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Friday, June 29, 2012

A COACH'S MOST IMPORTANT ROLE

The following is beautifully written by University of Washington Assistant Coach Mike Neighbors and should be a must see/read for all coaches -- especially assistant coaches:

Have you ever wondered if you were supposed to be a coach?

Sacramento, California… ARCO Arena… March 29th, 2010… NCAA Elite 8… Stanford (34-1) vs. Xavier (30-3). Winner advances to the Final Four… Stanford had won their first three tourney games by a combined 98 points… Xavier attempting to be first non-BCS school to advance to Final Four in 11 years…20.6 seconds to play… 51-51 tie game… Xavier ball on the side coming out of a timeout… Shot clock is off…Ball inbounded safely… All-American Amber Harris cuts off a high cross screen and draws a double team from Stanford All–Americans, Nneka Ogwumike and Kayla Pedersen… Harris finds a wide open Dee Dee Jernigan behind the defense… Amber fires a bullet pass to block… Dee Dee can’t convert the wide open two footer… Harris alertly scrambles for the rebound which she secures… As she dribbles to get space, she finds Dee Dee again even more open and closer to bucket than the first time with 9.5 to play...she misses again… and this time Stanford’s Kayla Pedersen rebounds…

This was the moment I knew I was supposed to be a coach.

If you don’t remember the play or have never seen it, check out this link to hear Stuart Scott’s ESPN call of the action and also what followed in the final 4.4 seconds before you read on.


So much of our daily routine as a coach is spent doing things in an office. We are on the computer researching opponents or recruits. We are manning a remote control watching film in preparation for an upcoming game or one of our own games/practices. We are on our phone chatting with other coaches about the latest gossip or news of the day. We are filing out paper work for an upcoming road trip. On top of that high school coaches are grading papers, filling out absentee forms, doing lunch duty, or meeting with a parent about a student’s generally poor attitude in your math class.

While vital to execution of our jobs, it is NOT what our players really need from us. If you as a coach can’t perform the necessary duties of your job without tiring out or burning out, you will never be there when your players truly need you.

I learned this one the hard way over the years. I found myself so wrapped up in “doing my job” that most times I wasn’t there to do my real job. Sure, I had some highlights. I was there at times, but wow did I miss out on so many more.

Over the last two years since that Stanford game, I have been trying to collect all the times I was there when a player needed me as well as the times I wasn’t. With help from other Newsletter group members and coaching colleagues input, I hope we can share a piece that will help young coaches from having to learn these lessons the hard way.

I can assure that your boss will never be upset if “your TPS reports are late” if you are tending to the welfare of one of your players. (Office Space reference for you non-movie buff basketball heads)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I TOLD MYSELF I WAS UNSTOPPABLE

A sold-out crowd of more than 17,000 watched from the risers of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on March 19, 2011 at Arizona State University senior Anthony Robles emerged from the locker room on crutches. After handing them to ASU assistant coach Brian Stith, he hopped to the corner of the mat, crouched down on one knee, and waited for the whistle that would signal the start of his final wrestling match.

"I told myself I was unstoppable," says Robles of that moment. "I had put way too much into it to go in there and not come out with a national title."

That day, Robles, who was born without a right leg and permanently traded in a prosthetic one for crutches at the age of 3, defeated defending national champ Matt McConough 7-1 to become the first disabled wrestler in history to win a national college title.

By Alison Miller of Spirit Magazine

THE SUCCESS OF FAILURE

Finding some time to go through my folder of "Things to Read" and came across a fascinating article from CNN.com by Todd Leopold on "The Success of Failure."  I've wrote about if often but one thing that Coach Dale Brown always preached to our teams was "how strong is your FQ."  He thought it was more important than IQ.  FQ was "failure quotient."  In other words, how much failure can you handle, maintain a positive attitude, remain focused to your goals and keep pushing through.  He'd like the following excerpts: 

Failure. It's such an ugly word, isn't it? It reeks of cancer, of loss: the sense that what once went wrong cannot be set right, that the world has come to an end, that failures are failures forever -- that it's not just the project that failed, but you. Successful people, we imagine, are somehow blessed with more optimism, bigger brains and higher ideals than the rest of us.

But it's not true. Successful people -- creative people -- fail every day, just like everybody else. Except they don't view failure as a verdict. They view it as an opportunity. Indeed, it's failure that paves the way for creativity.
 
John Seely Brown is the former head of the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), the Xerox lab responsible for digital printing, the computer mouse and Ethernet. He says "trafficking in unlimited failure" let PARC's employees invent once-unimaginable technologies.

"My mantra inside PARC, which was never particularly appreciated in corporate headquarters, was at least 75% of the things we did failed," he says.

Investment manager Diane Garnick, who taught a course on failure at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, put it succinctly. "We learn more from our failures than we could ever learn from our successes."

Plugging away -- with no guarantee of success -- is not advice people like to hear. Iain Roberts, a principal with the design consultancy IDEO, says some clients have to be educated that "you have to be OK with failing." Clients naturally want to play it safe, but sometimes the most interesting ideas are out on the fringes.

"It's always a risk," he says. But a necessary one: "If you're not failing, you're not pushing hard enough."

Giving up is not the end

Giving up can also be part of the creative process, says Dean Keith Simonton, a psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, and a creativity expert.
 
"Sooner or later, creators have to learn when an idea is going nowhere," he says.

But, he cautions, that point is hard to identify.

