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Saturday, January 24, 2015


Some great guidelines for goal setting via John Maxwell from his book "Be All You Can Be."

To help you understand the importance of goals and to facilitate your own goal-setting, let me give you six important guidelines.

§  Your goal must include others. No goal is worthwhile that is only for yourself. Set a goal big enough to include and help other people.

§  Your goal must be worthwhile. There is no such thing as a successful frivolous goal.

§  Your goal must be clean. If you don’t know where you are headed, a map will be of no use.

§  Your goal must be measurable. You need a way to see if you are making any progress toward the goal.

§  Your goal must be expandable. Don’t set your goals in concrete. If your goal is not expandable, it’s expendable.

§  Your goals must be filled with conviction. Conviction is the unshaken confidence that the goal is worthwhile. It’s the fuel that pushes us to achieve.

Saturday, January 17, 2015


I want to share a story from the book "Parcells: A Football Life" written by Parcells and Nunyo Demasio.  The story reminded me of my junior high coach Allen Osborne.  Allen is still going strong as a coach -- one of the all-time winningest coaches in the state of West Virginia. In fact, Allen's Poca team is currently 10-0 and ranked #1 in the state.  Yet each fall, spring and summer Allen is heading to a clinic of visiting with a coach and a program where is a meticulous note taker -- always looking for ways to grow.  Coach Wooden once said the best coaching in this country is at the junior high and high school level and it's still true today because of those who are constantly working to improve.

We hope you enjoy this story:

During spring practice at Texas Tech, Parcells noted a man sitting in the stand, scrutinizing the defense.  His face was weather-beaten, and he wore a brown jack emblazoned with a white "B."

Occasionally, when the opportunity presented itself, the man stepped forward to question Parcells about his schemes.  After a few exchanges he told Parcells in a bass-heavy drawl, "You know, you're a pretty good coach."

Seeing the stranger at practice for several days, Parcells approached him to get his name and exchange pleasantries.  Gordon Wood confirmed Parcells' guess that he was a high school coach.

Parcells said, "I notice you're here every day. Where are you coming from?"

Wood responded, "Brownwood."

Parcells knew that the central Texas town was a three-and-a-half-hour drive away.  "Are you staying in a hotel here?"

"No, no.  I just drive back and forth."

Parcells was flabbergasted to learn that Wood was one of the winningest coaches in the history of high school football, which was like a religion in the Lone Star State.  By amassing more than three hundred victories while coaching in a sports coach and tie, Wood had become a Texas icon.  Most of the wins came with the Brownwood Lions, a team he had transformed into a dynasty.  Wood's stature gave him friends like Bear Bryant and Lyndon Johnson.  Once, when Bryant was asked why he quite Texas A&M for Alabama in 1958, he responded, "I had to leave Texas.  As long as Gordon Wood was there, I could never be the best coach in the state."

Despite a secure legacy, Wood was willing to drive almost seven hours round-trip to sit in the white hot son for the slim chance of gleaning something useful from an obscure defensive coordinator.  Parcells had prided himself on a relentless work ethic, but Wood's actions provided an aha moment: succeeding at the highest levels in coaching required long-term zeal, although that went against human nature.  "It was a revelation to me," Parcells says.  "I was just a young guy, and he'd already been an established super coach.  That's what impressed me so much: he was still hustling."


Tough day a few days ago learning of the passing of Coach Bob Boyd who I had the privilege of working with for a year at LSU.  Years before, Coach Dale Brown sent me to the West Coast to spend a couple of days with Coach John Wooden and then on to Coach Boyd's house where we spent a day out by his pool with me peppering him with questions and soaking in his knowledge.  When I came back I told Coach Brown we had to get Coach Boyd to Baton Rouge for our fall Coaching Clinic which we did.  Over the next few days, I will share some of my notes from Coach Boyd that I got from both his home and our fall clinic:

Bringing the ball above the head is a common problem – not hard to guard.

Backline in 2-3 must understand where their overall territory is that they must cover.

