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Tryouts - Player Edition

How Do I Do My Best?

My previous post was directed towards the adults in the room. This post is specifically for those of you gearing up for tryouts this weekend. In hindsight, perhaps I should have shared this one first, especially since some of you have been participating in our open gyms and clinics over the past month. Tryouts can be a strenuous experience because, as coaches, we've been closely observing and evaluating your learning and playing abilities all along.

However, I understand that your generation has grown up under constant scrutiny, with your pictures and videos likely online since before you were even born. Numerous studies in recent years have examined the effects of this perpetual judgment, and unfortunately, none of them paint a positive picture.

When I was in your shoes, going home after practice didn't involve classmates judging my posts or anything I was tagged in, be it good or bad. I didn't experience an amplified sense of accomplishment for the cool things I did or a deeper sense of failure for the mistakes I made on the court. There wasn't the anxiety of rewatching my blunders or the fear that my failures would last forever. For instance, I remember a moment when I tripped on my shoelaces during some school's senior night, but I didn't worry that the incident would be perpetually archived online.

Different environments come with varying challenges, but the fundamental question remains constant: How can you give your best? I'm concerned that many in your generation often equate success with doing your best. They are not the same and can often be quite distant, especially when external factors are at play.

My advice and hope for all of you, not just during tryouts but throughout your lives, is to embrace the reality of effort and its direct correlation with doing your best. In my opinion, you can't genuinely do your best unless you're pushing yourself to excel at what you're attempting to achieve. Strive to be excellent at whatever you're pursuing, and don't be disheartened if you fall short because, in truth, doing your best is most accurately defined by the effort you invest. Effort is within your control, while the end result is often not, particularly in the realm of sports.

One of my personal heroes, John Wooden, had a profound definition of success that allowed those under his guidance to feel successful, even when the ultimate goal wasn't attained. He understood that not everything in life is achievable, and that's a part of life. On the other hand, effort is firmly within your control and can be given and measured. As Wooden aptly put it, "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."

As you step into the tryout space this weekend, my advice is to prepare yourself to give your all to everything that's asked of you. If you make a mistake, don't be disheartened; get back up and try again. We can't ask for more than that, and you shouldn't either. You don't have complete control over the team selection process, and even if you give your best, coaches may not always recognize it. Keep pushing forward and ensure you walk away knowing you did everything you could. Best of luck.

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