"The error is more often in the opposite direction: Not giving a new idea a sufficient chance for development. It is not easy to tell in advance which is going to pan out and which not," he says. The uncertainty cuts both ways: "Edison spent more time and money developing a means for separating iron ore than he did on the electric light bulb. The former was a dismal failure, the latter a brilliant success."

Read the entire article: http://bit.ly/xGmqeY

DOC RIVERS' ADVICE FOR ASSISTANT COACHES

1. You have to bring energy/enthusiasm (Juice)

2. Get players off the fence

3. Get players to work hard

4. Add value

5. Enforce the culture, confront the players who are not following the core values

6. Positive body language

7. Be ready to speak when the coach needs you.

8. It‟s not your team, it is the head coaches

9. Emotion vs. Evaluation

10. Give solutions to problems you see

11. Read your head coach

12. Keep notes for the HC

13. Loyalty

14. Check ego at the door

THE POWER OF A TEACHER'S WORDS

When asked the best advice he ever got, Michael Oher responed this way:

"It was from two teachers, Ms. Verlen Logan and Miss Sue Mitchell.  In the 4th grade, Ms Logan used to tell our class, 'Can't never could and ain't never would."  Later in high school, Miss Sue expressed the same idea, but more simply.  Whenever I felt like things were too difficult or I was thinking about giving up, she would say, 'You can do it.'  I know that doesn't sound like much, but for a kid who no one thought would amount to anything, having an adult believe in me enough to say 'You can do it' was empowering."

KEVIN EASTMAN: PHASES FOR YOUR POST PLAYERS

“Stay clear between the ears.”



“You don‟t have to score to play.”


 “If you want to find a niche, offensive rebound.”


 “Need niche guys on your team, find a niche ENERGY guy.”


"When you work, make sure you and the players work with their Heads‟.


“Maybe bad 1st shots, but rarely bad second shots.”


"Filling the lane and running rim to rim requires no skill but commitment and will.


“If you rebound too much you won‟t come out!”


ROLE: “May not be the one you want, but what we need to win a championship.”


“The more you go after the ball, the more you get!”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

WHAT IS ATHLETICISM?

In one of his recent Hard 2 Guard Player Development Newsletters, Brian McCormick takes on the concept of "athleticism" and makes some incredibly important points. The primary subject of Brian's blog was the perceived or lackthereof athleticism of Jimmer Fredette. Here are some of Brian's points:

I wish those who evaluate players had a better understanding of the attributes, characteristics, skills and talents that they were evaluating, as opposed to possessing a journalism degree.

I have written about the subject numerous times with regards to Steve Nash and Roger Federer: athleticism is more than explosiveness. Explosiveness is a key element of athleticism, especially in basketball, but it is not everything. Athleticism includes balance, agility, quickness, hand-eye coordination, endurance, strength, hand dexterity, foot dexterity, coordination and more.

I have seen Fredette play twice, so I am far from an expert. However, he illustrates good strength, footwork, agility, coordination and more.

More importantly, sport intelligence impacts sport athleticism. In tests of agility, players perform differently in closed-skill tests than in open-skill tests. There is an NBA player who tests as a mediocre athlete in closed-skill agility tests, but tests off the charts in open-skill tests (the trainer asked me not to disclose the exact test or the name of the player).

Therefore, pattern recognition and anticipation skills influence game athleticism. Fredette appears to have great pattern recognition and anticipatory skills which would augment his athleticism and make him a better game performer than any closed-skill test might suggest (in the event that he tests poorly; he may very well test like a good athlete even in closed-skill tests). If NBA writers and decision-makers rely too much on the out-dated tests at the combines, they may underestimate Fredette’s athleticism and his ability to translate his college success to the NBA. Explosiveness is not the same as athleticism. Athleticism is more than 40-inch vertical jumps or a 300 lbs. bench press.

Vern Gambetta defines athleticism as “the ability to execute athletic movements (run, jump, throw) at optimum speed with precision, style and grace while demonstrating technical competency in the context of your sport.” Clearly, by this definition, The Jimmer is plenty athletic.

Read Brian's entire blog: http://developyourbballiq.com/

Monday, June 25, 2012

THE TRUE JOY IN LIFE

“This is the true joy in life…being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one…being a force of Nature instead of a feverish selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy…I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die. For the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It’s a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possibly before handing it on to future generation.”



-George Bernard Shaw

DO YOU TEACH OR EDUCATE?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

THE BEST PART

“The best part of it for me is the idea that this group of young men, who came together and believed in themselves, bought the team concept completely, took the names off the back of the jerseys, checked the egos at the door. The reinforcement for team is the greatest source of satisfaction for me. You start to think about all our veteran guys who now are world champions and are experiencing that feeling for the first time, reinforcing the concept of team, that’s the great thing for me.”



-Tom Coughlin
From "Raising Lombardi" by Ross Bernstein

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

THE GARY BLAIR TEXAS A&M AGGIE COACHING ACADEMY

We are very excited to announce today the dates of the inaugural Gary Blair Texas A&M Aggie Coaching Academy. The dates for the Academy will be August 11-12. This will be a unique experience because our Aggie basketball team will be available for demonstration purposes as we prepare for our summer tour in Italy.

