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Monday, January 25, 2010

Lesson Learned?

This is a spontaneous follow up to my last post, “Losing Sucks.” Why a follow up? Because this past Saturday night we were very lucky to escape with a 4 point overtime win against Kecoughtan High School from Hampton, VA. Before I say anything, let me congratulate their players and staff for playing an excellent game. They played winning basketball, and in all honesty, they deserved to win the game. They should hold their heads high and be very proud of their effort.

Our performance, if you can call it that, bothered me so much I felt compelled to write this. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you read “Losing Sucks” first for the proper foundation as I mentioned something in that post that is paramount to the point I want to make here:

“It is so important to recognize when you play well and lose. It is equally important to recognize when you play poorly and win. You need to learn from both.”

KHS needs to recognize they played very well even though they lost the game. I recommend they watch the film and take note of the many things they did so well. My guess is, if they do those things against every other team on their schedule… they will win most of their games and have a great chance at a state title. They took great shots and played tough defense for 32 minutes.

On the other hand, our players need to be humble enough and mature enough to admit they played poorly and still won. And they played really poorly. While I am thankful we got the W, I absolutely consider our performance a loss.

Why do I consider it a loss? Let’s review, from “Losing Sucks,” the three reasons you lose a game:

· You weren’t as talented as the other team.

· You didn’t execute or make plays.

· You played with a lack of effort.

The only reason we squeaked out a win was because we were more talented than they were. Bottom line, and I mean this with sincere respect to the KHS team, we had better players. However, Montrose alum Kevin Durant’s favorite quote is quite applicable here:

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”

We almost found that out the hard way.

KHS should look back and accept they lost because we had better players (Point #1)… there is no shame in that. They did execute and they did make plays (Point #2). They did play with passion, heart, and effort (Point #3).

Our players, on the other hand, need to look back and admit the exact opposite. The only reason we won was because we had better players. We didn’t execute or make plays and we sure didn’t play with the passion and effort that is the epitome of the Montrose legacy.

Please notice I said “our players” as opposed to “we” in an attempt to distance myself and the coaching staff from our players. I did that intentionally. While we are all in this together, and we are all part of the program… the coaching staff very well recognizes and admits the shortcomings from this game… I am not quite sure our players do. They need to be mature enough to learn from this. Our coaching staff already has. As coaches, all we can do is prepare our players in the best manner possible and do everything in our power to put them in a position to be successful. We can’t play the game for them. That is 100% on them.

I have mentioned time and time again, that the Montrose program is run exactly like a major college program… only with 16, 17, and 18 year olds. That is why our players are so successful at the next level, because they have already acclimated themselves to the academic and athletic schedules and standards of excellence required of big time Division I programs. We take a lot of pride in “What We Do” (another previous blog post). What separates our program from others is our attention to detail, our strict discipline, and our proven system for building a time honored basketball powerhouse. Structure and discipline are the backbone of our program… and this past Saturday our players lacked both.

The problems began at our standard Saturday game day shoot-around. Our players were told to eat their pre-game meal at 2pm (4 hours before tip-off). On Saturday games, we give our guys the freedom to eat on their own or with their families. They were also told to be dressed in their practice gear and game shoes and on the court at 4pm. When the clock struck 4pm, only two players were dressed and ready. For the next 10 minutes, players casually strolled in… some wearing practice gear and some wearing Montrose sweats. Some even had the audacity to have food in hand when they walked in! This arrogant, lackadaisical attitude is the antithesis of what our program represents and is absolutely unacceptable. This attitude goes against everything we believe.

Part of the problem was the kids knew that Coach Vetter was not going to be at the pre-game shoot around. They knew he would delegate that to our associate head coach, Dan Prete (who is a phenomenal coach in his own right). Coach Vetter chooses not to see our players until right before the game. Coach Prete was shocked and extremely offended by this blatant act of disrespect. He gave them a much needed verbal blasting… hoping to nip their overconfidence in the bud.

