Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pregame Preparation

During my Christmas break here in San Antonio, I had the opportunity to catch up with a former player of mine now working for the Spurs as a strength coach, Mike Ekanem. It was a proud moment for me to be shown around the AT&T Center by Mike. I loved hearing the other coaches and employees say what a great guy and valuable asset to the organization Mike was. Being that I don't have kids of my own yet, this was as close to a "proud dad" moment I've had.

Mike got me on the floor for pregame. Every moment is orchestrated. Players are on a tight schedule of individual attention before every game. Richard Jefferson was the first player on the floor. He worked out with Jacque Vaughn, getting a myriad of shots off; dribble handoffs, penetrate and kick, spot ups, reshape catch and shoot, etc. DeJuan Blair has a 2-on-1 game that he plays with a coach and an intern that simulates draw and kick situations. Players came and went, all working on various parts of the game in personalized quick spurts.

As Mike and I sat watching, he said to me, "Coach G, after seeing these guys show up 2 hours before tip-off and getting a workout in, I wish I had done it when I played for you." I loved it! He was now seeing through coaching eyes. Another proud moment for me!

Here are a few things I took away from the experience:

It's Business!
- When you cross over the lines, it is all about basketball
- Take the floor with an intense focus on improvement
- There is no time for jacking around

Analyze the game
- Where are shots going to come from?
- Work on the specific aspects that are applicable in a game
- Look at the angles passes and cuts are going to be coming from

Keep it short and intense
- Have a plan or goals to accomplish even in pregame
- Get in, get after it, and get out - No need to over-do it
- Work at it! - Get a sweat and go game speed
- Compete - Play a game to get the competitive juices flowing

Coachability - What It Takes

This past weekend, our team took a tremendous shot to the chops! We had just taken a full week off for finals and had only two days to prepare for a very talented basketball team.

During those two days, some of our players were not interested in what was being taught. There was a lot of selfishness and poor attitudes. When we were instructing, the most common response was, "I know" but very little was being done on the floor to prove that they knew. They had closed themselves off to accepting instruction and as a consequence had turned their backs selfishly on each other.

After the embarassing blowout on Saturday, we talked to the players about allowing themselves to be coachable. I was reminded of a great piece of wisdom by Ray Lokar of the Positive Coaching Alliance in Creighton Burns' Basketball Newsletter. The following will be posted in our players lockers waiting for them when they return on December 26th.

What Does It Take For A Player To Be "COACHABLE"?
1. Knowing you don't know everything
2. Willingness to do what your coach says
3. Being more interested in learning than looking good
4. Willing to listen
5. Accepting constructive criticism as part of the package
6. Not getting defensive every time someone suggests something different
7. Being patient with yourself as to achieving results
8. Being in it for the long haul, and not expecting or demanding quick results
9. Surrender to the teacher, or coach, and let go of the need to be in control of every situation
10. Surrender your will so someone else can instruct or coach you and entering the gym with the mindset,
"TEACH ME COACH - I want to learn!"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Recovering from Setbacks

In coaching, playing, and even in life, setback will happen. Although a setback such as a loss may kill momentum, remember that with a positive attitude and unrelenting work ethic it is only temporary. You have the ability to not let it keep the ball from rolling! Here are three tips for getting back in the saddle after a deflating setback from Success Magazine’s weekly E-newsletter.

Step One: Pout or Punch. Do What You Have to Do to Feel Better.

Allow yourself to be an utter mess, SUCCESS columnist Mel Robbins says. “I gripe. I cry. I feel insecure. I punch the wall. I exercise. Then, it’s out of my system and it’s over,” she says.

Take the time you need to process what happened. Whether it’s life-altering like a layoff or an unforeseen obstacle in a big project, it’s okay. Really. Accepting the setback is an important step toward moving forward. It’s one more thing you can put in the “I know not to do that next time” column.

[My wife will argue this one with me until the cows come home! We all have a “grieving process” that we need to go through. I put a limit on mine. I do not allow myself to be upset once a new day begins. 12 O’clock midnight and I’m on to the next game/day/practice/etc.

I think this is important for us to understand as coaches in regards to our players. They, too, have their ways of dealing with setbacks. While I don’t condone destroying property, I do try to keep in mind that they may need some space and/or time after a hard fought gut wrenching loss.]

