Monday, November 21, 2011

5 Traits of a TEAM Player

Over the course of the past 4 weeks, I have been delivering the Positive Coaching Alliance message of becoming a Triple-Impact Competitor to Dallas ISD middle school athletes. We consider someone to be a Triple-Impact Competitor when they make themselves better, their teammates better, and the game as a whole better. Here are five traits that players can possess to make them better teammates, and int turn, make their teammates better.

1. Tenacity - A true team player has a "never-say-die" attitude. There is no quit in them; it just isn't an option in their mind. Nor should it ever be a fleeting thought in the mind of those around him. Team players continue to battle, giving every ounce of energy, until the final buzzer no matter what the scoreboard reads.

2. Selflessness - A true team player is willing to sacrifice for the greater good. This may be taking on a different role, such as coming off the bench instead of starting. It could be stepping up on defense instead of concentrating on scoring. No matter the situation, a team player is willing to do whatever it takes for the betterment of the team and set aside any personal agenda.

3. Tremendous Work Ethic - We have heard this called a "Blue Collar" player or a guy that "brings his lunch pail every day." A true team player simply puts his mind, heart, and soul completely into every possession once he crosses the lines. He never complains and just does his job. He also asks what else he can do to help the team in addition to his job.

4. Tank Filling - A true team player knows that his team is family. He understands that infighting and bickering is cancerous and will ultimately destroy the family. He works hard to maintain a 5:1 positive to criticism ratio. He is the first to run to a teammate that just dove for a loose ball or taken a charge. He shows his appreciation for great effort and lifts his teammates up when the chips are down.

5. Ownership - True team players are completely invested in the team. He understands that he is a small part of something greater than himself. He gives himself completely to making the team successful. He owns up to his mistakes using his mistake ritual. When problems arise, he works for a solution; not pile it on and continue to be part of the problem.

Shake It Off and Step Up

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for ...hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up!

You have two choices in the face of adversity:
1. Shake it off and take a step up
2. Be a jackass crying and whining about it and get buried.

The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him. The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Del Harris and Monte Mathis added to Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop

The speaking lineup is now complete with a little NBA flavor! Legendary former NBA head coach, Del Harris, and current assistant with the NBA World Champion Dallas Mavericks, Monte Mathis, will be sharing their extensive basketball knowledge on October 1st.

Coach Harris has been the head coach with the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Los Angeles Lakers. In addition to those clubs, Coach Harris has been an assistant with the New Jersey Nets, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, and the Utah Stars (ABA). A seasoned veteran of the international game, Coach Harris has aided national teams from USA, China, Canada, and recently competed in FIBA Americas coaching the Dominican Republic team with John Calipari. He has been inducted into both the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame.

Coach Mathis just earned an NBA Championship ring this past season. He assisted Rick Carlisle in earning the Mavericks their first ever World Championship. Coach Mathis was a two-sport athlete at the University of Toledo, playing both basketball and baseball. Following his professional baseball career, Coach Mathis coached at the collegiate level. His assistant coaching stops include Xavier, Ohio State, South Alabama, McNeese State, and Toledo. Coach Mathis has been a member of the Dallas Mavericks staff for the past 5 years.

I am VERY excited to hear and learn from these two fantastic basketball minds!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

2011 Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop

Matt Grahn Basketball is proud to announce the inaugural Dallas Basketball Coaching Workshop at The University of Dallas Saturday and Sunday October 1st, 2011.

My hope is to get you excited about the upcoming season ahead and take advantage of the opportunity to hear from some successful coaches. I want to create an environment of true learning and give you tools that you can implement into your own programs. Please pass the word to make this a HUGE success for all parties and something we can make an annual event!!!

Currently scheduled to present:

Del Harris, Former NBA Head Coach - 13 years NBA head coach. Veteran of international competition with USA, China, Canada, and Dominican Republic. Member of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame.

Monte Mathis, Assistant Coach with the Dallas Mavericks - 2011 World Champions. Former collegiate assistant coach at Xavier, Ohio State, South Alabama, McNeese State and Toledo.

