Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Three Point Shooting License

I know it is a little late in the season for this, but this is something that you can maybe tuck away in your bag of tricks for next season. The idea behind this is players have to earn their right to be able to shoot beyond the arc. Similar to driving, players have to pass a "test", or in this case a series of tests, to obtain a license.

It is a series of 50 shots. Players have to "pass" with a minimum score of 35 out of 50 on five separate occasions. They do not have to be 5 consecutive (in a row). Players can only shoot for their license once in a given day. The series is as follows:

1. SET SHOTS - Five spots on the floor: deep corners, freethrow line extended wings, and top of the key. The shooter rotates shooting around the horn, shoot twice in the opposite corner and come back around the horn returning to the original corner. The passer (coach or manager) stays one spot ahead of the shooter. 10 shots. Record the makes.

2. BREAKOUT CATCH AND SHOOT - Using the same five spots, the shooter starts underneath the basket. The shooter sprints to the corner, catches, squares, and shoots. The shooter then sprints back under the basket, sprints to the wing, catches, squares, and shoots. The shooter goes around the horn, shooting twice in the opposite corner, and comes back around returning to the original corner. The passer stays one spot ahead of the shooter. 10 shots. Record the makes and add to the set shots total.

3. WING FAST BREAK CATCH AND SHOOT - Starting at halfcourt on one side of the floor, the shooter sprints to the hashmark (28 foot line), breaks to the arc at a 45 degree angle for the shot. The passer stays in the middle of the floor. 5 times on each side. 10 shots. Record and add to the total.

4. WING FAST BREAK ONE DRIBBLE PULL UPS - Same as above except that the passer must deliver the pass early (get it to the shooter at the hashmark). The shooter catches, one hard dribble, and shoots. 5 times on each side. 10 shots. Record and add to the total.

5. TOP OF THE KEY FAST BREAK CATCH AND SHOOT - The shooter starts in the middle of the jump circle. The passer is on the wing. The shooter sprints opposite the passer, setting up his cut, plants and sprints to the top of the key for a shot. 5 times on each side. 10 shots. Record and add to the total.

The license system brings the cream to the top. It helps the other players on the team recognize who shooters are. When I have used this in the past, it helped to define roles within a team setting. When running zone offenses, for example, I could quickly point out who we wanted to find within our scheme.

In my first season at Eastern Washington we had a player shoot for his license every day of the season. He "passed" the test 4 times going into the last week of the regular season. He was not allowed to shoot a 3-pointer throughout the season. He finally "passed" the test for the fifth time on the Tuesday before our last regular season weekend. I don't recall if he shot a 3 in our last two games that year, but I do remember the sense of accomplishment that this young man felt and the additional confidence it provided him.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I wish you, your families, and your teams all a very blessed Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Player Efficiency Ratings

Our returners have lately come to feel like they are entitled to start and/or play major roles without truly working for and earning those roles. I was trying to think of a relatively simple yet effective way of delivering a message to the returners that they needed to produce to earn their minutes. We've tried talking, watching film, running, and a number of things, but nothing worked. The message either was not being received, or they were simply just lazy. I heard a coach once say to a player, "You're either ignorant or defiant. Neither is any good."

I wanted to quantify things. Make it very black and white for them with no gray area. I remember we had a grading system at Eastern Washington that awarded points (both positive and negative) for certain stats that were weighted for what we felt was important. We would add up the points and instead of posting a box score in the locker room, we'd post a single number for each player. The problem with that: A) we'd have to watch the film afterward, B) players didn't get their score until the next day, C) some of the stats were arbitrary and subjective, and D) I can't find that particular grading system. (I'll post it once I dig it up)

So I started calling around to friends and colleagues. What I found was an efficiency grading system that has been used by Oregon Institute of Technology Head Coach, Danny Miles. Coach Miles has a number of accolades next to his name and is a brilliant basketball mind. His efficiency rating is easy to do and can provide instant feedback, even at halftime. This efficiency rating follows:

(Points + Rebounds + [2 x Assists] + [2 x Steals] + [2 x Blocks] + [3 x Charges Drawn])
Divided by
([2 x FG missed] + FT missed + [2 x Turnovers] + [2 x Fouls])

The rating scale is:
Excellent = 1.75 and above
Very Good = 1.5 - 1.74
Good = 1.25 - 1.49
Fair = 1.0 - 1.24
Poor = Less than 1

You can also use this without the charges drawn. That rating scale is:
Excellent = 1.6 and above
Very Good = 1.35 - 1.79
Good = 1.1 - 1.34
Fair = 0.85 - 1.09
Poor = Less than 0.84

The thing I really like about this system, is that it is very objective and takes minutes played out of the equation. It emphasizes to players that they have to be productive, no matter how many minutes they play. I tweeted last night, "Basketball isn't like AT&T. There is no such thing as roll over minutes. Use 'em or lose 'em."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Basketball Court Diagrams

I know that I am always looking for court diagrams to scratch on. You are probably the same way. I figured I would save you the trouble of having to constantly look for them. You can print these off and use freely! Enjoy!

Practice Plan Court Diagrams

Full Court Diagram

Scouting Report Court Diagrams

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Truly Inspiring!!!

I remember reading this article by Rick Reilly back in October of 2003. It is still one of my very favorite stories of all time. Ben Comen is my favorite athlete; ever. The competitive spirit Ben has is unparalleled by anyone. I ran copies of this story and put one in every one of our players' lockers. I told my players that they should be thankful for their gifts and use them to the best of their abilities. If they would commit and play even half as hard as Ben competes, their would be no one to stop them!

Here is The Life of Reilly from Sports Illustrated, October 20, 2003:

Worth the Wait

Why do they come? Why do they hang around to watch the slowest high school cross-country runner in America? Why do they want to see a kid finish the 3.1 miles in 51 minutes when the winner did it in 16?

Why do they cry? Why do they nearly break their wrists applauding a junior who falls flat on his face almost every race? Why do they hug a teenager who could be beaten by any other kid running backward?

