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Thursday, November 29, 2018

TRANSITION DEFENSE -- "POINT AND TALK"

There are so many thoughts regarding effective transition defense.  You must first convert mentally.  There is nothing more important than the beginning -- the first three steps are essential for the possibility of success.  Straight-line sprint -- critical key for success.  But another facet of great transition defense occurs once your cross half-court.  We are constantly talking to our team about "pointing and talking" -- in other words everyone should be talking and pointing to who they are picking up in transition and seeing if someone has been missed.  Great effort getting back is wasted effort if we don't effectively pick up are assignments.

One the absolute best books I've read in the past couple of years is "Atomic Habits" by James Clear.  It's a book that I think can help you in so many ways and I strongly urge you to pick up a copy.  One of the stories that Clear shares is the "pointing and communicating" system used by the Japanese railway system:


"The Japanese railway system is regarded as one of the best in the world. If you ever find yourself riding a train in Tokyo, you’ll notice that the conductors have a peculiar habit.

As each operator runs the train, they proceed through a ritual of pointing at different objects and calling out commands. When the train approaches a signal, the operator will point at it and say, “Signal is green.” As the train pulls into and out of each station, the operator will point at the speedometer and call out the exact speed. When it’s time to leave, the operator will point at the timetable and state the time. Out on the platform, other employees are performing similar actions. Before each train departs, staff members will point along the edge of the platform and declare, “All clear!” Every detail is identified, pointed at, and named aloud.

This process, known as Pointing-and-Calling, is a safety system designed to reduce mistakes. It seems silly, but it works incredibly well. Pointing-and-Calling reduces errors by up to 85 percent and cuts accidents by 30 percent.

Pointing-and-Calling is so effective because it raises the level of awareness from a nonconscious habit to a more conscious level. Because the train operators must use their eyes, hands, mouth, and ears, they are more likely to notice problems before something goes wrong."

We shared this with our team, talking about how much more effective it made the subway and how it can help our transition defense.




Wednesday, October 24, 2018

FOR SABAN, BYE WEEK ABOUT IMPROVEMENT NOT TAKING A WEEK OFF

No stone unturned. 

Everything matters.


A reason for everything.


Fight for your culture everyday.


Coach Saban is about the process.  What is being done at this particular moment to make us better.  


It fascinates me to watch how Coach Saban never misses an opportunity to maintain the philosophy of process -- to hold strong the culture of daily improvement.  The language and daily message to his team is critical to this process.  This was true again at his weekly press conference where he explain the way they view an off week:



"I think the players got the idea from what I talked about yesterday at noon, was can you create momentum during a bye week by what you do. Define what a bye week is. Is a bye week a week off or is a bye week a week that you don't have a game but you have an opportunity every day to go out and improve on the things that you need to improve on, whether it's from a mental intensity standpoint, having lapses. Whether it's in a game. Those things happen in practice. So you practice those things so that you have the opportunity to improve." 

"A bye week is also about getting rest, getting hydrated, working on your strength. We try to balance those two things but we also take a lot of things that we're going to face in the next four weeks and try to get a little bit of work on all those things. So that's what we tried to do today. “

Thursday, October 4, 2018

HARD WORK AND RELATIONSHIPS KEYS TO S


Gregg Popovich speaks to the keys of Erik Spoelstra's success in an article in the Miami Herald written by Anthony Chiang:

“First of all, he did his work,” Popovich said. “He didn’t just pop up all of a sudden. He worked hard in the organization and learned the right way from coach (Pat) Riley. It was obvious he had not just basketball knowledge, that he knew about the game and he had his Os and Xs and knew what wins and loses. He was well schooled. But it’s way more than Os and Xs to be a successful coach.

“He develops great relationships with players. He knows how to walk the line between demanding discipline and letting them know he cares about them. To develop those relationships so there’s a player-coach trust is the whole key. I always feel like players have great B.S. antennae. If they don’t trust or they think you’re blowing smoke, it’s over quick. He’s the opposite of that. He’s one of the best.”


