Netflix’s new docuseries The Playbook: A Coaches Rules for Life shares tips and experiences from some of the world’s greatest sports coaches. One of them is Dawn Staley – an American basketball Hall of Fame player and coach. She is a three-time Olympic gold medalist. Here are the coaching rules she lives by:
1. Bring your own ball
Dawn grew up in Philadelphia, and at the time girls weren’t playing sports. So she would play with boys, most of the time with her brothers and their friends. What fueled her as a little girl was to get to play on the ‘big boy court’, where all her older brothers’ friends would play.
Most of the time, they wouldn’t let her play. But Dawn was persistent, she would always turn up to the games, and bring her own basketball. One day, she was the only one who brought a basketball. So she decided to make a rule – if her ball was being used, she had to play on the court. “I made people respect me because of my persistence.” In the end I didn’t have to bring my ball because I earned the right to be the first 10 on the floor.”
2. Growth takes place outside your comfort zone
Recalling her experience at the University of Virginia, Dawn felt out of place. Prior to her college years, race was never a big factor in her life. She was mainly surrounded by people that were just like her, so going to a school that had predominantly white students was a shock to her. Her personality changed. She became quiet and lost her confidence personally and academically. She had a meeting with the school’s dean, where the dean had told her “growth takes place outside of your comfort zone. This message stuck with her, and she always shares this with her players too. “Sometimes you have to take uncomfortable steps to understand where you are, and where you want to be. “
3. Create a home court advantage
Without fans in the stands, it’s hard to recruit players. Dawn set out to change the perception towards basketball in Carolina. She reached out to communities and helped bring fans to the games. Over time, the attendance numbers at women’s basketball games have gone up and the team she was coaching the Gamecocks led the nation in attendance the last five years. Dawn gave due credit to the fans for showing up and making players and everyone there “feel truly special.’
4. The 24-hour rule
When the team lost the finals by one point, the team were devastated. So she implemented a 24-hour rule. 24 hours from a win or a loss, you move on.
She made this rule because she could see how much a loss would impact the players. Twenty-four hours gives the team time to “bask in your victory” or “agonize over your defeat.” And then we put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.
5. What is delayed is not denied
Dawn had been told many times, “what is delayed is not denied, it is faith”, when she lost the National Championships in 1991. After the Gamecocks lost to Notre Dame in the 2015 Final Four, Carolyn Peck, women’s basketball analyst and championship-winning coach, gave Staley a piece of the net that she cut down after leading Purdue to a national title in 1999.
Dawn kept that piece of net in her wallet, letting it be a reminder of her goal and a sign of hope that she would eventually win the title herself.
And that’s exactly what she did in 2017, when the Gamecocks defeated Mississipi State. Dawn then ended up cutting of the net and giving it to another coach, just as Peck had done with her.“If you’re able to be patient, you will become successful”.
For more coaching rules from Doc Rivers, Jill Ellis, Patrick Mouratoglou and José Mourinho, visit out blog.