Jeremy Côté

Take Care of the Conditions

The conditions will take care of the outcomes

It was halftime in a close tournament finals. My basketball players gulped water and breathed heavily. It was our fourth game in two days. But we were here, vying for a championship just a week after a disappointing early tournament exit. We were so close, yet there was still work to do.

I spoke before they returned to the court1. “Guys, we have one last half, and I know we can do this. We can’t control if we win. The other team has just as much of a right to this game. But what we can control is how much energy we bring on defense, how smart we play on offense. We can control how mentally engaged we stay throughout every possession, every minute, and every shift. Are you ready to do it?”

They were. We won the game and the tournament.

As a coach, I was super proud to see my players band together and win. But I’m also aware that we could have lost. Some unlucky bounces, a few clutch shots from the other team, or our opponents maintaining their energy for longer could have made the difference. If any of these had happened, what would I have thought of my team?

I’d be just as proud, because they reached a new level of performance. Becoming champions was sweet, but it wasn’t necessary. Losing would have hurt because I’m competitive at heart2, yet what thrilled me is that we did everything to put ourselves in the best position for success. Winning was just a marker of our growth, not the growth itself. In my view, this is what we should be seeking with most youth sports (and probably many other pursuits).

Take care of the conditions, and the conditions will take care of the outcomes.

  1. The gist, because I don’t quite remember the exact words I used. 

  2. I’m the type of person that has trouble not competing when playing sports socially. Giving anything but my best effort is foreign to me.