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

John Wooden - On Doing Your best

The next in the continuing series from Coach Wooden in the 1975 Medalist Notebook.
A coach can only do his best. Nothing more. But he does owe that, not only to himself, but to the people who employ him and to the youngsters under his supervision. If you truly do your best, and only you will really know, then you are successful and the actual score is immaterial whether it was favorable or unfavorable. However, when you fail to do your best, you have failed, even though the score might have been to your liking.
This does not mean that you should not coach to win. You must teach your players to play to win and do everything in your power that is ethical and honest to win. I want to be able to feel and want my players sincerely to feel that doing the best that you are capable of doing is victory in itself and less than that is defeat.
I continually stress to my players that all I expect from them at practice and in the games is their best effort. They must be eager to become the very best that they are capable of becoming. I tell them that, although I want them to be pleased over victory and personal accomplishment, I want them to get the most satisfaction from knowing that both they and the team did their best. I hope that their actions or conduct following a game will not indicate victory or defeat.
Heads should always be high when you have done your best regardless of the score and there is no reason for being overly jubilant at victory or unduly depressed by defeat.

Three - Is A Magic Number

I'm not talking about the Schoolhouse Rock song. Although, just as an aside, it is a very catchy tune and there's a great cover version done by the band Blind Melon. Sorry. Moving on. Three is a powerful number, no question about that.

This past week, during practice, I talked with our players about the power of three. I mentioned how the US Marine Corps uses the power of three in their daily lives. I talked about how their communication will be much more effective if they employ echoing calls 3 times. The power of three can be just as effective for us as coaches.

We can really keep things simple for ourselves and our players. Take every aspect of the game and break it down into three teaching points for each. I found this to be a great exercise to edit out useless information and get to the bare-bones of my philosophy. If you haven’t done this before, or are a younger coach hell-bent on using every ounce of information you picked up from clinics this summer, you may find this task somewhat daunting. I had to write down anything and everything I wanted done and edit the list from there; whittling things down to the most important by crossing off the unnecessary and monotonous.

This task ultimately came in extremely handy recently. We hadn’t spent a lot of time on guarding the ball screen on the wing. Because we use the ball screen quite often, in a live 5-on-5 situation we got exposed on defense. So, to the Power of Three drawing board we go.

We told the defender guarding the screener that he had 3 responsibilities:

1) Communicate the screen (name & direction 3 times)
2) Make the ball handler take at least 1-2 dribbles toward half court
3) Trust the help on the roll

The on-ball defender has 3 responsibilities:
1) Do not let the screener get into your body
2) Get the top foot and hip above the screeners
3) beat the dribbler to the spot going underneath the hedge

Ever since, we have done a terrific job of defending the ball screen on the wing. Players a less confused and their roles are clearly defined. Now that they understand the basic concepts, we can begin to tweek the details into sub-groupings of three.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

John Wooden - 5 Basic Principles

From the 1975 Medalist Notebook:

There are many important principles that must be considered when attempting to teach the game of basketball to a group of young men and develop them into a smooth functioning combination. I am making a select group of the five things that make up the cornerstones and the heart of the Pyramid of Success, a mythical structure devised to help consolidate my own thinking.

Industriousness. There is no substitute for work. You and your players must work hard, as all worthwhile objectives are attained only through careful planning and hard work. Perfection can never be attained, but it must be the goal and must be sought by determined effort.

Enthusiasm. You and your players must be enthusiastic about basketball.

Condition - Mental, Moral, and Physical. The mental and moral conditions of your players are of extreme importance because they will determine the physical condition if the players are industrious and enthusiastic. A player that is not mentally and morally sound will never be able to become well conditioned, because he tears down rather than builds.

The mental and moral example set by the coach can have a strong influence on the type of ball players he produces, and, of even greater importance, on the character of the young men who later leave his guidance and begin to lead others.

Fundamentals. Through teaching of the coach the players must acquire a thorough knowledge of and the ability to properly execute the fundamentals of the game. They must be taught to react properly, instantly without having to stop or hesitate and think about what to do. In basketball there is no question about the truth of the statement, "He who hesitates is lost." The entire foundation for sound play is the quick execution of the basic fundamentals.

Development of Team Spirit. The coach must use every bit of psychology at his command and use every available method to develop a fine team spirit on his squad. Teamwork and unselfishness must be encouraged at every opportunity, and each player must be eager, not just willing, to sacrifice personal glory for the welfare of the team.


Considering I now live in The Big D, I figured this picture was fitting. I apologize to any Yankees fans in advance (yes, I know this is against the White Sox). Keep in mind I'm a Mariners fan through thick and thin, so I don't give a rip about the MLB playoffs.

Before this gets too far out of hand, I need to get back on topic.