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

BILLY KENNEDY AND AGGIE MEN'S BASKETBALL ADDED TO GARY BLAIR COACHING ACADEMY


Today we are excited to add two new segments to this year’s Gary Blair Coaching Academy.  Billy Kennedy and his Texas A&M men’s basketball team will conduct a full practice as part of the Academy schedule.  Since taking the reins of the program, Coach Kennedy has guided Texas A&M to an SEC title and three trips to the postseason, highlighted by a run to the 2016 Sweet 16 which matched the school’s deepest run in the NCAA Tournament.

Also, on Saturday morning at 11:00 AM, the Aggie Women’s Basketball Team will have a Defensive Practice.  While not part of the Academy, coaches that get into town early are welcome to attend.

A reminder that the Academy also includes:
     ◄4 Complete Clinic Sessions featuring the entire Aggie Basketball staff and team.
     ◄Two sessions with Hall of Famer Gary Blair
     ◄Guest speakers Brendan Suhr and Jim Boone
     ◄Breakfast and Lunch (Dinner will be on your own)
     ◄Jump Drive that will include:
             •Segments from the Academy
             •Aggie Defensive Drill Notebook
             •Aggie Offensive Playbook
             •Clinic Notes & Book Notes
             •And much more!

Each year we work hard to bring in the best of the best as guest speakers and this year is no different.  In Brendan Suhr and Jim Boone, we have not only brought in a wealth of knowledge but some of the most experiences clinicians in the nation.

BRENDAN SUHR
Bendan Suhr’s career includes NBA stops with the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. Working with Chuck Daly, Suhr helped the Pistons to two World Championships. Surh was also the chief scout for the “Dream Team” in 1992 in Barcelona.  College stints have included Fairfield, UCF and LSU.  He is also the founder of Coaching U, one of the most dynamic clinics in the nation.

JIM BOONE
One of the most sought out clinicians in the nation, Jim Boone has had a remarkable career which includes over 500 career wins which ranks 12th among active Division II Coaches and is in the top 50 all-time among Division II Coaches.  He has also captured 7 Conference Championships, 4 Tournament Titles while making 11 Post-season appearances which includes two Final Fours.

The cost for the Gary Blair Academy is only $50!

For those coaches wanting to pay by credit card, simply click on this link: 
tinyurl.com/y8bb3a7p

Coach may also pay at the door though we request you email Coach Starkey at rstarkey@athletics.tamu.edu to reserve your spot.

Or use the form below to write a check and mail it in:



Tuesday, October 2, 2018

IF YOU'RE NOT TALKING, YOU'RE NOT WINNING

Here's a great passage on how much Bill Belichick values communication via "Gridiron Genius" by Michael Lombardi:
Once in New England, Belichick ripped all the numbers off the preseason practice jerseys. Everyone thought it was intended to confuse the media and other onlookers, but really it was to force the Patriots defenders to learn one another’s names and get used to talking during the play. Belichick always said that if you want to know how well a defense is working, just listen. Defenses succeed only if the players know the scheme. But they really thrive when the players are talking to one another on the field.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: WHY THE BEST ARE THE BEST


One of the most anticipated reads I've had in sometime was Kevin Eastman's "Why The Best Are The Best."  And it didn't disappoint.

I've known Kevin for over seven years and have heard him speak on numerous occasions including at Coach U and to our team at Texas A&M.  Two things are going to happen when you hear Kevin speak -- you are going to gain knowledge and your are going to be inspired.  The same is true with "Why The Best Are The Best."

What is special about the book is that you just don't have to be a basketball player or coach to gain from it.  You can participate or coach any sport and come away better.  In fact, forget the athletic industry as a whole.  If I worked with a group of people in any facet of life, this is a book that would help me to lead and build teams.

The book starts quick with Kevin's "25 Power Words" -- worth the price of the book alone.  Here are just a couple of my favorites: 

1. Truth - The ultimate “must have” for personal and team success; without it we’ll live in the world of frustration and regret.

