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Rebounding Wins Championships

“Defense wins championships.”

Raise your hand if you have heard that maxim before.

Accuse me of heresy all you want, basketball gurus, but I wholeheartedly disagree.


In my humble opinion, the most dangerous teams are the teams that excel at dominating the glass to either diminish scoring chances for their opponents or to increase scoring chances for their own team.

It’s simple math:

More shots for your team means more opportunities to score, more room for error, and more time taken away from your opponent to score against you.

Continuing with my humble opinion, I would also like to challenge what we commonly accept as building blocks of champions off the court.

How about IQ, for example?

Angela Lee Duckworth, a former teacher turned psychologist, challenged IQ as an indicator of future success in a TED Talk a few years ago. “In education,” she said, “the one thing we know how to measure best is IQ. But what if doing well in school and in life depends on much more than your ability to learn quickly and easily?”

As opposed to IQ, Dr. Duckworth suggested that there exists an even better, and oftentimes more accurate, predictor of success in life. She called it grit.

I like the word resilience.

Resilience comes from the Latin verb resilire which means “to rebound.”

According to Dr. Ann S. Masten of the University of Minnesota, resilience “can be broadly defined as the capacity of a dynamic system to adapt successfully to disturbances that threaten systemic function, viability, or development.”

The concept can be applied to many different types of systems, and in the case of the individual, resilience looks a lot like how Dr. Duckworth described grit — the “strong current of will,” passion + perseverance, resilience + hard work.

To me, resilience/grit is the ability to adapt and to overcome adversity to a degree that is disproportionate to any and all actively opposing forces. To use basketball terms:

resilience is the ability to rebound better than the forces currently working against you. It is the manifestation of an internal pushback that is always one point stronger than that which pushes against.

Youth with resilience have shown the ability to bounce back and to prosper even in the face of trauma and forces working against them like economic, familial, and The turning of the century has brought with it daunting forces of global concern and transnational impact. At the forefront of these concerns stand children who are often the most affected and generally the most innocent.It is these children’s world that we are working to improve when we invest our time and resources in development and policy.

As shown by the unprecedented issues of recent years, despite our best efforts, we will never be able to fully prevent natural and man-made disasters. Disasters will strike, and if recent history is any indication, we will not see them coming.But, we still have the power to do something for our youth and their futures.We can develop inside of them the ability to overcome and to adapt to future events and oppositional forces — no matter the odds.Are we ready to accept that grit and resilience may be better indicators of success than traditional measuring sticks like IQ and talent?

Are we likewise ready to consider whether the development of grit and of resilience could potentially be the most important, most effective, most certain, and even the most charitable focus of development work that we can invest in?

In the game of basketball, you cannot block every shot. You cannot stop every opponent from getting to the rim.But you better believe that you can always — always — work to be in position to bounce back and grab the rebound, giving yourself a chance at another basket on the other end, and giving your team a better chance at victory.Are we ready to focus our efforts on developing in our youth the qualities that will allow them to thrive and to create peaceful, prosperous futures — no matter the odds?

CourtVision International is a youth development organization that prepares young people all over the world to be confident, resilient leaders in conflict transformation and citizen diplomacy.Follow our work

developmental adversity.

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