Volleyball season is approaching. Practice started last week for the team that I’m coaching this year, and I’m excited. I look forward to teaching and competing with a new group of athletes each year. I’ll also look forward to a more regular schedule and a bit less traveling for a few months.
In preparation for this season, I’ve been doing some learning, some reading and watching, trying to improve my abilities, something I’ve done for a few years. One of the books I completed recently was one on John Wooden and called Wooden: A Coaches Life. This was a look at his life, as player and coach, with some of the descriptions and principles that embodied his work as a college basketball coach.
There were interesting stories and topics in the book, but one of the core items emphasized in the book was Coach Wooden’s emphasis on the fundamentals of the game. He stressed this with his players, asking them to work on the basics and perfect them more than on any complex plays or situations. I tend to focus on the basics when I coach as well, hoping to train players to be good at their jobs, trusting them to react to new situations.
This feels like advice that is applicable to a data professional as well, especially in the era of new features and functions that continually expand on the capabilities of the Microsoft data platform. While graph structures and containers and Azure Data Factory and Big Data Clusters are amazing new technologies, there is still a need to have good, solid fundamental skills for a SQL Server system. We still expect anyone working in those areas knows how to backup a database, how to write good T-SQL, how to set security for objects, and more.
If you want to specialize, that’s great. Perhaps you love BI or HA or some other aspect of working with the SQL Server data platform. Just keep in mind that the fundamentals are important, no matter what your job. You ought to be very competent at handling any of those tasks that we would teach a junior DBA in their first year on the job. Once you know those, you can move on to more specific items. If you don’t know those, be sure you include those as part of your learning along with more niche topics.