Step Two: You’ve Got to Move It (Move It)

Pardon the maddening tune, but the next step to recovery is taking action. Any action. Write down your proudest accomplishments and remember how you achieved them. Journaling your accomplishments will help you realize how powerful you really are. Recognizing your power, you can move forward confidently without second-guessing your every step.

[This is simply remembering where your strengths lie and what they are. Another great lesson for the players on your team. A sniff of success however small can trigger greater successes in them.]

Step Three: What’s the Takeaway?

From every misstep, there’s a lesson learned or a key takeaway that you can apply to your next project. So think on two levels—literally and figuratively. What’s the literal lesson from what happened and what larger, overarching principle can be taken from this experience? View your challenges positively. Easier said than done, but just thinking to yourself, “Okay, it can only get better now” is the kind of positive affirmation you need.

[This is why we watch film. It is why we keep practice plans. Analyzing what went wrong. Recognizing it. Instructing our players on how to correct it. Perfecting the proper way of execution through repetition. The mindset has got to be on improvement and the environment has got to be free of egos and negativity.]

You Are A Player When...

You are a player when:

1. You don't care if you are the one who sets the screen or the one who hits the winning three, because fulfilling your role, whatever that role is, is most important.

2. You have a desire to excel for the benefit of the TEAM.

3. You have an unquenchable need to exceed past your limitations.

4. You play and know, without a shadow of doubt, that you competed like a champion.

5. You understand your commitment to your teammates.

6. You understand that basketball is a TEAM sport.

7. You finish playing and only your body leaves the floor; your heart and soul are captured within the game.

8. You will exchange your blood, sweat, and tears for the benefit of the TEAM.

9. You understand the irrelevance of individual awards.

10. You would rather encourage a teammate to success than benefit personally from his mistakes.

11. Your respect for the game and those involved in the game outweighs your personal pride.

12. You make mistakes and use them to learn from and improve rather than use them as excuses.

13. Your ability to make your teammates better increases each time you take to the floor.

14. You do the little things right even when nobody is watching.

15. You act to serve your teammates with unselfish motives.

16. You have a clear understanding of your role and strive to perform it better.

17. You have done all that you can and still fell that you can contribute more.

18. You know the difference between pain and injury; playing through the pain without creating a scene.

19. You give more than what is asked and take less than what is deserved.

20. Your effort is constant and your play is consistent regardless of the situation.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

75% of Success is Being Positive

In a recent interview with Success magazine publisher Darren Hardy, Harvard professor and author of The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor, breaks down success into 25% academic learning and 75% positivity.

The 75% breaks down into 3 categories:

1. Belief that your behaviors matter - What you are doing will make a difference.

2. Positive social support network - The law of association. Surround yourself with positive people.

3. View stress as a challenge not a threat - A positive attitude towards stress will activate your brain to get past it and find intellectual resources to make it happen.

Positive Leadership Produces Greater Results
1. Recruit positive people - College level coaches can do this. High School coaches can select the positive players and cut the negative players.

2. Be positive yourself - Easier said than done. We are most often our own worst critics. Stop the "stinking thinking".

3. Recognize others for their achievements - Achor recommends starting the day with recognizing someone for something positive they've done. I am going to make it a point to start each practice this way; give someone, or all, a positive from the day before.

4. Prioritize happiness in the present - Happiness is not a "When I get to [blank], I will be happy." You either ARE or you're NOT. Invest in your social network in times of stress.

5. Praise the process - This will increase the team's success. Don't praise the outcome as long-term success will decrease.

10 Things Players Can Do When Not Playing Well

On Tuesday, I was reading an article by Seth Davis. In it he says, "A player should be able to play well when he's not playing well." So I asked my players what it means to them to "not play well." An overwhelming majority of answers had to do with not being able to score and/or poor shooting. In that regard, remember Coach Eastman teaching similar to the Davis' quote at Washington State and suggesting that a player go 3-4 possessions on offense without a shot to get his mind off of the mini slump.

Here are 10 things players can do when they aren't "playing well":
1. Become the best passer - Distribute the ball to teammates. It gets the entire team in a flow and can allow you to feed off that flow.
2. Become the best screener - Get others open with solid screens. You will find that you will be open for easier looks as a result.
3. Be the hardest cutter - Cut hard and draw the defense with you. This will contribute to the team flow but may also allow for an easy basket.
4. Go after every offensive rebound - Gain another possession for the team. You may even find yourself scoring chippies.
5. Be the first down the floor in transition - Both on offense and defense. Offensively you can get a lay-up to break the slump. Defensively you can thwart easy baskets by opponents.
6. Become the best box out player - Concentrate on not letting your man get rebounds.
7. Be the best helpside defender - Turn your attention to getting stops as a team.
8. Get deflections - Work to hit the pass when on the defensive end.
9. Become the best communicator - Talk loud, talk early, and talk often. Put everyone on the same page.
10. Become the most positive highest energy player - Bring the juice! Bring some enthusiasm to the entire team. It is contagious and the rest of the team will feed off it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Exciting News - New Partnership!

