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So, you have been cut? If not, you will be!!

Pictured: Michael Jordan getting cut from his High School team is a very well documented story.

I hope that all players and coaches pursuing their best have a read of this blog, as well as their parents and other supporters. I feel that if we all learn how to deal with adversity, being cut and coming out the other end better it will strengthen our sport.

Succeeding sport at youth level or senior level for that matter is very much a reflection of the processes in succeeding in any endeavors in life.

In sport success or failure is often just more up and down, and sometimes the timelines compacted, when compared to other endeavors like professional life, education, social, love etc. etc.

We will leave these other areas to experts in those (I am far from one on most of that - ha!) but feel that if athletes get good at "problem solving" in sport, which this blog is about, then they have a good chance to take those lessons to succeed not only in sport but in all those other areas.

Of course I have been cut from programs as a player in the playing days, cut as a coach even, and also cut many guys as a coach, as well as helped guys deal with being cut or not being selected. I'm not going to claim to be an expert at much, but I feel I am an expert at "getting cut" - saying this with a rhye smile as I type. I DO feel I have always bounced back in all aspects with some great lessons learned, better and stronger through the process and I'd like to think players I coach have done likewise.

The above, and all the concepts below, are very similar conversations I have had with all the athletes I work really closely with, especially the Featured Athletes on All of these guys "snuck under the radar" at some point, they were cut from teams and overlooked for squads and programs, or maybe not initially offered that college scholarship they were chasing. Most of the concepts and ideas I put forward were things that I like to think helped them along them way, I think they would agree.

Are you a victim or an aggressor (Sorry Daniel Carlin, stealing your idea ;))

Pictured: Daniel Carlin playing U17s for the Australian National team. In his blog he did for this site he asks readers if they are a victim of circumstance OR an aggressor. Very proud of Daniel and his mindset to life.

First thing is to ask yourself if you want to be the victim of the decision someone else is making or do you want to be the aggressor.

Today in the world of adjunct service providers that charge a fee for basketball development services, athletes that have been cut from a program, team or squad, encouraged by their families, flock to these programs. These programs are sometimes about collecting revenue and they often provide the validation to these kids at a time they need it most in order to keep that revenue rolling in. I am very supportive of many of these programs but parents beware when they give glorification and validation to the kids and encourage them to turn their back on tried and proven programs and pathways. Validation is fine, encouragement is fine but avoidance is not. It just doesn't work because in avoidance we end up avoiding the issues as to why they were not selected or cut rather than attack the issues and becoming the aggressor.

Conversely, now I am going to contradict the above paragraph slightly to provide validation to players reading this that have been cut recently. I put forward that humans are fundamentally flawed. We ALL are and it is a fact. As an athlete you need to recognise that selections are always subjective and mistakes can be made. I also feel that in my experience occasionally coaches that make selection decisions or court time decisions at ALL levels in our pathways are often backwards and not forwards looking when it comes to Talent Identification and recognition. In talent ID you could consider 2 categories; the actuals and the predictors.

  • Actuals; Coaches look at performances at past games, championships, results, output, stats.

  • Predictors; I DO feel you need to get to know a player in order to understand their mindset, their drive, the extra work they are doing rather than just look at the actuals in isolation. It is not that hard to predict and pre-empt talent in my opinion and in another blog I may discuss these ideas further. I have a huge amount of appreciation when National Coaches have contacted me as the guy that the works with the kids in state and club programs in order to help them understand their predictors.

So my point is, for an athlete getting cut it may be worthwhile acknowledging that you are probably being cut due to past performances and possibly through the selectors inability to predict your future performance and potential. Debatable? Sure! Always going to be true? No. But these are the nature of the conversations I have time and time and time again with kids I have worked with and I reckon this has worked pretty well ;)

So, now you are aware that selectors are flawed (like all of us), they often look at past performances, with little insights into the performance predictors the next step is to decide what you will do. Will you be a victim or will you be the aggressor (sorry Daniel Carlin, I am stealing this great concept from your blog). Here some of the behaviors indicating that you are a victim to the decision to cut you:

  • You quit on your goals and dreams (EG: Make a state team, play for Australia, make D1 college) and find alternate options. For example you go to private providers primarly operating to make a profit and give you self-validation in return, without any negative, constructive feedback that you really need.

  • You blame everyone else exclusively and take none of the reasons for you being cut on yourself. Assertion: You will have been somehow responsible in getting cut and you need to take that on.

  • You continue playing in the environment, tell yourself you still want to pursue excellence, but just stop investing in extra effort and development. Note: in this case you may as well consider quitting because you could be wasting your time in pursuing excellence, without the necessary commitment and investment.

The following content is how you can build a mindset and a plan to be the aggressor, not the victim.

Pictured: Andrew Bogut playing in the NBA for the Golden State Warriors. It is well known Bogut was cut from a Vic Metro side as an U18 top ager. He got angry, and turned that into a positive for his career, he did not turn his back on the Victorian pathways, but sought out additional help and guidance. He got better and by U20s he made the Victorian state side and was selected for the Australian Institute of Sport Basketball program (now called Centre of Excellence). Here in this Sydney Morning Herald article Victorian Coaches discuss their memories of Bogut as a junior.

A truism of any high performance endeavor in life

"Ten years from now there will be people who have achieved extraordinary success in every field of endeavor. While we don’t know who they will be, one thing is sure - they won’t be people who have played it safe and stuck to 'business as usual'. Rather, they will be people who have continued to stretch themselves, to forge new ground despite the unpredictability it invites, and to risk failure in the process. Because if one thing is certain, certainty can be comfortable and demand little from us, but clinging to it limits our future, stifles potential , shrinks opportunity and precludes us from ever realizing just how much we're capable of doing."