Scott Cross
, Head Coach at UT-Arlington - 2008 Southland Conference Champions

Jim Boone, Head Coach at West Virginia WesleyanCollege - More than 400 career victories and 2 Final Fours in 24 years

Jarred Samples, Head Coach at University of Dallas - Ranks 3rd in all time wins at University of Dallas

Terry Waldrop, Head Coach at Texas Wesleyan University - 2006 NAIA National Champions and 4-time Red River Conference Champions

Matt Grahn, Assistant Coach at University of Dallas - 16 years college coaching experience. 2 years at the high school level.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Thoughts From Jay Bilas

Last week I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Jay Bilas at Coaching U Live in Orlando. One of my jobs working Coaching U was to pick up the speakers for the event from the airport. I am so thankful for my half-hour trips in the rental car with Jay. He is a wonderfully witty and intelligent man. It was a great opportunity for me to learn from a brilliant mind. Say what you will, as Jay is a polarizing personality - you either love him or hate him - just read his tweets, I was duly impressed with his knowledge and passion for the game of basketball.

The first story he shared with me on the way from the airport to the University of Central Florida campus was about the man that was sitting next to him on the plane (he also shared this with those that attended Coaching U, so I apologize to those that have heard this already). The man was a NASA employee traveling to Orlando to watch the last Space Shuttle landing. In the conversation, the man stated that he was in charge of thousands of NASA employees, all with various and different duties, to get a rocket launched into space. With the interest in space exploration waning, the man stated it has been difficult to fight a downward spiral in morale. Thus creating a need from the employees to feel needed, wanted, and that their job was important.

To combat this, the man instituted an approach of total concentration on the overall mission. The Space Shuttle wouldn't have the ability to get off the ground without the millions of tiny parts. Each part plays an important role in the success of the entire project. The phrase that was instituted into the NASA culture was, "Be responsible to the element; accountable to the mission." A very powerful approach!

We as coaches have players with various and a wide array of skills and abilities. We talk about "role players" (a term I don't like as EVERY player is a role player, they just play different roles) and how we can incorporate them into the team fold and get them to "buy in". I think we can also all reflect on times when we have had to fight our teams' low morale at times. This was a fantastic lesson in teamwork and a frame of mind that we need to pass on to our players. EVERY piece is important to the overall success of the team.

Jay also shared with me a story he didn't incorporate into his presentation. He is a big fan of Inside the Actors Studio. Jay was watching an episode where the guest star was asked by a student at the Actors Studio school, "If I want to be an actor, should I live in New York or LA?" The guest then asked in return, "Let me ask you this: Do you want to be an actor or a famous actor?" Jay said the guest went on to explain that you can act anywhere; there are opportunities in just about any community. It doesn't matter the venue, you still have to be well versed and study your craft.

I think the lesson is obvious and has a direct correlation to our profession. Do you want to coach? Are you in the profession to help people? To make them better? OR are you in it for fame, fortune and glory? If you truly want to coach, there are a lot of opportunities that aren't seen on ESPN. Don't tell me that Don Meyer isn't a great coach just because his teams weren't on CBS every Saturday.

This is not to say that all the coaches we regularly see on TV or in the news are in it for the wrong reasons: themselves. There were plenty of NBA coaches scribbling notes at Coaching U just as fast and furious as the high school coaches in attendance. The point is that if we put the goal of fame before the goal of making others better, there is something fundamentally wrong and we really haven't done our job. Conversely, if we put the betterment of ourselves, our players, and the game as a whole first, we have ultimately met what I believe is our job description. And who knows? The opportunity may present itself to play our games on TV... if that's what you're in to.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Athlete's Pledge

Last month, while on vacation in Maui, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and observing Master Paul Main, owner and founder of Ohana Martial Arts in Kahului. Master Main is extremely decorated as a martial artist (I won't even begin to list the numerous belts he owns... would be a VERY long post) and he is also the #1 ranked 50-and-over International Martial Arts Council point fighting champion. To put it lightly and in lay terms, this guy is one badass!

What impressed me the most is Master Main's teaching and coaching abilities. He has been awarded the IMAC Coach of the Year in 2006 and Ohana Martial Arts was named School of the Year in 2006 as well. He has mentored over 80 World Champions in just 7 years of participating in IMAC competitions.

