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  • John Saintignon

How to Move Past the Excuses and Lead with Trust

Updated: Jul 25


I’ve learned as a basketball coach, that change is the name of the game. There are changes within the organization constantly whether it may be the front office or the players themselves.

At any point in the season, you can find yourself having to change the entire program due to change that is out of your reach.

As a result, there are hidden things built in the game for coaches to make excuses as to why their team may not be performing well.

PSA: Scapegoats are Always Nearby

It is easy to find scapegoats as a leader.

They are laying around like dust ready to be picked up if you aren’t careful.

In some cases, it may seem to be pretty fair and accurate to do so:

“I am not the player out there who didn’t play defense all night.”

“I am not the controller who didn’t manage the budget right and now our team lacks the resources we need to win.”

“I am not the one who signed on the new player who has a bad attitude.”

Yeah, it's easy to find excuses.

What’s even worse is believing in the excuses, making your team’s morale pay for them and taking all the credit for your team successes.

FACT: Scapegoats are the fail-proof way to derail trust.

Choosing this way to lead and influence is a guaranteed way to decrease team output, lower organizational morale and ultimately, create distrust.

Without trust, there is no buy in you need to create a team that really wins all around the board in every aspect and for every member.

Distrust in your leadership means your players are uncertain if you really mean them well.

Instead, they put their faith in protecting themselves remaining guarded and doubtful you want what’s best for them only looking out for your interests: a coaching job (or leadership position).

Here are three keys to move past excuses and lead with trust


Manage Opinions

In a basketball organization there is a triangular effect entailing the owner of the team, the president of the team and the coach of the team.

Then there are the players.

Each benefactor are all important, each coming to the fold with their unique opinions let alone the opinions of the media and fans.

For athletes they are concerned about their output whether or not they are scoring enough and putting up enough stats to stay on the team.

Coaches are concerned yes with productivity of individual players, but more so what productivity means in terms of wins and losses.

And same with the president and owner of the team, they want to a winning organization and not just for one season; yet, every season.

As a coach with leading your players, you have to balance out the opinions as what is going to be successful for the entire team and making the best out of any situation you find yourself in.

Helping manage the many pulls of opinions create stability in a world of consistent change and shifting perspectives.

Where there is stability, you can find trust nearby.

Keep the Locker Room Safe

Because of the many opinions and rumor mills that fly around a team, it is even more important as a coach you make a sanctuary of the locker room.

The locker room should be sacred. It is the one moment where everyone is completely in tune together.

It here where the noise is silenced leaving all naysayers and doubts outside.

It is here where as a team we have to decide to master where our control lies: in our efforts and our attitudes, not opinions.

The right attitude produces right outcomes far more than a poor attitude.

When you create this type of locker room culture, you cultivate an intimacy between yourself and your team giving way for them to be vulnerable to your vision and plans.

Where there is a sense of safety and transparency, trust is nearby.

Accept the Process

And building this trust is not an overnight process. It is a process you are tenuously nurturing almost immediately.

When you come into the season, you are coming into the journey as an adventure because that is what it truly becomes.

You never know what is going to happen: whether you will have the same players throughout the season or whether everyone will stay healthy.

This means that as a coach, building trust is as second nature to you as receiving the ball in triple threat is to a player.

Trust is what you eat, drink, sleep and do on a consistent basis never giving into the temptation to fall for the built in scapegoats. You have shown that you care above and beyond the protocol that you have the teams back no matter what even in losses.

Where there is consistent trust, there is real trust.

Trust is the Winning Formula

All good coaches are trying to figure out what works: which players work well together, how to create good chemistry, how to get the buy-in, how inspire an all out effort, and how to cultivate right attitudes.

And none of this happens without trust.

Trust opens the door to players taking shots that go in and making plays that produces wins

Where there is trust, you see players taking their shots and making plays of a lifetime.

Did you know enjoy the three principles I shared about leading with trust?

If so, check out my new book, “Take Your Shot, Make Your Play,” where I highlight 9 keys to finding true success on and off the court.


About Me, John Saintignon

Thank you for reading my story!

My passion for basketball has led me to being one of the leading figures in the sport for a long time.


I played college ball at the University of California, Santa Cruz where I am the All-Time Leading Scorer in University history and led the entire United States NCAA college basketball with a Scoring title, leading the nation in scoring in 1985-86 averaging 31.2 points per game. I am still the University of California-Santa Cruz's all time leading scorer.


But my passion didn’t end there, I have spent years as a professional FIBA coach coaching professional teams all around the world and even be a scout for the NBA.

Passion can take you far, for me it took me all over the world. I share my journey so it can be a light to yours to take your shot in life and make your play!


Now its time to write your story: take your shot and make your play!

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