Why do they do it? Why do all of his teammates go back out on the course and run the last 10 minutes of every race with him? Why do other teams do it too? And the girls' teams? Why run all the way back out there to pace a kid running like a tortoise with bunions?


Because Ben Comen never quits.

See, Ben has a heart just slightly larger than the Chicago Hyatt. He also has cerebral palsy. The disease doesn't mess with his intellect -- he gets A's and B's -- but it seizes his muscles and contorts his body and gives him the balance of a Times Square drunk. Yet there he is, competing for the Hanna High cross-country team in Anderson, S.C., dragging that wracked body over rocks and fallen branches and ditches. And people ask, Why?

"Because I feel like I've been put here to set an example," says Ben, 16. "Anybody can find something they can do -- and do it well. I like to show people that you can either stop trying or you can pick yourself up and keep going. It's just more fun to keep going."

It must be, because faced with what Ben faces, most of us would quit.

Imagine what it feels like for Ben to watch his perfectly healthy twin, Alex, or his younger brother, Chris, run like rabbits for Hanna High, while Ben runs like a man whacking through an Amazon thicket. Imagine never beating anybody to the finish line. Imagine dragging along that stubborn left side, pulling that unbending tire iron of a leg around to the front and pogo-sticking off it to get back to his right.

Worse, he lifts his feet so little that he trips on anything -- a Twinkie-sized rock, a licorice-thick branch, the cracks between linoleum tiles. But he won't let anybody help him up. "It messes up my flow," he says. He's not embarrassed, just mad.

Worst, he falls hard. His brain can't send signals fast enough for his arms to cushion his fall, so he often smacks his head or his face or his shoulder. Sometimes his mom, Joan, can't watch.

"I've been coaching cross-country for 31 years," says Hanna's Chuck Parker, "and I've never met anyone with the drive that Ben has. I don't think there's an inch of that kid I haven't had to bandage up." But never before Ben finishes the race. Like Rocky Marciano, Ben finishes bloody and bruised, but never beaten. Oh, he always loses -- Ben barely finishes ahead of the sunset, forget other runners. But he hasn't quit once. Through rain, wind or welt, he always crosses the finish line.

Lord, it's some sight when he gets there: Ben clunking his way home, shepherded by all those kids, while the cheerleaders screech and parents try to holler encouragement, only to find nothing coming out of their voice boxes.

The other day Ben was coming in with his huge army, Ben's Friends, his face stoplight red and tortured, that laborious gait eating up the earth inch by inch, when he fell not 10 yards from the line. There was a gasp from the parents and a second of silence from the kids. But then Ben went through the 15-second process of getting his bloody knees under him, his balance back and his forward motion going again -- and he finished. From the roar you'd have thought he just won Boston.

"Words can't describe that moment," says his mom. "I saw grown men just stand there and cry." Ben can get to you that way. This is a kid who builds wheelchair ramps for Easter Seals, spends nights helping at an assisted-living home, mans a drill for Habitat for Humanity, devotes hours to holding the hand of a disabled neighbor, Miss Jessie, and plans to run a marathon and become a doctor. Boy, the youth of today, huh?

Oh, one aside: Hanna High is also the home of a mentally challenged man known as Radio, who has been the football team's assistant for more than 30 years. Radio gained national attention in a 1996 Sports Illustrated story by Gary Smith and is the hero of a major movie that opens nationwide on Oct. 24.

Feel like you could use a little dose of humanity? Get yourself to Hanna. And while you're there, go out and join Ben's Friends. You'll be amazed what a little jog can do for your heart.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Finish Strong!

I have been focusing on work, my team, and placed a tremendous emphasis on my thesis the last couple of weeks (the big reason I have not posted anything lately). Late nights on the computer writing and researching have become the norm. Our first game was on Sunday which was my scout, so needless to say I have been watching a lot of film too. Sleep has become almost a non-entity. I see my wife for a few brief moments. Working in the admissions office has become a chore. I have questioned whether its all worth it.

I am not the only one going through this thought process. Some of my players, and more than likely some of your players, are going through it too. School, family, basketball, their social life, etc... create conflicts to which those players are going to ask themselves, "Is it worth it?"

We're all human that way. I don't care who you are, you have asked yourself this question at some point in your life.

I was sent an email from the mother of one of the players on our women's team that answered the question for me with an absolute resounding "YES!" The following video on Nick Vujicic was attached:


After watching even this short clip, I knew it was all worth it. I may be knocked down with less-than-enough hours in the day. I may be tired. I may feel frustrated. BUT, I will always get back up in order to reach my goals. Like my mom often tells me, "It is only temporary insanity."

That is something I shared with my team and this video. No matter what, you've got to get up. "Look at the physical gifts you've been given. Look at how God has given you the ability to do something you love at a high level. Now take a look at Nick Vujicic who hasn't been blessed with your attributes and abilities. If his attitude and determination were combined with your abilities, would anyone be able to stop you?"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Must Haves for Full Court Man-to-Man Pressure Defense

A large portion of the success of our system depends upon our full-court man-to-man pressure. The way we play our defense is reliant on these following principles. Some of these may not apply to the way you implement your press, but these are areas in which I feel are of great importance to ours.

1. Transition quickly - We cannot allow opponents to get in their comfort zone by taking a "break" after a made basket or an opponent's defensive rebound. Must be able to switch gears in an instant!

2. Force the 1st pass low - Whether it is an inbound pass after a made basket or an outlet pass, the first pass must not be an attacking pass toward the opponent's basket. The lower they catch, the more work they have to do to score.

3. Tremendous on ball pressure - Vision must be taken away. If they see the floor, they'll pick you apart. Must make the ball handler so uncomfortable that they turn away eliminating court vision.

4. Force it to a side - This allows us to utilize our help defense. Use the sideline as an added defender.

5. Deny 1st pass up the side - This is an attacking pass plus it is the "easiest" to see for a ball handler. We can get deflections and steals from this.

6. Deny the 1st attacking pass middle - Up middle is extremely dangerous and leads to a numbers advantage for the offense. It is the soft spot of most presses, we want to make it the hardest spot!