Here is a look at the two-day schedule of the Academy:

Saturday - August 11, 2012
12:30 Registration

1:30 Practice Philosophy (Coach Blair)

2:00 Perimeter Workout (Coach Bond)

3:30 Post Workout (Coach Starkey)

4:45 Dinner

6:00 Aggie Team Practice

8:30 Coaches' Social

Sunday - August 12, 2012
8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Shooting Workout (Coach Wright)

9:30 Aggie Program Stations

       Motivating Today's Student-Athletes

       Creating Recruitable Student-Athletes

       The Art of Scouting

       Strength & Conditioning

11:30 Facilities Tour

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Defensive Conditioning (Coach Starkey)

2:00 Aggie Team Offense (Coach Blair)

3:00 Q&A with the Aggie Staff

Cost for the Academy is only $50 and includes all three meals listed as well Coaches' Social. Also included will be an Academy Notebook that will include sections on philosophy, motivation, scouting, conditioning, recruiting, playbook and practice planing. There will also be a DVD provided later with footage of the various sessions.

More on the clinic from our website: http://bit.ly/Lnei7p

We are also working on discounted hotel rates and will be announcing that soon as well.

You can also get updates by "likiing" our Gary Blair Coaching Academy Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/LMufUi

DO WHAT YOU CAN, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE, WHERE YOU ARE

The other day I tweeted a famous line from Teddy Roosevelt: "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."  It is of course all about attitude and having a vision to see beyond boundaries.  It was something that then LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman constantly preached to us as coaches.  He and his administration would work hard to give us all the tools we needed to succeed (and they did) but a lack of anything would not be acceptable as an excuse for not being successful.  And Skip walked the walk.  As baseball coach of the Tigers, Skip won five National Championships on arguably the worst baseball field in the Southeastern Conference.

You can moan and groan and whine about what you don't have or you can go to work with what you do have -- just like the track team that Paul Daugherty wrote about for SI.com.  Here is an excerpt:

Winning a state high school track title when your team doesn't have a track isn't as strange as it may seem. Training on an access road is underrated, particularly once you know where all of the oil spots are. After you realize the sewer grate is in Lane 6 and the manhole cover is in Lane 5 -- or is it the other way around? -- the rest is a breeze.

Except when the occasional vehicle makes a wrong turn. Or when the city bus arrives, to pick up students. Or when the school bus does the same. How many running tracks make the afternoon traffic report?

"As you can see, it is not smooth,'' said coach Gerald Warmack, unintentionally metaphorical.

Maybe your high school football team shared its field with a herd of cows. Maybe your centerfielder dodged used cars on the warning track, or your basketball team played a 2-3 zone in between the first- and second-chair violins in the symphony. Slide your feet. Don't hit the tuba.

Everyone has played a sport in less-than-ideal surroundings. A slightly bent rim, base paths rutted by rain. If you haven't taken a bad-hop, must-of-hit-a-rock grounder to the face, you haven't played hardball.

This is different.

This isn't just an inconvenience, though everyone involved at Shroder calls it that. This is running as fast as you can while wondering: That school bus that was there a minute ago ... did it leak any grease on my lane?

This is making a baton exchange through a dip in the asphalt. The runner with the baton is sprinting downhill; the runner receiving it is trying to do the opposite. There is some science to passing a baton efficiently. The rest is purely physical. Unless, you know, there's a car in your lane.

It might be easy to forget the pain of running on asphalt, when you're gliding on rubber. The motivation was never forgotten, however. "We do wonder what we could do if we had a real track,'' said Bishop.

No better than what they did. No better than first place. The Jaguars went from fourth to tied for first in the third leg, then brought the title home in the anchor leg. Their winning time was 1.1 seconds faster than the second-place team. That was pounding some serious pavement. "Ran their hearts out,'' Warmack said.

There are no plans for Shroder to build a track, not unless Fifth Third Bank or Coca-Cola cede some of their extensive parking-lot acreage. The best Warmack and his athletes can do is what they've been doing. Negotiate the peaks and valleys and watch out for the oil slicks.

"The kids don't complain,'' said Warmack. "They just run.''

If you can, please take the time to read the entire article (and check out the photos), it's well-written and well worth it: http://bit.ly/NNHBSv

BUILDING CAMARADERIE

You hear coaches give it lip service all the time.  "Team chemistry is an important part of team success."  My question is, how much time do you spend planning events to improve team chemistry.  When working for Sue Gunter at LSU, we had a weekly staff meeting in which we went over various aspects of our program from recruiting, practice, travel and administrative details.  But she always took time to ask "What are we doing with are team away from basketball this week?"  It was part of her philosophy -- therefore part of our system.  We talked about...we mapped it out...we executed it.

That's why I wanted to post this article I read via Stephanie Zonar's twitter feed from the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Why would Packers coach Mike McCarthy give up one of his precious minicamp practice days to take his team to a clay shooting range?

The answer is simple. McCarthy believes building camaraderie on his team is just as important as going through drills on the practice field.

"I think team building is very important," said McCarthy. "Any time you have an opportunity to be together as a football team, it's about building relationships. That's something that goes unsaid, unnoticed. We've attempted to do a team building event almost every year since I've been here, and the one yesterday was very unique."

McCarthy took his team to Little Creek Lodge in Little Suamico to shoot clays on Wednesday after canceling the regularly scheduled practice.

"The time and camaraderie that was spent, it was a very positive day just to get the guys out of here and away from work," said McCarthy. "It's important. Now, does skeet shooting, the fine eye-hand motor skill of skeet shooting help us win football games? I don't think so. But the opportunity for those guys to be out there in a different environment and continue to build relationships I think is vital to team chemistry. I think it was a great day."

Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush said the outing gave him a chance to get to know players he normally doesn't hang out with.

The Packers roster was divided into groups of four or five players to form shooting teams. Bush was in a group that included offensive linemen Derek Sherrod and T.J. Lang.

"We're meeting with different groups of the team rather than like all the DBs hanging out, and that's kind of what we do now, because we're like always around, we're always meeting," said Bush. "We never really hang out with the O-line. … It's nice to see where their heads are at. It's nice to laugh, crack jokes and kind of just get to know each other."

Bush was impressed with the shooting ability of Sherrod.

"He knew what he was doing," said Bush. "He's a real quiet guy. You never get the chance to talk with him in the locker room so seeing him outside the football (facility), you see what the people are like. That's very important."

THE QUESTION

A big thanks to Stephanie Zonars for posting this link on her twitter timeline.  It's a piece by Darren Hardy of SuccessMagazine.com and should be ready by every coach, parent, spouse and friend.

During my interview with Dan Sullivan for the May issue of SUCCESS he suggested there was a question you could ask that would immediately determine if you were trusted by someone, and it would engender deeper trust with those who do trust you. I decided to test it.

The Question

Whether with a prospect, existing client, vendor, colleague or family member, this is the question to ask:

“If we were to sit down together 3 years from now, what would have to happen to make you feel happy with your success or progress?”

Then be quiet and listen.

If they don’t answer you (refuse to answer, change topic, say something sarcastic), they don’t trust you.

If they do answer they will probably reveal some of their innermost desires, hopes and motivations.

I tried this with eight people over the last week…

I was dismayed (and enlightened) by a few I hadn’t realized didn’t trust me (enough to share their inner feelings, hopes and dreams). This became very informative on how I have showed up to them or might have treated them. Changes will be made.

With the other five I had some of the most meaningful and intimate conversations I have had with almost anyone, ever. There is no question, after discussing this question, that our trust connection is now significantly deeper. I plan to continue to ask this question in as many circumstances as possible—it is very telling, quickly.

Using this question yourself will not only be useful in helping you figure out how you can help other people, but it will also build great intimacy between you. Most people don’t ask that deep of a question and then listen fully while someone reveals the answer.

Practice by asking this question to your children, members of your family, your employees and members of your team. Then ask potential clients, customers and prospects.

THE ART OF SIMPLICITY

"Simple can be harder than complex.  You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple.  But it's worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains."

-Steve Jobs

THE GREAT ONES ARE GREAT BECAUSE OF THE SACRIFICE THEY MAKE

The following is an excerpt from an article written by Kate Fagan for ESPNW:

The wind was whipping. The temperature was dipping. What had been rain was now sleet. The members of the U.S. women's national team were sitting in their cars outside a middle school track in Colorado Springs, Colo., their headlights illuminating the conditions. And every player was thinking the same thing: No way we're running in this.

It was early October, and they were gathered for their conditioning test, which was a timed 2-mile run. The selection committee had chosen the first 11 players back in May: Sheryl Swoopes, Lisa Leslie, Katrina McClain, Teresa Edwards, Dawn Staley, Nikki McCray, Rebecca Lobo, Jennifer Azzi, Katy Steding, Ruthie Bolton and Carla McGhee. They were a delicate blend of experience, talent and marketability. They needed to win gold, yes, but they also needed to capture the public's imagination along the way, proving that women's hoops could carve out space in America's already crowded sports landscape.
 
The newly formed team had flown overseas for games in Lithuania and Italy that spring of 1995, but then disbanded for the summer, each player going home with a training schedule in hand. Every week, they mailed their workout results to VanDerveer, who meticulously compiled the numbers. Now, with the temperature near freezing, the team was together again at a small track near the U.S. Olympic training facility -- and the players figured Mother Nature had bought them a day off.

They were wrong. "Some of them, they weren't used to working like this," VanDerveer recalls. "I can't say people loved it, but they eventually embraced it. They were proud of the fact they became so fit and strong."

Everyone made their times except Leslie, McGhee and Lobo. All three became members of VanDerveer's "Breakfast Club," which required them to run the test each morning until they broke 16 minutes. The 6-foot-4 Lobo was the last to pass, doing so on the fourth day.

For the next nine months, the team lifted weights and conditioned every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Whether it was a game day or a travel day, they worked out, recording each sprint and lift in a binder VanDerveer had distributed. The first page of everyone's binder was a photocopy of Edwards' gold medal from the 1988 Seoul Games.

Just before the Olympics, the players were invited to the White House to jog along the Potomac with President Bill Clinton. Before the run, a White House aide pulled VanDerveer aside and asked, "What if the girls have trouble keeping up with him?" The coach thought to herself, Then I will cut those girls on the spot.
 
Read the entire article: http://es.pn/Mne4Np

Monday, June 18, 2012

WINNING IS A HABIT

WHAT DOES YOUR WORK ETHIC SAY ABOUT YOU?


The following was written by Dr. Kimberly Alyn:

About two years ago I was conducting a coaching session for a group of firefighters in California. One of them was preparing for the panel interview for an entry level firefighter position. One was preparing for a fire captain position and the other two in the session were preparing for the engineer position. As I was throwing practice panel interview questions at the firefighter candidates, the entry level firefighter asked me an interesting question. He said, “Kim, how would you answer an entry level question like this: ‘A fire department within sixty miles of here is taking new applications for firefighters too. They only have a twelve month probationary period and we have an eighteen month probationary period here in this department. Why would you apply with our department over theirs?’” I responded, “That’s actually a very easy answer. If I were asked that question in a panel interview I would say ‘The probationary period is irrelevant. I don’t plan to change my performance level in twelve months, eighteen months, or eighteen years. The only people who should fear longer probationary periods are people who have low performance and fear of being evaluated. That’s not me. I will always demonstrate a high level of work ethic and dedication to the job.’