When I asked Master Main what his secret of success was, he replied, "Eliminate laziness, ignorance, and negativity." One of the tools used to accomplish this at Ohana Martial Arts is with the pledge the students say before every training session. It is a powerful tool to focus the students for the day's lessons but also provides a form of goal-oriented affirmation. It is brilliant!

Here is Master Main's pledge:
I will always develop myself in a positive manner,
and obey the tenants of Tae Kwon Do:
Self Control,
Indomitable Spirit.
We are a black belt school.
We are dedicated.
We are motivated.
We are on a quest to be our best!

When I heard this, it reminded me of The Prayer of the Sportsman, written by Berton Brayley and used by Knute Rockne:
Dear Lord, in the battle that goes on through life,
I ask but a field that is fair,
A chance that is equal with all in the strife,
A courage to strive and to dare:
And if I should win, let it be by the code
With my faith and my honor held high;
And if I should lose, let me stand by the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

And Lord, may my shouts be ungrudging and clear,
A tribute that comes from the heart,
And let me not cherish a snarl or a sneer
Or play any sniveling part;
Let me take off my hat to the warriors who strode
To victory splendid and high;
Yes, teach me to stand by the side of the road
And cheer as the winners go by.

For those of you who are Nebraska Football fans, you'll recognize some of the prayer above! The modified version Nebraska uses today is:
Dear Lord, In the battles we go through in life,
We ask for a chance that's fair.
A chance to equal all our stripes.
A chance to do or dare.

If we should win,
Let it be by the code:
With faith and honor held high.

And if we should lose,
Let us stand by the road
and cheer as the winners go by.

Day by day!!
We get better and better!!
A team that can't be beat!!
Won't be beat!!!

These are ideas that you can incorporate into your own teams. This is a fantastic way to set a positive tone and mindset for your athletes while reaffirming goals. It brings focus and attention to the task at hand in a productive manner.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Managers - The lifeblood of the program

A few days ago, Jesse McLean at King's University in Edmonton asked me about job descriptions and/or guidelines for managers. Having started out in college basketball as a manager for Kelvin Sampson at Washington State, I was more than happy to assist!

Before I get into the meat of this post, let me just say that being a manager is a great start for young guys wanting to coach. It presents a tremendous learning opportunity to learn, grow, and observe. Lawrence Frank is probably the most high-profile former manager, having served in that capactity for Bob Knight at Indiana. My friend, Steve Finamore head coach at East Lansing High School, wrote a great piece about being a student manager and breaking into "the business".

That being said, on to the actual request from Coach McLean. Here is the job description for our managers that I created when I was at McNeese State:

Before your job is outlined, there are two things you must know about our program and your place in it. First, the job you have is vital to the success of our basketball program. Many of your duties will take place behind the scenes and many will go unnoticed, however, you must understand that they are necessary for the smooth operation of our activities. No detail is too small. It is critical that you understand your importance to the program and you take pride in your job; doing it to the best of your abilities. The second thing you must know is that everyone who is a part of the day to day running of our program is a member of our family. You will be given the same rights, privileges and responsibilities as the coaches and players, so behave accordingly.

Like any family, there will be fun times and not-so-fun times but at all times we must remember we are a family. Things that occur at practice or in the privacy of a meeting or the locker room remain within the family. In doing this, you as a student manager, will be treated like a member of the family. you will be included in every aspect of our program, both on and off the court as well as socially.

Your success as a student manager will depend on four keys:

1. ACADEMICS - First and foremost you are a STUDENT manager. Academics are your first responsibility. Basketball comes second. This means that we expect you to manage your time and schedule in such a way as to effectively complete both responsibilities on a daily basis.

2. EFFORT/HUSTLE - Your success in this role will be directly related to your effort. Be early to everything you are required to be at. Hustle and work hard to get jobs done as quickly as possible. Run, don't walk. This is especially critical during practices and games. Unfortunately, your tasks may only be noticed if they are not done at the proper time or if they are not done to the best of your ability.

3. PUBLIC RELATIONS - Every member of our program is expected to be aware of their image within the community. We want to project a positive, success-oriented, hard working image to anyone who visits or comes to a game. This includes your speech, dress, appearance, mannerisms and vocabulary. Put your best foot forward in relating to the public.

