Category: The Art of War

“The Art of Persistance” or preparation for Round 2


There are times when you do your best and yet end up losing anyway. This can become a very frustrating experience if faced for a longer period of time. If I did not know better – I would have given up long time ago, but that much I have learned: if you keep practicing withing your best conscientiousness and keep making good, quality decisions – one will eventually succeed.

Recently I had a conversation with a Head Coach of BC Hellenen first man’s team. He beautifully pointed out that as likely winning and success becomes a habit over time, so does losing and failing. This is just a thought I needed. Powerful insight of a Coach with many years of experience behind him. Advice I can trust. Now, I have been poundering on this thought for over a week now. I really want to do my best on teaching and training my Youth Team, therefore I seek for answers like this one. For ideas, thoughts and methodics. After meditating upon this thought and drawing parallels to my Youth Team, I decided it is time to read my favorite book again. “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. Truths and lessons presented in this book have helped me in past and I hoped they would also help me now. It did.

“In ancient days warriors made themselves unbeatable by constant practice. Knowing they could never become invincible, their efforts enabled them to see the vulnerability of intended victims. They did not think in terms of beating the enemy by overwhelming him with boastful actions, but rather, they saw the reality of extending their skills through the enemy, which they acknowledged was the same thing as physical combat. They were also aware of their own limitations.

They constantly practiced, knowing there was no other way they could make the enemy vulnerable. The enemy had to do that himself. Because a warlord knew how to win does not mean that he did – but he did know that the enemy had the same attitudes and would be seeking the same results. Regardless, he continued to practice until he became the very object he was seeking and, in so doing, learned that if invincibility exists at all it lies in the attitude of attack – offensive or defensive.”

Sun Tzu “The Art of War”, Book Four “How to think of War”

After I showed these lines to my good friend Sid, he just went: ” The kids should be reciting this next practice.” Agreed, these words are a key to powerful mindset. Proper mental strength –  mentality of ancient warriors.

Nowadays we tend to forget about these physical things, it is all about mind now (or either one of them), but you see – it all goes hand in hand. Balance. I have always thought that kids should be prepared in more than one art of sports. Why? It creates diversity in their minds and abilites. One understands things from other perspectives and can combine this knowledge to better him/her-self. For example, I learned a lot more about myself of doing MMA fighting and boxing in a year, than I ever did in ten years of basketball. Then I used this knowledge and new learned abilities in basketball environment and my game became much better than before. (And vice versa, skills learned in basketball also helped me in fighting sports, for example, in boxing with peripheral vision.) Fighting sports bring with them strong mentality and hard working culture. Very important factors. This is also what I teach to my Youth Team – hard work, mental strength and never giving up. Even if you lose – you keep going, there is no other option. Wisdom of ancients.

Let us return to previous thought – losing becomes a habit. Bad layup becomes a habit. Bad jump shot, bad throw, wrong finger movement. Sometimes you do your best, but your technique is wrong or lacking. Then one must go one step back at a time and find out which part of all it is that needs to be corrected. Only then the bad habit can be broken and new one implemented. You see, you just can’t get rid of a bad habit without putting something in it’s place! If you break it, then a new one must takes it’s place. Then get the new habit drilled over and over and over and over and over again. Though, as we all know – habits are not easily broken. It requires much more work and dedication to break a habit and implement a new one than just starting out and learning the right one to begin with.

So for me it is clear now – we have a bad habit of losing. That is a problem and every problem has a solution. This one has a quite simple one – break the bad habit and implement a new, better one instead. Habit of winning and success. It will take some time and struggle, some dedication and will to break oneself. There is only one thing I am afraid about – that not everyone will be able to do it. That is life. Also an understanding of ancients.

Preparation. We had a good one, but it needs to be changed to even better one. It has to be better than enemies (opponents). Enemy has the same attitudes and are seeking the same results as we are. The only way we can overcome our opponents is to train better than them and understand the game in ways they cannot. This is how we gain advantage. Constant, hard practice. One cannot train soft and fight hard, one cannot be inconsistent and await victory over consistent enemies. Consistency must be number one rule, without it – we fail and fall into the pit of failure and losses. With it we rise up to fight our enemies in the same level or above and deliver our best abilities. This is the truth that Aristotle expressed long time ago:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

This far it is clear – practice constantly (and qualitative) and break the bad habits. What else do we need? Confidence. Very, very important. As John Maxwell put it:

“It’s not difficulties that defeat us, it’s lack of confidence.”

This sentence beautifully correlates with thought expressed by Henry Ford:

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.”

This is another thing that needs to be done more carefully. Get them shot of confidence. Now, as far as I understand it – this is more a thing of leadership, that is – me as a Coach. First of all, I myself must be confident that our training regimen (constant practices) are preparing us properly against upcoming enemies and battles. I must be confident in my strategies and knowing the enemy. And that I am, and that I will. If a Leader has confidence in himself then his troops (Team) will have confidence in themselves. This is the way of Heaven. Universal Law.

This is what is coming up. Many things has been done, many thoughts has been clarified, ideas understood,  strategies made. Still some of the stuff needs a little polish up on top before Round 2, but I am pretty happy how things are going. We ended Round 1 positively on practice floor, now let’s keep it going in Round 2 and get back on track.

One Team, Hellenen Go


Coach Valts

BCH U16-2, game against Holzkirchen


“Don’t be upset about the results you got with the work you didn’t do.” /Unknown

This pretty much sums up the game of today. We went in with confidence, too much of it and came out crushed. Focus had went to sleep, courage ran off and heart seemed to have stopped to beat. There was nothing in my knowledge I could’ve done to turn this around. That angers me. Also, as a Coach, my job now is to find a way, a solution to this problem we faced today and expel it from our dictionary. It can’t happen again. It will though, but at least we will be ready for it.

Complication of overconfidence and ignored rules of war.

I let them fly. The first game was good, why not? Let the boys have the confidence boost. I also unknowingly underestimated our next opponent. Their will to win. Now, from the perspective of “The Art of War”, I didn’t prepare for the War properly. I let my troops loose and it resulted of lost Focus and Discipline. If we were in the order, it would’ve been much closer game. Team was strong, but we could’ve done better for sure with more Focus and better Discipline.

The second thing is that Team lacked ‘Fierceness in Combat’. We lost it in fear. We lost it because Leadership (that’s me) failed.

“There must be no hesitancy in using any method to bring about the complete and utter destruction of the enemy. It is the only way to ensure victory of a lasting nature.

Fierceness is a natural state when troops see the wisdom of their leader. Correct tactics are required to ensure that any approach to the enemy will be consistent with victory. It is the perceptive warlord who prepares for any eventuality and accepts victory with a glad heart.” /The Art of War (S.F. Kaufman interpretation)

Now, this is the thing. Steady hand. Not just from the players, but also from the Coach. My hand today wasn’t steady. I lacked the knowledge and the wisdom to turn things around. I hadn’t planned for the particular eventuality which the game took. Leader had no answer when nothing we had learned worked and players lost courage. We hesitated to answer the opponents for too long. They over ruled us with their confidence and willingness to dominate. Once some of the players recovered and find the flame of fighting inside them, it was already too late. Enemy had grown too strong already.

The Future.

“If you want to walk in fields of green, you have to be willing to dig in the dirt.” /Unknown

We trained before. With a structure. Now it is time to re-structure and work harder. Today was about waking up – game must be taken at least one level higher as it was. You don’t continue as you did before and get better results. You embrace the defeat, find the solution and keep working harder, better and smarter. This is what awaits the BC Hellenen U16-2. Growth in mind and body.

Coach Valts


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