If you are a regular visitor to my blog, you may have noticed a "redesign" a couple of weeks ago. I did create a logo for the blog a while ago, but couldn't find a time to incorporate it into the blog itself. I figured with this partnership, it was a great time to introduce it. I am really excited to partner with a great company that provides quality products and services for basketball coaches.

Being that Baden and I are both Evergreen State products (let's hear it for the great State of Washington!), this just makes sense. I have used Baden basketballs since I can remember. We currently use the Lexum Perfection Elite at the University of Dallas. These balls last forever! Some of our players actually prefer the balls from 2004 over the new ones. Unlike their competitors, Baden's balls don't absorb moisture which makes the balls lighter, easier to grip, and ultimately last longer. My good friend Jerry Hink at Baden is passionate about basketballs, volleyballs, baseballs, and even broomballs (yep, there is an official broomball). In dealing with Baden, you are going to get first class treatment from their staff with prompt service and responses. Again, you've probably already ordered your basketballs for the season, BUT if you run a camp or a summer league give them a shout! They do great custom camp balls at great prices.

Click on the link to the right to check out Baden. I think you'll find something you like and will be pleased with the results so much you'll keep coming back to them for years to come.

Handling Blowouts

I found an article yesterday about the Houston Yates HS game against Houston Chavez HS. For those of you outside the state of Texas, Yates now holds the record for most consecutive games scoring 100+ points. I've posted about Yates before along with an article from Rick Reilly at ESPN. I know as a college coach, this is a risky move and I may not ever get a player from Yates, but I am also a believer in humility, basketball karma, and no one deserves to be absolutely humiliated by a score of 170-35 (actual Yates game final score from last season). One of my mentors that recently passed away this summer, Les Eathorne, was adamant about NOT scoring 100 points on an opponent unless it was absolutely necessary; if the other team had 99 and they had to score 100 to win was the only acceptable time. Coach Eathorne felt that triple figures on the scoreboard was too demeaning and unnecessary. I digress.

With the game already decisively over, Chavez HS alters their game plan. Their coach decides to give the team a new goal: they are going to keep Yates from scoring 100 points. So instead of attacking on offense, Chavez pulls the ball out and runs a delay game (my guess is a version of the old Dean Smith designed North Carolina 4-Corners). A brilliant move. There is nothing to be gained at that point by attacking. Why not work on something else? Why not give the team something to be successful at that night? Why not give them something to be proud of when the final buzzer sounds? Chavez could walk off the floor with their heads held high because they accomplished something successfully together as a team.

In their book Basketball Coach's Survival Guide, William Warren and Larry Chapman share this story in regards to handling a blowout:

Even in the worst of blowouts, all is not lost if you can keep your head and focus on positive steps that can improve individual and team play. A coach told us he believes that, because they're so much like nightmares, blowouts aren't real. And because they aren't real, such games should be treated as open scrimmages with fans watching.
"Look at the scoreboard," we overheard the coach telling his players during a timeout. The players did so, gloomily and with great reluctance. It wasn't a pretty sight. "Take a good look at it, because it's the last time you'll look at the clock tonight - if you want any more playing time this season, that is." (We suspected he was exaggerating a bit here - but if we had been playing for him, we would not have made that assumption.)
"Now we're going to forget the score," the coach went on. "The score no longer exists, because this game doesn't exist. Neither do the fans, the other team, or anyone else except you, me, and [the assistant coach]. We're going to practice the same things we work on every day."
Then the coach applied his carefully prearranged zinger, a gimmick he borrowed from Ohio State's fabled football coach Woody Hayes. He calmly took off his wristwatch, held it up for the players to see, and then dropped it on the floor and stepped on it.
"See?" he said, smiling as the players gaped in amazement at the shattered watch, "we don't need a clock. All we need to do is forget everything else and concentrate on running our patterns with precision, the way we do at practice."

