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Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The following comes from "How Champions Think" by Dr. Bob Rotella:

I heard a story from Brad Faxon recently that illustrates the way champions are single-minded. Brad is a New Englander and a big fan of all the New England teams, including the Patriots. He’s become friends with Tom Brady. A couple of years ago, New England pulled out a big win against San Diego in the final minutes. On the day after the win, Brad called Brady. “Congratulations. What a great win!” Brad said. “Man, that must’ve been some party on the flight home.” “Brad, we have a no-drinking policy on our flights,” Brady said. “By the time we got on the plane in San Diego, every player had a computer at his seat with next week’s opponent broken down position by position. That flight home is the best five hours we’re going to get to prepare for next week. Monday will be taken up with a lot of physical rehab. Tuesday is taken up with a lot of PR and endorsement stuff. If we waited until Wednesday to start getting ready for next week, we’d have already lost. There wouldn’t be enough time.” That’s what single-mindedness looks like on a team level.

Monday, October 17, 2016


We were blessed this weekend to have Jim Jabir as our guest speaker at the Gary Blair Coaching Academy. Coach Jabir had two sessions with our coaches, one on Building Your Culture and the other on The Phoenix Transition Offense.  Here are a few notes from his lecture on culture.

Goals vs. Process

Goals can cause you to lose sight on what you need to be doing at that moment.

It's like climbing a mountain.  If you are constantly looking at the top of the mountain as you climb, you're going to misstep and fall.  They key is to keep your eye on each single step and step by step you'll arrive to the top of the mountain.

What do people see when they see your team?

You must have a philosophy/program of substance -- it must be bigger than the game.

Coach Jabir wants his program to represent unselfishness, intelligence and playing hard.

Important to control what you can control.

Greatest compliment he's received as a coach was at a recruiting event.  He was on another court when someone came up to him and told him there was a "Dayton player" over on court 1 -- meaning there was a player that displayed the characteristics that this person related to being a Dayton player.  When Coach Jabir went to the court to check the player out, it turned out to be one that had committed to him earlier.

First thing he did when getting hired at Dayton was write "FAMILY" on the board and then outline all that it meant.

"Greatness comes from being consistent in your belief system."

Coach Jabir wants kids that love each other and will win because they want to win for each other.

It's a game of trust.  You can't love someone you don't trust.

We talk about "what" but we don't talk about "why" enough.

Great leaders inspire action.

It's not enough to give a kid a role -- you have to help them understand it and it's importance.

Has had the opportunity to observe Geno and the big thing with him is that he challenges them every day.

You can't be good at everything...what's your team equipped to do?  Work on that.

Are you "complaint" or are you "compelled."

Everyone says they want to play fast but do they want to do all that it takes to successfully play fast...painful work...discipline.

Archie Miller sign in locker room "Do Your Job" (Patriots)

Don't hype your opponent -- be factual.

Advancing in the post season is believing in what we do.

Coach Jabir doesn't use conditional statements -- doesn't say "if."

You need a certain level of stress to succeed.  Create stress levels in practice but reward them when they get it right.

Be in the present!

Can't be afraid of making a mistake.

Great players aren't great by coincident. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


There is one thing noticeable in process-oriented coaches -- they remain the same regardless of the outcome of the game with their team.  The final score has little say in the evaluation of the team's performance.  And this makes an impact on the the players and their own evaluation.  They just aren't satisfied with winning.

This was brought out in a recent New York Times article on Nick Saban and the Alabama football team.  After defeating #20 Southern Cal 52-6, Saban said, “If you want to know the truth about it, I wasn’t pleased with the way we played.”

Running Back Damien Harris has obviously bought in the process-oriented culture when he said, “At the end of the day, if we’re not playing our best, then it’s not a good game.”

Coach Saban is interested in dominating your opponent individually and collectively one play at a time.  The result of that type of philosophy is a player like Calvin Ridley saying “We have to get better and keep working,” after a 34-6 victory over Kentucky.

Always looking for improvement.

