When a kid walks into a gym he doesn’t know well and plays with guys he just met, and he doesn’t take any time to get comfortable on the court, it’s a good sign he’s a great competitor. So many players feel the game out especially in a new situation or when there are people watching. They want to look smooth and don’t want to risk looking foolish by getting beat, so they take it slow and keep things at a moderate pace at first. That way if they get beat it looks like they were just getting loose and weren’t giving it their all just yet – a subconscious built-in excuse for failure.
Give me the kid that goes hard immediately regardless of the circumstances. That’s a kid you win with, someone for whom competing just comes naturally. A big part of being a great competitor is your relationship with losing, and the kids who are worried about how they are going to look if they get beat, those kids still don’t know how to compete. That guy that eases his way into it, that takes it easy at first to get comfortable, he’s more worried about what it’s going to look like if he gets beat than he is with winning.
I want the kid who is unafraid of the result right from the start. The kid who plays his ass off on a new AAU team with guys he doesn’t know, or the kid who works out with a college team on a recruiting visit and competes right away. Put a kid in a different environment and if his natural reaction is to compete his ass off right away, that’s a kid you are going to win with.