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  • Writer's pictureacoachsdiary

What Is Maturity - NEXT PLAY

Updated: May 2, 2023

Every year brings in a new group with new strengths and new challenges. In my experience, teams with mature senior leaders are the easiest and most enjoyable to coach. Not only do they get it, we have spent years working together to build, grow, and develop their mental and physical maturity, and seeing their growth is rewarding and why we do what we do.

But what do you do when you get a group that isn't as mature as you would like?

Do you just give in or do what you can to help them grow in that area?

A coaching buddy recently reached out looking for some character development resources for his team. They aren't the most mature group, and he is looking for some ways to help them grow.

My first question was, "How do you define maturity?"

His answer was, "A person's ability to handle all types of situations."

When you are mature, you do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it, and to the level you are supposed to do it - no matter how you feel or outside circumstances.

I then asked, "In what areas are they not mature? What do you want them to do that they aren't doing?"

We were able to identify two areas in which they needed to grow in their maturity:

1 - How they prepared for practice. After stretching, they start practice with a 10-second, down, and back sprint. They're being able to make the sprint meant their minds and bodies were primed and ready to work, but as with many teenage groups, they weren't always as ready and prepared as he hoped.

2 - Their ability to refocus after something funny happens in practice or a game. They worked hard, but they could get distracted easily and it was hard to bring them back.

PART 1 - Practice Preparation

We discussed a couple of examples we could share with the team that models are being prepared. In a podcast with Kevin Garnett, young NBA player Bones Hyland said that he learned two things playing with Nikola Jokic in Denver:

1 - Stay Humble 2 - Have a Routine

Bones said when he came into the NBA as a rookie, he didn't have a routine. He saw that Jokic followed the same routine all year. He said, "That's his greatness," and it made Bones figure out what his routine will be.


1 - What is your biggest takeaway from the video?

2 - Is having a routine important? Why should you have a routine?

I encouraged the coach to explain that his routine to start every practice was to have them run the 10-second sprint and to explain to them why it's important to him. Then ask the next couple of questions:

3 - What can your routine to start practice be? Remember, it has to get you prepared to make the 10-second sprint.

4 - How can we hold each other accountable to our routine?

To close, I told him that I would share the video below of Kobe Bryant. It is a story that former NBA point guard Jay Williams tells about Kobe's work ethic. Jay Williams was getting ready to play the Lakers with Kobe and Shaq, so he showed up early to get ready and get warmed up when he saw Kobe already in the gym. Not only did Kobe beat him to the gym, Kobe intentionally stayed until Williams left. Later that evening, Jay said Kobe dropped 40 points on him.

What does that tell you about the power of preparation?

Click here for a processing document you can use with your athletes: Preparation

PART 2 - Next Play

We then discussed how to manage off-task behavior; more specifically - how we redirect them back without creating a wall while still having fun and enjoying the process.

We agreed that establishing a 'Next Play Mentality' would be valuable. We usually think of having a Next Play Mentality when something bad happens. Next Play Mentality helps us put that bad play or experience in the past so we can make the next right play.

But could this also work when our teammates are off task because something funny happens? If someone gets crossed over and falls, and the gym erupts in laughter, can we enjoy the moment for a second, then move on to the Next Play quickly?

That is our new task - how can we apply the Next Play mentality in everything we do as people and as a team?

We start with this video from Alan Stein, a former basketball trainer and now speaker. He talks about the importance of having a Next Play Mentality:

When then use the following REFLECTION QUESTIONS:

1 - Why is it important to focus on the next play? (It is the only one you can do anything about)

2 - When is it easiest to move on to the next play?

3 - When is it hardest to move on to the next play? 4 - How good are we, right now, at moving on to the next play when something funny happens at practice?

5 - How can we get better at that? Can Next Play be something we say when we need to move on and refocus? Why or why not?

Learning how to be prepared and learning how to move on to the Next Play aren't overnight changes. They will take time. But we have now defined what it looks like to be prepared and how we can do so individually and as a team, so we have expectations to manage and hold ourselves accountable.

We have also defined Next Play Mentality and what that looks like for our team, so we again have expectations that we can manage and hold ourselves accountable to.

The next step for him and his team will be to monitor and manage their behavior by modeling what he wants to see, praising above-the-line behavior, and correcting, teaching, and training below-the-line behavior.

Remember, this is a journey and a process full of ups and downs!

Click here for a processing document you can use with your athletes: Next Play

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