In essence, Chavez did the same thing. Their focus was no longer on getting their butts whipped, it was now on perfecting their delay game. The focus was to work together on maintaining possession of the basketball.

The absolutely most disturbing part of the article (found HERE), are the comments at the bottom. Read them. Most are truly unbelievable (probably from soft armchair/Monday-morning quarterback geeks who don't have a stinking clue about athletics and enjoy the anonymity of the Internet). BUT coaches, these could be our future players and their parents making these crazy comments. Shoot, these could be some of your players or their parents already. Is sportsmanship dead? Has it really come to beating someone down to the point of humiliation?

I like to win! No question about that. I like to win convincingly. BUT, I also understand being on the other bench. I will use the bench. I will call the dogs off. I will work on other things once the game is out of reach and victory is assured.

On the other hand, we've been blown out a couple of times this year already. In those cases, I don't worry about what the other team is doing. I concentrate on what MY guys are doing. Like Chavez HS and the story above, it is important to refocus on a positive and be able to find even some small success.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Inspiring Teamwork Through Movies

This week, our team is spending a tremendous amount of time on the road. Being that we are still trying to build a team identity, a true unit thinking as one entity (I gave my "I could beat Mike Tyson in his prime" talk after our game last night), and that our guys will watch movies on the bus, I wanted to combine those two. I wanted each movie we showed on the bus to have a message; something that will inspire unity and selflessness.

This is the list of movies I came up with:
1. Glory Road - Obvious
2. Hoosiers - Obvious
3. Coach Carter - Obvious
4. The Godfather (Parts 1 & 2) - Once you're part of the family, you're always part of the family. Do anything against the family and there are consequences.
5. Goodfellas - See The Godfather.
6. Italian Job - Team unity can be built around a common goal.
7. Pursuit of Happyness - Quitting isn't an option. Continue pushing towards the ultimate goal. Complete selflessness to protect the future of the family.
8. Jerry Maguire - There are those that will lie, cheat, and steal for the glory. Inspire others toward a shared vision!
9. Braveheart - Total dedication, leadership by example, mentorship. Unrelenting commitment.
10. Bull Durham - Leading through mentoring.
11. Groundhog Day - If you don't change something, it will always be the same.
12. Miracle - An obvious choice. Team building.
13. Remember the Titans - Building a team in the wake of change and extreme adversity.

So a quick Google search unearthed a fantastic list of movies that portray leadership qualities and is already sorted by those qualities. It can be found HERE.

If you spend time travelling with your team and watch movies with them, I would encourage you to think about inspiring them at the same time.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Education of a Coach - A Research Study

I was asked by a very good friend and former college basketball coach, Pete Van Mullem, to assist with a research study he is conducting. I know that he would appreciate it tremendously if you would take 10 minutes out of your day to quickly take his survey that follows.

To all current and former coaches:

You are invited to participate in a study, examining the learning process and educational methods used to develop coaching knowledge and a coaching philosophy. In addition, this study will provide you with the opportunity to reflect on how you acquired the skills necessary to become a coach. It is estimated that participation in this study will require about 10 minutes of your time to complete a short survey.

Please click on the following link:

The study is open to all current and former high school and college coaches (head or assistant). As former coaches at the high school and collegiate level, we sincerely hope you consider taking part in the study. If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to contact us. Thank you for your time.

Pete Van Mullem, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Graduate Coordinator, Sport Management
St. Cloud State University (MN)

Heather Van Mullem, Phd.
Associate Professor
Lewis-Clark State College (ID)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Arkansas Little Rock - Collaboration!

Last week, UALR was in Dallas to play SMU. Our head coach here at UD, Jarred Samples, is good friends with UALR DBO, Chris Lowry (bottom right picture). My good friend, Joe Golding (bottom left), is on the UALR staff as well. They needed a place to practice and we gladly offered our facility.

Being that SMU runs the Princeton offense and our first opponent, Southwestern, also runs Princeton, it was a perfect situation for Coach Samples and I to pick the brains of Steve Shields and Joe Kleine as well as our friends on how to stop it. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun to share ideas and hold a mini-clinic of sorts.

Obviously we were all on the same page when it came to not letting them beat us on backdoor layups. Coach Samples and I had talked about using the terminology "Gap it up". Essentially we wanted our players to clog up the gaps between the offensive players. I liked Coach Shields' terminology of "Loosen up". He wanted his players, especially on any screening action, to give the cutter's defender room to go under the screens.