On zone offense, a wing must know who’s defending him and take the ball away from where he came.

To cover the ball in the zone, backline must be active. If you play zone defense, break it down in drill form. Can work on both zone offense and zone defense in whole or part method at the same time. Zone defenders must constantly be aware of players in their area.

Time and score would dictate his pressing.

Doesn’t like gambling, all out denial unless behind late in the game (and must practice those type of situations in practice.)

:30 to play and behind by 3 or more we want to deny then foul – no more than 2 seconds be ran off.

On inbounds defense –

            - Scouting is important

            - Give an obvious show (be big, take room, bump em)

            - Team don’t practice enough and when they do, they don’t do with game       
               like intensity. (can’t run inbounds plays against Indiana)

Knight spent the entire fall (2-hour, 3 man) practice period teaching screening. No one in the nation screens better than Indiana yet Knight thinks they do it poorly. What should that tell the rest of us about our screening.

Without game-like intensity in practice you can’t be effective in a game. Game-like intensity comes from coaching leadership.

Good defensive players must be “suspicious” (constantly anticipating.) Mike Singletary of the Chicago Bears. Stance-ready-suspicious. Important on inbounds defense especially.

Kids know when their parents are serious or not, caring or not, prepared or not, so you know they can read coaches.

Your basketball facility (floor, offices, locker room, etc.) is your classroom. Do you have a “good learning environment.” Important to make kids “receptive” to learning.

Good teachers don’t try to trick their students.

Bounce pass (lead low) vs. retreating defender.

Talent sometimes resents loss of identity that sometimes comes with motion offense.

Performance must be a Projection of Practice.

The true test of a coach is to coach effectively through resistance.

Ran flex with Post Exchange (he called it “high-low passing game”.) Liked to split the low post in motion with a screen.

When running flex, used a variety of entries to disguise it.

Doesn’t want symmetrical look in PE (1-3-1).

If he came back to coach today he would

            - Make it simpler

            - Be emphatic about rebounding

Can’t change performance until you change attitude.

Before the 3-point arc, he wanted his team to shoot 55% from the floor. He wanted his identity to come from field goal shooting percentage.

If you run motion, you need to stay away from junior college players and have four year players in your program.

Important in zone offense to “stretch” the defense with spacing and backside players. He wanted to dunk against a zone. Bring the ball into the paint before an outside shot. Must breakdown zone offense (perimeter & post). Likes loop to elbow screen vs. zone defense. Rover against odd front zone. Must attack the backside of zone defense.

Does not think it is necessary to have more than one alignment of motion to be effective. Regular or High Low. Likes possibilities of triangle.

Against defense that switches, besides slipping, have your cutter make a tight curl (will open up a screener that widens out on the perimeter. Must find “daylight” before slip.


Friday, January 16, 2015


Tough day yesterday learning of the passing of Coach Bob Boyd who I had the privilege of working with for a year at LSU.  Years before, Coach Dale Brown sent me to the West Coast to spend a couple of days with Coach John Wooden and then on to Coach Boyd's house where we spent a day out by his pool with me peppering him with questions and soaking in his knowledge.  When I came back I told Coach Brown we had to get Coach Boyd to Baton Rouge for our fall Coaching Clinic which we did.  Over the next few days, I will share some of my notes from Coach Boyd that I got from both his home and our fall clinic:

Coach must get comfortable with what he wants and then demand it.

Three phases of basketball are offense, defense, and conversion. If you want equal emphasis on game night you’d better stress it in practice.

Believes strongly that 1 & 2 must blockout and then go to the boards (not sit and watch). If their offensive men don’t go to the boards then you have a 5 on 3 board coverage advantage. Must think “possession” before you think “break.”

Important to remember on conversion offense that everyone converts down the middle and not wide. Wants his point to pitch the ball ahead as soon as possible. Also wants his wing to take the ball deep to the baseline if nothing materializes (UNC press offense). Does not want the point to bring the ball directly down the middle of the court because of traffic with post players.