Could you say that if you received that panel interview question? Did your work ethic change after you passed probation? Have you slid into a “shift mentality” like so many other firefighters? “I’m just going to do the minimum required on my shift and go home. Why should I give any more to this department than I have to?”

I see a lot of firefighters go through burnout, disillusionment, and a decline in work ethic. Maybe they have been frustrated with the politics of the department. Maybe they have been passed over for a promotion. Maybe they just don’t care about the job that much anymore. Whatever the reason, the decline in work ethic speaks volumes into someone’s character. People with strong character give 100 percent and strive for excellence because they refuse to do less than their best. People with weaker character blame the organization and others for their lack of excellence and settle for mediocrity.

Great leaders make a choice to be great leaders. It never happens by accident, and it never happens to people who live with “victim mentalities.” You are always in control of your work ethic and the level of excellence you put forth. Whether you agree with everything that goes on in your department or not, succumbing to a lower work ethic is just bad leadership and shows weak character.

Larry Bird once said, “I've got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.” George Bernard Shaw said, “When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.” People who put forth stellar work ethic seem to have things work out in the end for them. Yes, many of them had to work ten times harder than the average person, but most will tell you it’s worth it.

When you let others dictate the level of excellence you will put forth, you give them way too much control over you. When you let any of the behaviors and actions of others dictate your reaction, you relinquish control of your life. When my nephew was only five years old, he became frustrated with me and his mother (my sister) for not giving him his way. He crossed his arms over his chest, scowled furiously at us both, and proceeded to yell, “FINE! I am not playing with my toys for the rest of the day!” Then he stormed out of the room as we attempted to contain our laughter. He sure showed us!

That is the same childish behavior adults often engage in when they don’t get their way. They withhold higher levels of performance, kindness, respect, or work ethic. In reality, it only hurts you. Becoming bitter towards others is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. The other person or the organization never dies. Only you do. You die a slow internal death reflected in your burnout, decline in performance, and poor attitude. It only hurts you and it represents a magnificent waste of potential. Take a look at your work ethic today. What does it say about your character as a formal or informal leader? Don’t give others the power over your performance. Make a commitment today to give everything you do 100 percent!

"EVERY TIME I HEARD THE BALL BOUNCE, I WAS OUT THE DOOR"

The following comes from an older article  written by Mark Montieth for IndyStar.com:

Larry Bird's Hall of Fame basketball career began when he was about 5 years old, living in a modest house on a hill near French Lick. A rim had been nailed to the garage, with no backboard, but Bird didn't have a ball to throw at it.

That changed one Christmas, but the ball was a cheap one that grew lumps when it was brought inside from the cold and laid next to the potbellied stove.

"It just broke my heart," Bird recalled. "But my dad said, 'Dribble with it. It'll improve your ballhandling.' "

Such was the foundation of a career that made Bird a lasting icon for all hard-working players with limited resources. Whether it was a shoddy rim, a ball that wouldn't bounce right, limited quickness or a gravity-laden vertical jump, Bird made the best of what he had.

Early on, Bird played just to play. If not at his house, then on cold winter days at a wooden court in a friend's barn loft or, later, on the outdoor courts at school. His grandmother, Lizzie Kerns, lived across the street from the school, which enabled Bird to hear the siren call of his future.

"Every time I heard a ball bounce, I was out that door," he said.

Gradually, he fell in love with the game. There was a summer recreation program for the grade school kids and then in the sixth grade, finally, there were games against other schools that made his heart pound in anticipation.

"We had to go right by that court," he said. "They'd yell stuff like, 'Oh, you're too good to play with us today?' So we'd stop and play again. It was crazy. You just wanted to get home and get something to eat, and here you are, playing for two or three more hours out there."

In the summers, kids from other counties would migrate for pickup games in the school gym. It got so crowded that if you lost, you had to sit out three or four games before getting back on the court. That was another lesson -- every game means something -- a lesson Bird took to heart.

The moments alone were great, too.

Places like the Boys Club offered a welcome sanctuary, and Bird would practice four hours at a time. He didn't just shoot. He invented drills to work on his ballhandling and passing. He'd pick out a brick on the wall and try to hit it, over and over again, with all sorts of passes.

His imagination and the hours and hours of labor gave him a special feel for the ball and a sense of calm that stayed with him for the rest of his career.

When he won those three consecutive 3-point shooting contests over the NBA's All-Star weekend from 1986-88, he merely recaptured the sensation of shooting at the Boys Club. It was the same for crucial free throws.

"I used to shoot a lot of free throws," he said. "I wouldn't leave until I made a hundred in a row. When I went to the line in the pros, I'd just remember the feeling of the ball coming off my fingers. I'd never go up there thinking, 'Oh, I'm going to miss this.' I'd just go back to being on the court in the summer and shooting all those free throws, and trying to remember the rhythm."

Read the entire article: http://indy.st/LxK1kI

CAMP LECTURE: HARD WORK

Here are the cliff notes to my lecture for our position camp this evening...the topic being HARD WORK.

The great ones control what they can control — we can all control how hard we work.

