The warm-up period prior to every varsity basketball game is twenty minutes. The approach to how the warm-up time is handled varies from program to program, but the majority of teams use it for just that, a warm-up.
They begin with some half speed passing drill leading into the infamous two line layups where players dribble in form halfcourt and shoot a layup, or whatever shot they want. The effort is typically minimal and serves as a time for players to ease into the intensity of the game.
We don’t approach it like that.
For us, the twenty minutes before the game are inches to steal. While most teams build little skill, one could actually argue they are building bad habits by performing the skills at a speed that will not take place in a game, we are basically holding practice for those fifteen minutes.
Our reps are calculated and focused specifically on foundational aspects of our program and style of play. Our effort and intensity are high.
We don’t lessen our effort because we are about to play a game.
We don’t limit our focus because we are going to need more of it later.
We do it at the level of our standard - all the time.
That’s what stealing inches is all about.
Why Should We Care?
We play twenty-two regular season games. Twenty minutes for twenty-two games equates to just over seven hours. That’s seven hours of practice and reps that other teams are not getting. Over the course of a season we steal three to four practices simply from our pregame routine.
The reps are important for the development of our players.
The mindset is critical for the development of our people.
The concept of stealing inches is attached to our core value of being passionate. People that are passionate, and really care about something, willingly choose extra work for what they are passionate about.
The work is a by-product of the passion. So much so, that it no longer feels like work. It’s simply the only path to progress. And, progress is what passion longs for. By seeking progress we shine a light on the inches we can steal.
They’ve always been there for the taking.
We just don’t take them very often.
It’s easier, and more accepted, to stay with the status quo. It’s different to warm-up at full speed. It's different to read between meetings. It’s different to write letters to your children each week.
Those pursuing excellence are passionate.
They’re always looking to steal inches.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
Stealing inches is sometimes difficult because it’s unusual. Most people don’t do it, so there isn’t a clear blueprint as to what to do or when to do it. Here are a few ideas that should help you get started.
The truth is that excellence isn’t an option without stealing inches. It’s not really an option. We have to do it. The good news is that once we taste the progress it provides, we will never want to stop looking for other inches to steal.
For more information on building excellence in your teams, visit us at www.bluecollargrit.com.
We would love to know how we could help!
I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.