As written by Marc Tracy:
“We have to get better and keep working,” wide receiver Calvin Ridley added after a 34-6 win over Kentucky on Oct. 1 during which Ridley, a sophomore, caught 11 passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns.
Saban’s perpetual dourness is only somewhat surprising. The coach, among the best in college history, preaches “the process,” one that takes apart complex goals, such as winning a game or a national title, into their smallest possible units and perfects them. For the Tide, that means emphasizing the flaws in single plays over more salutary final results, such as the four national championships Saban’s Tide have won in the past seven seasons.
Although Saban’s personality is anything but Zen, his outlook can seem rather Eastern, reminiscent of the koan that states: Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.
“What we try to do with our players is be very technical about the things that they did well and get them positive self-gratification with those things,” Saban said recently. But, he added, the team does not overlook mistakes “just because we won the game.”
Harris said the players imbibed this message.
“That’s how he is, that’s how he coaches us, and that’s how we are as a team,” he said. “We enjoy our victories, but at the end of the day, we watch film, we see the mistakes we made, and we’re not satisfied.”

And then there’s this from Greg McElroy, an ESPN commentator who played quarterback on Saban’s first national title team at Alabama, in 2009, who said it helped to know that nothing would alter Saban’s disposition — the same things would be demanded no matter a game’s result.
“He’s the same guy after a big win as a crushing loss,” McElroy said. “That’s why the team never really fluctuates.”
He added: “I’m not kidding when I say this: We could be playing Texas in the national championship game or Western Carolina, and it was the same guy.”
Or as an enlightened Saban might put it: Before beating Auburn, practice hard, study film; after beating Auburn, practice hard, study film.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I love the!  It gives great insight directly from those involved -- the athletes.  They share so much in an open forum that can benefit your players as well.  We share many of them with our team.

One example is the most recent post by Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks titled, "On To The Next."  It's a concept that we constantly talk to our players about.  The best move on to the next quickly -- instantly in fact.  On to the next shot...the next possession...the next day...the next game.  Live in the present -- the past and future are irrelevant.  Be process oriented.

Of course it is much easier said than done -- even for veteran professionals.

Sherman opens the article with this:
Earl Thomas was sitting in front of his locker after the game, and I could tell he was frustrated. Then he stood up, put his backpack on, left the locker room and walked out to the parking lot. He didn’t really talk to anybody. He just got in his car and went home.
That was in Week 1.
After we won.
That’s one of the things that makes Earl great. Anybody who knows him knows that he holds himself to an incredibly high standard. That day, he felt he didn’t play up to that standard. We got a win, and that was great. But Earl understands — like everybody else in the locker room — that just because you win doesn’t mean you did everything perfectly.
And conversely, just because you lose doesn’t mean you did everything wrong.

That's process oriented thinking.  It's not the result that makes a difference in the evaluation of your level of execution.  This is the mindset of the best that allows them to grow and improve as opposed to becoming complacent.

As Sherman than points out, this is the outcome of that type of thinking:
That’s one of our many mottos: Control what you can control. That expression was why Earl came in the next morning — after walking out of the locker room on Sunday frustrated, without talking to anybody — and went on to have a great week of practice. Because he knows that come Monday morning, you can’t control what happened on Sunday, and every minute you spend living in the past and dwelling on it is a minute you won’t be spending looking ahead to the next week and the next opponent. And that’s an easy way to lose back-to-back games.

Sherman goes on to talk about the culture of the Seahawks that allows them to hold themselves accountable in part due to the philosophy of Coach Pete Carroll:
Our coaches are probably tougher on us after a win. Coach Carroll always tells us that he wants us to be ourselves, because that’s why he brought us here. Because we’re competitors. We’re the kind of players — and the kind of people — he wants on his team.
Part of being a competitor is being self-motivated. We don’t need a coach to get on our ass after a loss. I’ll get on myself about it, and so will each guy in our locker room. Like I’ve said before, we have a crazy team with some chaotic dudes — a bunch of alphas. Take Earl, for example. He’ll do everything he can to get better, even after a win, because that’s how Earl is. That’s what makes him great. He’s never satisfied, even when he plays well.