Early offense vs. helpside defense. When ball is feed to low post, have trail down screen the help and 3 cut to the opposite elbow for a feed from the low post player.

Outlet must be deep – doesn’t want point to have to come back to the ball. Does not have point guard widen out for the outlet, wants him to find an open slot in the middle of the floor to take the pass.

Outlet Drill – Have an outlet and a point guard working against 2 defenders to get open.

Concentration + Conditioning = Conversion

Motion offense – does not like the term “restrictions,” likes the word “conditions.” Believes terminology is critical part of teaching.

 In all motion work, even with conditions, never take the lay-up away.

 Shot Quality (Selection)

            - Distance of shot (most important)

            - Defensive pressure on shooter

            - Priority (who is shooting)

            - Score & Time

Whether shot goes in or not has nothing to do with the quality of the shot. Priority of shot is difficult to teach because of egos. Players must understand priorities but their girlfriends and parents never will.

 Shot selection is so important that when he was with Knight at a clinic last week, Knight spoke about it for an entire hour.

“Draw & Kick” – from Majerus (largely underrated college coach). Draw & Kick important to motion – must be drilled.

Screener is the 2nd cutter – teaching emphasis “get hands to the ball” after screening. Area hardly ever emphasized and rarely coached is getting the screener to read the cutter.

Emphasis of the day is good – but is team really aware of it? Must have drills to surround it. Stop practice and ask. Bring in scrimmage play (good example or bad example).

All teams experience some game slippage. Coaches must anticipate.

A “player’s coach” in the NBA is a “coach that lets the players do whatever the hell they wants.” Riley not a player’s coach.

It’s not just hard work – EXECUTION (do payers understand?)

Far too many players today have had tons of success without being coaches or pushed and this is a big problem in coaching today.

Never tells his team that the opponent has better players than we do. “They got the same kind of players we’ve got.”

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Tough day today learning of the passing of Coach Bob Boyd who I had the privilege of working with for a year at LSU.  Years before, Coach Dale Brown sent me to the West Coast to spend a couple of days with Coach John Wooden and then on to Coach Boyd's house where we spent a day out by his pool with me peppering him with questions and soaking in his knowledge.  When I came back I told Coach Brown we had to get Coach Boyd to Baton Rouge for our fall Coaching Clinic which we did.  Over the next few days, I will share some of my notes from Coach Boyd that I got from both his home and our fall clinic:

If Bob returned coaching today he be more aware of conversion defense and defensive rebounding. Don Haskins was excellent at teaching conversion defense. Can not overteach it. Two important points in conversion defense is to get into the ball at midcourt and have someone take away the goal.

Larry Eustacy (Utah State) has lead the nation in rebounding margin twice in the past five years. Drives his staff as well as his team on defensive rebounding. Everyday they do a series of defensive blockout drills. He makes it embarrassing for a player to give up a second shot. Bob didn’t feel like he emphasized defensive rebounding enough when he coached.

First two weeks of the season are formative stage of a team. “Getting the bottom into the team” – build from the foundation up.

If coaching again, he would play both man-to-man and zone (there are numerous ways to guard the goal).

Wishes players would show the same kind of disgust when a man beats them on a drive as they do when they miss a lay-up.

Doesn’t believe that extended pressure win in the long run (counterproductive); he just doesn’t want to give up any long ones.

 Use zone against teams that have poor zone execution
 - Not because of foul situation

 - Must have a good “zone teaching attitude” – don’t play zone because your man to man isn’t working

 - Lots of coaches can’t teach gap penetration

Once brought a goal out and showed it to his team and said, “This is what we are guarding.”

Critical to dictate direction of basketball on defense. Most defenders lose their man because they lose their gap.

Advantageous to prepare against a team that plays only one defense.

Doesn’t think it is a good idea to collapse on the post with the defender on the passer. Like’s prostyle collapses with weakside defenders and stunts to recover.

