New Castle News

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January 24, 2013

Tim Kolodziej: Don’t miss the two best times to achieve athletic success

NEW CASTLE — I’ve been blessed to teach the great game of basketball to hundreds of children through the years.

I’ve probably seen hundreds of games, too.

And I don’t believe I’ve ever watched or listened to one without encountering all the clichés about time. You know the drill:

Game time.

Winning time.


Playoff time.

Those phrases are entertaining, to be sure, and I guess they have some connection to the hardwood.

But I might argue that there are only TWO important times in any practice or game. I would even say this principle extends far beyond the court and into the workplace or home.

You ready?

There’s “this time.”

And there’s “next time.”

That’s it.

Young people, if you can learn to compete in those two time blocks consistently, you will be an outstanding player.

Coaches, if you can train your players to remain in those two time blocks consistently, you will achieve excellence.

Let’s explore each a bit further.


There is no more important play than the one you are currently involved in. Doesn’t matter what your position is. If you are on the floor, you have a job to do.

And that job is to perform your role COMPLETELY.

•Get the pick.

•Make the V-cut and go back-door.

•Make the bounce pass into the post.

•Rip the ball and explode past your defender.

•Square your hips and feet and be “shot ready.”

Play present.

Stay focused.

Then finish.

On offense, your job isn’t complete until the ball goes through the net.

Defensively, continue to guard until you secure the rebound.

There is no time as important as “this time.”

And there will never be another.

Until ...


Don’t look back. Don’t live in the past. Don’t dwell on the last play.

Instead, look ahead.

Next time.

That’s the most important play of the game once the current possession ends.

•So you miss the layup. I get it. You’re frustrated and all you want to do is slam your fist into the wall mat or shake your head in disbelief. But you know what’s happening while you do that? Your man is racing down the court for a shot. Instead of hanging back and sulking, get your butt back on defense and make a play. This time.

•So you got beat off the dribble. Get your butt down to the block and play help defense. This time.

•So the ref signaled “block” when you clearly took a charge? Get up, get in your stance and don’t let your man score when the ball is inbounded. This time.

You sensing a trend here? It’s a mystery, but somehow “next time” morphs into “this time” much quicker than you might think.

And in a game played at the speed of basketball, it’s doubtful you’ll ever see them apart.

I love this quote from Rick Warren: “I don’t spend much time looking back since I’m not headed in that direction.”

How about you?

It’s the midway point of section play for all local boys and girls teams. Will you continue to look back at what could have been? Or are you looking ahead to what might be?

Do neither, if you truly want to reach your potential. Focus only on “this time” — there’s nothing more important.

Until “next time,” of course.


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