12. Choices - If I listen to the right voices, I tend to make the right choices. 

16. Habits - The good ones are the most powerful and most needed; they are hard to create and difficult to break.

25. Talent - Overrated, unless we add an e and a d; in my world the e and the d stand for “extra dimension.”

Going back on "truth" Kevin expounded by saying truth needs three things:
       You must be able to live it.
       You must be able to tell it.
       You must be able to take it.

A few more thoughts that hit home that I will share with our team.

Competition:

But competition is more than simply you against me. It is a mindset to bring the best that you have in you each day, no matter how things are going. Competitors get their reputations not from just playing or working hard; those are given in the world of competition. True competition comes in when you are willing to continue to give the best of what you have even when you are losing. 


Some other highlights of the book included:

Kevin shares the 12 pillars in the Boston Celtics Standard Of Excellence.

There is also a section titled “Success Triangles”  that list three words bonded together that make a different in teams and competitors.  Below is the list but the book is a must read for the details Kevin gives on each.  

   ◄Capability, Knowledge, and Team-Ness

   ◄Three dimensions of success: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. 

   ◄Three sets: Skill set, Mindset and Reset.

   ◄Three C’s: Overcoming Complacency, Conceit and Compromise 

   ◄Three bests: The best, my best, our best.

   ◄Three don’ts: Do not dismiss obvious, age and ideas

   ◄Three battles: Combating fear, failure and limitation 

   ◄Three ingredients for success: Respect, Trust, Like

   ◄There ins: All-in, not-in, Give-in 

   ◄Three ups: Showing up, Shutting up, Keeping up 

There is also a section on the power of lists.  If you've heard Kevin speak you know he the master of "bullet points" -- sharing knowledge in short lists...and he shares some great ones in the book


The book also has tons of quotes — many that I will use with our team.  Here are three of my favorite:

“Having respect in this league is one of the hardest things to do. It’s not just about how you perform but how hard you work. Hard work gives you respect.” – Kevin Garnett

“Sometimes you have to put your heart into something knowing that it may be broken.” -Doc Rivers

“We have plenty of talent, but talent is not going to be good enough.”- Steve Kerr

Possibly the best part of the book are the numerous stories Kevin shares to bring home the power of his talking points.  Again, if you’ve heard Kevin speak you know he is a master story teller and an expert at painting pictures.  I’d share a few of those stories but I’d be cheating you — you need to get this book!


Monday, September 24, 2018

INGREDIENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL PRACTICE

I've known Sam Nichols for around 20 years now -- whether he was working our basketball camps at LSU or running into him at Don Meyer's Coaching Academy.  And while he was an outstanding coach, he's saved his best act for post retirement where is Founder and President of Basketball Smiles, a program of free basketball camps in the inner city playgrounds of the Bahamas. Below is a post by Sam with a great list on how to have successful practices:

Recently I had a young coach ask me for some suggestions on how to plan more efficient and productive practices. Here's a few ideas for I came up with for coaches to consider to help you plan your practices. Believe me, during my 33 years of coaching I learned there is an art to designing and executing your daily practices to where they contribute successful team development.

Hopefully, these thoughts will be helpful - here they are, in no particular order:

1. You can't be good at everything.
I heard Jim Calhoun say this at a clinic years ago. He said, "As a coach, pick out three things that you want to excel in, and focus on them. And your practices should reflect these three priorities. Another coach should be able to walk into your practices and be able to pick out those three things based upon what you're doing in practice."  Set priorities for your program and organize your practices to reflect your priorities. One of my favorite quotes: "We always find time for the things we put first." Decide what's important to and frame your practices around those priorities.

2. Coach both the "What" and the "Why"
Don't just tell your players "What" to do, tell them the "Why." Fundamentally, people "buy in" to the "Why" of anything, and if you take time to explain to your players the logic and reasoning behind your press or offensive philosophy, I believe your practices will be more fruitful.

3. Remember the 90-10 Rule
This comes from one of my mentors - Coach Dale Brown who always told me, "Be careful and not talk too much in practice - let them practice their skills 90% of the time and you talk only 10% of the time."  There's a difference between teaching and overcoaching.