However, a verbal blasting a few hours before game time was not enough to knock some sense into our guys. They pretended to put on their game face and act as if they were ready to play… but my keen eye knew better. Our guys continued to go through the motions of our warm-up with a pompous, care free attitude. I tried to light some fire in them…with a few words of wisdom and an array of “F” bombs… but it was to no avail. Their attitude was too deep… they were cocky, thought they were untouchable… and were just plain out of it.

Our staff knew we were in trouble. And boy, were we right.

We missed 6 lay-ups during warm-ups. SIX! Five of which were from our starters. We are one of the top 15 teams in the entire country… we have numerous high major Division I players… and we missed 6 lay-ups?! That can only happen from a severe lack of focus.

Our players thought they could just show up and win based on pure talent.

Looking back, I hope they realize if KHS scored 1 more point during regulation…just 1… they would have showed our guys how wrong they were and taught them a lesson they would never forget. Now, all we can hope for, is our guys are mature enough to learn the same lesson without suffering the actual loss. As mentioned before, we have not lost a home game in the 7 years I have been with the program.

And what is the lesson I hope they learned?

“Respect every opponent; don’t take anyone lightly. On any given night, you can beat anyone. On any given night, anyone can beat you.”

If you don’t really believe that… believe me… someone will eventually bite you in the ass. Ask Tark and Larry Johnson if they thought Duke could beat them in the 1991 national semi-finals. Or if Mike Tyson thought Buster Douglass could win… much less knock him out. The list of surprising upsets is long.

Another lesson I hope they learned?

“It’s not who you play; it’s how you play that matters most.”

Great players and great teams prepare for every game the same way. Whether it is a pre-season scrimmage or a state championship… their mindset is the same.

Please know I really and truly care about the players on our team. They are amazing young men and I am very thankful to get an opportunity to work with them. And that is the main reason I hope they learn from this. I want to see them grow. I want to see them get better. I want to see all of the sacrifices they have made to be a part of our program pay off… not get flushed down the toilet because of an afternoon of immaturity and cockiness.

I told them afterwards, there are three things they need to do when reflecting on this particular game:

1. Admit they were overconfident and didn’t take their preparation seriously

2. Learn from it

3. Don’t ever, ever let it happen again

If they do those three things, then this can be the spark that ignites us and takes us to a whole new level. We absolutely have the potential to be the #1 team in the nation… we have the tools. It will be interesting to see how we respond.

Hopefully, they respond quickly as we have a great opportunity in front of us this week. We head down to Orlando on Wednesday to play in the Montverde Classic. Our first round game is against one of Florida’s state champs from last year, a team that is 14-1 and has most of their players back from last year. If we win that game, we will most likely play the host school, Montverde Academy… a team that hasn’t lost a home game in several years. Montverde is currently ranked # 21 in the nation by ESPN and is coached by Kevin Sutton… a former Coach Vetter assistant of 13 years and an amazing coach. If we were to win that, we will most likely play Findlay Prep in the championship… who is currently ranked #2 in the nation by ESPN… and a team that beat our ass in the semi-finals of last year’s RISE National Championship tournament.

So we have a few days to get it together and take advantage of a special opportunity. I will be tweeting in regularly from the tournament, so make sure you follow me at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein for updates and behind the scenes insight.

And as always, check out (and subscribe to) www.YouTube.com/StrongerTeamDotCom for video clips of our Pre-game Warm-up, On Court Warm-up, and In-Season Workout.

And if you need anything else, or if I can be of service in any way, don’t hesitate to email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I will respond as quickly as possible.

One love.

Alan Stein

www.StrongerTeam.com

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Losing Sucks

Losing sucks.

How’s that for an introductory line and title? Hell, I don’t even like losing my car keys! Chris Paul said it best during a talk at his camp last summer, “I hate losing more than I like winning.” I know a lot of elite level ballers who feel the same way and use their distaste of losing as a major source of motivation.

As much as losing sucks, I do hope we can all agree, especially given the catastrophic events that have recently taken place in Haiti… that losing a basketball game is not the end of the world. As important as basketball is, you have to keep things in perspective. Nevertheless, I still stand by my opening statement… losing sucks.

