Next Play

In his book “Toughness,” Jay Bilas talked about playing basketball at Duke under legendary coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Bilas said a major toughness tenet for the team was “next play.”

The concept is simple. The game is made of a long string of plays. As soon as one is completed, the next one is up. According to Coach K, the “tough” team and “tough” players have a unique capacity to focus on the play at hand as compared to what has just happened.

It’s a healthy approach. I have played sports on many teams. If a teammate makes a mistake and sulks for the next two or three plays, the impact of the mistake is magnified.

Conversely, if a teammate makes a successful play and focuses on celebration and becomes satisfied with his play instead of playing the next play, a lack of concentration leads to lack of execution. The impact of the good play is wiped away.

According to Bilas, Coach K reminded his team frequently with the simple statement “next play.” It would take hold. The players would say it to each other in the games and at practice. It became a code to live by after their careers were over.

“Next play” reminds one with a bad attitude to change the approach.

“Next play” tells someone that has lost focus to concentrate.

“Next play” reminds someone complacent, because of a good result, that another opportunity to succeed or fail is upon us.

“Next play” reminds us that true success comes from a record of performing well, consistently and constantly.

“Next play” cuts down on drama associated with downfall. It drains away arrogance associated with success.

“Next play” reminds us to remain humble. It promises a fresh start.

When we get a bad result or have a poor effort, let’s remind each other “next play.” It’s better than sulking and finger pointing.

When we experience success, take some psychic pleasure, but remember “next play.” A fresh opportunity to get better and succeed again is on the way.