If you pressure the shot, you are vulnerable to the drive – must have an order of priority either as a team defense or through scouting.

Would work on driving line from the wing every single day of practice.

Help is nearly useless if you don’t teach recovery. Don’t compliment help if they don’t recover.

Motion players – must concentrate. Nothing more important than concentration if you play motion.

Look – See and Hear – Listen.

He would not want to be known as a multiple defensive coach but would want to have options.

Two important areas in attacking zone defense are the skip pass and the short corner.

Likes the double skip (“one deserves another”) vs. zone.

Zone defense must not be considered a lazy man’s defense.

Good time to trap – sideouts and inbounds under

Feels it is difficult to zone press than effectively drop back man-to-man

Can confuse a press offense by changing from man pressure to zone pressure. Also feels that the back man of a zone press is a critical part of zone press success.

Wooden – extended defense to create tempo.


Sunday, January 11, 2015


It's no surprise but the more you read into Ohio State's turnaround under Urban Meyer, the more you see he is continuing that which served him well at Florida and other coaching stops.  For him, it's about the relationship -- with individuals and with his team.  You can read between the lines and see that developing those relationships through communication are part of the strategy he utilizes.

There was a great article earlier written by Chuck Culpepper for the Washington Post titled: "Rise of Ohio State’s Urban Meyer fueled by player relationships"  -- you can read it in it's entirety hear but here are a few of the excerpts the resonated with me:

“To be honest, the biggest thing about Urban is he instilled more confidence in players than I’ve ever seen before,” said Revill, 34, a then-defensive back. “You could be a very average football player and he could make you feel like you were an all-star. Really, every player felt like we could be the best team in the country when before we knew our statistics didn’t show that. He basically said, ‘We have a scheme in place that literally, if you buy into the system and we execute it properly, we will not lose …’

“People that had negative attitudes the year before were buying in and people you wouldn’t expect to buy into a system like that bought in.” Tardiness ebbed. “He got guys who completely changed their lifestyle and got them where they were 100-percent involved.”

In Revill’s words and in others, that seems to have combined with an accessibility to players infrequent in the icons of last century if more common nowadays. All along the way, Meyer seemed to understand football as a collaborative human experience, and that understanding it that way actually might help the football.

When Florida reached the BCS Championship Game in Meyer’s second season, players there told of atmospheric shifts in the program. Linebacker Brandon Siler said the emphasis had changed to value togetherness so that, “We play for each other and we care about the guy next to us.” Receiver Jemalle Cornelius managed to mention “going bowling and hanging out all the time.” Offensive tackle Steve Rissler said, “I didn’t really go to my coach’s house in the last coaching staff. This time, I have been numerous times and hung out with their kids. I know his wife.”

To this day, Revill values dinners he had, as a captain, with Meyer, Meyer’s wife, Shelley, and Revill’s wife, Carlye.

“He is a good guy,” Revill said of Meyer, “but I don’t think him going with the captain of the team to dinner is because he wants to be nice. It’s because it’s a part of his plan, a part of him wanting to get people super-involved in what he’s doing.”


I've always been a big believe in "Plan B" (and even Plan C & D).  You always go into a game with an organized plan of attack but the best coaches are flexible in their preparation and in their game execution.  We might want to come out and trap ball screens -- and we will work on it in practice.  But if the offense throws us a new wrinkle or if are execution does not give us the pre-conceived results than we are going to hedge, ice or slide thru.  And we are going to make sure we work on at least two in practice just in case.

I loved Bo Schembechler's thoughts on this concept as he wrote in "Bo's Lasting Lessons" with John U. Bacon:

They say the first casualty of war is the war plan, and I'd have to agree with that.

I knew more about Woody Hayes than any coach I ever went against, hands down.  I played for him, coaches for him, I studied him.  I knew that guy cold!  And every time we played each other, he still did something I didn't expect -- ten straight years!  Hot damn!  I didn't know he was going to do that!