4. WORKING RELATIONSHIPS - Develop positive relationships with all coaches, players, trainers, equipment managers as well as SID's, other sport coaches, other team managers, opponent's staff, etc. Behave, dress, and speak in a professional manner at all times. Your relationship with these people are public relations within our own athletic department.

The following are some general guidelines to follow. Remember that you can never be over-prepared and nothing is worse than being under-prepared. Your duties include, but are not limited to:

1. Keep equipment clean and organized
2. Know practice and travel schedules
3. Keep locker room and meeting room clean
4. Maintain accurate inventory of equipment

1. Issue equipment - Practice gear, shoes, socks, etc.
2. Be at the facility one hour before practice
3. Prepare all practice areas:
a. Clock
b. Balls
c. Clean/sweep the floor
d. Check and replace nets if needed
e. Towels - Each manager, under each basket, and at scorers table
f. Trash cans at each end of the floor
g. Appropriate charts, forms, pens/pencils
h. Jump ropes
4. Coordinate all equipment for practice (ropes, cones, heavy balls, big ball, etc.)
5. Have practice plan and prepare ahead for the next segment
6. Keep appropriate stats
7. Assist with drills (passer, defender, etc.) when necessary
8. Maintain a safe environment
9. Be ready to change directions at a moments notice
***Once the players begin to take the court, remember this is not time for you to shoot around. Be available to rebound and assist with players.

1. Be readily available an hour and a half before game and throughout the game
2. Have locker room open immediately on arrival
3. Issue equipment - Uniforms, warm ups, etc.
4. Check with and assist in game management set up
5. Take assigned stats
6. Assist with bench management and time-outs during the game
a. Pick up warm ups
b. Water for players exiting the game and during time-outs
c. Towels for players exiting the game and during time-outs
7. Collect, count, and inventory equipment after game

1. Pack and bring all equipment
2. Bring back up equipment
3. Arrange laundry
4. Keep players on schedule and assist with hotel monitoring
5. Know the itinerary

1. Set up and operate
2. Test camera/recording device(s) early
3. Constantly check for malfunctions
4. Bring extra tapes, DVD's, cords, etc.

1. Check in with assistant coaches during the day
2. Maintain open communication with assistant coaches

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Power of Persuasion

I came across this courtesy the good folks at Success Magazine. While I don't necessarily like the word "persuasion" when it comes to coaching, the fact of the matter is that coaching is leadership, leadership is influence, and a form of influence is persuasion. The following excerpt from Tony Jeary is applicable to coaching... and especially for those of you in the collegiate ranks, towards recruiting.

"Persuasion is the cornerstone of great execution," says Tony Jeary, productivity coach and author of Strategic Acceleration: Succeed at the Speed of Life. The most successful people effectively persuade others to take action on their behalf by using three principles, Jeary says.

1. Communicate at the belief level. "Communicating at the level of belief involves a heavy dose of why constantly being explained. 'Why' is communicated by explaining value and purpose of what you are presenting," Jeary says. "If you believe in your vision, others will as well."

2. Set a powerful example by your own behavior. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "What you do speaks so loud I cannot hear what you say." Only 7 percent of communication and persuasion is oral. The other 93 percent is the result of what people see and sense, based on tone and other nonverbal clues, Jeary says. "If you want to persuade others, exceed expectations yourself. Nothing persuades more effectively than a leader who sets the right example for his team, children and colleagues to follow."

3. Demonstrate confidence in what you say and do. "The ability to present yourself, your requests and your vision with confidence is another important nonverbal piece of the persuasion formula," Jeary says. "Don't be tempted to give a less assertive opinion for the purpose of not appearing arrogant. When you say things like, 'You probably know more about this than I do,' you are unwittingly sabotaging your own perceived confidence. Know what you want to say and how you want to say it."

Monday, June 6, 2011

Frank Martin Clinic Notes

Like his coaching style or not, Frank Martin is a very intelligent basketball mind. I was impressed with his down-to-earth demeanor and more impressed with his defensive philosophy. A lot of what he teaches "makes sense", as he put it frequently, with me. The following are some of the notes from his clinic talk at the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches convention in San Antonio.

- Don't cheat your kids. It's the reason you coach. Someone kicked your ass into doing it right. Don't allow your kids to slide.

- If you allow [your opponent] to set up, play, and establish their identity, they'll beat you.