Now, some of you reading this haven’t lost a game this season (John Wall, are you there?). And some of you have lost almost every game you’ve played (hmmm…. New Jersey Nets). However, I imagine a majority of you are somewhere in between.

Given January is the “hump month” for high school and college hoops, I have received a few dozen emails in the past two weeks asking me how we (Montrose Christian) deal with losing.

Whether you are a player or a coach, how you handle a loss and deal with adversity speaks volumes about your character, your competitiveness, your commitment to excellence, and determining whether losing will become a habit or the initial spark that ignites success.

Even though losing is not the end of the world… losing should hurt. When you invest an inordinate amount of time, effort, and love into something like the game of basketball (and at Montrose we do)… losing should hurt. If it doesn’t hurt, then you don’t care. And if you don’t care… you shouldn’t be playing. However, you can’t let it hurt for long. You can’t wallow in self pity. You must lick your wounds, learn from the loss, and quickly move past it. If you don’t, it will happen again. And it will continue to happen until the reasons you have been losing are corrected.

I will be the first to admit how fortunate I am to be involved in a program that doesn’t lose very often. In my 7 years at Montrose, we have only lost around 15 total games (not sure of the exact number, but we have only averaged a couple of losses per year). I mean we haven’t lost a home game or to a local opponent since I have been there. The good news is we don’t have to deal with losing very often. The bad news is, when we do… it really sucks!

Losing, like any other setback or failure, should be looked at as a learning experience and a way to grow and improve. It is very important to learn from every loss… and use it as a stepping stone to future victory. You don’t want to let one loss rattle your team’s confidence and snowball into a streak of losses (like what’s happening to the North Carolina Tarheels right now). You need to learn from it and nip it in the bud!

However, in order to learn from it… you must honestly and accurately identify why you lost. In my opinion, there are only three reasons you lose a game:

1) You weren’t as talented as the other team.

2) You didn’t execute or make plays.

3) You played with a lack of effort.

Determining why you lost is the most important factor when deciding how to handle it and how to bounce back.

If you lost because the other team was more talented… did you still compete? Or did you play scared?

If you lost because you didn’t execute or make plays… was it a mental thing (lack of focus)? Or was it just a poor shooting night?

If you lost because you lacked effort… and the other team outworked you… was it because…

Scratch that, there is no because. There is never an excuse for playing with a lack of effort. That is absolutely unacceptable. Losing from a lack of effort is the only time you should punish yourself or your players at the next practice. And you should make a statement to make sure it never happens again. Like killing an ant with a sledgehammer.

I can accept and admit when the other team was better. I can accept and admit when we had an off night (poor shooting)… but I cannot and will not accept losing from a lack of effort.

Our most famous loss in my tenure at Montrose was last year’s double OT loss to Oak Hill in the Championship game of the Iolani Classic. That was a devastating loss. However, our kids played their hearts out. We couldn’t have asked them to play any harder. I am not much into moral victories, but ironically… I still to this day think that was the best game we played all year… and we lost! It is so important to recognize when you play well and lose. It is equally important to recognize when you play poorly and win. You need to learn from both.

Our only loss this year was to Neumann Goretti out of Philly (currently ranked 9th in the nation by ESPN) in the semi-finals of this year’s Iolani Classic. We played very hard that game; we just didn’t play particularly well. We didn’t execute and we didn’t finish plays. We missed 13 shots in the paint, 12 free throws, and had 11 empty possessions (where we didn’t even get a shot off because we turned the ball over). And we only lost by 7! While we were very disappointed in the loss, we knew our missed shots and careless turnovers were correctable mistakes. So we let it hurt for the night and then we woke up, put our hard-hats on, and went back to work. And our response paid off as we played very well the next game and beat a nationally ranked team out of Georgia.

NOTE: while we certainly missed some chip shots and freebies at the line, I don’t want to take anything away from Neumann Goretti. They played an outstanding game and deserved to win that night.

