Guest Post: DeLisha Milton-Jones
Checking in from Prague.
By Delisha Milton-Jones / @DelishaMJones
The month of November was a tough month for me. I tore a very small part of my hamstring and had to be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. During my time out, I had the opportunity to watch my team from a birds-eye view. I was enlightened at times and dismayed at others. Many of the things I witnessed reminded me of situations experienced with other teams.
The dynamics of a team can be a tricky thing, especially when it is comprised of All-Star caliber players. The question is: How do you get them to buy into the system and better yet, their roles?
I played on numerous teams where this very situation has presented itself. The difficult part, in my opinion, is having everyone buy into an unselfish approach. How do you tell someone who just came from and environment where they were the go-to person and they carried their team night in and night out to play a totally different role?
The first major and vital step is to have a coach that demands that things go his or her way. No deviations whatsoever. Second, would be to have a point guard that understands the coaches wishes and is willing to be a floor general that commands the ball and the respect of his or her peers. Third, would be an offense that has plenty of movement and opportunity for everyone to have the space for them to work their magic.
One of the best terms I’ve ever heard during my professional career is, “LET THE BALL FIND THE OPEN PLAYER.” It is so simple yet so profound. While under Michael Cooper’s tenure with the Los Angeles Sparks, he preached this all the time. We won back to back championships as a result.
Let’s explore that statement. When you allow the ball to find the open player it presents an atmosphere of unselfishness shared by every player on the court. If someone happens to deviate from this vision, he or she will stick out like a sore thumb to rest of his or her peers. If the coach doesn’t step in an do something immediately, the atmosphere will quickly shift from one of unselfishness to an every man or woman for himself.
We’ve all seen teams that just don’t have any concept of the word chemistry or the statement play for your teammate. Sadly enough, I’ve played for teams with this description. It’s no fun and it creates a falseness between everyone.
We all put our hands in the huddle and say “team” on three, but once we break the huddle, those echoed words are now but a faint whisper or a distant memory. No one says it with conviction and the words lie dormant like a malignant tumor waiting to destroy everything in it’s path as soon as the ball is in play.
Seriously, I never understood why people have to be so greedy. In actuality, there’s more than enough shots for everyone when we work together than if you conspire secretly within yourself. On top of that, it’s more fulfilling when everyone feels involved and the TEAM is more of a threat to their opponent than just one or two players taking all the shots.
The sports world has witnessed teams without star power come into the NCAA tournament and demolish Goliath-sized teams. They play for each other in an unselfish manner that allows the BALL TO FIND THE OPEN PLAYER. This is what brings out the madness of March folks. Fluidity on the offensive end of the floor is beautiful thing when seen; too bad it’s a rarity rather than the norm. If I’m ever given the chance to coach, you can bet your bottom dollar that my team will have these very characteristics engraved ever so deeply in their minds and play.
So to all those that play team sports that require teamwork in order to achieve a goal, buy into the motto, LET THE BALL FIND THE OPEN PLAYER, and you will truly start to enjoy the game on an entirely different plain.
Thanks for reading,