"I've had smarter people around me all my life, but haven't run into one yet that can outwork me. And if they can't outwork you, then smarts aren't going to do them much good. That's just the way it is. And if you believe that and live by it, you'd be surprised at how much you can have." Woody Hayes

The problem for us all is we see someone doing something great and they make it look easy so we assume it is easy to do or at least easy for them. We don’t realize how hard they have worked to master something. Michael Jordan (great player ever)...Shaquille O’Neal (one of the most dominating post players ever) — both got cut in high school...resilient but extremely hard working.

“If you think you are working hard, you can work harder. If you think you are doing enough, there is more that you can do. No one really ever exhausts his full potential.” Pete Carril

Examples:
Magic Johnson...Dick Vitale (than coach at University of Detroit) thought he’s surprised and impress Magic Johnson by showing up at 6:30 AM at his Michigan home one winter. With chilling, windy, snowy weather on the ground Vitale knocked on the door. Magic’s mom answers and told him that Magic had already left. He goes to the outdoor court every morning and shoots before the bus comes. http://bit.ly/4C98ZH

Chris Paul...started his off-season workouts at 4:21 AM when he was with the Hornets http://bit.ly/m59wXN

Chris Jackson...game-like shooting immediately following a night game at LSU because he was upset he missed 3 similar shots.

Larry Bird..."I used to shoot a lot of free throws. I wouldn't leave until I made a hundred in a row." (86.7% career FT shooter...lead NBA 4 times...10th all-time).

Seimone Augustus...McKinnley HS...Rec Center

Derrick Rose...700 jumpers a day in the off-season http://bit.ly/Kgj42z

Shaquille talking about how hard Kobe Bryant worked at practice...first one there, last one to leave...every drill at game speed — even drills on his own...always carried a compact DVD player...watched video walking down the hall or while getting taped.

Sylvia Fowles hiring a post coach and paying his way to come and stay in Russia to workout her out during her season in Russia.

LeBron James has his own personal shooting coach...paid his way to Beijing, China during the 2008 Olympics so he could work on his shooting for an hour in the afternoon after team USA practiced...spent last summer with Hakeem Olajuwon working on low post game.

Michael Jordan:
Hired his own strength and conditioning coach...built an amazing weight room in his home...hired a chef to create ultimate training meals.

Baseball: first one to the park and last one to leave — hitting instructor at the end of the day would say we’re done. MJ: “Can we do a little more.” http://bit.ly/KBnMhg

Coming out of retirement, first practice back, practice ended and the team broke from half-court to the locker room. Michael walked to the end line and started running wind sprints — team came back and joined him!

After 5th championship he was asked why his he still playing — “I think I can get better.”

WHAT WAS YOUR EXCUSE AGAIN?!?!

THE SECRET OF SUCCESS IN 8 WORDS AND IN 3 MINUTES

11 KEYS TO INCREASING YOUR PRODUCTIVITY

A great list from Brian Tracy.

Develop clear goals and write them down. Because higher productivity begins with clear goals, goal setting is a key component of our coaching program. As you know, a goal must be specific and measurable to be effective in guiding your behavior. It must reflect your beliefs and be within your power to achieve.

Write a clear action plan. Next, if you want to turbo-charge your productivity, make sure you have a clear, written plan of action. Every minute you spend in careful planning will save you as many as ten minutes in execution.

Set your priorities. The third step is to prioritize your list. Analyze your list before you take action. Identify and start with the high-value tasks on your list.

Concentrate and eliminate distractions. In this step, choose a high-value activity or task, start on it immediately, and stay with it until it is done. Focusing single-minded attention on one task allows you to complete it far more quickly than starting and stopping.

Lengthen your workday but increase your time off. By starting your workday a little earlier, working through lunchtime, and staying a little later, you can become one of the most productive people in your field.

Work harder at what you do. When you are at work, concentrate on work all the time you are there. Don't squander your time or fall into the habit of treating the workplace as a community where socializing is acceptable.

Pick up the pace. At work, develop a sense of urgency and maintain a quicker tempo in all your activities. Get on with the job. Dedicate yourself to moving quickly from task to task.

Work smarter. Focus on the value of the tasks you complete. While the number of hours you put in is important, what matters most is the quality and quantity of results you achieve.

Align your work with your skills. Skill and experience count. You achieve more in less time when you work on tasks at which you are especially skilled or experienced.

Bunch your tasks. Group similar activities and do them all at the same time. Making all your calls, completing all your estimates, or preparing all your presentation slides at the same time allows you to develop speed and skill at each activity.

Cut out steps. Pull several parts of the job together into a single task and eliminate several steps. Where you can, cut lower-value activities completely.

Action Exercise
What are your ten most important goals? Carefully review your ten most important goals. Select one that, if achieved immediately, would have the strongest positive impact on your life.

GAVE UP "ME," BECAME "MORE"

When I gave up ME, I became MORE. I became a captain, a leader, a better person and I came to understand that life is a team game...and you know what? I’ve found most people aren’t team players. They don’t realize that life is the only game in town. Someone should tell them. It has made all the difference in the world to me.”

