MANUP!

Coach AllenMOTIVATION (Part 1 of a 5 part series) – Coach Allen in Action

“To go from where you are to where you want to be; you have to have a dream, a goal, and you have to be willing to work for it.” – Jim Valvano

“Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways wise! It has no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.” – Proverbs 6:6-11

As a former high school basketball coach with 20 years experience, one of the most important jobs I had was to motivate my players. When it came to building a competitive program at Norfolk Christian, it all started with the foundation of developing buy in, responsibility, teamwork and accountability among our players. As most coaches will attest, the “off-season” is one of the most important times to develop as a player. Therefore, it was my job to find ways to get my players motivated to get in the gym to develop their skills.

During the basketball off-season, which is considered the summer months, the work and development done during this time would play a major part in our success during the actual season, which is during the winter. If our guys were to turn the corner and become competitive within our local conference and then ultimately across the state, our off-season expectations and standards would need to be raised; and that’s exactly what we did.

“The key (of success) is not the ‘will to win’…everybody has that. It is the ‘will to prepare to win’ that is important.” – Bob Knight

We took a three step approach. First, we provided summer skills open gym workouts twice a week. They were given a minimal amount that they were required to attend (say 10 out of 15 days). Secondly, they were required to attend Team Camp together – no questions asked as they had to attend. This was important to getting away as a team and bonding as a family. Lastly, we also gave minimal requirements or milestones to achieve during our open gyms. (ie: Shoot a certain amount of shots, perform specific ball handling drills, footwork drills, etc.) Through the years of building our program into one that was respected not only across Virginia but across the country, there is no question the majority of our success was attributed to this off-season program and raising the bar on our standards. For our commitment, we were blessed to win back-to-back state championships and four consecutive conference titles. This was not by luck or talent alone – we prepared during the off-season when many people were not watching.

However, inevitably, every year we would have at least one or two guys who stated they wanted to be a part of our program, but would not meet our expectations and would end up either being cut or being dropped to our JV program for further development. This was mainly because of their laziness or lack of commitment in the off-season. They would seldom attend our workouts or if they did decide to attend, they would go half speed in our fundamental work and rarely made progress in developing their skills. This was all due to their lack of motivation. They wanted to shine before many during the season and have the glitz and notoriety that went along with that however they were unwilling to put in the required work when no one else was looking.

“Everyone wants to do what the great ones do: but very few are willing to do what they did to become great.” – Jon Gordon

As stated in our scripture above from Proverbs, “we should look at the ant and consider its ways wise!” The ant does not have someone lording over it making it go out and look for food to bring back to store for the winter months. It just falls in line with the others and does what is required. They know if they do not prepare ahead of time, they will not eat. Well as I related this to our players, if they are not “storing up” on their skill work in the off-season (summer) to where things will become natural and second nature to revert back to during the season (harvest time), they will not eat. And by eating I meant make the team, play as much as they would like to or win as much as they would like to. It all went back to “what you reap is what you sow.”

So in conclusion, whether in your athletic endeavors, your academics, your marriage or your vocation, you must be motivated to work for everything that you desire as nothing is going to handed to you. Thankfully we have a savior who does not give up on us and guides us in the way we need to go. Just like a coach would guide his players and give them a plan on how to improve, God gave us a plan through Jesus Christ on how we should be living and it is therefore up to us to be motivated to follow that plan – His plan.

MANUP!

Coach Allen

A Second Chance at Life

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Have you ever thought to yourself how “good” your life REALLY is? What if the direction of your life suddenly changed and you found yourself in a situation that you had never thought that you would be in? One minute you think your life is great, you are healthy and everything is “smooth sailing?” then you find out that something in your body or mind wasn’t as good as you thought and that you were “very close” to experiencing a life-changing event?

Such was the case with me…

I have always enjoyed my life: talking with other people, spending time with my family and friends, enjoying the taste of delicious food, taking in the pleasures of seeing the beautiful things in the world, generally speaking, loving the life that I have been given.