- Defense starts with pressure offense. Run every time. We're going to put you on your heels

- Re: Pressure Defense, "I believe in making [our opponents] throw long passes."

- Re: Communication, "If you care about winning, you talk to your teammates!"

- Teams now are either going to shoot 3's. If they dribble drive, it's going to be a dunk. There is no in-between game anymore." - Prepare accordingly.

- Re: Halfcourt Defense, Teams don't get easy baskets against set defenses that are back and ready to guard.

- Re: Wing Denial Backdoor Cuts, On-ball defender responsible for the lob (ball pressure will eliminate easy look as well as make the pass longer, higher, slower). 1 pass away (deny position) is responsible for taking away the bounce pass.

- Passes go over or under the defense; never THROUGH the defense. Create long passes.

- Opponents never catch the ball facing the basket. Defender should apply so much pressure that they always catch with back to the bucket.

- Teaching point: On ball defense - "Crawl up in him." [I like this terminology. Creates an image of a low stance]

- Teaching point: On ball defense - "Crack of your ass to the glass." Nose on top hip.

- Basic philosophy: No layups. No 3's. Hard 2's.

- Put tennis balls in the hands of the defenders, especially in 1-on-1 drills. Keeps hands off the offense and eliminates hand checking.

- "We don't accept being screened."

- Teaching point: 1 pass away - "Shrink the gap." On the line, up the line.

- When a dribble drive occurs, we don't teach the 1-pass-away to open up and turn his back to the offense. We teach our guys to plug the gap with their butt. This allows our guys to see their man the whole time and makes for quicker close outs.

"Your job is to not let [your players] accept who they are. You job is to make them better than they were."

Monday, May 23, 2011

New Partnership - JM Athletic!

I am very excited to announce a new partnership with JM Athletic! In addition to the great folks at Baden, JM Athletic has become the new Official Uniform Supplier of Matt Grahn's Basketball Coaching Workshop.

JM Athletic was established by my good friend, and fellow Eastern Washington University alum, Justin Miller. Justin is extremely passionate about not only the game of basketball, but basketball uniforms. All of the JM Athletic uniforms are completely custom built just for your team. They will do a free mock-up of your design and present it to you for your approval. All lettering and logo work is done tackle twill and embroidered for a strong, durable, and crisp look that will last. Uniforms can be customized in any way you wish your team to look.

If you are in the market for game uniforms, shooting shirts, warm ups, tear away pants, and anything in between, JM Athletic is the way to go!

If you are interested in more information on JM Athletic basketball uniforms, you don't have to look any farther. You can actually work through me! Please feel free to contact me at I would be more than happy to assist you in your uniform needs.

Passing and Conditioning - Argentine National Team Passing Drill

All players are partnered with another player across from them. So in this case the numbers are partnered with the X-numbers. The two balls in the drill must travel in the same direction. Once the ball is passed, the players must sprint to change places with their partner.

This drill can also be done in a full court situation:

Once your players know this drill, they will sprint to the half court positions! You can assign where your guys go and change it up every time.

A Leader's "To-Do" List - John C. Maxwell

From Success Magazine:

John C. Maxwell's 8 Things on Every Leader's To-Do List

1. Find your own personal strength zone.

A successful leader is a person who knows what they do well and does it, but they also know what their people know well and help them practice it.

2. Help others find their strength zone.
What is their special ability? You can't make others good at something you are bad at. You can only increase a person's giftedness by helping them answer important questions of themselves. What is their temperament? What is their passion? What choices are they making in their life? Help them with these things and there's no limit to how much someone can improve in these areas.

3. Help them define success.
Success is hugely subjective. Knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential or sowing seeds that benefit others are all great definitions of success.

4. Help them understand how to be successful.
The secret of our success is determined by our daily agenda. Decision-making is important and the management of the decision-making is even more important. Do the right thing today to be in a good place for tomorrow.

5. Teach and practice the four pillars of success.
• Relationships
• Attitude/Tenacity
• Leadership/Influencing people
• Equipping and developing other people

6. Teach your team the 20/80 principle, or the Pareto principle.
Within this, prioritize life. What is required of me? What gives the greatest return? What give me the greatest reward? When these three line up, then life becomes wonderful.

