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