There is one truism of high performance:

"If you are all truly high performance competitors, striving to be the best, then sorry; You are ALL going to be cut!!"

If you have goals and dreams to climb our sports pathways locally and abroad that will mean you always want that next step, that next achievement, that next goal. It is 100% true that you cannot, nor can anyone, achieve success every single step of the way. That just never happens. If you want to pursue excellence in a pathway expect to not get a role, to get "cut" every once in a while. How you deal with this situation is what counts.

In an age where everyone is trying to tell you things to keep you happy in terms of feedback not being selected for a team, or being cut is actually very rare opportunity to receive good, open, honest feedback. Use it, take it on board, embrace this.

Keys steps are:

These are some suggested steps when you get cut, don’t obtain that goal or achieve your desired success.

So, do you have an average mindset or an elite mindset?

Mindset option 1 – Average mindset. You are ALL about THE goal: If you do not enjoy the process but are doing a lot of work, playing the game solely for a goal at all costs then you will soon give up. You will decide at that first setback it isn't for you because you are so invested, have worked so hard, only to not achieve that goal. Everyone will get cut as per the truism above, so quitting or not pursuing the process is what a person with an average mindset would do.

Mindset option 2 – Elite mindset. You have goals, but YOU LOVE the process: If you truly enjoy the process of pursuing excellence it will be easy to continue the process if you don’t get selected or are cut. This is elite, this is YOUR point of difference.

Summary – BE different, BE elite: YOUR process, YOUR journey is what sets you apart from your peers, it is not the attainment or non-attainment of a common goal along the way, everyone will not attain a goal some stage. That is normal, your process is what sets you apart from everyone. Following YOUR path and succeeding this is what makes you “elite”. Your pathway to achievement will never be like anyone else’s as long as you keep pursuing excellence even when you are cut or not selected. if you quit at the point of not being selected or cut you are like many others. YOUR process, YOUR journey.

There are often multiple pathways and you are unique

NITP sessions in SA are outstanding and a privilege for any players lucky enough to be invited. I love when guys I coach at the club level get invited because I know they will get better at these sessions. I also like it when guys don't get selected because I feel that tests them and if they can overcome the adversity they will be much better longer term as a result. Let me explain....

At NITP sessions players that make the program get some great coaching and development in my opinion, any player attending the sessions should feel privileged to be invited. The following information is for athletes that feel they are cut from ANY program and I want to give some real life examples of guys I have worked closely with that got cut and have overcome that challenge. When blogging I work under the principal that blogs should include first hand insights and examples to help others. "It is what it is", so I tell it how it is.

There are some very recent examples of players in SA who were cut from High Performance programs and/or never even did them. I am sure there are examples of this across the country. Remember it is a truism of any elite endeavor you WILL be cut at some point, so this assertion is NOT a negative dispersion on the High Performance coaches in SA (remember I am one too, am flawed, and probably will have made, or will make, selection mistakes at some point) but more to provide some examples to readers. I am not giving any secrets away here either and all those involved often acknowledge the pathway of these guys.

Lat Mayen and Isaac White are significant, recent examples on being cut or not being selected for programs. In Lat's case he was never selected for NITP and Isaac White was actually cut from both the elite AND development programs for his final 18 months. Isaac and Lat have gone on to play for Australia and are in a very elite* group of basketball players in the history of SA Hoop's to sign to high major, division 1 NCAA programs in Stanford (Pac-12) and TCU (Big 12) respectively. They fought challenges and sought out help, support and guidance, and eventually succeeded through their own hard work and resilience. Infact, many of the principles and ideas presented above were consistently presented and discussed with both Isaac and Lat throughout their journey into international players. I would also note that coaches along the way that cut them ended up being amongst their biggest supporters and helped them both a lot in a lot of ways, and I know they both appreciate that. My point is both these guys were cut/not selected, embraced feedback, but found other avenues to do extra work to get better. They were NOT VICTIMS, they WERE AGGRESSORS.

My key advice to guys in Lat's and Isaac's situations are seek out advice from multiple parties including those that have made decisions that may have negatively impacted you, their opinions are sometimes most valuable. It is easy for coaches to be positive, rather than provide constructive, honest criticism, when they don't have to make tough selections between competing candidates and/or select a team that will help them win. I feel sometimes players that are cut propel towards the commercial, pay for service providers or seek out overseas opportunities too blindly rather than gain an understanding why those decision were made to cut them, what opportunities they have going forward in various pathways and make balanced, informed decisions with the help of a range of people. I do feel that at times there are athletes making uninformed decisions to go an entirely alternate path because they have been cut from something. If you gain insights, make informed, balanced decisions and attack your weaknesses head on you become the aggressor, not the victim.

If you want to find out more about Isaac White’s story here is a link: “Isaac White: Mental toughness and dedication” – have a read of the article Isaac wrote about HIS journey for – truly inspirational.

Pictured: Lat Mayen one of our countries' greatest prospects managed to make the Centre of Excellence without doing NITP. He had a good U18 National Championships playing off the bench. When we got wind of invites for selection trials for the CoE going out Paul Mesecke (Director of Coaching at Sturt Sabres at the time) and I pushed extremely hard to get him a spot. Fortunately the coaches in SA and abroad had seen enough to be convinced to let him trial, and had the insight to listen and learn about Lat's predictors rather than look at his actuals from National Champs 6 months prior.

*Previous athletes to high major, power conferences were Pero Vasiljevic (Kansas State), Luke Schenscher (Georgia Tech) and Martin Bartmentloo (U of Arizona).



Romo. (2014). You Never Know What's Gonna Happen. Communication & Sport, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 458 -480.

Pictured: More MJ insight!

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