Next Play Speed

Updated: Sep 3, 2021

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”

David Goggins

The old parable of the egg, potato, and coffee beans says:

If you put each of them in boiling water for long enough, the potato will become soft and weak, the egg will become hard, and the coffee beans will change the water to something entirely new.


You can view the boiling water as the challenges you face in your day to day life. No matter how big or small these challenges might seem, you can always choose how you react to them.


You can be a soft potato or an egg that becomes even stronger through storms. Or you choose to be adaptable just like the coffee beans and make the most out of the challenges you face.


In high transition games like basketball, hockey and potentially the game you are playing, the boiling water tends to show up when we turn over the ball or the puck or run into challenges. The world of sport has a piece of language that describes these in between moments, those times of transition; we call it Next Play Speed.

The need to transition seems to be accelerating in our lives. Next Play Speed has the power to either deliver or deplete our game advantage.

When the ball turns over in basketball or the puck turns over in hockey, the speed with which the players adjust, react, and respond becomes the difference. Next Play Speed is that powerful movement from offense to defense and visa versa. It is seldom talked about or shown on a TSN or ESPN replay, but Next Play Speed maximizes talent and wins championships.


Brianna Wiest said, “I’m not what happened to me, I’m what I choose to become.” Your life is not defined by what happens to you, but by how you deal with it.


Life is a constant challenge. It’s full of unexpected detours that no one but you can navigate.Sheryl Crow


The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”

Dolly Parton


“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” -

Albert Einstein


How well do you handle the transition points of your life? Are you adjusting, reacting or responding?

Leaders love to discuss the process of growing people resilience and cultural agility, but should we be more focused on speeding up the transitions? If so, how do we increase our Next Play Speed?

Theodor Seuss Geisel said, “When something bad happens you have three choices. You can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or you can let it strengthen you.” Accelerating our Next Play Speed comes by making that choice before the game starts, prior to our next transition instead of during it.



As well as being pre-planned, Next Play Speed must be pre-trained into a habit. Practicing the transitions is like working the edges. Professionals see the “little things,” the edges, the transitions as the place to gain an advantage and beat their opponent.


The Next Play Speed transition in your life, from offence to defence, or defence to offence is a powerful life-definer. Transitions from difficult times to even more difficult times are not going away, so we must pay attention to understanding these edges, and building pre-response automatic habits. Our lives will continue to be full of offence and defence. The important insight is knowing whether our transitional speed is increasing or getting tired.


Building transitional resilience is both a practiced art and a highly desired skill. Are we allowing disappointments to set us back or using these situations to intentionally practice increasing transitional speed, thereby forming this key habit?

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” Leonardo da Vinci.


As with all of our lives, the key to building good transitional habits starts in adjusting our mindsets. Negative circumstances (the parts of life that push us from offence to defence) tend to drive negative language, which tends to slow down positive transitions.

James Clear calls this negative compounding: "the more you think of yourself as worthless, stupid, or ugly, the more you condition yourself to interpret life that way. You get trapped in a thought loop. The same is true for how you think about others. Once you fall into the habit of seeing people as angry, unjust, or selfish, you see those kind of people everywhere.”


Believing that life is "hitting us harder than other people" or “this always happens to me” has the same affect. We are unconsciously practising negative compounding. When we have fallen into this trap, our first change must begin with the structure of our thinking, the frame through which we choose to interpret our life.


Clear called his book “Atomic Habits” because, like atoms, habits are small in size, part of a larger whole, and, yet, a source of tremendous energy. “Your outcomes in life are a lagging measure of your habits,” he says. "Luckily, we have a great deal of control over our habits and, thus, all these lagging measures. You can be the architect of your habits rather than the victim of them.”


If we don’t rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training, then by training our transitions we have the opportunity to increase our Next Play Speed!















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