Coach Kleine talked about playing "Below the line". Not just below the passing lane, but below the imaginary line that runs parallel with the baseline and midcourt line through the offensive player. Almost like being in a help position the entire possession: butt to baseline, seeing both ball and man. This gives the defender the advantage of already beating the cutter to the basket.

Coach Golding and I talked about ball pressure. Sure, we wanted our players to loosen up and get below the line, but only far enough where they could quickly apply tremendous pressure once their man caught the ball. We didn't want the ball handler to be able to see the entire floor and pick us apart. I teach our players the "Where the ball is, a hand is" in any on ball defensive situation. Coach Golding's terminology was "Get under him" as they wanted their players to get low and into the offensive player's body.

By loosening up and playing below the line, cutters are now forced to run through the defender. This alters their path and essentially jams up the continuity and timing. This is simply playing percentages. Both staffs were in agreement that we were not going to get beat on open layups. If they were going to beat us, it was going to be on contested perimeter jumpers.

Just for the record, we both won our first games. We only gave up 1 backdoor layup.

Another teaching point I took away from Coach Shields is jump stopping on screens. His players jump stop hard on all of their screens. He drills it where the players' almost drive the bottom of their feet through the floor and make a loud thud. Due to the fact we got called for a ton of illegal screens in our scrimmage, we instituted the jump stop screen. Our terminology is "Hear the feet". The cutter or ball handler can't come off the screen until they hear the screener's feet.

Ganon Baker - Notes from Frisco TX

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of observing Ganon Baker at work. Ganon is the most intense and energetic person I have ever been around. The Energizer Bunny has nothing on this guy! If you haven't seen him, either in one of his best-selling videos or in person, it is well worth it to say the least.

A good majority of Ganon's workout with the players was ball handling skills. Some of the things Ganon had these kids doing (most of them just attempting) were really innovative. The most impressive were the skills he was teaching with the use of tennis balls. The first was pounding the basketball, drop the tennis ball, and then punch through and catch the tennis ball. He showed the attending players how that is just like shooting your shoulders by a defender. The other impressive drill was players stood tall and extended the tennis ball high above their head. On the drop of the tennis ball, the players had to perform a pound dribble move (in-&-out, between the legs, etc.) while getting their shoulders lower than the bounce of the tennis ball, ultimately catching the tennis ball right before it touches the ground.

Here are some notes from Ganon's camp/clinic:

- 4 Ways to Finish Off Two Feet: 1) Jump Stop, 2) 1-2 Step, 3) Step Back, 4) LeBron Drag Step

- Get to the midline on penetration: More fouls called, Better chance of getting offensive rebound, Higher shooting percentage.

- When attacking in the paint, it's a high jump not a long jump. Up not out!

- It's a shoulders game. When attacking off the dribble, you must get your shoulders at or below the level of the defender.

- Player Ready = 10 fingers to the sky.

- Shooting teaching point: Hand to the sky, the ball will go high.

- Shooting teaching point: Freeze your followthrough!

- "The only way to change your life is to change your work ethic."

- Kill Boxes
Kobe Bryant calls the highlighted areas "Kill Boxes" because if he gets to any of these boxes, he's going to kill the defense.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's All In the Feet

Late last week, as I was making my drive to campus, traffic was really bad. Dallas traffic during morning commute time is already a mess and this day was worse than normal. I pulled up next to a guy on a fully loaded and tricked out Harley chopper.

This machine was a thing of beauty! The custom black paint job sparkled in the sunlight while the huge V-twin rumbled like an active volcano. It was truly a biker's bike.

The man riding the thunderous two-wheeled demon was clad in riding leathers. His jet black leather jacket was emblazoned with various rally patches and Harley logos. He donned a German army style helmet over a black bandanna covering his head. Fingerless leather gloves with metal studs on his hands as he gripped the handlebars. His legs were covered in leather riding chaps. All signs pointed to this man being one hardcore rider. A loner. A rebel. Free to ride wherever the road takes him.

There was one sign that totally dispelled any of those perceptions. The man was wearing fur-lined tan house slippers. It was clear to me at that point, this was just a normal "Joe" out for a trip to the grocery store and felt like taking the bike instead of the Clark W. Griswold Wagon Queen Family Truckster... or the soccer mom minivan.

It was such a striking reminder that in the game of basketball (and probably multiple sports) feet tell the story. Like film, feet don't lie. Feet can determine success or failure.