The result is a process-oriented mindset displayed in this great quote by Sherman:
"Was I angry that we lost? Of course. Winning never gets old and losing always sucks. But you have to treat those two impostors just the same."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Trust me -- who you follow on twitter makes a difference!  It has become an invaluable resource for me.  One of the guys I benefit from so much is Fran Fraschilla.  While he has retired from coaching to work in the broadcast booth he certainly hasn't forgotten us that still teach -- constantly posting invaluable material to make us better. 

Yesterday was no different when he tweeted this:

The article was outstanding and touched on so many things pertinent.

1. The importance of of being ready to go at a moments notice.

2. The basic necessity for intentional preparation.

3. The need for retired coached to still be around and part of the game.

The basis of the story was the relationship between Hall of Fame Coach Bill Parcells and a high school quarterback that was coached by his son-in-law.  That high school quarterback is now the third-string passer for the New England Patriots, Jacoby Brissett.  The same Jacoby Brissett that came of the bench for injured Jimmy Garoppolo (filling in for suspended Tom Brady) and help guide the Patriots to 31-24 victory over Miami.

Parcells has been mentoring Brissett since his high school playing days and during the Patriots camp this fall he would constantly text Brissett the phrase "One Snap."  Meaning you are just one snap away for your opportunity.

The article was written by Jenny Vrentas for Monday Morning Quarterback on and you can read it in it's entirety here.

Here are some great take aways:

On Parcells using the tag “One Snap”:

Bill Parcells has known Jacoby Brissett since the Patriots rookie quarterback was a Florida teen just old enough to drive. But for the past five months, Parcells hasn’t addressed Brissett by his first name. No, when they exchange text messages, the legendary coach calls Brissett a nickname, of sorts: “One Snap.”

Yes, that’s right. “Hey, One Snap,” sounds kind of funny, but don’t tell that to Parcells.

“Oh, no. No. We are not making light of that,” Parcells said in a scolding tone during a phone conversation Monday. “That’s a message. He understood it. I was trying to put his ears up like a German Shepherd. Put your ears up; you are only one snap from playing. Sure enough, it happened.”

Great stuff on preparation:

“I certainly wish he had more time to ingest the material,” Parcells said. “The keys are always the same keys. Do your work. Do your preparation. Try to comprehend the plan of attack that the coaches have laid out for you and make sure that you have an understanding, to the best of your ability on a short week and your first time around the league and not much experience playing, to give yourself the best chance to be successful, knowing full well it probably won’t go smoothly right away.”

On the type of mindset Parcells want to instill into Brissett:

The fact that Bill Belichick, Parcells’ defensive coordinator on his two Giants championship teams, used his No. 91 draft pick on a player his old boss has known for seven or eight years is no accident. But far be it from either one to share the details of those conversations. Before Belichick even got Brissett in the building, Parcells had already instilled in him a similar way of thinking. No commercials, no trade shows, Parcells told him. Your only job is to learn the offense.

On Parcells still wanting to be around the game:

Parcells was at the Giants-Saints game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday when on a nearby TV he caught a glimpse of Brissett taking the field for New England. As hard as it might be to imagine Parcells saying this, he immediately felt like an “expectant father.” The Hall of Fame coach is something of an NFL godfather for Brissett and a line of pro-caliber football players to come out of Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Parcells spends the winters in nearby Jupiter, and the pro at his golf club is the father-in-law of Dwyer’s football coach, Jack Daniels. Or, as Parcells explains it, “I am a football guy, so I like football, so I go around where football is.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


"Races are won by a fraction of a second, National Championship games by a single point.  That fraction of a second or a single point is the result of relevant details performed along the the way."

John Wooden
From "Legacy" by James Kerr


Here's a few concepts and teaching points from Jim Boone in regard to the way he plays Pack Line defense.

Keys in Teaching:
1. Position players in such a way to already be in help.
2. Build a wall to stop the ball.
3. Five players working together.
4. Communication

Coach Boone: "We are zoning the ball."

Five Things to Work on Daily: 
1. Conversion defense
2. Low post defense
3. Pressure on the ball
4. Help/recover
5. Blockout

Coach Boone: "You can't play transition defense while you're in transition."

