• Pro Insight

How to Stay on Track During COVID-19

Updated: May 23, 2020

Episode 6: How to Stay on Track During COVID-19

Release date: 3/29/20

Welcome to the Goal Tending Podcast, a sports and lifestyle podcast, co-hosted by former pro hooper Donald Watts (Watts Basketball) and former pro scout Matt McKay (Pro Insight). We provide analysis, break down nuances, lean in to mindfulness, and of course talk plenty of basketball.

We will turn each podcast episode into a blog post, essentially putting the audio onto paper, which we hope will take on the vibe of each show...which as you will soon find out, we keep things pretty informal here at GTP! If we ever reference something of note or special importance on the podcast, we will do our best to link that reference at the bottom of each blog post for the audience’s convenience...like a footnote, of sorts.

In the latest episode, How to Stay on Track During COVID-19, Donald and Matt catch-up and offer some solutions to making the best of your time during this global pandemic.


Donald: Welcome to this episode of the Goal Tending Podcast. Today we want to talk to prospects and their families about how they can continue to move forward and move and progress towards their goals in the midst of the COVID crisis. We want to talk about some things you can do in order to continue to progress...and I know, Matt, you will have some very valuable insight on that. But before we get into that, man, let's just catch up.

It's been awhile since we've been on here. I know that the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. But let's get caught up, man. Tell me what this has been like for you. It's been a while since we’ve caught up...

Matt: No doubt, at least on here. I think it feels like a time warp. It’s crazy to think it was really only about two weeks ago and I was in Vegas on day six of a seven day trip when the NBA season got put on hold. So I was out in Vegas for some conference tournaments -- WCC, Mountain West, Pac-12, etc. and then for a bunch of high school workouts, just keeping my pulse on the grassroots scene in Vegas.

Donald: So you're out there doing what you do: evaluating, scouting, looking for talent, trying to help dudes get to the next level.

Matt: No doubt. Just a side note, Vegas has some real talent coming out. And they've got some really good trainers and coaches out there and just a lot of talented young kids. So I was able to make some touch points and connect with people out there and just get a feel for not just this 2020 high school class but even out to like 2024-2025. So I'm out there doing that and I believe it was like the last night leading up to what was going to be a full day of Pac-12 games and that's when the NBA shut down.

Donald: Before then, how were you taking it? Obviously it was probably on your radar. It definitely was on everybody's radar before then. But when the NBA, your former employer, suspended the season...at that point, what was your initial reaction?

Matt: I'll back up a little bit. Like you said, it was on my radar and even getting on the plane six days earlier, I think the first cases had just been announced in Oregon. Literally the first case was announced and so it was on my mind with me being kind of a germaphobe and just more paranoid in those types of situations in general. It crossed my mind, like, ‘should I still do this trip?’ And I'm like, ‘ahh, what are the odds? I'm good.’ It's just insane to think that then six days later, the world was flipped on its head. When the day before I'm out there with fifteen thousand other people or whatever in the stands, having a conversation with my buddy next to me, like, ‘hey, if you knew there was one person in here with COVID, would you leave?’ We were just discussing it and then just how rapidly it accelerated...it was wild. I think it changes everything once it kind of breaks into your sphere with someone you know, or that you're connected to, then it just becomes that much more real. Then the next day I’m on that plane, covering my mouth with my sweatshirt, counting the seconds to get off that plane.

Donald: You had a hard time getting back as a result right?

Matt: I don't even want to go into that.

Donald: We don't have to go deep into it. But that kind of had to be an eye-opener for how real it was, with you being stuck in Las Vegas.

Matt: Oh, I was like 80% of the way to renting a car, just saying ‘screw it,’ to whatever was going on with the airlines and delays and potential cancellations and all that. Plus just being, like I said, kind of a germaphobe, I was like, ‘it's probably safer to me, even if it costs a little bit of money, to like rent a car, just drive home. So I know I'm isolated.’

