What Can a Basketball Coach Learn from Venice?

Early in my career I also coached football and I heard Hall-of-famer Lou Holtz say something at a coaching clinic along the lines of…

There are three things that will change you from the person you are today to the person you will become: the books you read, the places you go, and the people you meet.”

I have never forgotten the essence of that quote and my wife and I have intentionally saved our money over the years to be able to travel.  We even went without cable or satellite TV for about three years toA Basketball Coach in Venice! help save for trips because we don’t believe in charging things whenever possible!  So a few years ago we went to the magical city of Venice, Italy.  I am including a picture from the trip.  If you don’t know, Venice is a city that was built literally in the water.  It is a beautiful and unique place with an impressive history.  We took a boat ride at night and the stars and lights from the meandering city on the water were gorgeous.  To top it off, it was her birthday and we were being serenaded by live music, under a full moon, while sipping the best hot chocolate I have ever had in the Piazza San Marco (or St. Mark’s Square in English).

I say all of that to tell you that because we had such a good time there, one of my wife’s friends mailed her a book by Roger Crowley titled City of Fortune: How Venice Ruled the Seas (click the link to see the book).  I happened to pick it up this week while I was home on spring break (ironically we didn’t travel, but I read a book about a place we’d been) and thought it made a fascinating point related to coaching and leadership in general.

Crowley says that ancient Venice’s “prosperity rested on nothing tangible- no landholdings, no natural resources, no agricultural production or large population.  There was literally no solid ground underfoot…”  Yet, despite having few, if any, resources other than their wit Venice became a world power simply through their willingness to exchange goods with other cultures.

So now I ask myself and I ask you:

Who are you exchanging ideas with this offseason?  

What are you doing this offseason to be a better coach?

Even if you think you have nothing to offer, by being willing to share ideas and learn from others maybe you can rule the courts near you as Venice once ruled the seas!

Until next time, Coach ’em up!

Hal Wilson

After coaching and working with basketball teams at the college and high school level in a variety of roles for 18 years, I have returned to finish my Ph.D. in Kinesiology.  This www.CoachingBasketballWisely.com website is a way to share the coaching tips, strategies, and techniques gathered in a career in coaching.  See more info on me here.  Please sign up for our free newsletter at the top right of the page.

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