In regards to shooting, feet are first on the list for a successful shot. Being shot ready, or as Mike Krzyzewski calls it being "loaded up", the feet come first. Toes pointed to the basket. Shooting foot in front of the other foot in a toe/instep relation. Shoulder width apart. Building a balanced base in order to drive through the shot and land in the same place. Balanced in order to not drift or float.

Feet are the telling tale on defense. Again, balance is the key. A wide stance with one foot slightly in front of the other in a heel/toe relation. The feet should act as a boundary to the shoulders. When the shoulders stray outside of the feet in a lunging fashion, the player becomes off balance and slow. Toes point slightly outward allowing for the player to bend his knees and sit in a stance.

Feet also tell the story of preparedness. Flat feet says that player is slow, unprepared, and about to get beat. With heels slightly off the ground, light, and constantly moving shows that a player is prepared, attack ready, and has the ability to react quickly. Kevin Eastman would tell our players at Washington State, "Don't get ready to be ready." Players' feet will demonstrate whether they are ready or not. Coach Eastman has some great video on YouTube demonstrating proper foot readiness on offense.

Just like my weekend warrior friend in traffic, a player may dress the part with the newest gear, headbands, wristbands, etc., but his feet are going to tell you the truth. We must continue at all levels to teach in the fashion of Pete Newell. Footwork is the key to success!

John Wooden - 13 Important Principles

From the 1975 Medalist Notebook

1. Basketball is a game of habits, and it takes time and patience to develop proper habits and to break bad ones. One of the greatest faults of most beginning coaches is likely to be a lack of patience.

2. The coach and the players must never become satisfied, but must work constantly to improve. Have perfection as the goal though it can never be attained.

3. Remember that it is not so much what you do, but how well you do it. Do not give them too much.

4. Do not tie them down so rigidly that you take away their initiative. They must have some freedom of movement, but must react to the initiative of a teammate in order to keep floor balance.

5. Try to devise a balanced offense that provides each position with an equal number of scoring opportunities over the course of a number of games.

6. Do not overlook the little details as it is the little things that may make the difference.

7. You must prepare to win to be a winner, and you cannot prepare others without being prepared yourself.

8. Convince your players that condition is often the deciding factor when teams are evenly matched and properly prepared. However, if the better conditioned team is able to take advantage of their condition they must keep the pressure on early in the game in order for it to pay off in the later part.

9. Stress offense without the ball and defense before your man gets the ball.

10. Give public credit to your playmakers and defensive men at every opportunity.

11. The coach should do the criticizing, and it should always be constructive. Permit no players to criticize, razz, or ridicule a teammate in any respect.

12. Insist that the scorer acknowledge the passer whose pass led to his score and that all acknowledge any teammate who makes a nice play.

13. Be constantly analyzing yourself as well as your players and be governed by the result of your analysis.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hustle Board

This is an idea I picked up from notes that Kevin Eastman took from talking to Herb Sendek in the mid 90's. Herb used a small board in the locker room to keep track after every game of their leaders in various categories. They would post the Best Teammate (subjective), Best Assist/Turnover Ratio, Best Defender (subjective), Most Offensive Rebounds, Most Deflections (must have assistant coach or manager track during the game or by watching film), and Most Charges Taken (again, either during game or afterward on film).

When I got to Eastern Washington and worked under Ray Giacoletti, he had his dad (a marvelous woodwork craftsman) build him a similar leader board. We called it the Hustle Board. We only tracked 3 stats: Charges Taken, Assists, and Rebounds. The difference between Herb's version and Ray's version is that Ray wanted to track cumulatively over the course of the season as well.

In the picture, you'll notice that the right column is already labeled for the season. In that column, affix three nameplate brackets for each category. Some may wish to use Velcro, but I find that Velcro wears out rather quickly and doesn't look as sharp. Sliding nameplates looks classy. The left column is for the last game played. The top bracket is for the opponent, and only the top 2 for that game in each category makes the board.

I love this tool! It creates a sense of pride in doing the little things that actually have a tremendous impact on the outcome of the game. I posted the toughness essay assignment we did with our team, and this is one way we can hold the players accountable for what they wrote.

Principles & Laws of Learning

This post is one of those unexpected and unplanned joys. I was looking through some old notes trying to find some inspiration and creative ways to get my post player to stay in a defensive stance. Just like "mystery money", you know... that $5 bill you find in the pocket of your pants before you throw it in the washer, I was excited to find this brilliant piece from Fred Litzenberger.