Donald: I remember distinctly cause I'm calling you trying to figure out how we can do a podcast.

Matt: And I was like, ‘I'll hit you later, man. I'm dealing with a pandemic right now.’

Donald: And we're boys, so you didn't even go that far into it, but when you're like, ‘I'll hit you later.’ I was like, ’alright, I'ma just roll with that. I'm not gonna ask any more questions.’

So hence why we missed a couple of weeks of the podcast and then I'll just kinda jump in there, man: for me, I had all kinds of things planned. We filmed a commercial up here that was supposed to run throughout the NCAA tournament and the NBA finals, throughout the NBA season...a commercial with this Law Group that was really fun. I was in talks with the TV station KIRO 7 about being the NCAA recap guy every night of the tournament. Just coming into the studio and recapping games and talking about it...that was going to be really good for me in a lot of areas -- it was going to be good for the business. It's always good, the more reps I get on TV and stuff like that, and it’s something I'm interested in doing in the future. So, that was just going to be really good exposure for the camps and clinics, and then also I was hooked up and credentialed and on my way, and I'm sure we would've connected down there at the Final Four. The KJR radio station flies me down for the Final Four to do some interviewing and catch up with old friends in the college game...I get to interview a lot of the coaches and guys that recruited me and I played against and stuff like that. Then when the NCAA shut down, I was just like, ‘whoa, this is real.’ But the thing for me, it made me realize I have friends all over the world. I have friends in Taiwan, Italy, Spain...all over. So I've been keeping a pulse and staying in tune with what's going on around the globe, man...and it really got me earlier, just how serious this thing is. Up until today, it's lock down day. So when we got off this podcast, I have to get back across these mountains and go see my kids over on the farm.

It's definitely impacted all of us to a certain degree. I have a lot of compassion and passion for those restaurant workers and just so many people who are out of business. I feel fortunate, I know as you do, that we can kind of pivot some things that we're doing to continue to be helpful and to help our audience and our customers throughout this crisis. So I feel exceptionally blessed by that. What's been your approach? How have you kind of managed the situation mentally?

Matt: Yeah, that's a great question. I would say intentionality has just been really important for me. Mindfulness and just kind of charting out a plan. Since I got off that plane, I've been outside, like just to take the dog out and go on a few walks. Other than that, I've been taking it to an extreme in terms of being isolated. Just trying to brave the storm here...and I’m someone that’s used to being home and working from home. When I’m not traveling for work, I’m dialed in at the desk in my apartment. Ever since my last year with the Hornets when I worked remotely, that’s been my deal. So it's definitely had an impact on me, but in terms of my M.O., I feel like I'm fortunate in that I already had a good feel for working from home and having to be kind of siloed a little bit.

Donald: You’re used to having your head down looking at a video screen, anyway. Maybe a little extra now.

Matt: Yeah. And I'm loving the washing the hands thing cause I do it like 50 times every day anyways, and now everybody's getting on my level (laughs). So anyways, just being more intentional with planning out, just being a resource for clients and contacts and building those relationships. And I think a lot of that, as ironic as it may seem like, the social distancing doesn't need to be like a social distancing -- it's the removal of that physical element, but being able to text, being able to FaceTime...I'm someone that always has 15-plus conversations kind of going on throughout the day, no matter what...just on a normal day. So just being more intentional...and again, with everything we have going on from the player's side, trying to really bolster up the fact that we can be a resource for players and their families.

Mindfulness Moment

Donald: And we're definitely going to get into more of that. But before we do that, let's get into the segment of the show that we call the ‘mindfulness moment.’ You've already talked about mindfulness and how you're handling the situation. Today what I've done is I've pulled a quote -- it's a quote by one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time, John Wooden -- and it says that: ‘things turn out best for people who make the best of the way things turn out.’ And I'll just say that this is something that for my trainees, for those in my circle, I'm really stressing...But what does that mean to you?

