The Power of the Pivot

It’s the smallest movement, but the strongest move. It’s the most basic skill but often overlooked. 

Watching Michael Jordan highlights on “The Last Dance” has me contemplating the power of the pivot. Many kids can maneuver an advanced cross-over or “euro-step,” but they cannot perform a simple pivot. Basketball 101. It might not be sexy or land you on a highlight reel, but skipping the fundamentals will limit your entire game.

When coaching, I explain it this way — Mastering the pivot unlocks the game. It gives you options. You’re no longer bound to one direction. Instantly, you’re more agile and better balanced. Automatically, you’ve become quicker and stronger. More importantly, learning to pivot expands your vision. Your sight is no longer limited to what’s in front of you.

What’s overlooked in the game of basketball? Your pivot foot doesn’t even move. But it’s where the power lies. With a slight shift, you’re headed in an entirely new direction. Put another way — a nearly immeasurable move has the potential to alter the trajectory of your life.

A minor shift in my thinking had a transformative impact on my post-basketball career. Upon retirement, I thought I needed to abandon the athlete in me. But I forgot that when pivoting, your strength doesn’t come from the lead foot. Your power is harnessed in the back – the pivot foot. So instead of detaching from the game, I decided to take the game with me. I may not be dribbling a ball into meetings, but I’m discovering how to transfer the lessons from the court into new arenas.

I’m now a rookie in all things — financial services, sports media, podcasting, writing, fatherhood. Yes, there’s much to learn, but I don’t need to completely reinvent myself. I need to pivot. I need to take the lessons I’ve learned — performing under pressure, leading others, being a great teammate, attacking challenges, etc. — and transfer what’s already been instilled into whatever comes next. 

Subtle shift. New outlook. Small change. Major potential.


Questions to consider:

  • What are the fundamentals in your craft which are easy to overlook but essential to you reaching your potential?
  • What’s one area in your life where a minor pivot could have the greatest positive outcome?

Don’t be deceived by the highlights — try to only watch their feet!

Latest from my new podcast “Greater Than a Game

11. T & T: Mindset – Get Others Going
12. Nate Scheelhaase (Iowa St.): On Coaching the Player and PERSON
13. T & T: Mindset – Don’t Empower the Challenge
14. Martin Schiller (G League Head Coach): On Leadership and Development Across Cultures


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