Thursday, April 26, 2012

Notes from The Last Season by Phil Jackson

Due to the overwhelming positive response to my twitter firestorm of Phil Jackson quotes the other night, I figured I would compile a complete list of nuggets I gathered from this book. Enjoy!

- I want the kids to maintain the same confidence and rhythm, to be in what I like to call "ready-to-play." That is no guarantee that I'll use them, but if I do, I need to trust they'll do the job.

- Too often, if a player believes he has little chance of receiving any minutes, his concentration will lapse, and he will not be ready if an emergency - injuries, fouls, whatever - forces me to call his number.

- Rebounding, much like defense, requires tremendous will, especially at the offensive end.

- There are only so many corrective comments I'm allowed before I risk causing serious, perhaps irrevocable, damage to our relationship.

- So much of playing effective team defense is linked to what happens at the other end.

- If the offense is properly executed, our players will be in position for a balanced defensive retreat.

- More than anything else, playing inspired defense is a matter of will: What are you willing to do as a group to help each other out? What are you willing to do as an individual to put the clamps on the opponent you're guarding?

- According to the Positive Coaching Alliance, which trains coaches in youth sports, the ideal is a 5:1 ratio of praise to criticism.

- Choosing my words carefully, I try to make players understand that I'm criticizing their performance, not their personality.

- Players must be very delicate in how they interact with each other, especially in public. The wrong word my destroy another player's confidence, or worse yet, sow resentment that will not be easy to erase.

- I asked the coaching staff to offer a few observations, aware that the troops were probably sick of hearing only one voice, mine. Too many coaches have lost their players, and subsequently their jobs, by not recognizing when they need to step back.

- Tex [Winter]... has a saying that I've grown to love: "You are only a success at the moment that you do a successful act."

- You can't be a success the next moment because you have already moved on to do something else, even if it's accepting the award for the successful moment that just passed.

- I've always told my players the glorification comes from the journey, not the outcome.

- Winning covers up a multitude of sins, the saying goes, while losing makes mountains out of molehills.

- I believe a team should be rewarded for hard work, a strict adherence to fundamentals.

- A player's responsibility is to execute the type of game he is best designed for, or as I call it, "licensed to play." We tell our players constantly, "don't get out of character."

- I can understand a player's desire to expand his role. But too often they see themselves only through their own narrow lens, imagining greatness that simply does not exist.

- Basketball, unlike football with it's prescribed routes, is an improvisational game, similar to jazz. If someone drops a note, someone else must step into the vacuum and drive the beat that sustains the team. One slight drop-off, one guy in the wrong spot at the wrong time, and the whole unit will fail.

- I've always believed a coach should be willing to admit fault. Players must feel they're being treated fairly.

- Achieving oneness does not guarantee success, but it greatly enhances a team's chances.

- I prefer to see [my team] develop a warrior mentality, in which they honor their opponent. Too many players today degrade their opponent. "He's garbage," they'll say. He is not garbage. Your opponent is who makes you a better warrior.

- (Re: underestimating a tough opponent that you have already played) I compare this case of temporary amnesia to a trip to the dentist. You know the drill is going to be unpleasant but you don't remember exactly how unpleasant until it's administered. Suddenly the memory of the past experiences rushes to the surface.

- The coaching staff may devise a dozen different tactics... but unless the guys believe we can prevail, those tactics won't mean a thing.

- Players often explain a loss by saying, "we didn't match their intensity." The phrase is overused but accurate. Less than talented teams with greater intensity defeat more talented teams all the time.

- Matching intensity does not mean initiating aggressive, frenetic action. That often causes players to go out of control, out of character.

- Matching intensity means competing with full alertness, with a commitment to sound principles and execution.

- Little things - good footwork, proper spacing, a hand in a shooter's face - make a big difference.

- For years I've spliced in clips from films or television shows to break up the monotony. Players will lose focus watching themselves race up and down the court for ten straight minutes. ... Of course I'm not just trying to lighten the mood. Each clip comes with a message that registers, I hope. ... The idea is to instruct without bruising egos.

- The dribble, in fact, has replaced the pass as the primary means to move the ball toward the basket, to generate shots. Sadly, the beautiful, rhythmic, around-the-horn ball movement practiced by championship teams in the 60's, 70's, and 80's is increasingly rare.

- For years it has been true that once the offense executes the fourth pass in any given possession, the defense will be on its heels, out of position.

- The first basket in overtime is always crucial, even more than the one that breaks a tie heading into the last five minutes of regulation, although the time remaining would be roughly the same.

- (Re: note to players about behavior toward officials) "Regardless of how bad they are, they are not picking on you or us... IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU."

It's been a loooong while!

It has been a while since I posted something on here. I think the little angel on the left is well worth taking some time off from writing posts. I can't believe that it has been 3 months since her birth! As you can tell from the picture, she is ready to get going on the court (and we are already working on her left hand). I sent this picture to Coach Eastman saying she was ready for her pro-time workout to which he responded he was already putting Ganon Baker on notice.

The little monkey (that's what I call her because she was so long and wiry at birth she looked like a spider monkey) will more than likely participate in athletics. Her dad is a college coach. Her mom is a former college player, former college coach, and current middle school coach. Her grandparents were coaches. I hope that she will explore other things as well, but she will grow up in the gym and more than likely participate in a sport of some kind.

The crazy thing is that right after her birth, I started working on my certification to present the Second-Goal Parent workshop for the Positive Coaching Alliance. We speak to coaches about being Double-Goal Coaches with the first goal striving to win on the scoreboard and the second goal to teach valuable life-lessons and build character. This particular workshop educates parents on how to support their child and emphasize the second goal of life-lessons and character development while shifting their focus off the first goal of the scoreboard. It is a powerful workshop! As I went through the process of getting certified, it was a fantastic way to prepare myself for the day when my little girl takes to the court, field, pool, track, or whatever. I certainly don't wish to be "that parent" in the stands.

So to those of you who check this site regularly, I am very sorry for not having posted in quite some time. Those of you with children, I think you can sympathize with the stress of a pregnant wife during the season, a first child born right in the middle of conference season, and trying to adjust to a new wonderful life with the most amazing thing to happen to you in your life. I am resolved to carve time into my schedule to update more often... not to mention, get back on my workouts too. Can't we add a few hours to the day?!

Keep checking back for future updates. As always, please feel free to leave comments and even contact me for future post topics. I am always looking for ways to learn, improve, and get better but I also want to make this useful and pertinent to those who read. Best "swishes" to all of you!