Matt: That's a great quote. It's just classic Coach Wooden. For me, what it immediately hits on is just being able to master knowing that you can't control everything. So handling the things you can’t control when life throws your curveball, it's more how you respond to it. You know what I mean?

Donald: Absolutely.

Matt: And knowing and just accepting the fact that you can't control everything, which for someone like me...who is kind of a control freak, and a perfectionist...that can be annoying, sometimes. But if you wrap your head around the fact that that's impossible and that it's how you respond especially in an adverse situation, that's what kind of separates success from mediocrity.

Donald: Absolutely. And for me it's really about being agile and being able to pivot. We're obviously goal-oriented and goal-driven people and we really stress that. I think sometimes we can lock into our goals too much and when situations like this come about, it's easy to say, ‘oh man, I planned on this, I planned on that --’ and to see all the things that you're not capable of doing that you planned on. Or on the other side of that, and I think this is where this is key -- you can look at ‘what're the things I can do and can I go a little bit deeper in that?’ Things you probably wouldn't have if you weren’t forced into isolation, forced into slowing down. And that, for me, is a really good theme and transition into the next segment, which is the main segment of the show. The first segment we caught up, the next segment was our mindfulness moment, and then this is the Goal Tending part.

Staying the Course During COVID-19

For a college prospect, from your perspective, what are some things that a college prospect can do to improve their ‘prospect status’ or their exposure during this time? Maybe some things that they weren't thinking about or some things that maybe they were thinking about but weren't handling, because they were in the gym all the time, or whatever. Most of the gyms are shut down, now.

I'll just tell you a quick story before we get there. I'm sitting in a gym last Friday, with Abby Rathbun -- who was at University of San Francisco -- and her dad...and they're talking about getting her back down to school. And I'm like, ‘hey, schools are going to be closed...regardless of how badly coach wants you on campus...’ And so we're kind of having this discussion, not an argument, but discussion about how things are going to change, or whatever. And in the middle of that conversation, her phone rang and she was like ‘it's coach!’ She walked out of the gym and as she walked back in and she was like, ‘coach said, come and get our stuff out the dorms.’ Right there, it was time to pivot. And so now, what's the game plan? Because just in that second -- everything that you thought -- and this is a hard-working, like totally dedicated towards school type-kid and everything that she thought was changed instantly...flipped upside down.

So, back to the question -- college prospects are at home looking at advancing themselves...the AAU circuit is shut down. What is it that they can do from your perspective to improve their exposure, to improve their prospect status in a time like this?

Matt: I think it's really important to talk about and I've actually been thinking about this a lot. We thought about making a little graphic, Pro Insight and Watts Basketball co-branded, or whatever...but just to kind of share our perspective...and I don't think that my little list that I've come up with is by any means an exhaustive list, but it's definitely a list of things that have been on my heart and on my mind as I've been thinking about this topic.

Donald: I'll say this, I haven't even seen your list, but I know it's a great start. I really know that you're a perfectionist and we're working with you on that (laughs). But you're also an expert...and most of our listeners, our families, our prospects...they don't even know where to start. So shoot it to me, man.

Matt: Yeah man it's simple -- and we will include this list in the show notes, but for me, it's about habits. Let's get back to basics. Just use this time where you're really forced to be alone with your thoughts...everything's slowing down, regardless of your current prospect status. So use this time to build healthy routines and habits. Obviously the time spent playing 2K and Call of Duty and Fortnite is going to increase, but there's still a lot of other time in the day. I'm not saying not to do that stuff, but I think there are ways that you can still be productive without having to leave the house.