For the past couple of seasons, I've had my teams write a short 1-2 page essay on toughness. The assignment is to define toughness, give an example of it, tell how you are going to be tough, and paint a picture of a tough player and/or team.

When reading the essays, we look for common themes and quotes that are meaningful. We then share those quotes with the team, even making posters and banners to hang in the lockerroom. It is rewarding to the player(s) to see their own words on display as a reminder to be tough. You will see who really puts thought into it and believes in what they are writing. Some players even incorporate quotes from professional players or coaches. One of our players this year even suggested searching YouTube videos to show the rest of the team. It really exposes who is passionate and who could care less (another player this year complained about midterms, practice and having a birthday dinner in the same week... basically looking for sympathy for poor time-management. He better continue looking).

The really brilliant part of this exercise is that the players determine the season expectations without even knowing they have done so. When we share the quotes, we tell the team, "These are YOUR ideas. We, as a staff, did not come up with it. Now that we know how important being tough is to you and what it looks like in your mind, these will be the expectations for you throughout the season." (**The players that could care less usually have a deadpan look at this point wishing they had written something else.)

Here are the quotes that we chose from our players' essays this year:

- Toughness is a mindset. I sure as hell won’t back down from any challenge.

- The single most important aspect of toughness is the ability to push your body to perform at a high level in spite of pain.

- Toughness is doing the little things well, and recognizing that those little things are what will change the game.

- Toughness centers on three things: attention to detail, playing with a sense of urgency, and being the best teammate you can be.

- I can never lack the heart to keep fighting.

- How you respond defines you and how tough you really are.

- Toughness is not showing weakness when it is really easy to do so.

- A tough player does not care about stats or minutes, but rather about the team fulfilling its potential and succeeding.

- A tough team will not play to any standard less than their full potential.

- The tough team plays as if it is one person.

- Tough players give their team the best chance to win.

- Toughness is to be unselfish and do anything in order to be successful.

- Every little thing a player does that goes unnoticed by spectators but is expected by coaches and teammates; that is toughness.

- Toughness is, no matter what their role is, perfecting that role to the very best of their ability.

- The biggest thing a tough player needs is heart!

- Tough players don’t complain, make excuses, or point fingers. They find a way to get it done!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

John Wooden - Practice

From the 1975 Medalist Notebook:

I believe in insisting on punctuality and proper dress for practice, meetings, and on all occasions where specific times are involved. I want my players to practice with their shirt tails in, their socks pulled up and neat, clean appearance. Will that make them better basketball players? Some don't think so, but I do.

If they can discipline themselves in this regard, they surely can do the same when we get down to the fundamentals of basketball.

When you stop to make corrections, insist on strict attention. When I blow the whistle at the beginning of practice, I want the balls rolled to a designated area, and no more dribbling or shooting. I don't want to have to yell at them. I want them ready to listen attentively. I want their strict attention. They shouldn't have to be corrected for something that I just corrected for someone else. Have patience. Praise as well as censure. I never fail, if I have to be critical of a boy, to end with a compliment. Encourage teamwork and unselfishness at every opportunity.

Daily practice plans are very important. I could tell you what we have done at UCLA during each day of practice in all the days I've been there. I could look up any practice session and see what we did on that day, and also see my notations. I learn from these plans. As a coach, I must change and grow, if I expect my players to improve. I can improve with the help of these plans.

The coach should be on the floor early before the boys. The fans should not interrupt you or your players during practice. You are there to teach your boys, even during the individual practice.

Organized practice, generally speaking, will be started with warm-up drills. We'll have running drills, easy at first, then change of pace, change of direction, defensive sliding, one-on-one, jumping, hopping, jumping for height, quickness, distance, and then 5 push-ups every day.

End your practice with organized team drills. Vary the drills from day to day to prevent the monotony. Plan and organize your drills very carefully as to the number participating in the drill in order to get the best results. Explain the purpose of each drill initially, and then supply the little details. Don't continue the drill too long. Change around.

I believe in more drills of shorter duration and being very careful on how we have them spaced. Follow difficult drills (physically or mentally) with easy ones, and vice versa. Use many competitive drills, especially in shooting. Imitate game conditions as much as possible. After the boys have warmed-up, give them new material - to the entire group on the board one day, and then go through it on the next day. Never work n anything the first day, just show it to them.

Even though one drill is emphasizing a specific fundamental, do not neglect the other fundamentals. Stress offense and defense on alternate days, but don't forget that you must be working on both every day. Offense and defense are of equal importance but because of the ball, it takes more time to teach offense. This longer time doesn't mean that offense is more important.

I believe that you should close each day's practice on an optimistic, good note. Never punish your boys at the end of practice. I may run my boys at the end of practice early in the season, but they know that I'm doing it for conditioning. Since you never run long distances in a game, we always work on short sprints. We run as hard as we can to mid-court, and then trot back to the baseline, and then repeat this over and over.

