Thursday, October 8, 2009

Deliberate DADS!

I have started to write this blog numerous times without the clarity to finish it. I questioned what was my point in covering the topic and examined if it would help others in any way. I did not want to offend those that have not been afforded the opportunity to have experienced the examples that will follow but I must write this fact; ELITE DADS are an integral part of producing ELITE GIRLS BASKETBALL players.

While reading Talent is Overrated (a must read) for the third time, I found the support that I needed for my observations of the girls basketball scene. The underlying theme of the book is that through extensive studies and historical examples, we learn that the myth of Talent is precisely that, a myth. We all mention and promote the belief of talent in girls basketball however, girls basketball is no different than any other science, profession or discipline. Girls basketball is governed by the same laws of success and the overwhelming law that can not be ignored is that ,'Deliberate Practice' from an early age spells success on the court.

Author, Geoff Colvin goes on to explain what Deliberate Practice is. His explanation follows.

Deliberate Practice IS:

1. DESIGNED specifically to improve performance
2. It can be repeated a lot
3. Feedback on results is continuously available
4. It’s highly demanding
5. It isn’t much fun

We all have heard how the most brilliant individuals in a particular area have a internal burning desire and unquenchable thirst for greatness. We all probably buy into these superhuman characteristics of these supposedly great people in order to make ourselves feel better for not being so superhuman. It must be natural abilities that allow Tiger Woods to be the first athlete to earn a billion dollars right? Mozart had to be born brilliant in order to compose his Piano Concerto 9 by the age of 21, right? How about Benjamin Franklin and his incredible writing ability? It had to be a supernatural right? WRONG WRONG and WRONG.

The common denominator in the lives and brilliance of Tiger, Mozart and Benjamin Franklin is that all these so called genius were raised by demanding fathers that were expert teachers. These Elite Dads used there mistakes and valuable life lessons to guide, direct and BUILD brilliance!

Tiger's dad wrote, “ I had been properly trained and ready to go. I took over new ground in starting Tiger at an unthinkably early age”. He then would sit the infant Tiger in a high chair and hit golf balls into a net endlessly. He bought Tiger his first golf club at 7 months and had him playing the course before the age of two. Being from Southern California, I had heard the stories of Tigers exploits repeatedly. I have a friend who tells of growing up in the same Orange County neighborhood as Tiger. My friend tells of how Mr. Woods would take Tiger to practice at the golf course EVERYDAY. As all the other kids felt sorry for Tiger while they ran the streets playing and having fun, Tiger and his pops would leave the neighborhood and return hours later, each and every day. The same routine, time and time again. The results of the very deliberate practice is very evident today.

Mozart father was an accomplished musician in his own right and started teaching his child to compose music at the age of three. By the time he had written his best work, at the young age of 21, Mozart has been deliberately practicing for 18 YEARS!

In examining a very high number of Elite girls basketball players, I have observed a high number of fathers who essentially groomed their daughters for success. Some local examples follow:

John Roberson- All John has done is raise 3 Division 1 girls basketball players and one Division 1 boy. While his son was on a visit to Boise St. last week, I watched 20 or so scouts a game put on their best to try and impress his daughter in Frisco. Arielle will have her pick of schools come next year. Her stock is already off of the charts. She has followed in the steps of a sister at Texas Tech, Ashlee, and a sister who plays volleyball at Texas. While Amber chose to accept a full ride for volleyball at UT, she had numerous offers for D1 rides in basketball.

Charlie Harper- Charlie is 3 for 3 and number 4 seems like a lock. Charlie Jr earned a D1 ride out of high school to Grambling. The second son, Charles is entering his sophomore year at Lamar University and the only daughter is the best of them all. CeCe walked in her older brothers path to accept a ride to attend University of Kansas on a full ride next year. She had over 30 offers when she decided on Kansas. As for the baby boy, Chris, he is one of the best 8th graders in the city and is also a star running back in football.

A few more examples:

Dwight Brown- Raised three college caliber basketball players. One son went D1, while the other son is planning to fulfill his potential at a school this year. Baby sister LenNique has had college scouts calling Wagner home for the past couple of weeks as they are making their pitch.

Marcus Peoples- Marcus workouts with the former phenom daughter Cassie, are legendary. The constant drilling and practice has put her in a position to be ranked as the #24 player in the nation by Hoopqurlz and accept a ride to UT as a sophomore.

Wayne Simmons- His daughter Meighan will not hesitate to tell you who taught her to play. Her father and trainer, Wayne can still be found tweaking her game in military base gyms around the city.

Donnie Vorpahl- Coached, trained, raised one of the brightest young prospects in the city in Churchill freshman PG, Leslie.

Danny Ameziquita- Coached, trains and raised one of the best young scorers in the city in daughter Destiny. Danny has helped guide dozens of kids through his Lady Mustang program.

Tim Calvert- Established his own organization to give his daughter and others the opportunity to shine. Daughter Taylor will inevitably play basketball in college and younger sis, McKenzie is already getting college attention as an 8th grader.

These local examples represent some of the best players in the city. While having an elite dad is not the only ingredient in raising a “Talented” basketball player, having one is a distinct advantage. NO child is born with an ingrained desire and discipline to work deliberately on their games. All of these fathers have pushed their kids at some point. A common belief among some parents is that you should not have to push a kid to practice. That is lie! At some point in their academic lives, a parent has instilled deliberate practice in ALL Elite Students. Why would or should athletics be any different. The most common accusation by some in regards to Elite dads is that “He is living vicariously through his kid”. That comment is usually spewed by the parents of kids that have been embarrassed on the court by those "abused and overworked" kids of Elite Dads. Or by the coaches who claim these kids as their own creation. No coach can claim LenNique Brown or Cassie Peoples. These kids were deliberately raised to excel on the court by great families, led by Elite dads. Talent has very little to do with it.

I was in a conversation with Darryl Richardson( another Elite dad who raised college caliber sons) of the Rohawks a year ago. During our discussion, LenNique Brown name came up. Darrel went on to say, “ Nique is a female version of Pooty”. Pooty is the nickname of her older brother, Leonard. He went all the say that all of 'Niques' mannerisms and favorite basketball moves can be traced back to her study of her older brother, Pooty. Now whether it was Pooty , their father or mother, the point is that Nique was constructed from a very early age to shine is basketball. Not by talent but through very deliberate practice. Was it fun the entire time? NO WAY! Anybody that has heard how LenNique's older brothers chew her out DURING the game, when she is not performing up to family standards, would not say that was fun. The scolding by her brothers offers all the ingredients of Geoff Colvins rules of Deliberate Practice; They REPEAT their HIGHLY DEMANDING criticism and offer IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK, that is DESIGNED to improve her performance. FUN probably not! Effective? Just ask her high school coach and the dozens of scouts begging for her services how effective it is.