But a little over a week ago, my life drastically took an unexpected turn. What was supposed to be a simple two hour screening procedure turned into a four day stay in the hospital.

It was during those four days that I discovered that my heart had been beating at an outstanding rate (150 beats per minute) and because of that high tempo, my heart had weakened to a dangerous level. Unbeknownst to me, I had had this condition for the past couple of years!

After leaving the hospital and meeting with the doctor the next day, I was told that the doctor was surprised that I hadn’t had either a stroke or a heart attack. YIKES!! What a shocking, wake up piece of news. I had NEVER KNOWN that my heart was 1) beating at such a high rate, and 2) that my heart had weakened to such a bad state.

So, imagine my thoughts today, when the doctor told me that despite the condition of my heart, everything would be ok. The doctors found out what was causing my elevated heart rate, the proper medicine to take to control my heart rate, and that my condition was totally correctable and curable!

The doctor simply said, “look at it this way…you have a second chance at life.

Needless to say, I am ecstatic for a couple of reasons…1) I feel great. I feel like I did 10-20 years ago, 2) I feel excited that now that I know that the doctors diagnosed the problem, everything will be OK, and 3) I have a new lease on life and I am going to take full advantage of it and take care of myself and love life even more than I did before.

Just thinking of “what could have happened” has left me feeling very humble and aware of my mortality more than it ever was. And it has taught me a lesson. It has taught me to live my life to its fullest. I shouldn’t be afraid to fail because, many times, it is when we fail that we grow and learn lessons that will benefit us in our lives.

It has made me value and love my friends, loved ones and family more so now than ever. I has allowed me to REALLY appreciate the things around me that I have taken for granted every day. But more importantly, it has strengthened my faith and assurance that my Lord and God never once abandoned or left me. He has always been there by my side throughout my life when things were going well and He was guiding the doctors and comforting me during my stay in the hospital.

You see, that’s the beauty of true FAITH. Faith is that knowledge of believing in someone or something when you cannot see it but you KNOW it is there. When you sit on a chair, do you bend down and test it first to make sure that it will hold you? Or do you simply just sit on the chair without closely inspecting its durability and strength?  Having faith in the Lord is exactly the same thing. I KNOW that He will take care of me and I KNOW that He is there to hold me up and to strengthen me. I don’t have to question or test anything that He does for me..My life is in His hands and if my time on earth is done, He will hold me close to himself and take me home. I have total peace and total fulfillment in my life knowing that He is always there with me.

So, how has your life treated you? How much do you appreciate the ways that you have been blessed? How well do you REALLY love and appreciate your loved ones? How strong is your faith? How secure are you if things were to suddenly go in a negative direction in your life?

Take the time everyday to truly be thankful for the good things in life. Find the moments in your daily routine to be grateful for your family and friends and show them how you feel. Discover the paths that you can follow and explore to give yourself a second chance in life.

“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”  ~ Colossians 3:17

~ Coach Muller

Sidelined

Trinity Digital Expedition via CC Flickr

Trinity Digital Expedition via CC Flickr

Jeremiah 29: 10-11 ” 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future .”

Have you ever been “sidelined”? Today and for the next few weeks I will be unable to play flag football with you because of a surgery which left me with several stitches in my back. The story will help you gain insight into how God works in our lives when we have no control. To tell the story let us go back in time to just about 24 hours ago today:

I walked into the doctor’s office, knowing that I had a rather annoying cyst growing in my back. At first I thought it was a pimple but it grew and after two years just hadn’t gone away. I don’t know how many of you have been to the doctor’s office lately, but it’s not always a pleasant place to visit. After all, I knew that before I left someone would give me a shot of medicine to numb my back. Someone would cut deep into me to remove a part of my body that I had never seen. Someone would cauterize my wound and apply multiple layers of stitching to sew me back together. Most unsettling to me was that during the entire surgery I was to be awake, to experience everything that was happening to me, yet I had no control over the situation at all. After all, the cyst, buried deep in my back was completely out of my reach in every way.