7. Provide resources for them.
There are only three times when people change. When they've heard enough that they have to change; they learn enough that they want to change; or receive enough that they are able to change. Put those resources of change in their hand.

8. Require them to reproduce themselves.
They have to teach someone else what they learn. Don't spend valuable time with people who want to consume but not share. Share the knowledge. Share the wealth.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Andrea Waltz - Dealing with Rejection

Andrea Waltz is the co-author of the book, Go For No! She recommends the following tactics for dealing with set backs:

Reframe your perception - It is an undeniable truth in life. You are going to run into failure at one point or another. We are all going to hear someone tell us "no" in our pursuits. This is simply part of the route towards achieving our goals. At the point where you are hearing "no" and all things point toward failure, Waltz says that "success is almost always straight ahead."

Clarify your mission - Do you believe in what you have to offer? Most people will answer with an enthusiastic "yes!" Waltz says, "Understand that you are on a mission of service to others. People are out there waiting for what you have; it is your job to find them!"

Take action - Many times, it can seem overwhelming to bounce back. Break it down into smaller pieces and get after it! By concentrating on smaller bite-size chunks, we will be able to see successes and boost confidence. As the confidence builds, start adding bigger chunks.

Reinforce your activity - Waltz says, "Instead of celebrating results, reward action." This coincides with the basic premise of The Positive Coaching Alliance's Double Goal Coach. The only person you can control is yourself; not anyone else. By doing this, you will essentially retrain yourself on your feelings toward rejection or set backs.

Keep going - Waltz offers great advice here, "The truth is most people give up too soon. Most things take longer than we want or expect. Be patient. Stay the path." Kevin Eastman gave me the best advice in regards to this by telling me that the fact that I had the experience can only help in the future.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Dealing with Mistakes

We as coaches have players make mistakes all the time, right? Of course! Mistakes are going to happen. Mistakes are the lifeblood of true deep learning. My partner in coaching/twitter, NYC_CoachO, posted a great quote from Og Mandino that speaks to the power of pushing through and persevering over mistakes.

We all want our players to learn. We all want our players to implement the Mike Krzyzewski ideal of "next play". Yet, as I look at coaches and how they handle the mistakes of their players, i am amazed at how often mistakes are considered a BAD thing. Coaches will berate and badger players over their mistakes and players can't move on, fear trying, and ultimately don't learn from those mistakes.

Last summer while working Coaching U Live, I got to meet world-class sports psychologist, Spencer Wood. During Spencer's presentation, he focused much of his time on mistake management. Another colleague/twitter friend of mine, JoeyBurton, posted notes from Spencer's portion of Coaching U. One of the great takeaways from this is Spencer's idea of visualizing himself taking a picture of the mistake, crumpling it up, and throwing it away.

Another coaching/twitter friend, CoachLok, posted about using "Flush It" as a form of dealing with mistakes and used an example from the 2008 NBA Finals.

I have always been fascinated with psychology, especially sports psychology. I've known about the power of bouncing back from mistakes. I've even heard of techniques similar to those that Spencer Wood discussed at Coaching U. They are all ways for athletes (and coaches alike) to allow for mistakes to happen yet learn from them in the process. But most of those tools were individual and had to do with just visualizing.

Through my journey of being certified to be a trainer for Positive Coaching Alliance, I have learned more about mistake rituals. Mistake rituals are similar in goal to the visualization process, but have a couple of added dimensions. These simple additions can really increase the power and effectiveness for your players and ultimately for your team.

The first difference is that a mistake ritual is a physical action. It is something you DO. It goes hand in hand with the visualization process, but the action provides multidimensional approach/multi-sensory learning. The more senses we can incorporate, the more effective this becomes.

The second difference is that the mistake ritual is a team thing. This mistake ritual is a signal not only to the individual who committed the mistake, it is also a signal to his coaches and teammates. It allows the player to say to coaches and teammates, "I recognize my mistake. It is behind me. AND I am going to learn from it." <=There's Coach K's Next Play.

Some of the great ideas that I've picked up from PCA are:

-Flush It - This worked for the 2009 LSU baseball team, the 2004 Cal State Fullerton baseball team, and Canada College men's basketball team. Players would make a motion like flushing a toilet. I personally like this one, because if you make a CRAPPY play, you just flush it!