1. We learn better when we are "ready to learn". Have an open mind. Have the "will or desire to learn". Recognize a problem and see the need to learn.

2. We learn better when the subject is presented: in small bitesize doses and in logical order.

3. We learn better when we: Go from simple to complex. Don't move on until it becomes a habit. Hear the same terminology every time.

4. We learn by doing - Learn technique first then add speed and quickness. First in practice. Then in game situations (Drills must be game-like). Mental learning helps physical learning - Understand the subject.

5. We can only develop skill through perfect practice. Perfect repetitions. Helps when you learn it right the first time. Fixes your learning.

6. We learn better and fast when: We have some success (Build success into all drills). We feel good about ourselves (Which comes from success). We feel we are learning something that will help us.

7. We retain our learning better when: It has time to "soak in" / it becomes habit. We can see some success.

8. You can evaluate progress (skills) when: Everyone is taught the same technique (With some allowance for individual ability). The teaching is in a logical progression.

John Wooden - Essential Traits and Abilities of a Coach

From the 1975 Medalist Notebook:

Essential Traits and Abilities For the Coach

1. Industriousness. Work as hard as the players.
2. Enthusiasm. Must be from the heart.
3. Sympathy. Must have feeling for youngsters and must be very considerate of their needs and feelings.
4. Judgment. Use common sense and discretion. Don't be emotional.
5. Self-control. Keep your poise.
6. Earnestness. Must be sincere and honest in every phase of your work.
7. Patience. Don't expect too much, too soon.
8. Attentiveness to Detail. Perfection of details can be difference between success and failure.
9. Impartiality. Give each player treatment he earns and deserves.
10. Integrity. A coach who is not sound and honest won't last long.

1. Affability. Must be friendly and cordial.
2. Appearance. Be clean and neat.
3. Voice. Speak clearly and firmly in order to hold attention.
4. Adaptability. Be flexible and able to adjust to the occasion.
5. Cooperativeness. Be a good co-worker with all.
6. Forcefulness. Be firm, but not "Bullheaded".
7. Accuracy. In judgment, technique, reactions, and choices.
8. Alertness. To weak and strong spots of your team and of the opponents.
9. Reliability. Be dependable.
10. Optimistic Disposition. Always think positively.
11. Resourcefulness. Use each individual as he is best suited.
12. Vision. Provide your team with a realistic incentive, a picture of the possible.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Excel Practice Plan Form

A request was made for an Excel file practice plan template that would calculate the actual time by simply entering the length of time to set the clock for. Ask and ye shall receive! I thought this was a fantastic idea and went to work on putting a working model together. With the help of my Excel guru, absolutely brilliant “numbers” man, and compadre, Mike Rohr, this came together. My head coach here at the University of Dallas, Jarred Samples, is using this form now and likes the time feature (although he is struggling with one unfortunate “glitch”).

I have 2 versions of this form. One for Windows 2007 and one for Windows 97-2003. When you go to these links, it will probably look crazy. I tested it and it still works. Once you download and save the file, it will look like the example below.

Some things you need to know about using this form:
- In the “Start Time” cell, you can enter the time either HH:MM or H:MM. You do not have to use military time, nor do you have to add AM or PM.
- Once you enter the Start Time, you will not have to edit the “Time” column down the left side of the form.
- Under the “Clock Set” column, you will need to enter the time H:MM. In other words, a 5 minute drill will be entered in that column as “0:05”. Once you have entered the Clock Set, the “Time” in the next row should automatically update.
- You are able to enter multiple lines of text in an individual cell under the “Drill” column. To do this, you need to hit the alt button and the enter button at the same time (This is the struggle for Coach Samples I mentioned earlier). In the example below, the first drill would be typed like this: “Individual Work (2 @ 7:30)” [alt+enter] ”-Ball Handling (JS)” [alt+enter] ”-Shooting (MG)”
- Once you enter the text, you can tab out of the cell and it will automatically adjust the height of the row.
- You may have rows that are not used at the bottom. The Time column will still print “#NAME?”. You can highlight the rows, right click on them, and click “Delete” to get rid of those rows.
- You cannot insert rows. The time function will not work if you insert rows. You can cut and paste.
- You cannot have blank cells in between Clock Set times.

If you have problems with this form, please feel free to contact me. I will do my best to provide some customer service (notice I didn’t say technical service, but I can get answers for you).

Excel Practice Schedule Example