7. Sprint to rotations - If the reversal pass is made (I consider this a non-attacking pass away from the opponent's basket), players must sprint!

8. Sprint ahead of the ball - On ball defenders that get beat off the dribble cannot be content to run hip-to-hip with the ball handler.

9. Excellent communication - In previous posts, I talked about how to teach communication. This week I put a tremendous amount of responsibility on the deepest player to communicate; especially in rotations.

10. REBOUND - If the offense happens to break our press and take a quick contested shot, nothing breaks down morale more than an offensive rebound.

These are only a small list of things that are critical to our success on the defensive side of the ball. The idea is that advancing passes are attacking passes and therefore it stands to reason that we want to discourage them from occurring. Retreating passes will force the offense to cover more ground and burn more time off the shot clock giving them less time to run their half-court offense.

Friday, October 30, 2009

John Beilein on

Great article on ESPN today on John Beilein. The article describes how detailed, thorough, and almost OCD about watching film (or the currently more appropriate: digital video captures). Most coaches, especially at the college level, already use video as a powerful instructional tool. Players have the opportunity to see what it is that we see.

I am jealous of Beilein's table. When I worked for Ray Giacoletti at E
astern Washington, he had a desktop with a court painted on it that his dad made for him. I thought at that time, it would be great to use that as a teaching tool with the team. It has always been in the back of my mind to have a scale version of my court for teaching purposes when I get a head coaching job. Guess my "innovation" is no longer so innovative any more. Doesn't mean I won't still do it! I think it is a fantastic supplement and has the potential to reach a diverse group of learning styles.

Here's a picture of Beilein's "coffee table":

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Susan Fletcher on Stress Management

Coaching isn't easy. We all know that. The fact of the matter is we are dealing with young men and women that are still trying to figure themselves out. Basketball Hall of Famer, Ralph Miller put it best by saying the definition of an 18 to 22 year old is inconsistency, and if you are expecting consistency from inconsistency you're screwed. But we do expect consistency! And we should.

The fact is that most every coach gets stressed out over their team, their season, practice, games, players, etc... The list goes on and on. Most times, we as coaches create this stress on our own. So how can we defend ourselves from this?

The following are some tips from Susan Fletcher, psychologist and stress management expert, on how we can protect ourselves from ourselves:

Don't read into things so much. "Sometimes a look is just a look and a dirty coffee cup is just a dirty coffee cup. It's not a passive-aggressive way to say you are not appreciated," Fletcher says. Don't make things bigger than they need to be - with people or work. Some people make a project bigger than it needs to be in an effort to increase their own value, but they are increasing their own stress as a result.

Learn how to transfer trust. "I really like Stephen M.R. Covey's stuff from his book Speed of Trust. He says people have to be able to trust before they feel it. Just like with your kids when you give them a little rope. And with someone who works for you, you have to let them fail because failure is feedback," Fletcher says. "Don't just say, 'It's easier to do myself.'"

Recognize when you are being inefficient. "People who are stressed get stuck answering e-mails for two hours at the expense of higher value items that need to be taken care of," Fletcher says. "Don't get lost in inefficient behavior. Ask yourself, 'What's my ultimate outcome I want here and what do I need to get there?'"

Find an accountability partner to help you meet goals. "Choose a friend or family member - probably not someone who lives with you because you don't want to muddy the waters. It has to be someone you will listen to but who will hold you accountable."

Say no sometimes. "You have to say no to things you might enjoy, but you are not in line with where you are professionally or personally at the moment," Fletcher says. Then you can spend your time on what matters to you most.

The last tip I'll leave you with is from an article a few years back written by NABC executive director, Jim Haney. In the article (which I have since lost, do not remember the title, but was in the NABC newsletter) Haney suggests leaving work at work. I am notorious for bringing a bad practice or game home with me, just ask my wife. What Haney outlines is a plan to pick a landmark; a stop sign, intersection, gas station, whatever you choose; on your way home where you make a conscious effort to LEAVE everything behind. As you get better at it, move the landmark closer to the gym and eventually make that landmark the door that you exit the gym.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


How many times do you hear coaches exclaim, "You've got to talk!" or even simply, "Communicate!"? It happens frequently; probably more times than not. Talking, especially on defense, is often demanded but seldom ever taught. We preach, but don't teach.

After spending the last week with a good amount of new players to our program, I am realizing that players just don't know HOW to talk or communicate.

Communication is critical to success. It brings unity and a sense of purpose to the team. Proper communication means assuring all of the players on the floor that they are on the same page. Communication can increase intensity and energy while becoming an intimidating factor for the opponent. Players may talk or communicate, but as we are all different, we also communicate in different ways and even interpret messages in as many different ways.

To this end, I have taken it upon myself to teach our team, new and returning players, exactly HOW to talk to each other on the floor. This will eliminate sending mixed messages, interpreting messages incorrectly, and keep us all on the same page specifically on defense.

- Name First - Any time a player is directing talk at a specific player, the name must come first. I have seen too often where a screen is communicated, but the action came first. By the time a player's name was spoken, it was too late and he got caught on the screen.

- Be Specific - While a player communicates "Screen coming!", it does not communicate where the screen is coming from. In our defensive system it is imperative to know where that screen is originating to determine how we are going to play it. Have players tell their teammates where they are on the floor in help situations. Define it for them.

- SSS - Short, sweet, and simple. This may sound like I'm contradicting myself from the above statement, but I have had players get hung up in wordy, detailed talk. They are so concerned with painting a picture that they lose focus themselves.

- 3 is the Key - Repeating what is communicated 3 times gives better odds that the message will be received.

- Daily Emphasis - As Don Meyer says, "It is not so much what we teach, it is what we emphasize." Incorporate communication into every drill from warm-ups to conditioning.

Defending a ball screen, for example, will sound like this to the on-ball defender: "Kenny, Screen right! Kenny, screen right! Kenny, screen right!" Being an on ball screen, Kenny would respond with: "Brad, jump it! Brad, jump it! Brad, jump it!"

