The other night's game against Georgia, which Kentucky rallied to win 72-64, was among the best I’ve seen this season. But each Kentucky win prompts the same question from sports media pundits: Would the Wildcats be better off now losing a game in order to lessen the pressure of maintaining an undefeated season before entering the NCAA tournament? Remember, no team has finished the college basketball season as an undefeated champion since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers.
It’s absolutely one of the silliest debates on sports radio right now. (Which is saying a lot, since there are many silly debates on sports radio!) To me, the idea that a high-performing team like Kentucky is better off losing makes absolutely no sense.
While it is important to learn from your losses, one of the things that makes GREAT teams special is their ability to learn from their wins, too. The most successful teams and organizations know they are never perfect in victory.
Out of all the amazing coaches I’ve had a chance to learn from throughout my career, none of them would suggest that the only way to learn was by losing, or that pressure is somehow lightened with defeat. In my study of successful teams, they are all equally critical in breaking down their performance… especially after success! There is no question that John Calipari, head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, is doing just that. I’ve had a chance to work with Coach Calipari while doing media training for his players. I’ve also interviewed him for my Great Teams webinar project, and he had some interesting comments to share with me on the value of team-building, recruiting, and maintaining consistency.
If you seek to create a championship atmosphere for your team, like Coach Calipari, then you should be equally critical in your team’s performance after victories as you are after losses. Don’t discount the team’s successes, but don’t be so blinded by wins that you miss moments to grow.
I’d love to hear from you on the lessons you may have learned through your own success and winning. Leave me a comment and let’s discuss!