On one hand, If you’re any kind of competitor, you are always ready to respond to a challenge. The GOAT himself, Michael Jordan said in response to a challenge from Byron Russell, ”If I ever catch you in a pair of shorts...” On the other hand true competitors are always looking for the next challenge. I’m no different than everyone else. You walk into the gym or any room for that matter and you see another athlete (or someone looking the part) you first thoughts go to two questions right away
Do you play?
How bad can I beat you?
Am I the only one who thinks that? I’m inclined to believe that I’m not the only one who has thought that.
Anyone who has known me knows that I love 1v1 basketball. If you look at my social media you probably have seen highlights of me and my friends going at it in those infamous games to 100. You probably think it’s just a couple of guys ballin out, but it’s way more than that. It’s two guys learning how to push themselves and each other to the limits.
We’re born to compete. Whether it’s sports, business or whatever, those at the top are competitors. It doesn’t matter if they’re up by 30 or down by 30, they grind it out to the end. It’s called competitive drive. How do you get this? Can it be taught or are you born with it?
The answer is not either or, it’s both and! The drive to win lives in each of us, but it has to be brought out and developed. As a sports life coach, I use sports as a way to teach/develop competitive drive. My teaching tool of choice for athletes is the 100 point 1v1 game.
It’s a simple game of 1v1 basketball (2’s & 3’s), but there’s a few things that one can learn from playing. The purpose of the game is to teach four things, endurance, pacing, mental toughness and competitiveness. Here's how each area is addressed;
Endurance: Basketball is a marathon not a sprint. You can come out of the games blazing but you will find yourself running out of energy towards. Whether you are playing 32, 40 or 48 minutes, you need to be able to make it to the end. With the 100pt game, we start off by just playing one game.
As a player builds more endurance, they can try to enter the 2x100club (2 games) then the 3x100club (3 games) and for the adventurous ones the exclusive 4x100club(4 games). There is a 5x100 and 6x100 level but only a couple of people have reached that level
Pacing: Understanding that basketball is a marathon, it requires one to think like a marathoner and learning how to pace themselves to make it to the end. This game forces the player to learn when they need to go all out and when they need to conserve energy.
My hope is that as they develop the endurance to play multiple games, they will develop the strength to go all out all the time but know which aspects of their game to emphasize at the appropriate time. For the marathoner, he knows how to go all out while conserving his energy for that final push (kick) to the finish line. In basketball, it's the players that still have the legs to make jump shots and play defense that ultimately win the game. I want my players to finish strong always. I want them to be able to be the ones on the court that the coach can look to go all out for the win.
Mental Toughness: This is the part of the game that I feel is missing the most. Many players that I watch or play seem to get down on themselves when they are down by 15 or 20. Their intensity levels drops, they start playing lazy D. That is where mental toughness needs to kick in.
Remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint so you can carefully construct a comeback, one play at a time. You have to learn how what works for you and what doesn't and begin to use that knowledge to fight back. Most of today's players have only one or two things that they are good at and when those things go, then they feel like they can't compete and they end up getting ran out the gym.
The 100pt game offers opportunity to learn how to dig in and fight through adversity and try to come back. Some of the best games I have been in have been where my opponent has gotten off to an early lead and I have to go deeper and find what I need to win. Those wins are some of the sweetest wins
Competitiveness: If I have one major complaint about this generation of player it is that many have some skills but truly don't know how to compete. This game is built to bring out the competitor in you. In short games, it is easy for one to get on a run and win the game quickly. In the 100, it is a game of many runs. It is difficult for one to keep up a barage of scoring for the 15-20 min it takes to play the game. For the one who jumps out to an early lead, the pressure comes in keeping the lead. For the one who falls behind, they have to dig in their heels and attack the problem head on. If the game gets really tight at the end then both players really have to turn up to see who can come out on top. There is actually an overtime for this game. The winner has to win by two scores. This can make for a heated battle and it can be fun when the scores for both players get over 100.
The last point is where I’d like to focus on. Although i listed it last it the overall bigger lesson to be learned in the game. Competitive drive easily translates to life. You may think it’s all about beating an opponent but in actuality it’s more about conquering your biggest opponent, yourself.
The true beauty of competition is that it’s more about learning to push your own limits. Of course you’re playing to win, but if that’s all you want then you’re missing something special that will help you to be all that you were meant to be. The ancient philosopher Confucius said:
“The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential... these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence.”
When both opponents approach the game with this perspective then that makes the competition that much sweeter. I read a quote from the late great Arthur Ashe that best explains the why:
"You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself....and when you reach your limits, that is real joy."
It’s pretty addicting actually. Competition can be quite the addictive activity. Some of the greatest athletes have become hooked on that feeling that comes from being in a real battle. I’ve felt it and I bet some of you have too!
The great mouth of sports Howard Cosell once said
“The ultimate victory in competition is derived from the inner satisfaction of knowing that you have done your best and that you have gotten the most out of what you had to give. “
Life gives us challenges everywhere we turn. It’s how we take on those challenges that will determine our level of success. The GOAT Michael Jordan said:
“You have competition every day because you set such high standards for yourself that you have to go out every day and live up to that.”
That’s the essence of what I try to teach when I play 1v1 with some of the people I invest in. It’s one of the best ways to help people unlock that competitor living inside them. If they can find it in themselves to dig deep in a competitive game then it isn’t a far stretch to find the same desire to succeed in everything else.
Do you have that competitive drive to succeed? I encourage you to find someone that can help unlock the competitive beast living in you. Leaders always look to find those who will push them harder than they have ever been pushed before. Former Senator and NBA player Bill Bradley said it this way.
“Leadership is unlocking people's potential to become better.”
If you want to be better, start looking for those opportunities to challenge yourself. Whether it’s a 1v1 game to 100 or learning how to dunk a basketball or writing that book or starting that business or new career, push your limits. Go beyond what you can see and reach for that goal that you were created for! When you do, then you will find that place you’ve always wanted to be!
Stay Forever Strong!!