One thing I will always take with me from my time working for Kevin Eastman is "Talk loud. Talk early. Talk often." Once players have a common system that everyone understands, talking becomes a powerful weapon!

I encourage you to explore a simple communication style that works for your team.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Character Coaching - Part 3

Speaking of Coach Wooden, first off let me say happy 99th birthday, Coach! Second, two of my favorite things combined on this historic day marking the greatest coach of all time's 99th year, an article about Coach Wooden and the writing of Rick Reilly.

Reilly writes a very quick tribute to Coach today. It is amazing the impact Coach has made on the world! As I stated in the previous post, if people would model themselves after Coach Wooden, this world would be a beautiful place.

Happy birthday once again, Coach, and thank you for showing us the way!

ESPN Rick Reilly Article

Friday, October 9, 2009

Character Coaching - Part 2

Speaking of Proactive Coaching, coaching character, and coaches of good character, I found a great story on the Proactive Coaching website. It is a story by Swen Nater posted on Swen's blog. I have had the great pleasure of working camps with Swen. He is truly a wonderful, kind, caring man and one heck of a knowledgeable basketball coach.

The following story is a great example of the life-lessons that Coach Wooden taught his players. It is something that I continue to pass on, especially when it comes to cleaning up locker rooms and hotels on the road.

"About seven years ago, Coach Wooden and I were in Boise, Idaho, speaking to a group of educators. I don’t think they wanted to hear from me so much; they wanted to hear from Coach. How do I know? It’s simple. When it came to the Questions and Answers segment, I had lots of answers, but nobody asked me a question. They put us up in a high-end hotel. You know, the kind where you get the “His and Hers Terry Cloth Bathrobes?”

The morning after, we were preparing to head to the airport to return home. I was already in the hotel lobby when Nan, Coach’s daughter, asked if I would go up to Coach’s room and help him bring his bags down. As I approached his room, I saw his door was propped open with his neatly-placed luggage. So I walked in.

The 90 year old “Coach of the Century” was washing out the coffee maker in the bathroom sink. He took out the coffee bag and placed it in the trash and then rinsed the dispenser until the water was clean. Then, he placed it carefully, upside-down, in the sink so it could drain.

Walking with a semi-shuffle because of his bad knees, and slightly bent over, he next collected the trash from the other baskets in the room and consolidated them into the bathroom basket. Finally, he placed all the dirty towels on the bathroom sink.

When I looked at the bed, I saw Coach had stripped it, leaving a neat pile of sheets and pillow cases. Then he looked at me, smiled, and said, “OK, Swen. I think we’re ready to go now.” Then, he walked back into the room, turned off the light next to the bed, walked out into the hall, and closed the door behind him.

When I was at UCLA, after we played a road game, Coach made sure we left the locker room as clean, or cleaner, than we found it. All towels were placed on a table in one pile and all trash was picked up and put in its proper place. I clearly remember three occasions when, before a home practice, Coach would read us a letter he had received from the custodian of a university we had competed with, expressing amazement and gratitude for our consideration.

Is it a coincidence, the most successful men’s basketball college coach of all time has deep consideration for others and believes he is no better than anyone else, or is there a direct relationship between consideration and success? Just asking.

By the way, to this day, when I lodge somewhere overnight, I leave my room in the same condition Coach did, just in case he’s got a spy reporting to him from Motel 6. I wouldn’t put it past him."

Thanks, Swen! If more people could model themselves after Coach, the world would be such a beautiful place.

5 Steps of Character Coaching

Had the opportunity to listen to Rob Miller from Proactive Coaching this week. He was gracious enough to come to campus and speak to our student athletes and the following day spent time with our coaching staff. Rob is fantastic! He did a great job and was very informative. Here are the 5 Steps of Character Coaching:

1. Clear and Concise Vision - Make sure it is abundantly clear to everyone in your program what direction you are headed in. Communication break downs can be as cancerous to the team as anything.

2. Words and Actions Must Align - Do not send mixed messages. You can no longer practice the "do as I say, not as I do". Take a self assessment. Be truthful to yourself. Ask a trusted colleague or friend to observe and report.

3. Know Exactly What Your Team Stands For - A quick gauge of this is to ask your conference opponents what they think your team stands for. If you don't know, your team won't know. What are the things you want to be known for?

4. Be A Coach of Significance - Do not settle for teaching the game and worrying about wins and losses. Have a deeper impact. As Frosty Westering, former Pacific Lutheran football coach, once said (and I've hear John Maxwell say many times as well), "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

5. Be A Leader, Not A Manager - Don't be a boss or a buddy. As I phrase it, be firm but fair. Leaders innovate, develop, inspire, have a long-term view, answer the questions "what?" and "why?", originate, and challenge the status quo. Managers on the other hand administer, maintain, control, have a short-term view, answer the questions "how?" and "when?", imitate, and are satisfied with status quo.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


My friends and colleagues in coaching, I must apologize. Time is of the essence lately. I haven't been good about updating the workshop. Between working, going to school, trying to write a thesis, and wanting to stay married... you can see that things have been a tad hectic of late. Please accept my apology and I will do my best to post more often.

With the season approaching like a barreling freight train, one of the issues I want to conquer with our team is building a sense of togetherness; coming together and working for that common goal. We have a balanced team in regards to age and class, but I still feel as if we are very young. I have compiled a list of quotes that I am delivering to our players on a daily basis. I hope that these may assist you and your team.

"He who wished to secure the good of others, has already secured his own"

"The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say 'I'. And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say 'I'. They don't think 'I'. They think 'we'; they think 'team'. They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but 'we' gets the credit... This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done."
-Peter Drucker

"Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."
-Henry Ford

"A boat doesn't go forward if each one is rowing their own way."
-Swahili Proverb

"A single arrow is easily broken, but not ten in a bundle."
-Japanese Proverb

"One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team."
-Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

"None of us, including me, ever do great things. But we can all do small things, with great love, and together we can do something wonderful."
-Mother Teresa

"Light is the task where many share the toil."

