forward, eyes focused on the next play.