4.  Have some part of practices stressful with consequences
Frankly, basketball is a game of performing under pressure and some segments of practice must be framed with pressure with resulting rewards for performing at a high level and consequences for poor performance.

5. Situational Segments
I learned the value of this from my Dad who, as a baseball coach, had us practice "situations" every day. Coaches cannot do all of the thinking for their players, nor make all of the pressure-packed decisions for their players - players have to think for themselves, and situational segments develop the confidence in players to where they believe they can make good decisions in games, because they have practiced similar situations in practice. Set up game-like situations on a regular basis and make them a routine - it will pay off!

6. Don't just work your starters together during situations
Shuffle your lineup during situations - late in the game, chances are, not all five of your starters will be in the game for one reason or another, so work situations with different lineups.

7. Make your players think for themselves and get themselves out of trouble  
In a loud gym in a meaningful game, your players won't be able to hear you "coach every dribble," so, especially in situational drills, keep your mouth shut and don't blow your whistle to correct every mistake. Instead, be quiet, and make your players work together to come up with a solution. Pat Riley says, "You must be a participant in your own rescue." Make them think - get themselves out of trouble - it will build their self-confidence and sense of teamwork.

8. Praise Extra Effort
If you want your players to play hard in games and give extra effort, you must praise and reward it on a daily basis in practice. As Don Meyer was fond of saying, "Your players will reproduce what you emphasize."  I encourage coaches, "Catch your players being good!"  Unfortunately, we all do a much better job catching them making mistakes. Let's balance that by intentionally praising extra effort. As you do this, that extra effort will be contagious.

9. Focus on You and Your Stuff
During the season, especially during Conference play, it's a great temptation to spend a disproportional amount of time on your opponent's offense and defense, out-of-bounds plays, etc.  The result - you neglect your stuff - your press break, your offensive sets, your defensive, then of course, on game day your execution suffers.

10.  Drills should relate to your offense and defense, and not just be "trendy" drills
As my Dad was fond of saying, "Know why you're doing, what you're doing." Practice time is too precious to waste, so don't just run drills that you saw at a clinic - run drills with a purpose. Utilize drills that have a direct correlation to your offensive and defensive schemes.

11. Understand there will be good practices and bad practices
Don't get overconfident and complacent when you have a good practice and everything clicks, and don't overreact and burn the gym down when you have a bad practice. The season is a grind and there is an ebb and flow to practices - you'll have some great ones, and from time to time your practices will, frankly, stink. A great coach knows that every day is a new day - build on the great practices, and flush the bad ones.

12. Practice doesn't happen in a vacuum
As much as we would like to have our players total focus and attention, we have to remember that they (and you) bring the sum of their entire day with them to practice. Develop relationships with your players so, hopefully, you can identify when one of them is having a bad day with issues maybe unrelated to basketball, but is affecting their performance.  It's also important to know yourself - if you're tired, on edge, etc., it can make you a miserable coach during practice.  I heard Coach K say one time, "When you are tired as a coach, you fall back into bad coaching habits."  So true!

13. Know When to Quit
Some days, your practices get bogged down and it's better to just shut down and call it a day! It's not your fault, it's not your players fault - as I said, the season is a grind, and there are times it's not going to be a productive day, so shut it down and re-group the next day. For sure, some days, when it gets bogged down, you have to push through and keep going, but that's where you must know your players and use good judgement. But, don't be afraid to know its time to send them home for today!

14. The Three Laws of Learning - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition 
Not every player “gets it” the first time or the tenth time, and if something is important, you must organize your practices where repetition of that skill ii systematic. You can’t teach skill development on a “every now and then” basis – if you want your players to learn something, you have to teach it over and over and over again! Repetition is the key to knowledge.