"When a team outgrows individual performance and learns team confidence, excellence becomes a reality."
-Joe Paterno

A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skill of others."
-Norman S Hindle

"The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and greater the probability that the group will achieve its goals."
-Rensis Likert

"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."
-Andrew Carnegie

"God created us to be interdependent. We were not designed to go through life alone. We become so much more when we come alongside others - and we make them better, too."
-John Wooden

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Jim Rohn - Developing a Winning Attitude

Reading up on the great motivational and business speaker, Jim Rohn. He states that in order to fulfill your success and happiness goals, you must first have the right attitude. He also believes that the right attitude is critical for tapping into your potential. As coaches, we strive to achieve this every day with ourselves and our team. The following are four points Jim Rohn uses to harness that potential and make our goals attainable.

Use the past as a learning tool. “We must not beat ourselves to death with past mistakes, faults, failures and losses.” The greatest opportunity today brings with it “is the opportunity to begin the process of change.”

Adopt a new attitude. It can be about “who we are, what we are, what we want and what we are going to do. Today can also be exactly like yesterday, and the day before; it’s all a question of attitude.”

“Clearly visualize your future and draw inspiration from it.”

Develop self-awareness. “As we learn more about who we are, we begin to make better choices and decisions for ourselves and about ourselves. As our choices improve, so do our results, and as our results improve, so does our attitude.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

PreSeason Conditioning - 20 in 20

This is a conditioning drill I've used for several years. 20 sets of lines, suicides, horses, or whatever you call them, in 20 minutes. While at Eastern Washington University, we required all of our players to run the 20 in 20 until every one of them made their time individually. At Texas Lutheran, this drill was used as a reward for behavior we deemed to be outside of our expectations.

Set the game clock at 20 minutes and start the clock. At the appropriate times listed below, players begin their running. They have until the end of the minute to complete one rep. For example: the first rep begins at 19:43 on the clock and they have until 19:00 on the clock to complete the first set.

Here are the times that players begin their run:
20:00 - 19:42 rest
19:43 - 19:00 (17 seconds of rest)
18:43 - 18:00 (17 seconds of rest)
17:43 - 17:00 (19 seconds of rest)
16:41 - 16:00 (19 seconds of rest)
15:41 - 15:00 (19 seconds of rest)
14:41 - 14:00 (21 seconds of rest)
13:39 - 13:00 (21 seconds of rest)
12:39 - 12:00 (21 seconds of rest)
11:39 - 11:00 (23 seconds of rest)
10:37 - 10:00 (23 seconds of rest)
9:37 - 9:00 (23 seconds of rest)
8:37 - 8:00 (25 seconds of rest)
7:35 - 7:00 (25 seconds of rest)
6:35 - 6:00 (25 seconds of rest)
5:35 - 5:00 (27 seconds of rest)
4:33 - 4:00 (27 seconds of rest)
3:33 - 3:00 (27 seconds of rest)
2:33 - 2:00 (29 seconds of rest)
1:31 - 1:00 (29 seconds of rest)
0:31 - 0:00

Monday, September 7, 2009

10-Point Ethics Checklist

A very timely discovery from my Ethics instructor. This is originally from Michael Fortin's blog in which he shares one of his student's, Darrin Clement, 10-Point Ethics Checklist. Since we have seen over this summer some poor choices by coaches, I felt this was something important to share with you.

The 10-Point Ethics Checklist
1. The Golden Rule - Would I want people to do this to me?

2. The Fairness Test - Who might be affected and how? Is this fair to everyone?

3. The 'What if Everybody Did This?' Test - Would I want everyone to do this? Would I want to live in that kind of world?

4. The Truth Test - Does this action represent the whole truth and nothing bu the truth?

5. The Parents Test - How would my parents feel if they found out about this? What advice would they give me?

6. The Children Test - Would I be willing to explain everything about this to my kids and expect them to act in the same way?

7. The Religion Test - Does this go against my religion?

8. The Conscience Test - Does this go against my conscience? Will I feel guilty?

9. The Consequences Test - Are there possible consequences of this action that would be bad? Would I regret doing this?

10. The Front Page Test - How would I feel if my action were reported on the front page of my hometown newspaper?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Coaching Truths

I am conducting research for my Master's thesis and came across the 37 Coaching Truths written by Rick Burns. Coach Burns has coached soccer for over 30 years and has compiled a great list of do's and don't's.

1. Remind your players before each match to enjoy their experience.
2. A crisp, 90-minute training session beats a dragged-out, two-and-a-half-hour session every time. 3. On match day, step back, quiet down and enjoy watching the fruition of your labor (when the whistle blows, it's very much your player's show).
4. Real power comes from serving your people well.
5. Where there is a will, there is not always a way - but sometimes there is.
6. Find a kind way to tell your players the blunt truth.
7. Athletics participation is important, but it is just a temporary, wonderful phase to pass through on the way to real life.
8. Don't second guess yourself - make the best decision you can and move on.
9. Speak succinctly. Don't lose track of the value being uncomplicated.
10. Balance praise and criticism - too much of either can be harmful.
11. Set your standards early and don't compromise them.
12. Speak freshly, avoiding the gaggingly inane clich├ęs, such as "stepping up," "moving to the next level" or "giving 110 percent."
13. In these sullen, win-at-all-cost times, enjoy the occasional belly laugh. Delight is the wage of living.
14. It's unnecessary to raise your voice to be heard if your players believe you have something important to say. Your impact is greater with a whisper than a roar.
15. Teach your players the wonderful freedom that comes from learning to lose with grace and dignity and without excuse.
16. Winning is overrated, and the singular quest for it leads to unhappiness.
17. Keep things simple - everything added is something lost.
18. Greeting each player personally at the beginning of training every day and saying something sincerely positive publicly about each player during the training session pays dividends.
19. Letting your players know that you care for them, and that they can trust you, is critical.
20. Cervantes was right: "The journey is more important than the arrival."
21. Teach your players that peace of mind is a result of giving all that they have.
22. Let your actions coincide with your beliefs.
23. Convey to your players your love of the game.
24. Don't posture - a confident person need not convince anybody of anything.
25. Don't allow one or two players to ruin things for the rest of the players.
26. The joy of winning fades immediately and precipitously.
27. Have the courage to say "no" when the answer is "no".
28. Don't script your training sessions down to the minute - allow room for spontaneity.
29. Convey to your players the intrinsic honor that comes from training and playing hard.
30. It's as important to have your players work on their strengths as well as their weaknesses.
31. Show some passion on occasion. They have to know you care.
32. Don't overanalyze. Sometimes, as Freud told us, "A cigar is just a cigar."
33. Run an absolute meritocracy. The better they play and the harder they work, the more they play.
34. If you don't know, say so.
35. Learning through self discovery is ego enhancing and more likely to last.
36. Introduce a service component to your program - it's good for everybody.
37. Even in these politically correct times, don't neglect the spiritual aspects of coaching.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Open Gym