In addition to identifying why you lost, it is equally important to evaluate how you lost. Did you show proper sportsmanship to the other team and the officials? Did you play like a team or did you play selfishly, point fingers and make excuses? Obviously no one likes to lose, but it is very important you learn how to handle losses like a professional and with character… not like a petulant child.

We are very strict about this with our players and don’t give them an inch when it comes to sportsmanship or playing the blame game. We win together, we lose together. No one player wins a game by his or herself and no one player loses a game either. Missing a shot at the buzzer, or throwing the ball away with 3 seconds left, is never what actually loses the game. It was an accumulation of the previous 31 minutes and 57 seconds.

Make sure, as a coach or as a player, you take some time to reflect and evaluate both why you lost and how you lost and use it as a learning experience for your next game as well as for the rest of the season. Even though January is coming to a close, there is still a lot of ball to be played!

If I can ever be of service to you or your team, please don’t hesitate to email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I promise to respond as quickly as possible.

If you haven’t done so, please check out (and subscribe) to www.YouTube.com/StrongerTeamDotCom. I just posted a new video of a Montrose Basketball In-Season Workout. Next week, I will post clips of the Duke men’s basketball team’s pre-game on court warm-up. I got some awesome footage from their game against Wake Forest!

Also, for those of you who follow me at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein, or are my “friend” at www.Facebook.com/AlanSteinJr, beginning in February I will be posting weekly trivia questions for folks to win some sweet prizes – like Nike and Jordan gear! All of the questions will come from my blog archive… so make sure you read past posts and study up.

Play hard. Have fun.

Alan Stein

www.StrongerTeam.com

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No Guarantee

The word on the street is Mark McGuire read the second half of my blog post from last week (“Random Thoughts”) and finally decided to admit he took steroids. Thanks Big Red, it only took you 10 years. And it wasn’t the slightest bit obvious (insert sarcasm). All joking aside, the year he broke the home run record, the measured circumference of his right forearm was an inch and half bigger than my neck! How in the hell could that be natural?!

OK, back on topic.

One of the toughest things to deal with as an adult is the concept that nothing in life is guaranteed. Except for death and taxes. And while I certainly despise paying taxes, my gut feeling is I would like death even less.

This concept of “nothing being guaranteed” is so evident in sports. Jim Valvano, the late coach of NC State and one of my favorite motivational speakers, once said something to the effect of:

“Just because you work hard doesn’t guarantee you will be successful. But not working hard guarantees you won’t be.”

Reigning NCAA National Champion coach Roy Williams said something similar:

“Working hard doesn’t guarantee success, but without it, you have no chance.”

Have you ever spent hours upon hours studying for a test… and still gotten a poor grade? Has your team ever spent hours upon hours practicing all week… and still lost the big game?

Of course you have; it happens to the best of us. Working hard and not achieving success is a tough pill to swallow. It is hard in basketball and it is hard in life. But it is fact. And it is something every player and coach needs to come to terms with… because no one is immune. And when a minor setback (or failure) occurs, you have to learn from it, move past it, and get back to working hard again!

A young lady I had been working with for over a year, and who is a very accomplished high school player, tore her ACL a few weeks ago in a holiday tournament. She was having a phenomenal season (team was 7-2) and a stellar game (had already hit five 3’s) up to that point. Then, early in the second half on a drive to the basket, she landed awkwardly while being fouled. BAM! Just like that, she tore her ACL and her season was over.

Her father called me to tell me the bad news and told me she was devastated. As a senior, she was being recruited by several Division I schools, but unfortunately was waiting until the spring to sign… and she was distraught with thoughts that “no one would want her now.”

Personally, I was crushed by the news. I couldn’t sleep for two days. I really care about all the kids I work with and I felt terrible she was going through this. She is such an impressive young lady, both on and off the court.

