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...