Yesterday was move-in day on campus. I spent all day yesterday aiding new freshman haul their boxes and belongings into their new homes for the next 9 months. It was a fun day to be a part of such an exciting day in these young people's lives. Tiring, but still an enjoyable time.

The most exciting part was watching our new players arrive. With bright eyes and nervous energy, these young men are very hungry. The most frequent question asked was, "When is the gym going to be open?"

At our level, we don't have the luxury of working with our players in the pre and post season. Open gym is an extremely valuable tool for our players to condition and build team chemistry. We rely on our seniors to be the leaders and organize open gyms.

Some of the open gym suggestions we make to our players in leadership roles:

Half Court Games - Though we play up-tempo, full court style basketball, it is critical that we continue to work on our half-court principles. This aids in the chemistry building, communication, and teammate familiarity. Games to 7 by 1's. Winners of the half-court games stay on to play full-court.

Full Court Games - Full court games go to 11 by 1's. If all five of the offensive players are past half-court, they can score. If one of the five has not crossed half court, the basket doesn't count. We want to emphasize running the floor and conditioning.

One thought that I picked up from Herb Sendek when he was at NC State, is all players show up for open gym. If one person doesn't show, open gym is canceled for that day. This adds accountability, leadership, and communication to the mix in regards to open gym.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Player Notebooks

With the start of school upon us, I figured I'd share with you some of the items I consider important in player's notebooks. This is definitely not a new idea, but one that I feel is extremely valuable. The use of player notebooks lends itself to multiple purposes such as organizational skills, time management skills, and making sure players have the necessary information to be successful. This obviously benefits the student athlete. Notebooks also can serve as a fantastic tool for us as coaches to monitor academics, inspire and motivate our student athletes, as well as keep them all on the same page within our systems.

My player's notebook will contain the following:
Contacts - This will include key athletic staff members, the coaching staff, players, and managers phone numbers and email addresses.

Time Management - A master calendar is included in this section. Key academic dates such as the last day to drop/add a class, registration dates, holidays, last day to pay bills, and final exams. Other key dates for the team such as practice times, games, and travel days are included as well.

In addition, a week at a glance sheet for a typical week is included. Players then would sit with a coach and block off times for class, practice, workouts, studying, meals, and personal time.

Academics - Grade sheets for every class. The grade sheets would have a table that players, with the aid of a coach, will fill in assignments from their syllabi, due dates, and the grade they receive. All assignments, tests, papers, and the like will be included. This will give coaches an idea of how players are progressing academically.

This section can also include study tips, school policies on plagiarism and academic guidelines, and various items in regards to academia.

Motivational - This includes players' directive affirmations (mentioned in earlier post - very good stuff if you haven't read it). This is also where players add inspirational and motivational quotes I give them.

Basketball - Players will add the team playbook and scouting reports. This is to be written by the players themselves. I will write and diagram plays, notes, scouting reports in the locker room and the players are responsible for writing this information in their notebook.

Misc. - Anything else that does not fit the above descriptions included here.

I am a big proponent of the player notebook system. It is a great way to teach lifelong skills and support abilities that will benefit your student athletes outside of the classroom. I encourage you to consider using some of these ideas.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Clemson Notes

Reviewing some notes from clinics I've attended. The search dug up some great thoughts from Larry Shyatt when he was at Clemson.

- During a timeout, if you have nothing to say, write something on the whiteboard and walk away from the huddle.

- Philosophy is to demand like crazy on defense, but never put unnecessary pressure on the offense.

- Believe and strive for 80% freethrow shooting as a team.

- It is not about winning. The most important term players must understand is IMPROVE!

- When talking to players, communicate:
"Nothing good can come from cutting class."
"You just don't care when you made that decision. Now your messing with the system."
"The sand is coming out of your glass."
"To be successful I'll have to make you do things you don't want to do; ask things of you that you don't want asked."
"Pull your own wagon."

- Work on weaknesses for 15 minutes after practice.

- End practice a couple times a week by getting everyone to 1/2 court, half the team facing the other half, and hug the guy in front of you.

- How we lose bothers me more than that we lose. Ask yourself "How did we lose?"

- Concept of Sunday night activity, especially in the pre-season and off-season - It ends your week and begins the next one.

- Time Management Notebook
1st week of school, 5 days to get it put together. Majority of it put together in meetings. Organize players' semester.
Help players read their syllabi!
There is no homework in college, more assignments in clusters.
Share your Time Management Notebook with your professors. This helps the player and helps the program.

- "No team or group on campus will adhere to our standards."

- Control what we really can:
Our Commitment
Work Ethic

- Pick-up game rule: If all are there, they can play. If not all there, can't play.

- All drills play through either a score or a rebound.

- Blocking out allows you to start your offense further down the floor.

- Any pressure or control you put on your team, do it in effort areas not skill: image, work ethic, etc...

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Positive Attitude

Players don't care how much I know until they know how much I care. -Frosty Westering

You have to dream big and go for it. Surround yourself with people who believe in you and ignore those who try to bring you down. Never give up, no matter what - overcoming obstacles makes you stronger!
-Shannon MacMillan

Make each day your masterpiece. You have control over that.
-John Wooden

We can choose to see life as a series of trials and tribulations, or we can choose to see life as an accumulation of treasures.