14. "See everything - overlook a great deal - correct a little" - Pope John XXIII 
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time and I had it written on every daily practice plan because I tended to "See everything - overlook nothing - correct everything."  I finally discovered that seeing every mistake and correcting it was counterproductive to what I was really wanting to develop in my players - individually and as a team. When I learned to relax and show some mercy, patience, and understanding, the entire atmosphere in practice improved and so much more was accomplished. I found a balance - I could still hold my players to a high standard of accountability, but I could do that with a lot less pressure on me and them!  We all enjoyed that so much more!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

THE EGG, A CARROT, AND SOME COFFEE BEANS


A few weeks ago we started the school year off with Jon Gordon speaking first to our coaches and then to our student-athletes.  He shared a story that I had not heard before about a carrot, an egg, some coffee beans and some hot water.  It's a pretty good story to share with your team:

Once upon a time, the daughter of an old gardener constantly complained about her life and about how difficult it was to continue. She was tired of fighting and did not feel like doing anything. When a problem was solved another one came up and that made her give up and feel defeated.

The gardener asked his daughter to come closer to the kitchen of his cabin and take a seat. Then he filled three containers with water and put them over fire. When the water began to boil, he put a carrot in one pot, an egg in the other and poured some coffee beans into the last one. He let them boil without saying a word while his daughter waited impatiently without understanding what her father was doing. After about twenty minutes her father turned off the fire. He took out the carrots and put them in a bowl. He pulled the eggs out and placed them in another dish. Lastly, he ladled the coffee.
He looked at his daughter and said, “What do you see?” “Carrots, eggs and coffee,” was her answer. He brought her closer and asked her to touch the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. Then her asked her to take an egg and break it. She took the shell off and observed the hard boiled egg. Then he asked her to try the coffee. She smiled as she enjoyed its sweet aroma. The daughter then asked “What does this mean, dad?“

He explained that the three objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. But they had reacted very differently. The carrot went into the water strong and solid; but after passing through the boiling water it had become weak and easy to break up. The egg had been fragile, its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior; but after sitting through the boiling water, its insides became hardened. The coffee however was unique; after being in boiling water, it had changed the water.

“Which one are you?” he asked his daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot that seems strong, but when pain and adversity knocks, do you become weak and lose your strength? Are you an egg that starts with a malleable heart ? Do you possess a fluid spirit, but after a death, separation, or a layoff, become hard and stiff? On the outside you are the same, but how have you transformed on the inside?

Or are you like the coffee? The coffee changes the water, the element that causes it pain. When the water reaches its boiling point, the coffee achieves its best flavor. If you are like the coffee bean, when things get worse you react better and make the things around you better.

And you, which one of the three are you?


Monday, August 27, 2018

A MORNING WITH JON GORDON

How much has Jon Gordon influenced me? The picture above is a toy bus that sits on my desk as a reminder that I'm in charge of my own energy!

I can remember the first time I met Jon though I'm sure he won't recall it because of the thousands he's met.  I was an assistant coach at the University of Central Florida and was walking through our building and came upon my friend Brendan Suhr who was talking to someone I had not met. Brendan grabbed me and introduced to me to Jon and the three of us talked for about 30 minutes.  

Now here's the thing about Jon -- you can't have a conversation with him no matter how short or how long and not come away juiced up about life.  His enthusiasm is set on max and it's genuine.  His other gift is that he listens with the intent to understand. He cares.

The next day I went to Brendan's office and said "who is this Jon guy?"  Brendan asked me if I'd read The Energy Bus.  I told him I hadn't and he encouraged me to run out and grab a copy.

Bam!  Jon Gordon fan for life.  The hardest question to answer?  What's your favorite Jon Gordon book?  Every book is so unique and impactful that depending upon what you are going through in life will factor into what you book you like the most at that time.

The Energy Bus is even more special when you learn that 30 publishers turned down the book.  He literally had to live out the lessons of the book to see it to its unbelievable success.  I always keep an extra copy on my desk for instances when I think someone would benefit from reading it.

Our teams in the past have read several of Jon's books including this year's team which read The Power of A Positive Team.  Tomorrow, at our first team meeting, they will turn in their reports on the book and we will talk about the lessons we've garnered.  Two years ago, we read The Hard Hat together -- an amazing book on being a great teammate.

