Communication has been a challenge on any team I’ve ever been a part of. It’s just not that easy. You can’t just tell your team to talk and expect them to talk – especially with the intensity level at which we practice and play. If you go to the old, “Off the court, you guys never shut up!” approach, you are missing the point. Communicating while operating at a fast pace in an intense environment isn’t that easy.

Great teams communicate about how they are going to communicate. I’ve learned to talk to my teams about the way we are going to talk to each other. It starts with how important it is – giving them behavioral examples so they see the value. – calling out a screen, getting matched-up in transition, finding an open man with the extra pass. Then it’s an understanding that it is going to be hard, and at times it will be abrupt. The message might be delivered with some intensity, because the environment is intense. We can’t respond to the tone in the heat of battle. We have to get to what’s important – the message, and what needs to be done. Finally, we have to understand we are always on the same team – the goal with communication is never to humiliate or demean a teammate. We have to get quick, direct messages across immediately. It’s never personal. It’s about making the team better.

Are we mature enough to accept that as team?

I’ve been on many teams where the communication caused more problems than it solved. If that is the case, you are creating your own obstacles. Communication must eliminate confusion. That is always the goal. If it creates confusion you have a lot of work to do. You can’t simply tell your team to communicate more, and then complain when they don’t. You have to teach them how to do it, and talk to them about how it will be delivered. You have to work on it constantly, just like you do your rebounding our execution.

We always started our first team meeting with one statement to our team – Communication can never be an issue in this program. To get to that point, it’s something you really have to work on – just about every day.

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