CARING FIRST AND FOREMOST ABOUT YOUR TEAM'S SUCCESS

“Team sports are really difficult things.  Sometimes your team wins because of you, sometimes in spite of you and sometimes it's like you're not even there.  That's the reality of the team game.  Than at one point in my career...something wonderful happened.  I don't know why or how...but I came to understand what "team" meant.  It meant that although I didn't get a hit or make a great defensive play.  I could impact my team by caring first and foremost about the team's success and not my own.”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

BEING A GOOD TEAMMATE

I take great pride in my blog posts of giving credit when possible to any information I pass along to you. I think it's very important -- just like a score acknowledging a pass or a screen. So many people have reached out and giving me information to share with others. Unfortunately I have not idea where the information in this particular post originated. Moving from one location to another, I am going through a lot of boxed and information and filing them away in my new office here at Texas A&M. I came across this and read it not only once, but twice. I think it's incredibly well-thought out and well-written. It's good stuff and something I think you might want to share with your staff, your team and/or your family. I just wished I could give the proper credit.

Being a Good Teammate

If you’re like most people, much of your professional life will be spent working on teams. Why? Because most projects that are economically interesting are too large and complex for individuals to do alone. Teams of talented people can accomplish great things that seem almost impossible, such as sending a man to the Moon. Such objectives would obviously be impossible if we had to work alone. Therefore, it is important that you learn to work effectively as a team member.

While teams allow us to accomplish far more than we could alone, there are also significant downsides to teamwork. As the number of people on a team increases, so does the amount of communication and coordination required to keep the team organized and moving in the same direction. Meetings, emails, phone calls, etc. increase, and these things take time. Also, the more people you add to a team, the more likely it is that at least one of them will be unreliable, antisocial, cranky, lazy, distracted, uncommitted, or otherwise difficult to work with. Such people take more energy from a team than they contribute, and often the team would be better off without them. You should try very hard to not be one of these people. There are specific things you can do to make yourself easy and enjoyable to work with. In the context of this class, here are some important things you can do.

Be reliable. Be someone your teammates can count on. Do what you say you will do. Attend team meetings. Complete the deliverables you’ve committed to produce (design documents, source code, etc.). Don’t be the one your teammates talk about behind your back as the one who just isn’t getting the job done.

Be early. Be on time to meetings. Get your part of the design document done early so your teammates will have time to review it and give you feedback. Get your code written and checked into Subversion early so your teammates will have time to see what you’ve done and integrate their code with it well before the deadline. If you get things done at the last minute, it will be very hard on your teammates, and your reputation will suffer. Part of getting your piece done is getting it done early.

Be prepared. Prepare well for team meetings. Read the specs before the meeting. Think about how you would solve the problem before the meeting. Have your part of the document done before the meeting. Whatever the purpose of the meeting is, make sure you are prepared for it. Such preparation will allow you to be a productive contributor rather than a drag on the meeting. If you show up unprepared, meetings will be longer because your teammates will have to bring you up to speed before the productive part of the meeting can begin.

Be responsive. Communicate with your teammates. Send frequent emails letting them know the status of your work. Send them your documents so they can review them. Check your code into Subversion early and often (every day or two) so they can see your progress and integrate with your work. It will make them feel a lot better if they can see evidence that you are making progress and getting the job done.

Don’t disappear for extended periods of time without explaining to your teammates what happened to you. If your wife is going to have a baby, tell them. If you get sick, tell them. If you have to focus on another class for a few days, tell them. Don’t just disappear for a week without explaining to your teammates what is happening. If you tell them what is going on, they will understand completely. If you just disappear, they will see you as unresponsive and unreliable.

If one of your teammates disappears without explanation, talk to your instructor quickly before the situation gets out of control.

Be careful. As stated above, check your code into Subversion early and often. However, don’t check in code that doesn’t compile. That will just make your teammates mad. Before checking in new code, do an “update” first to make sure you have all code that has been previously checked in by others. After doing an “update”, do a clean build to ensure that everything still compiles successfully. Once you know everything compiles, run all of the unit test cases to ensure that your new code hasn’t broken the unit tests. Once you know that everything still compiles and that all unit tests still work, then you are ready to “commit” your changes to the repository.

Be willing. Be eager in accepting assignments. Do your fair share of the work. Don’t always be the last to volunteer. Don’t let one or two members of the team do all the work.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

GREAT THOUGHTS FROM BILL PARCELLS (PART I)

A big thanks to Indiana University assistant coach Tim Buckley for sending me a ton of great stuff on Bill Parcells.  I'll break it up and give to you in batches over the next month.

“You don’t get any medals for trying. You’re supposed to do that.”

“I don’t wanna hear about backups. Backups are expected to come in and play. If they can’t, then you gotta get them off your team.”

“The worst thing that can happen to a player [from a player’s perspective] is for him not to know what the coach is really thinking about him.”

“Importance of teaching your staff, train the coaches under you to see the game as you see it: “Look, if I can just leave you with one thing when I leave here, it’s my eyes. What do my eyes see?”

"As a head coach, no less than five unexpected things will happen to you every day— it’s all about how you react to them."

There are 3 fights that a team has to fight every day:

1. Division from within (team chemistry; unhappiness regarding roles)

2. Competition (your opponents)

3. Outside influences (agents, media, family)

“Just because you’ve identified a problem doesn’t mean you’re any closer to solving it. It doesn’t make a difference if you know why you are failing, you must do something about it.”

“The one guy I answer to is the one in the mirror.”

“I’ve never feared confrontation (although I’ve never sought it). It’s a winning attitude, especially when attached to an addendum. If you’re afraid of confrontation, you’re going to have a problem being a head coach.”

“I want beavers. What do beavers do other than chop down trees? NOTHING, it JUST chops trees. I want guys who just think football.”