If you haven't got all the things you want, be grateful for the things you don't have that you don't want.

Our small efforts at kindness can change people's lives more than we will ever know. Since it takes so little time and energy to change the world for the better, why not make an effort to do it every day?
-Pat Williams

I tell people: If you don't want to get into positive thinking, that's OK. Just eliminate all the negative thoughts from your mind, and whatever's left will be fine.
-Bob Rotella

Be grateful for the doors of opportunity - and the friends who oil the hinges.

Gratitude is the heart's memory.
-Ancient Greek Proverb

Love one another and you will be happy. It's as simple and as difficult as that.
-Michael Leuning

There are positive and negative thoughts. And, hey, it doesn't cost you a cent more to think positively.
-Angelo Dundee

There is no room in your mind for negative thoughts. The busier you keep yourself with the particulars of shot assessment and execution, the less chance your mind has to dwell on the emotional. This is sheer intensity.
-Jack Nicklaus

There are so many people out there who will tell you that you can't. What you've got to do is turn around and say, "I can. Watch me."
-Layn Beachley


First off, let me apologize for not having posted in a couple of weeks. Finishing up graduate school classes, recruiting trips to showcases, trying to finalize student's schedules for the fall, and traveling to New Orleans with my band have put posting on the back burner.

Yes, I did say I play in a band. I play drums in an oldies to classic rock cover band. We play strictly for charity, so it doesn't become a job and it stays a hobby. I think we sound pretty good, and if you're interested you can check out our website at

We did play a gig in New Orleans recently. I lived in Lake Charles, Louisiana for a short time. I interviewed for a position the weekend before Katrina ripped through NOLA. Took the job, moved to (as some of the locals call it) Puddle Chuck, and two weeks later Rita rolled right through the middle of town. Being from the Pacific Northwest, I know practically nothing about natural disasters. Got a taste of tornadoes in Oklahoma, but hurricanes were unfamiliar territory for me. I think the scariest thing about them is that you know well ahead of time that they're coming!

As I crossed the Sabine River into Louisiana and drove along I-10, there were still constant reminders of the storms. Houses still had blue tarps on their roofs. Signage along the freeway were not all repaired. In some parts it looked as if absolutely nothing had been done. The city of New Orleans has come a long way since Katrina. Even went through another monster in Gustav. It would be extremely easy for those folks to just drop everything and call it quits.

I am amazed at the resiliency of the folks in Louisiana! There is so much rich history there. They get devastated by hurricanes which cause floods, evacuations, topple structures, etc. and yet they bounce back... and bounce back with a smile on their face with true southern hospitality. What can we, as coaches, learn from this? My recent visit proved that the people there have it figured out!

We can press on! That's the lesson. No matter how bad it gets in the win/loss column, there is always another day. We can work hard to improve our situation. Even if things are in disrepair, we can have a positive attitude. We can treat others around us with kindness and caring even in the worst of situations. As we do that, the situation won't seem quite as desperate as we originally thought. Others will rally around you and fight for common good.

I look back and read my previous post about the teaching of Les Brown and see that he is really talking about the people of Louisiana. Not one person that I ran into during my trip ever have a negative thing to say. Even though the world around them was still not the same as before, they were still inviting and ever so gracious. Those folks know that it is worth fighting for. If we can instill that kind of commitment into our players, nothing will stop us!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Keep Your Dream Alive!

10 Steps on How to Make It Happen
By Les Brown

1. Be Thankful - Show an "Attitude of Gratitude". Positivity is the key. Quitting is not an option.

2. Be Thoughtful - When set backs occur, look inward. Go on with a clear head. Turn the page and come up with a plan to move forward.

3. Be Active - Begin with small steps. Keep moving forward regardless the circumstances. Action prevents anger or depression.

4. Be Connected - Seek out others for assistance. Most people seclude themselves out of pride in times of trouble. Connecting with others may reveal a solution not thought of previously.

5. Be Patient - In a world full of instant gratification, this is a tough lesson to learn and implement. Don't focus on the process - focus on the outcome.

6. Be Persistent - Stay hungry. This will keep you going through failures. This means you are willing to keep your commitment and keep bouncing back.

7. Be Positive - Opportunity does not come knocking. Expect things to happen and share that with others. Positivity eliminates you form locking in on doubt, worry, and regret.

8. Be Creative - Look for new ways to be effective and win. Just because its the way things have been done, doesn't mean that's the way it has to be done.

9. Be Consumed - Apply an inner filter. Look for useful information and block out the negative. It is unrealistic to hide your head in the sand assuming everything is OK.

10. Be Faithful - Faith and worry cannot coexist. One will dominate the other. Brown states, "Faith is the oil that takes the friction out of living."

Lessons from 1985

I found a great article written by Don Yaeger on the 1985 NCAA Division-I National Champions, Villanova Wildcats. The following are highlights of the lessons learned from that national championship game.

1. You have to play the game - No matter the odds or the pre-game hype, it's your performance that determines the outcome.

2. Count on your team - Following a well scripted game plan and relying on each other helped the Wildcats exude confidence in every situation as they faced the defending NCAA champion (Georgetown) Hoyas.

3. Shut out the naysayers - "Don't tell others what is expected to happen. Make it happen," says Ed Pinckney, named Most Outstanding Player of the 1985 Final Four. "If you believe what others say, you'll never beat Goliath."

4. Stretch beyond your reach - This game's outcome might have been different had Gary McLain not dived to control the last-second inbounds pass, landing on his stomach, cradling the ball in his left hand, his right fist pounding the air in triumph as theclock ticked down the final two seconds.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do you "know it all"?

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.
- Socrates

I saw this quote this morning and found it to be quite true. There is so much information out there that we just don't know. What does this mean for us? What are the consequences?

Overall it means that we need to challenge ourselves constantly to learn something new everyday. As a growing global community this has tremendous impact on how we view others and the interactions we have.