Never get mad at your boys and keep them longer or run them for punishment. You won't build this way and it will leave a bad taste for both you and the boys. You may have a boy who needs chastising in a certain way, but take him aside to do it. But don't punish him at the end of practice with physical punishment.

Expect and get cooperation from your boys. They should be trained to take care of the equipment.

Check the locker room every night. I want the locker room just as clean when we leave as when we came in. If our team played at your school, I don't want you to find any tape or mess in the dressing room we used. Everything should be picked up and the managers can't do it all. I'll do it, if necessary. The players will follow my lead in this matter. I also inspect their lockers regularly.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Practice Plans

Basketball season is upon us! Friday kicks off the 2010-11 season for college basketball teams all over the country. If you coach high school ball, I am sorry to get you worked up and excited but your time is right around the corner. I challenge you to think about how you organize your practices. There are so many great ways to accomplish outstanding practices. Here are just a few ideas that you may want to implement into your practices.

Listening to Fran Fraschilla this summer at Coaching U, he talked about practice being sacred. The questions in preparing practices you need to ask yourself are, "What do you stand for? Do your players know?" You should prepare practice like your mentors (he used Bill Parcells and Hubie Brown) were coming to watch. Fran also recommended making a list of Clips in order to organize what you want to accomplish. Each Clip is a portion of time, for example clip 1 could be from the first day of practice until your first scrimmage and clip 2 is from the first scrimmage to your first game. Under each clip, you list the things you wish to have completed offensively, defensively, and special situations. It is a fantastic organization tool and measuring stick for where you are and where you wanted to be.

Rick Pitino organizes his practices into eight 15 minute segments. 1 = Warm-up, 2 = Fast Break, 3 = 1/2 Court Defense, 4 = 1/2 Court Offense, 5 & 6 = Press Defense, 7 = Scrimmage, and 8 = Specials and Zone work. In order to provide organization and variety to practices, he lists numerous drills (similar to Fran's clips) that can be utilized in each segment.

When I worked for Ray Giacoletti, he planned practices to be 1/2 defense, with a break, and the other 1/2 offense. The following day, we would flip the order, going offense first and defense second. The break was not only a rest opportunity for the players, but a mental transition. They knew that it was time to shift gears in terms of emphasis. After the break, Ray liked to use shooting competitions to get the competitive juices flowing again.

Tom Oswald had what I consider to be the best practice plan sheets of anyone. He would type them up every day which made them legible and easily read. On the back side he listed the date, the practice #, the emphasis of the day (for example: defensive stance), the thought of the day (usually a motivation quote or a mental focusing point), a list of what players were in what color that day, a list of our MASH unit (guys with injuries), and notes about upcoming events (practices, study hall, community service, etc.). This was also posted in the locker room every day for the players. The front side was an extremely meticulous and detailed practice plan with a column for how much time each segment was and a column with a detailed description of the drill or activity.

One idea I would add to Tom's practice plan would be some blank court diagrams. How many times in practice do you have an idea and want to scribble it down for later? I know I do frequently and this is a great way to make it easier... and in my case much more readable.

Would love to hear more ideas in regards to practice plans. Please comment and discuss!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Things You Did Not Learn in School - From Don Meyer

My wife just started her first year as a full-time teacher this school year. She is teaching 6th grade at a local middle school. One of the school policies is that students are allowed to turn in assignments late and still earn full credit. There is also a re-test policy that students can improve any major test grade. What is that actually teaching these young people?

I have had players that have a tremendous sense of entitlement. These players have it in their head that they deserve special treatment or playing time and the like. It is my belief that they have been enabled by people of influence, be it coaches, parents, or in the case of my wife's students, their schools.

So digging through some old coaching notes, I found a great handout from Coach Meyer that speaks to this. I will be posting this in every single one of the University of Dallas men's basketball player's lockers:

To the High School/College Graduate:
Things You Did Not Learn in School

1. Life is not fair - get used to it.
2. The world won't care about your self esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself.
3. You will not make $100,000 a year right out of school. You won't be a vice-president with a company car until you earn both.
4. If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss. He doesn't have tenure.
5. Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping - They called it opportunity.
6. If you screw up, it is not your parents' fault so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.
7. Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way paying your bills, cleaning your room, and listening to you tell them how idealistic you are - so before you save the rain forest from the blood-sucking parasites of your parents' generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.
8. Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life has not. In some schools they have abolished failing grades. They will give you as many times as you want to get the right answer. This, of course, bears not the slightest resemblance to anything in real life.
9. Life is not divided into semesters, you don't get summers off, and very few employers are interested in helping you find yourself. Do that on your own time.
10. Television is not real life. In real life, people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go get jobs.
11. Be nice to nerds. Chances are you will end up working for nerds.
12. Smoking does not make you look cool; it makes you look moronic. And ditto for purple hair, pierced body parts, and tattoos.
13. Living fast and dying young is romantic, only until you see one of your friends at room temperature.
14. Get up when you fall down.