Unable to sleep, all I kept thinking was, how could this have happened? She worked so hard this pre-season. She did everything I asked of her and did it to best of her ability. After a couple hours of staring at the ceiling, I went down to my office and reviewed my notes from our sessions. I took solace in knowing we did everything possible to try to reduce the occurrence of this happening. We incorporated numerous exercises and drills, every single workout, to reduce the likelihood of an ACL injury. We worked on proper landing. We worked on proper cutting. We properly strengthened every muscle and joint in her lower body. Honestly, I wouldn’t have done anything different. So thankfully, I don’t have to live with the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s. We worked hard all pre-season and literally did everything we could have done to prevent this. Yet unfortunately, it still occurred.

I went to one of her team’s games last week to say hello, offer my support, and to speak to her father. We had a wonderful conversation and I promised him I would help her with every step of her recovery. I also told him I was confident she would still play college basketball. The road will be tough, and it is (obviously) not guaranteed, but my advice to her was to stay positive, get ready to get back to work… and things will work out for the best.

Now, I am a strength & conditioning coach… not a psychologist by any means. But I really believe after her short grieving period is over, she will need to re-focus and get back to working as hard as possible. I understand she is entitled to a period of time of feeling disappointed and depressed… but what’s done is done. She tore her ACL; it’s a fact. Nothing can be done to undo that now. Just like an errant pass or a missed shot, it is time to move on to the next play!

The most influential factor in her future success on the court will be how she responds to this setback. This will be a real test of her character. I have full confidence she will come back better than ever because she has a tremendous attitude, relentless work ethic, and the mindset of a champion.

I am proud and thankful to claim an exemplary record over the past 10 years, with a particularly high rate of success for both injury prevention and performance enhancement. And even though I can say, with full confidence, we did everything “right” in regards to her pre-season preparation… an injury still occurred. We worked hard… and as we learned… success was not guaranteed (at least success in this particular instance). Fortunately, this is not the final chapter in her playing career.

It is imperative you understand you can’t second guess the importance of working hard and of doing what is right just because things don’t turn out the way you want. You still need to make the conscious choice to consistently work hard in every aspect of your life (especially in your training). While the possibility of not achieving success is always looming, it is nothing to be feared, and certainly nothing to give in too. If you make a daily commitment to excellence… you will absolutely “win” more than you “lose.” And I am not talking about the scoreboard.

If you read my recent blog post, “What We Do”, you can see the lengths the Montrose Christian basketball program goes to in order to be successful. And yet we still (occasionally) lose games. Do you think losing a game causes us to second guess “What We Do?” No way! And when you have a setback it shouldn’t cause you to second guess yourself either.

If you have any questions about ACL injury prevention (or recovery), or if I can ever be of service to you or your team, please don’t hesitate to email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I promise to respond as quickly as possible.

If you haven’t done so, please check out (and subscribe) to www.YouTube.com/StrongerTeamDotCom. I just posted two videos of the Montrose Basketball Pre-Game Warm-up (one before we take the court and one on-court). Next week, I will post clips from a recent in-season strength training workout.

Also, for those of you who follow me at www.Twitter.com/AlanStein, or are my “friend” at www.Facebook.com/AlanSteinJr, I will be holding weekly trivia questions for folks to win some HOT prizes – like Nike and Jordan gear! All of the questions will come from my blog archive… so make sure you read past posts and study up.

Play hard. Have fun.

Alan Stein

www.StrongerTeam.com

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Value of Shooting Camps

In coaching a youth program this year, I had some kids on the team that had attended a shooting camp this summer. I'm sure the instruction was good and the kids attended once a week for 4 weeks or so. They had "homework" to do on their own in between weeks. Guess what, these kids are still terrible shooters! No form, nothing. Is it the fault of the teacher at the camp? Absolutely not! The instructor is well regarded.

I'm sure the main problem would be a lack of continued practice and supervision of the kids after the camp was finished. No matter what type of camp you go to how much are you going to remember? Probably a minimal amount. Hopefully you get a nugget of knowledge that will last, but for the most part no one retains very much instruction at camps. I think camps are more of a social thing for most kids and exposure for skilled and high competitive kids.