So that goes to show you, as much time as we spent scouting and preparing and planning -- and I don't think any team in America prepared better for anyone than we did for Ohio State -- the game never went exactly as we thought it would.  It just never does.

That's all right.  If things aren't going your way, you adjust.  Forget your game plan, forget your ego.  Get the best information you can, and give your team the best chance to succeed from that point forward.  To do anything less is to let your people down when they need you most.  And that just inexcusable.

The best time to do this, if you're a football coach, is halftime.  When you leave your locker room for the second half, you're not going to be the same team.  You're either going to be better informed, or you're going to fall behind because the guys in the other locker room are making better adjustments than you are.

We almost never spent that time on inspirational talks, but on technical adjustments.  To make the most out of our time, we followed a strict routine.

Saturday, January 10, 2015


On the rare occasion when (Bear) Bryant did lose a game, he'd appear on his weekly television show looking grim.  One time the host told him, "The Lord just wasn't with us, Coach." Bryant, without missing a beat, growled back, "The Lord expects you to block and tackle."

From "The Storm and the Tide" by Lars Anderson


Here are a few excerpts out of an article written for the Wall Street Journal by Jonathan Clagg on the approach utilized by the Oregon football staff that works hard at steering clear of yelling at their football players:

In a move that may send football traditionalists into a sideline meltdown, Oregon coach Mark Helfrich and his staff have ditched the age-old technique of screaming at players to motivate them. Instead, Oregon’s coaches have implemented a softer, less confrontational and altogether cuddlier method of running their team.

“It’s not about who can scream the loudest,” said Helfrich, the Ducks’ 41-year-old second-year coach. “We have excellent specialists in their field, great leaders of young men that need to teach guys what to do, to show them and tell them and find a way to bring that home. There’s hopefully way more talking than yelling.”

Granted, the Oregon practice facility won’t be mistaken for the library. But players say that raised voices are almost unheard of during team meetings or workouts these days.

Rather than scream at a player over a dropped pass or a key penalty, Oregon’s coaches rarely react with anything more severe than an arm around the shoulder and some gentle words of encouragement.

“When you put your arm around a guy and say, ‘This is how it could be done better,’ they understand you care about them and you just want what’s best for the team,” said Marcus Mariota, Oregon’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. “Those guys already understand that they did wrong.”

Oregon’s nonaggression policy isn’t limited to players. Offensive coordinator Scott Frost says that the spirit of civility extends to the coaching staff, where the lowliest graduate assistants are treated with the same deference as top members of the staff. “Guys in our program don’t get yelled at and treated like they are beneath the coaches,” Frost said. “There’s more enjoyment and laughing in our building than almost any football building in the country.”

This is just a portion of the article.  Click here to read the entire story.


While the head coach at the University of Florida, Urban Meyer had what he titled the "Plan to Win."  It was, as described author Buddy Martin in his book "Urban's Way" as follows:

There's a blueprint of success for the Gators, and it's all right there on Urban's virtual stone tablets.  The life of Urban Meyer is metered out on the expanded version of a day planner, parts of which are given to all coaches and players.  Tucked inside the 129-page document is the Plan to Win.  It's only one page.  While Meyer will admit to changing or tweaking his offense, or even learning to listen, and growing as a coach, Urban's organizational philosophy is the same as it was yesterday -- and will be tomorrow.

The four main staples of Urban's mandate for success and his organizational schematic -- his bible of football coaching -- are:

1. Play great defense
2. Turnovers (all coaches are required to teach ball security the same way)
3. Score in the red zone
4. Win the kicking game

Included in the 129-page manual is a set of core values for players:

1. Honesty
2. Respect women
3. No drugs
4. No stealing
5. No weapons

Also included are the guides on how assistant coaches should coach.  The magic potion is simply "Do your job."  That includes the following for coaches:

1. Take care of your family and your health.
2. Take care of your players (academic, social, spiritual, family).
3. Be an expert at your position and excel as a teacher.
4. Recruit every day (expect to sign two to three players per year).
5. Be passionate about coaching and football.