So I stepped into the cold examination room, removed my shirt, and laid down upon the exam table. The sterilized table paper crinkled as I pressed down upon it to let the doctor and his assistant start their work. After my back was completely numbed up, the surgery began. I couldn’t feel anything, but I could tell that I was being cut into by the way my skin and muscles tugged up and down my back as the doctor operated. It was very unsettled knowing that someone was cutting into me and I could barely even feel it. What if something went wrong? Could I be permanently maimed? I really got worried when I saw a drop of my own blood splatter on the exam table next to where I was laying. Here I was, lying completely helpless. I had something inside of me that needed to be gone, yet I needed to trust and rely completely on the people operating on me. Would this be a difficult experience for you as well?

But before I really started to worry (and because I had nothing else to do) I began to look at my situation in a completely different light. First of all, I decided that I had nothing to worry about. Removing a cyst is usually a very simple procedure. My doctor had been doing this sort of work every day for the last 25 years. He is one of the most experienced, highly qualified experts in dermatology on the West Coast. The more I listened to his calm banter the more I realized that this was very a routine procedure to him and that he was in complete control of the entire situation. And what’s more, I realized that to him, I was quite possibly the most special patient he had ever cared for. You see, the doctor that operated on me is also my dad. Once I remembered how much he loved me, that he would never let anything happen to me, I really began to completely trust in him. I realized that there was no one in the world I would rather trust with this surgery than him. After all, this was my dad and he had my best interests at heart. From that moment on my surgery was a breeze.

Think about this today: Is there something in your life that is keeping you “sidelined”? Is there something that has happened to you that has hurt you deeply, something that you can’t fix on your own? Some of you struggle with a horrible boss or working situation that you cannot change. Some of you have been deeply scarred by sexual, emotional or other physical abuse. Some of you have experienced a nasty divorce or breakup. Some of you struggle with money, and some of you struggle with alcohol. Is there a difficult situation happening to you that you feel powerless to fix? Consider this: Maybe God has begun to work in your life to make things happen in ways that you could never do yourself. After all, God loves you and always has your best interests at heart.

Today, whatever your circumstance, when life leaves you sidelined: Remember that God canheal you in ways that you cannot, and all you need to do is trust in him. His work in you is sometimes scary to go through but it’s always just what you need. Let him do the work in you while you rest. Remember that no matter how close or how far away from Him you feel right now. Whether you go to church every week or haven’t been in years…. You are his special child and your master surgeon always has just the right medicine to heal you and make you whole again.

Source: Nathan Naversen via themedattraction.com

A Better Way to Play

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder via CC Flickr

Photo Credit: Phil Roeder via CC Flickr

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” Proverbs 16:32

God places a high premium on patience. Maybe we should too. He says that having patience with self and circumstance is more important than building a winning-warrior reputation; it’s more important to a man’s success than having a strong sense of fight. Dominating others is not as important as dominating self. Rising to the top starts and ends with patience and the emotional stability it brings.

God also places high value on emotional control. Imposing our will on others is not nearly as crucial as imposing control over ourselves. Being able to reign in our temper at any given moment is more impressive and productive than single-handedly laying siege to a whole city.

Not surprisingly, in a detailed study of common personality traits of elite Olympic athletes, results showed that two of the top seven common traits were emotional control and emotional stability. The research supports what God declares. We’d be wise to value the same and grow them into ‘our game’ too.

How are you doing in the areas of emotional stability and control? Patient and steady over the long-haul? Under control in each moment (with few flare-ups or melt-downs)?

LORD, grant us wins in both these areas. We see it in Jesus. Install it in us, we pray. Help us to value what You do. We want to live out a better way to play.

Nothing detrimental. 
Bring honor to Christ. 
Coach Mo

P. S. Why not set aside some time and memorize Proverbs 16:32? I have and preach it to myself all the time. It’s truly made a difference.