Monday, March 3, 2014

Coach Brown

Tonight, we had the pleasure to talk with Coach Larry Brown.  One of the coolest things about being in Dallas is, we are in the midst of a lot of successful people.  It's up to me to invite these folks to share their ideas and secrets to greatness.  Amazingly, the more successful the person, the more they are willing to share.  There is something to be learned from that fact alone.

Coach Larry Brown is right here in the same building, Moody Coliseum and is in the midst of a successful season coaching the SMU Mustangs.  He is the only basketball coach to have won both an NCAA Championship (Kansas, 1988) and an NBA Championship (Detroit, 2004).  His resume is lengthy and impressive, so if you want to check it out, here is a link.  On Mondays, my goal is to introduce our players to greatness through speakers and embracing mental game goals.  When you are a young player, you often think that you either have "it" or you don't.  You think that talent matters more than anything and you constantly question your own talent.  When you start to meet people who have experienced success as Kathy Whitworth and Larry Brown have, you begin to hear things differently.  Instead of talent, you hear about the importance of hard work, character, love of practice, self-belief and gratitude for your God given gifts.  These are all the things that we have heard so far this year from both Kathy Whitworth and Coach Brown.

Coach Brown was very conversational with his talk with us.  He told us of his love of the game of golf.  Coach loves the fact that the responsibility for your score is completely on you.  He also said that he could never become a good golfer, because a single digit handicap would have indicated to his bosses that he wasn't spending enough time in the gym.  He then told a few stories about great golf matches he has played with people like Michael Jordan and Jerry West.  In 2004, Coach had the opportunity to address the U.S. Ryder Cup team along with Micheal Phelps.  One thing he noticed that year was the camaraderie he saw with the European team away from the golf course and the importance that played in the competition. Mostly though, Coach's conversation was about greatness, whether or not that was his aim.

He spoke of the greatness of Coach Dean Smith because of the goodness of the man.  He spoke of the greatness of Michael Jordan due to his competitiveness that lead to his work ethic.  He spoke of the greatness of Corey Pavin, whom he grew close with when both were at UCLA.  Pavin's greatness was grounded in his love of practice and his deep belief in himself.  He mentioned that a firm self-belief is a constant he sees in the greats.  They play with no fear of results, because they see themselves succeeding.  You could also tell that the relationships that Coach formed with these people were more important to him than the greatness achieved by them. 

He also talked about his career and his love of learning, teaching and coaching, especially coaching young players.  He didn't talk of his own success at all, even though he is arguably one of the most successful coaches of all time.  Instead, he sounded like any other coach; worried about preparation and puzzling over how to get the best from his team.

Coach Larry Brown with the 2013-14 SMU Women's Golf Team

The best part of his talk for me was when he talked about teams and the importance of being together and playing for each other.  He told stories of how average individuals came together and became great as a whole, because they meshed and believed in each other.  He also talked of how a player could be selfish and suck the energy from an entire team and change the trajectory of the team.  It might seem obvious that these things happen in basketball, which is a sport where all are reliant upon each other, but it isn't as obvious in golf.  However, it is every bit as important in golf in my experience.  Selfishness within the group will erode the success of a golf team, while playing for the team and giving all you have to each shot, because your teammates are depending on you, will take a team further than they ever imagined.

Pony Up, Coach Brown!

I've had a lot of role models and mentors in my life, but I'm pretty sure I've just been lucky to find another.  Coach Brown shows me that if I take care of myself physically, continue to learn and allow my passion for golf and coaching to be fed, I can be an effective coach for many years to come.  He talked of the fun he has with the players who want to be coached and I feel the same way.  Thank goodness most of my players respect what I have to offer and allow my leadership to help form their path, both in golf and in life.  It is for that reason that I do it.  Thanks to Coach Brown for sharing his experiences and philosophy with us!

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