When you are done improving, you are done!”

One of the greatest coaches in the history of Ohio high school basketball was Jack Greynolds, who coached at Revere High School and then came to my hometown and high school, Barberton High School in 1969 and coached through 1987 when a series of strokes sidelined him. While at Barberton, they won one State Championship (1976)* and were the runner up twice (1977 and 1982). Of the top 20 winningest coaches in Ohio High School basketball history, he is the only one with a winning percentage over 80%. Recently a group page has been set up on Facebook to honour him. Among the posts were excerpts from his coaching manual. One of those excerpts contained his favourite quotes and among them were “When you’re done improving, you’re done!” A great quote!


That is one reason why Jack Greynolds was so successful during his coaching career. During his coaching career, he built up an extensive library of basketball books, many of them focusing on basketball coaching strategies. He frequently attended basketball clinics and exchanged knowledge with other coaches. He was always looking for knowledge and to expand his horizons. He was never satisfied.  If  you are satisfied with where you are today and think that you can coast at the same plateau, then you might as well hang up your shoes.

Bill Belichick, the head coach of the New England Patriots, is another example of someone who is continuously improving. He has now coached 6 of his Patriot teams to the Super Bowl.  Why has he been so successful? Part of the answer is that he is well known for seeking out other football coaches during the off season to exchange football knowledge and to expand his knowledge base. As a result, Belichick is usually at the forefront of professional football trends. He is never satisfied and always expanding his knowledge. Deep down, he knows that if he’s done improving, he will be done.

The late Professor Remy Presas, the founder of the Filipino Martial Art of Modern Arnis, had the same mindset. He was always seeking to expand his knowledge base by training and exchanging knowledge with other martial artists. Is it any wonder that he evolved into one of the all time great martial artists?  I remember him declaring one time, “I’m always learning every day; the day I stop learning is that the day that I’m six feet under.” 

Another way to put it is “will you be better tomorrow than you are today?” Implicit in this is whether you are interested in continuous improvement even if it means only a tiny improvement over yesterday? Will you even try?  Amazingly, many people just don’t put in the effort and are satisfied with what they did yesterday. They then get stuck in a rut. All those tiny improvements add up over time and it’s well worth it. Yes, you’ve done Anyo Isa Stick Form One countless times. How about doing it left handed? With a knife? Double sticks? Empty handed? Espada y daga version? Expand your horizons, expand your possibilities. Keep improving!

 “When you are done improving, you are done!” implies an effort to improve. The absence of effort virtually guarantees no improvement.  This question applies to martial arts, sports, professional endeavours, relationships or life in general.

Will you be done or will you keep improving?

*A bit of trivia for Toronto Raptor fans, the 1976 Barberton Magics defeated Middletown High School for the state championship. The star player for Middletown and the Ohio Player of the Year in 1976 was Butch Carter who later went on to coach the Toronto Raptors and still lives in Toronto.

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