So what I wrote down -- and it might sound silly -- but one of my favorite books, The Slight Edge, kind of dives into the mentality that it's the little tiny increment things you do on a daily basis, that one way or another...depending on what your choice...is going to really help pave your path. So for me, it starts with putting your goals on paper, write them down. Be intentional about it. Actually go through the exercise. Don’t just internalize it or talk to a friend about it. Write it down on paper. I think it means something when you do that. Next, optimize your sleep schedule. This isn't the time to, just because maybe you don't have to set an alarm, to stay up till 4 A.M. and wake up at noon...optimize your sleep schedule and make sure you're getting enough sleep. This is a prime opportunity to take advantage of that. Next, get on a body weight strength program. I'm not a college prospect, but you can do a lot in front of your own TV doing a class, or with your own program -- shoot, me and my wife, we're doing that right now. Just trying to stay active even if you’re inside is paramount.

Donald: You’re stealing my thunder right now, man.

Matt: I'm going to let you dive more into it.

Donald: What can I do specifically...I might have a highlight film. What about a recruitng film? Can I reach out to coaches? What are the kinds of things that somebody can do to improve their status as far as being directly related to building those relationships with college coaches or getting exposure during this time where the AAU circuit has shut down? I know you have some specific things.

Matt: No question -- just getting your bio together, your film, we can help you identify between a highlight film and a recruiting tape. Shoot us a message or an email. I hate to bounce around, but being the semi-OCD person that I am, I want to finish my list -- I'll fly through it: put your goals on paper, optimize your sleep schedule, body weight strength program, eat right -- use this time to start building habits of eating right and not just eating packets of Gushers for breakfast or for a snack. Dive into film. Not just highlights. Actually study great players. This is something you and I talk about all the time -- there's a difference between a Ballislife highlight video and actually studying film. Nothing wrong with highlights in a nutshell, but if you're trying to get better and study and use film as a tool to make yourself better, it's not about watching a highlight tape. My last two things -- very simple -- just make sure you're registered with the NCAA, with the clearinghouse. That's a loop you've got to jump through, so make sure it's done. And then my last little point, and these are in no particular order, but just to ensure that your social media accurately reflects the brand you're trying to build. Do your social media audit...because that's something that coaches are looking at. So that's my little list and I think some of that touches on what you just asked in terms of still building momentum with coaches.

Donald: Absolutely. I want to make sure that people don't gloss over this aspect of it, but the highlight film versus a recruiting film -- we've had a recent situation where we've been sent film that kids are planning on sending to college coaches and it's like,’yo that's not what a coach wants to see in a recruiting film.’ You've really helped break this down and explain it to me, but evaluating what your strengths are as a player is crucial. And knowing what you're selling to a college coach. It's not your name and it's not your AUU program and it's not your reputation. Those are things that a coach is going to want to know, because it can say certain things about you, but what are those skill sets that a coach is going to depend on and help him keep his job? And you want to make sure that the recruiting film tells that story. And every action -- and I've seen plenty of your clips -- every action that you show is not a highlight. I really advise people to get their footage in front of you, Matt, at this time. I'm putting you to work, man! Listeners, if you get your footage in front of Matt, you will get a real solid evaluation. One, you’ll have a clearer picture of what it is that you need to work on to improve your prospect status, and then two, you’ll know what you actually need to be showing to the coaches.

I got some film from a kid who was a junior college kid the other day that I'm going to be helping, I'm going to be forwarding it on to you, but he led the country in catch-and-shoot three-point percentage. That's a stat, that's a fact. If you tell a coach that, they’re going to check them out. But then if you send them five minutes of footage with you only doing that, now you leave that coach to wonder, ‘what else am I going to get from this kid?’ The fact that you led the country in that stat is almost proof enough. Yeah, I want to see maybe 45 seconds of you doing some catch-and-shoot stuff so I can see how fast it is, see what the circumstances are, but then beyond that, I want to see what else I'm going to get. And this kid's film didn't have that. And so I advised them to either adjust it or to connect with you, so that it can show him cutting off a dribble-drive defender, stopping a guy and making him pass -- stuff like that. Showing his defensive movement, showing his shot fake, getting to the middle and kicking it out to the open man...that's not a highlight, but it's something that shows a coach ‘this is what you're getting on the court -- here are my primary and secondary skills.’ So I think that's a really big thing that kids can do. Also, one of the things you said particularly jumped out...your social media. What does it say about you? Who are you connected to? Scrub that. Is it built for your friends or for your goals? And making those necessary changes.