I think kids should go to camp for social reasons and to see where they compare to their peer's skill level. But don't send your child to camp because you think you are going to turn them into a great player. Just going to camp won't do it. Your child is going to have to practice on their own or with you. The younger the player, the more vital it is that you help your child in a skill such as shooting to make sure they keep what they learned at camp.

I worked with my kids (who did not go to shooing camp) this summer using the Star Shooter training system, about twice a week for 15 minutes at at time, and they have much better shooting form and skill than the kids who went to camp. They have also retained their skill and form.

Now I do know a little about basketball, but my point is that anyone could take the Star Shooter DVD and learn the proper technique and form and have that at your fingertips anytime you wanted it. It's kind of hard to remember what the coach said at shooting camp several months later, let alone how he demonstrated it.

Go to a FEW camps and practice on your own. Use instructional videos so you always have perfect demonstration and can have great teaching at your fingertips when you want it. Just sending your child to camp will not make them better. If you are looking to get them out of the house and give them something to do, camp will work everytime.

Random Thoughts

Happy New Year! While I sincerely hope everyone’s 2010 is off to a wonderful start, I will be honest, I say “Happy New Year” somewhat facetiously. It’s January 7th for cryin’ out loud! When will people stop saying it?! On a similar note… the folks still saying “Happy New Year” are usually the same folks who thought it was cute to say “see ya next year” the last week of December or who are so void of something significant to say they say stuff like, “is it cold enough for you?” Are you kidding me? It is 7 degrees out you dolt! Yes, it is plenty cold. Oh well, I guess some people aren’t much for meaningful conversation.

Sorry to digress.

While I am not much into making New Year’s resolutions, even I get excited and inspired at the nostalgia associated with a new year. Having spent a good portion of the last few weeks reflecting on 2009, my goal for this year is the same as it is every year;

“Do more of what is working and less of what isn’t.”

This simple concept is the foundation of success. You can take that concept a step further and ask yourself this question every morning when you wake up:

“Are the things I am doing today going to help me get to where I want to go?”

Are the things you are currently doing going to help you next week? Next month? Next year? In 5 years? If you can’t answer yes to at least one of those time periods … then why are you doing what you are doing? Stop wasting your time! And both of those thoughts transition in to yet another power concept:

“Don’t confuse being busy with being productive.”

Everyone is busy. Everyone has a long “to-do” list. But not everyone is productive. Not everyone gets results. Make sure the things you do on a daily basis are taking you where you want to go. Don’t just spin your wheels.

With that said, those three concepts are very applicable to basketball players and coaches.

Now that a good chunk of the season is over… what things are working? What things aren’t? Are you too stubborn to change? Are you on pace to accomplish the goals you set at the beginning of the season? Do you need to slightly alter and adjust those goals based on the results of November and December?

Are the things you are doing on a daily basis making you a better player? A better coach? I am sure you are extremely busy during the season, but are you truly being productive?

If you are a player and you have been in a shooting slump the last few games… are you coming in before practice to get in some extra shooting work? If you are, are you taking extra shots from where you get most of your shots in games? Do you even know where you get most of your shots in games? At Montrose, we run a very disciplined offensive system. Each of our players take a majority of their shots from the same 3 or 4 spots on the court. So that is where they should to take most of their shots in practice.. if they want their practice to be productive. If you are not playing as much you feel you deserve, have you scheduled an individual meeting with your coach to ask what you need to do to get more playing time? Or do you just sit on the end of the bench and pout? That negative energy is a cancer to any team… do don’t do it! And if you are a coach, don’t tolerate it. “Energy takers” need to be nipped in the bud immediately.

If you are a coach, and your team is struggling, have you pinpointed the specific reasons why? Lack of effort? Lack of execution? You can’t do much at this point about lack of talent… but you can about poor effort and/or execution. Just make sure your practice plan addresses the specific area you need to ignite and improve. If your team is not executing well… a ton of extra running as punishment will not help solve the problem. That’s apples and oranges.

Pause… new topic.