From a coaching perspective, it means that we too need to be searching for new information all the time. There are so many leadership techniques and motivational tools that have been developed and can be inspiration for our own views or implemented into our own philosophies. Coaches are constantly toying with new ideas, strategies, and tactical schemes that could be beneficial to our own programs.

As coaches, this also impacts our players. As soon as they think they've got it all figured out, that is when we see a decline in performance. This could be in the classroom or on the court. It is often the reason for the "sophomore slump".

This past year, I tried to combat the "slump" by engaging my post players in activities that would keep them thinking and exploring on their own. I had them come up with their own Directive Affirmations (an earlier post talks about this). This goal setting technique demonstrated that even a very good player still has room for improvement. I also provided my post players daily quotes in which they had to relate the quote to their affirmation and why it was important.

I would encourage coaches to read something every day that will assist them in bettering their program. This was something that George Raveling believed in strongly. Read an article from a newspaper or magazine, a book on leadership, or an inspirational story. I would encourage coaches to have their players participate as well. Bob Knight would have his team read books that he distributed to his team to keep them activated.

These are not new ideas, but little things that we tend to forget. The more we can understand that we don't know it all, the better we can become down the road.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

What it takes to be number one!

There is little doubt in anyone's mind that Vince Lombardi was a great coach and leader. I found this great online movie and absolutely love Coach Lombardi's lessons. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's Not Easy

Let’s be honest. Ethics is not for wimps. It’s not easy being a good person.

It’s not easy to be honest when it might be costly, to play fair when others cheat, or to keep inconvenient promises.

It’s not easy to stand up for our beliefs and still respect differing viewpoints.

It’s not easy to control powerful impulses, to be accountable for our attitudes and
actions, to tackle unpleasant tasks, or to sacrifice the now for later.

It’s not easy to bear criticism and learn from it without getting angry, to take advice, and
to admit error.

It’s not easy to feel genuine remorse and apologize sincerely or to accept an apology
graciously and truly forgive.

It’s not easy to stop feeling like a victim, to resist cynicism, and to make the best of
every situation.

It’s not easy to be consistently kind, to think of others first, to judge generously, and to
give the benefit of the doubt.

It’s not easy to be grateful or to give without concern for reward or gratitude.

It’s not easy to fail and still keep trying, to learn from failure, to risk failing again, to start
over, to lose with grace, or to be glad of another’s success.

It’s not easy to look at ourselves honestly and be accountable, to avoid excuses and
rationalizations, or to resist temptations.

No, being a person of character is not easy. That’s why it’s such a lofty goal and an
admirable achievement.

-- Michael Josephson, Character Counts

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Pat Riley's view on the summer

Let’s just say this is your Summer Time Makeover not only as an athlete, but a transformation of your thinking.

In a perfect world, every athlete would have a super attitude. They would all buy into the team concept. Not care who gets the credit, not care who gets the playing time, doesn’t mind taking a back seat to other athletes and never complains about coming off the bench as a sub.

Be coach-able, responsible, and respect authority. In a perfect world, athletes would all work hard on their particular sport, show up on time for practice and meetings, go to class and do the best they can; avoid excuses and overall be a great athlete to coach.

But we know this isn’t a perfect world. It’s a sports world that can be improved though. Self-discipline is the first step, which isn’t easy. It takes work, but it can be done

Self-discipline is the price you pay for success. Without it, you are doomed for failure.

Sure the easy life can be lived by all. You can wake up in the morning and park your butt on the couch, munch on cereal and watch television all morning and into the afternoon. Then you can go swimming or to the beach with your friends. Or you can hang out on the corner and do nothing. At night you can hang out at the mall or go to a movie. Anyone can do those things. This type of life leads to mediocrity.

But it’s the successful athlete who gets up in the morning, has their breakfast and goes to work out. They go running, lifting or to the courts to get their shots up, to work on their dribbling or their ball handling. This type of life leads to success.

All athletes face the same question every day. Should they go and train? It’s the special athlete who breaks away from the crowd, who puts the important things first. Sure it’s difficult to dedicate yourself to becoming the best athlete you can be by training daily, especially when its hot outside and your friends are at the beach working on their tan. But the journey along the way is what makes it most fulfilling come game day. Knowing that you trained hard will pay off for you.

With sports training, to become the best, you have to do things that are unpleasant.

Success comes to those who develop a burning desire to succeed. Greatness is achieved and maintained by those who train and keep on training. If you are on the shore and there is a ship out in the Atlantic Ocean carrying one million dollars and you were told that if you can get to the ship, you can have the money.

Would you start swimming or stay on the shore?

Starting today, dedicate yourself to your sport. Step up your training, step up your commitment.

Push-ups, sit-ups, run, work on your craft. Do something every day to get better. At the end of the day, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you gave it your best, did you give every once of sweat? Did you make the right decisions? Did you do what had to be done?

You have a choice every day regarding the attitude you will take towards your commitment. Reevaluate your goals and realize that you have the ability to improve on your current situation.

Continuous hard work is what gets it done.

Stop blaming others for your lack of success, for your lack of playing time last year on the team. It’s not your coach’s fault, or your parent’s. It’s not where you come from or what team you play for. Stop making excuses. Excuses are for losers, they are a disease. Stop the complaining, the whining and the pouting. Athletes who become successful leave all that stuff alone. Did you ever see the NBA Champions, San Antonio Spurs argue with each other on the court?

Start being a better person, a person who wants to improve all the time. Cut out all distractions and believe in yourself. If you get an opportunity, take advantage of it.

Play your sport with a ‘walk-on’ mentality. Play the game like you appreciate the opportunity to come to the gym, the diamond or the gridiron. If you are controlled by your ego, then you’re not going to recognize any avenue you might have to success.

Love your sport, work hard, pay attention to detail. Have a hunger, be relentless, have a passion for your sport. Time - Work - Sacrifice…Nobody can do it for you.

“You have to have a mission, a desired state. Have the courage to put aside ego for the common good. You must give up something to get better in the future. You must be an active participant in your own rescue…Determination conquers every fear and failure.”
-Pat Riley, head coach Miami Heat