So all of those things are great reminders...then getting a real solid film to send out to coaches -- I think this a huge, huge thing that frankly, I think you're one of the best people in the world at doing. You're trained in that so if you need help, listener, trying to figure out how to get that done, reach out to us. Matt can get you squared away and it's these little things like the book that you suggested. What was it called?

Matt: The Slight Edge.

Donald: And then think about the time...coaches can't go see players right now. They're sitting at home twiddling their thumbs. What if they got a really good film of a kid that they didn't know about? Right now, they have plenty of time to be introduced to you. So as a player, if you can sit down and research some schools instead of being all in on Fortnite...figuring out where and what schools’ needs are; which schools are losing people in your position, etc. And here's another thing that people don't really realize that you haven't touched on: that transfer portal, which had a thousand kids in there last year. There's going to be all kinds of movement once things open up and that movement is opportunity. If I'm a coach and I just lost a shooting guard unexpectedly, I'm going to be looking for one. And if a really quality bio and film comes across my desk -- boom. So although we don't know when things are going to happen, stay ready so you don't have to get ready. I'm just really passionate about making sure talented kids are packaging themselves right, so that they can make the most of their talents and opportunities...and sometimes they have the talent, they have the opportunity, but they’ve got the wrong idea about what a college coach is looking for -- and that's something that you can definitely help them with. So get on that -- do not hesitate, do not delay. I'm sorry, man. I went off on that.

Matt: No, it's good.

Donald: I'll let you close it out. But for me, I hate when our game is dumbed down to these crossover dribble combinations. I hate when our game, when our athletes that are in their prime are being fed this simplified, individualized version of the game of basketball. I just feel like this is a great time for those same kids to take a step back and look at what they're actually trying to accomplish and really deepen their learning. I went on a tangent there. Matt, I'm going to let you close this out -- I'll let you wrap it up.

Matt: Well first of all, I think that was eloquently spoken by Donald and it was necessary to mention it. I don't think it was a tangent, man, and we'll be done in about 30 seconds here -- it's still going to be about half the length of our other podcasts (laughs). So I think we're good. But I'm going to oversimplify and kind of summarize it in saying, there might be more than one right way to do this whole thing, but there's definitely a wrong way -- and we're not sitting here saying that our solutions and advice and insight is the be-all-end-all. But it's definitely one of the right ways. So don't do it the wrong way. Let us show you at least one of the right ways to do it and that's why we're here. Just trying to share this information from our experiences that have been first-hand. So let us kind of pass that on so you can benefit from it. Let us at least show you one of those right ways versus doing it the wrong way. And that's all I got.

Donald: Absolutely and that's today's episode of Goal Tending. Coach Watts. Matt McKay. Goal Tending Podcast. Watts Basketball. Pro Insight. We're here for you to help you accomplish your goals and your dreams. And we are out!

Show References + Links

GTP’s tips for ‘moving the needle forward’ during COVID-19

  • Put your goals down on paper. Write them down. Be intentional about it

  • Optimize your sleep schedule. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night

  • Get on a body weight strength program. You can still be active while social distancing

  • Eat right. Use this time to start building good eating habits

  • Dive into film. Not just highlights. Actually study great players

  • Make sure you’re registered with the NCAA

  • Perform your social media audit. Ensure everything on your channels is on-brand with how you want to be publicly portrayed

Recommended Reading:

The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson

Subscribe to GTP on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, or Spotify

Shoot us an e-mail with any comments, questions, ideas, or feedback: goaltendingpodcast@gmail.com

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