-No Sweat - Players wipe their brow like wiping sweat off their forehead.

-Brush It Off - Players make a motion like dusting dirt off their shoulder.

-Shake It Off - Players shake a body part (or their whole body) like shaking sand or water off.

I also like the Flush It because it is quick. While you could possibly incorporate Spencer's photo idea, it may take too long to act like you're taking a snapshot and crumpling it up. I don't know. Never tried it. I just see it lasting too long and ultimately leading to another mistake like not getting back on D. BUT, the message is still just as powerful!

Please feel free to leave comments if you have other mistake rituals you've used or heard of. I would love to hear other ideas along those lines.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Recently I was having a conversation via Twitter. I had watched St. Mary's (CA) play Gonzaga two nights before and was watching them play Portland on this particular night. I tweeted "Is it a requirement to have 'bed head' and/or a splotchy wispy beard to play at St. Mary's?" A simple observation, and a little humorous considering the players look like they don't own combs, brushes, razors, or clippers. Never did I ever say anything about St. Mary's character, style of play, or attack them in any way, shape, or form.

This lead to a couple of tangents in the tweet-versations (I don't know if that is official Twitter-speak, but it sounded good). One of them led to how Coach Wooden would have dealt with having Jesus play for him.

I can't say I have met Coach Wooden; I didn't know him. I do know about him through books and people that did know him. One of the greatest things about Coach was that he never wavered on his principles.

Coach LOVED Jesus. It is well documented that he lived his life by his Christian faith. It is true that Coach NEVER judged people based on their appearance. It is also true that he KNEW that there are more people in this world than not that actually DO judge people by their looks. This is why his players had short hair, no facial hair, and were well kept.

Coach loved Bill Walton too. Walton wanted to wear his hair long. Coach simply replied, "You can wear your hair any way you want... and we will miss you." and that was that. For that reason, I can say with my best educated guess that, YES, Coach Wooden would have said the exact same thing to his lord and savior, Jesus.

I think the point of what I am trying to get at can be summed up with the old saying: If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything. What do you stand for? Why do you stand for that? Do your players know?

Let me also state for the record I think Randy Bennett is a great basketball coach! His players play extremely hard and obviously know the game. There is no doubt in my mind that they are a fantastic team and well coached. Hairstyles and facial hair are just a couple of things that aren't in Coach Bennett's principles. Doesn't make him a bad coach or a bad guy. Nor does it make his players bad players or bad people.

When I am given my opportunity to be a head coach (*fingers crossed and saying a little prayer it happens for me this year*), those things WILL be addressed in my program. I wrote previously about Image and Perception. This doesn't mean I won't recruit kids with long hair, or braids, or facial hair, etc. What it does mean is that they will not have those when they play for me. I am going to use my forum of basketball to teach a life-lesson: You won't get a job unless you look like a professional.

Does that make me a better coach than Randy Bennett? A better person than Randy Bennett? NO to both questions. It just means that my principles are different and I will not bend or change them win/lose/or draw.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

John Maxwell - 5 C's of Team Success

"Winning is not an automatic process. If you win, you do it on purpose. And more importantly, you do it as a team."

Five Core Values of a Winning Team:

1. Commitment - "No team has ever achieved extraordinary results without a 100 percent commitment to the cause and a common vision where everyone is pulling in the same direction."

2. Contribution - "If our team is going to succeed, we each must contribute our all... Be committed to making a meaningful contribution to your team." As Joe Namath said, " If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?"

3. Competence - "The strength of a team is impacted by it's weakest link. And that weakest player is always going to determine the load the is able to carry." Weak links affect teams in 3 ways: Loss of opportunity, Loss of morale, and Loss of productivity.

4. Communication - Must be: Candid (open, honest, no hidden agendas, or secrets), Direct (Most appreciate directness given with their best interest at heart), Rapid (Don't sit on it, get it out there), Inclusive (Knowledge is power. Empower, don't imprison, the team), and Consistent (Avoid the knee-jerk reaction).

5. Cooperation - "Longfellow once said, 'All your strength is in union. All your danger is in discord.' ... If I go to my team with a me-oriented attitude, I will never be successful. But if I go to them with an others-oriented attitude, it holds a whole different meaning."