I have always been a big believer in the concept of “choices and consequences.” Each of us has a choice in everything we do in life. Everything. Even the things that happen to us that are beyond our control, we each choose how we respond and handle the situation. And every choice we make has a consequence. Some consequences are good, some are bad. For some reason, the word “consequence,” has been given a negative connotation. But I believe the word consequence is just another word for result. Every choice you make produces a result. What is the consequence of not eating breakfast? Hunger, lack of focus, low energy, and poor performance. What is the consequence of making 10 free throws in a row before you leave practice every day? Shooting a higher percentage from the line over the course of the season and hitting clutch free throws during games. See the correlation?! Success is not an accident. Neither is failure.

I feel it is my duty as a coach to teach this concept of choices and consequences to the players I work with. Here is a perfect example:

Coach Vetter has a mandatory team rule that every player must wear ankle braces for every practice and every game. Right or wrong, that is his rule. One of our players asked me the other night before our game if it was OK if he didn’t wear them. I said, “Sure, if you are 100% willing to face the consequences of not wearing them.” He looked at me with a bewildered look of confusion. I asked him if he would be willing to face the consequences of Coach Vetter finding out he intentionally broke a team rule (and then have to face whatever punishment resulted), or even worse, if he severely injured his ankle during the game and ruined his season? He looked to the floor and mumbled, “No.” To which I smiled and said, “Good answer. Now put on your ankle braces.”

Here is another example of choices and consequences that is currently making headlines across the sports world:

Do you think Gilbert Arenas gave much thought to the potential consequences of bringing in three guns to the locker room? Was that irresponsible stunt worth the consequence of suspension (and possible expulsion) from the league, severe legal action, loss of millions of dollars, and a permanent black mark on his reputation? Not so funny now, is it Gilbert?

You know another valuable lesson to teach young people that comes to mind from this Gilbert situation? And don’t say, “You shouldn’t bring guns in the locker room.” If you don’t already know that you shouldn’t bring guns in to the locker room… then you either have a room temperature I.Q. or you have lived in a cave your whole life. If that’s not the case, you should be hit in the head with a sledge hammer. (NOTE: Yes, I do think Gilbert should be hit the head with a sledge hammer; hopefully it would knock some sense into him!)

No, the real lesson is one we rarely see in professional sports… taking personal accountability for your actions. Whether you are talking about steroids in baseball, Tiger’s myriad of affairs, or Gilbert bringing guns in to the locker room… I wish just once a pro-athlete would immediately accept the blame and say something like this:

“I am so sorry. I used horrible judgment and made a terrible mistake. I was wrong and I sincerely apologize. I promise to go to whatever length is necessary to right this wrong.”

Of course they all say that once it’s too late… after a week or two goes by and they have exhausted all efforts to cover up their wrong doing and BS their way out of trouble. They all say it then. At that point, it is meaningless.

If Gilbert was man enough to be strapped with three guns; he damn sure should have been man enough to immediately accept full responsibility and hold himself accountable for the consequences. Instead he acted like a horse’s ass and publicly joked about it.

And for the record, admitting you were wrong and apologizing does not make up for the mistake… but it does show you are a person of character and that you take full responsibility for your actions.

Lastly, I am very thankful to have received many nice Christmas gifts from my friends and family. One of my favorite gifts, given my affinity for reading, was the new Amazon Kindle electronic reader. It is awesome! If you are an avid reader, I highly recommend it.

The first book I bought was Personal Foul by Tim Donaghy (the former NBA referee who was arrested for gambling on NBA games). It was extremely fascinating and was an easy read. I knocked it out in a week. Of course, the entire book was written from the perspective of a lying, cheating, self admitted gambling addict… but if even 10% of what he claims is true… WOW!

Also, I just posted a video montage of the Montrose Pre-Game Warm-up at www.YouTube.com/StrongerTeamDotCom. Early next week I will post the Montrose Pre-Game On-Court Warm-up (showing what we do when we take the court 20 minutes before every game). Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any of the action!

If I can ever be of service or help you in any way, please don’t hesitate to email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I promise to respond as quickly as possible.

Play hard. Have fun.

Alan Stein

www.StrongerTeam.com

www.Twitter.com/AlanStein