Coach Boone: "Low post defense dictates how you set your entire defense up."

Five Defensive Goals:
1. Pressure the ball
2. Contest all shots
3. Keep the ball out of the lane
4. No second shots
5. Do not foul

Coach Boone: "We want to determine what shots you get."

Conversion Defense:
1. No fast break lay-ups
2. Out number the offense
3. Build from the lane out

Coach Boone: "The one thing that beats you in transition defense is the 'my mind' mindset."


The following are a few concepts of Pack Line defense from Chris Mack of Xavier.

Pack Line defense helps give you a “system” to play defense.

1) Gives players answers and accountability
Certain things players can/can’t do do
They are given specific rules ex. “You can’t play behind the post” vs “Play hard”

2) Simplifies Scouting
Their coaches watch a ton of film but do not give it all to the
players. Instead they play certain actions in very specific ways and practice these
every day.

Example:  Practice defending staggered screens so when they play a team they already know how they will defend this and get better at it through out the year.

3) Creates a culture your players can believe in.
Varsity players “pass” down the defense by teaching your younger players without a lot of involvement from coaches.

GOLDEN RULE: When your man does not have the ball YOU MUST HAVE 2 FEET IN

Exceptions: If your man is cutting you must chase the cutter.

1) On the Ball: Have extreme ball pressure -- do not get beat to the outside NEVER GIVE UP BASELINE
Keep your butt to the basket
Don’t get beat baseline
If your man goes towards the middle do not get beat through the elbow, they can’t attack you on a straight line.

2) You must have two feet inside the pack line when your man does not have the ball and you are trying to form triangles

Defining Your Team
1. How do you close out?
2. Close out with two high hands to discourage rhythm shots
3. Play in then out

KEY: Your positioning is your help

Discourage shots, play the drive, call shot when the shot goes up.

Monday, September 19, 2016


We've been spending some time looking at our defensive approach and part of that review has been looking at other defensive systems such as Pack Line.  Here are some notes from Mike Neighbors, head coach at the University of Washington.  These are just a few of the notes I took from Mike while he was at Xavier.

When your man has the ball on the perimeter:
1. You were there on the catch.

2. You were the to take away the quick shot or quick pass

3. You were close enough to pressure without getting beat off the bounce.
     a. Don't get beat to the outside
     b. Don't get beat in a straight line

When your player does not have the ball on the perimeter:
1. You are about half way between the ball and your player

2. You are a step off the line that would connect the ball to your man

3. You are actively able to see both ball and man

Ball being passed to their player:
1. Move on the air time of the pass

2. Start with sprint and end with chops

3. High hands to active hands

Ball being passed but NOT their player:
1. Move on air time of the pass

2. Sprint to gap.

Teaching Points
1. Players must begin in proper position

2. Players must be vocal in communication of their responsibilities

"Ball" = this means I have the ball

"Gap" = this call means my player does not have the ball but I am in your dribble gap

"Help" = this call means my player does not have the ball but is on the opposite half of the court than the ball is.


I often have people ask me about my mentor Coach Dale Brown, whom I had the privilege of working for 13 years.  Coach has a reputation of getting things done -- massively getting things done. Little projects and big projects. He often seemed to be juggling a multitude of tasks as the same time and always completing them.

When people ask me what "management tool" did he use I always chuckle.  Was it a Franklin-Covey Planner?  Did he use Day-Timer?  What was his system?

Well, here it is:

He always had a yellow legal pad with him.  He would unpack it from his briefcase in the morning and take it with him in the evening when he left.  On it he would write things down that he had to do -- and then he would do them.

I know it sounds simple -- but that's what made it great.  As he completed a task, he would cross it out.  When he was done with a page he'd tear it out.  And repeat.

It's like the story I read this weekend from "Legacy" written by James Kerr:

There's a old story about J. P. Morgan, the banker and philanthropist, who was shown an envelope containing a 'guaranteed formula for success.' He agreed that if he liked the advice written inside he would pay $25,000 for its contents.

Morgan open the envelope, nodded, and paid.

The advice?

1. Every morning write a list of things that need to be done that day.

2. Do them.