Today, Jon was on our campus where he talked to our coaches and support staff this morning and he will speak to our student-athletes tonight. This morning I was blessed to come away with five pages of notes and will share just a few of Jon's messages:

Jon started by telling us he was a "student first, teacher second."  

In regard to your team or organization, "are you a contagious germ or Vitamin C?"

When the Energy Bus first game out, it wasn't carried in a single book store in the USA.  So Jon set up a 28 city tour -- paid for by himself.

"Keep you vision alive and it will keep you alive."

Jon pointed out that most runners quit a marathon around the 20th mile.  They are tired yet still not close enough to see the end in sight.  He challenged us to find out what our "20th mile was" and to confront it.

#1 Predictor of success is grit.  And the key to grit?  Connectivity.

Great teams have collective belief.  The best leaders transfer belief.

#1 mistake is to allow negativity to exist.  You must deal with, transform it, or relieve it.

Rules without relationships create rebellion.  Also, tough-love will only work when the love comes first.

Athletics are a training ground for life.

And my favorite take away from this morning: "Your identity does not come from your performance.  It comes from who you are on the inside."

If you haven't experience the growth opportunity from reading Jon's books I can't recommend it strongly enough.  You will not only become a better coach, but a better person.  A great way to start is by visiting Jon's website where you can see all his books.  You can also read his newsletter as well as sign up for a newsletter.





Saturday, August 4, 2018

GARY BLAIR'S 6TH ANNUAL TEXAS A&M COACHING ACADEMY

We wanted to take this opportunity to invite you to Gary Blair's 6th Annual Texas A&M Coaching Academy will be held at Texas A&M on October 13-14 and will include the following:

     4 Complete Clinic Sessions featuring the entire Aggie Basketball staff and team.
     ◄Two sessions with Hall of Famer Gary Blair
     Guest speakers Brendan Suhr and Jim Boone
     Breakfast and Lunch (Dinner will be on your own)
     Jump Drive that will include:
             •Segments from the Academy
             •Aggie Defensive Drill Notebook
             •Aggie Offensive Playbook
             •Clinic Notes & Book Notes
             •And much more!

Hotel options are at the bottom of the post.

Each year we work hard to bring in the best of the best as guest speakers and this year is no different.  In Brendan Suhr and Jim Boone, we have not only brought in a wealth of knowledge but some of the most experiences clinicians in the nation.

BRENDAN SUHR
Bendan Suhr’s career includes NBA stops with the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic. Working with Chuck Daly, Suhr helped the Pistons to two World Championships. Surh was also the chief scout for the “Dream Team” in 1992 in Barcelona.  College stints have included Fairfield, UCF and LSU.  He is also the founder of Coaching U, one of the most dynamic clinics in the nation.

JIM BOONE
One of the most sought out clinicians in the nation, Jim Boone has had a remarkable career which includes over 500 career wins which ranks 12th among active Division II Coaches and is in the top 50 all-time among Division II Coaches.  He has also captured 7 Conference Championships, 4 Tournament Titles while making 11 Post-season appearances which includes two Final Fours.

The cost for the Gary Blair Academy is only $50!

In weeks to come we will also release a list of hotels offering special rates for those attending.

We are attaching a flier with detailed information and a form should you want to pay by check.  For those coaches wanting to pay by credit card, simply click on this link: 







Below are some hotel options:

Hampton Inn by Hilton
$99.00 + tax
320 Texas Ave S
College Station, TX 77840
979-846-0184
Reservation Group Code is: BCC
Reserve by: Friday, September 28, 2018

Hyatt Place College Station
$99.00 + tax
1100 University Dr. East
College Station, TX 77840
979-846-9800
When call for reservations the hotel knows they are with the “Aggie Coaching Academy”
Reserve by: Monday, October 1, 2018

Texas A&M Hotel & Conference Center
$107.00 + Tax
177 Joe Routt Blvd
College Station, TX 77843
888-654-4436
Parking is an additional charge

Cancellations must do it more than 48 hours out.