“When you’re losing, you coach better. You scrutinize things more closely. You’re

“You have to draw a fine line between people that just don’t care and those that nee direction."

“You can’t lead from an ivory tower. You have to be in the mix.”

HANDLING THE UNEXPECTED -- THE SEPERATOR

The following comes from "Monday Morning Choices" by David Cottrell:

Dr. David Cook, a popular sports psychologist for several professional golfers, says that at least three things happen in a round of gold that are unfair or not deserved.

Dr. Cook says that the difference between the great golfers and the ones who are in the middle of the pack is how they deal with the things that happen to them. The talent level of professional golfers is not significantly different. It’s the ability to move beyond the unfair and unexpected that determines who wins the tournament.

Three Things You Can Do to Make the No-Victim Choice

1. Expect the unexpected.

2. Look for alternatives

3. Spend your energy searching for solutions, not excuses.

“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” -John Wooden

“We are free up to the point of choice, then the choice controls the chooser.” –Mary Crowley

“Life’s rewards go to those who let their actions rise above their excuses.” –Lee J. Colan

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it’s a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” – William Jennings Bryan

“The greatest power that a person possesses is the power to choose.” –J. Martin Kohe

“I used to say, ‘I sure hope things will change.’ Then I learned that the only way things are going to change for me is when I change.” –Jim Rohn

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. The people who get on in this world are they who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.” –George Bernard Shaw

“One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it’s expressed in the choices one makes. In the long run we shape our lives and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“Life will be to a large extent what we ourselves make of it.” –Samuel Smiles

THE SEVEN PRACTICE OF TIME POWER

The following comes from "Time Power" by Brian Tracy and is absolutely one of the best books I've read on time management:

First, remember that your self-image determines your performance. You always perform on the outside in a manner consistent with the picture you have of yourself on the inside.

Second, remember that it takes about twenty-one days of practice and repetition to form a new habit pattern.

Third, promise yourself that you are going to become excellent at time management.

Fourth, in developing the habits of time management, start in just one area where poor time management is holding you back. Don’t try to change everything at once.

Fifth, launch your new time management habit strongly. Never allow an exception once you have decides that you are going to become excellent in a particular behavior.

Sixth, use the “trial and success” method rather than the “trail and error” method. The trail and success method requires that you learn how to succeed by failing, and then by learning from your mistakes.

Seventh, and perhaps the most important of all, is for you to absolutely believe that you can and will become outstanding at time management.

COACHING THOUGHTS FROM BILL FOSTER

Rummaging through some old clinic notes and came across these from Bill Foster:

Make your own job better.

Success comes in cans, not cannots.

The ultimate responsibility of you as a coach is to get your players to overachieve.

You need to assign summer projects for your staff. You also must assign responsibilities.

In upward mobility, it is not who you know as much as who knows you and your personal reputation. If you are interested in moving up in this profession, you must have a game plan.

At first you inherit million—not dollars, but hours. It’s how you invest those hours that counts.

Friday, June 15, 2012

DALE BROWN ON USING YOUR GREATEST POWER TO DEFEAT

I received this via email from my friend and mentor Dale Brown.  During my tenure under Coach Brown, he was always at his best in difficult times.  A great deal has to do with his attitude and the choice he makes not to accept adversity but to be invigorated by the challenge it creates.  Here is his email:

After a major disappointment or failure to be sad and fearful is not a weakness but you must remember that there is only one power greater than fear and that is faith. The boldness of faith is so powerful that nothing can stop it. Stand firm and persevere. Have courage and wait patiently, and comfort will come when you most need it because God will not abandon you. It has been said that it is only after some painful struggle that one usually finds the deepest peace. Suffering is and always will be a mystery. You don’t explain a mystery; you respect it and trust God with it. If you let adversity whip you it’s because you allowed it. My friend Coach Don Meyer who has suffered unbelievable sickness and injury said, “Peace is not the absence of trouble, trial, and torment but calm in the midst of them.” History is punctuated with instances where people became strongest at their weakest point. Famous historian Arnold Toynbee believed that all people react in one of four ways under the most difficult circumstances:

1. Retreat into the past.

2. Daydream about the future.

3. Retreat within and wait for someone to rescue them.

4. FACE THE CRISIS AND TRANSFORM IT INTO SOMETHING USEFUL.

The greatest power in the world is our power to choose. You have special talents that God has given you, now let God give you peace and hope.

Adversity only visits the strong but stays forever with the weak. Stay Strong and Whip Adversity!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

LEARNING ABOUT A PERSON THROUGH THEIR STORY

In his book, "25 Ways to Win with People," John Maxwell talks about getting to know someone on a deeper level by asking people about themselves -- learning their story.  The longer I coach the more I have come to realize that success relies on relationships and this is a great method to work on developing them.  Here is what Maxwell has to say:

There are so many good reasons to learn a person’s story. Here are just a few that keep motivating me to continue this practice with others:

1. Requesting a person’s story says, “You could be special.”

2. Remembering a person’s story says, “You are special.”

3. Reminding a person of his or her story says, “You are special to me.”

4. Repeating a person’s story to other says, “You should be special to them.”

       •Ask

       •Listen

1. Look the speaker in the eye.

2. Be attentive.

3. Don’t interrupt.

4. Tell the speaker what you think you heard; begin by saying, “Let me see if I understand…”

       Remember

Some people have a knack for numbers, others for names or faces. But just about everyone had the capacity to remember stories. Small children remember them. Stories stay with us.