John Wooden - The Coach As A Teacher

The continuing series of Coach Wooden's contribution to the 1975 Medalist Notebook:

The Coach As A Teacher

Since the most important responsibility of a coach in regard to the actual playing of the game is to teach his players properly and effectively to execute the various fundamentals of the game, he is, first of all, a teacher.

As a matter of fact, it is unlikely that a teacher of any subject finds it necessary to follow the laws of learning as closely and specifically as it is for the teacher of fundamentals of basketball. A fundamental must be explained and demonstrated. The correct demonstration must be imitated by the players. Their demonstration must be constructively criticized and corrected, and then the players must repeat and repeat the execution of the proper model until the correct habit has been formed to the point where they will react instinctively in the correct manner.

The coach must continuously be exploring for ways to improve himself in order that he may improve others. A wise motto might be, "Others, too, have brains."

Ten criteria applicable to coaching:
1. Knowledge of your subject.
2. General knowledge.
3. Teaching skill.
4. Professional attitude.
5. Discipline.
6. Classroom (floor) organization.
7. School and community relations.
8. Teacher-pupil (coach-player) relationship.
9. Warm personality and genuine consideration for others.
10. Desire to improve.

Mental Plans

As a kid, for five straight summers starting at age 13 I went to basketball camp at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. After graduating from high school, I became a counselor and later a coach at the camp for a grand total of 14 summers. The head coach at the time was Bruce Haroldson and each of those 14 summers he had us watch a basketball video done by Bob Knight. In the video, Coach Knight says, "The mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1... Let me say that again. The mental is to the physical as 4 is to 1." I am not a big gambler (the NCAA doesn't allow me in the first place), but I would bet dollars to pennies that most of you coaches would agree with Coach Knight's statement. So how many coaches teach mental training?

This past summer I was blessed to work Coaching U Live where internationally known writer/speaker on sport psychology, Spencer Wood, was a featured speaker. Spencer spoke to this quandary of coaches focusing only on physical training, yet they know that Coach Knight's statement is true. I have also been blessed to have been mentored by Dr. Jon Hammermeister at Eastern Washington University, who also serves as a sport psychologist for the US Olympic Ski Team. He echoes the tremendous benefits of mental training and how it can give your athletes that added edge.

The following are notes taken from Dr. Hammermeister on developing a system of mental plans aimed at athletes:


Develop a list of problem situations (e.g. individual, opponents, teammates, coaches) and strategies to deal with them effectively or to avoid problems that prevent you from performing at your best or maintaining Ideal Psychological State (ISP) in practice and competition.

Pre-Practice/Pre-Competitive Readiness Plans:
-Physical Warm-up
-Psychological warm-up (to get to IPS)
-Start prep-physical
-Start prep-psychological

Psychological Warm-Up:
1. Positive realistic self-talk
2. Imagery
3. Preparation routine
4. Arousal control
5. Goal-setting/adjustment

Practice and Competitive Focus plans:
1. Mastery component - Absolute perfect scenario
2. Coping component - What are you going to do when you go in the tank?

Why Develop Mental Plans?

1. Strengthen feeling of being prepared to solidify confidence
2. Avoid intrusion of self-defeating thoughts
3. Develop desirable pre-event "feeling state" --Activation level and focus

1. Event focus
2. Event refocus
3. Extending limits

Implementing Mental Plans:
1. Write out mental plans in as much detail as possible.
2. use imagery to rehearse using your mental plan in competition.
3. Use mental plan in low-stress competition.
4. Evaluate effectiveness of mental plan before and during competition.
*Keep process goals in mind and successfully achieve them.
**Positive and motivated feeling state -- where you perform the best, not where you necessarily feel the best.
-Highly confident
-Mentally calm
-Self-talk positive and limited
-Mind on automatic pilot
-No distractions
5. Refine mental plan based on your evaluation.
6. Continue implementing mental plans, evaluating and refining plans until satisfied.

Practice Focus Plan
How can I accomplish my goals?
- What do I have to do?
- What are the roadblocks to prevent me from reaching those goals? How can i overcome them?

**Mastery Component - When everything is going perfectly, this is how it will go to plan.

**Coping Component - When not everything is going well, how do I deal? What is my plan for how things will go? Am I prepared to stay focused?

Competition Focus Plan
**Mastery Situations - Plan for how to stay focused
-Beginning to end of first half
-Beginning of second half to the end of the game
-Score or run

**Coping Situations - Plan for preventing need to refocus
-Called foul or violation
-Poor officiating