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Saturday, April 18, 2015

UTILIZING MISTAKES AND FAILURE TO MOVE TOWARDS SUCCESS

One of the things that I think is essential to an off-season is taking a detailed look back.  And part of that look is studying your mistakes and your failures.  By the way, this is the same approach I take after a Final Four season or a Conference Championship campaign when it might be human nature to sit back, rest and past yourself on the back.  The reminder is always good is the enemy of great.  The primary way to grow is by studying failure.  Bob Knight has said "To win a game, you must first understand what goes into losing."

Mistakes and failures are some of our greatest teachers if we indeed take the time to learn from them.  Elbert Hubbard said, "A failure is a man who blundered, but is not able to cash in on the experience."

The players and coaches who lose out are the ones who don't examine their shortcomings or utilize excuses as the reason for their setbacks.

In his book, "Failing Forward," John Maxwell shares a story he got from working artists David Bayles and Ted Orland as a parable on the benefit of failure:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups.  All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.  His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the "quantity" group: fifty pounds of pots rated an "A," forty pounds a "B," and so on.  Those being graded on "quality," however, needed to produce only one pot -- albeit a perfect one -- to get an "A."  Well, come grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of the highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity.  It seems that while the "quantity" group was busily churning out piles or work -- and learning from their mistakes -- the "quality" group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."

A great story from Maxwell's book.  To get...to gain...one must do.  It is in the action, the process, that we move closer towards our ideal.

Friday, April 17, 2015

JIM CALHOUN: 4 THINGS A COACH CAN CONTROL

1. Every team can rebound if you put enough emphasis on it
     • Drills
     • Emphasized throughout practice
     • Can't give a lot of 2nd shots
     • Real judge of your defense is FG% defense
     • % of offensive rebounds you get – 40% + is good
     • % of defensive rebounds you get – 65% + is good

2. Defense
     • Contest all shots
     • Pressure the ball with help behind you
     • Pressure everything from the NBA 3 point line in
     • Make them shoot, pass, or dribble; don't let them stand with the ball
     • Force offense where you want them and then contain them there
     • Need to make stops when the game is on the line
     • Defend through all of practice, make the defense challenge the offense
     • Have a thought of the day
     • Have an emphasis of the day (ex. Rebounding)

3. Run
     • more possessions
     • allows for more mistakes
     • allows you to play more kids
     • run for conditioning and in drills
     • get #s to create good shots and create rebounding advantages

4. Play Hard
     • steals
     • charges

Thursday, April 16, 2015

JAMES HARDIN AND THE ART OF GETTING TO THE FREE THROW LINE

The following is an excerpt on James Hardin on the art of getting to the free throw line.  It was written by







“You know what? I don’t look to get fouled, as people might think I do,” Harden said, darting his eyes left and right to caricature the notion. “I’m not like: ‘Where’s the foul? Where’s the foul?’ as I’m driving.”

His only aim is to score the basket, Harden said, and if any defenders want to swipe at the ball to stop him, they can. But, he added, when he makes a move to the basket, he drives hard, and fouls are sometimes a byproduct.

Still, he was asked, what about the way he flattens out his arms to make them susceptible to being smacked, or how he changes pace on his dribble at counterintuitive times to create collisions, or his tendency to cling to defenders’ bodies even when freer paths to the rim seem to exist?

Harden smiled. “That’s just being crafty,” he said.

 * * * * *

A crucial factor in Harden’s remarkable season has been his production at the free-throw line, where his shooting percentage is .866. Through Monday — when Houston beat Charlotte, 100-90, and Harden scored 29 points while making 14 of 16 foul shots — Harden has registered a league-high 816 free throws and has made 707. Second, far behind, was Westbrook, who had taken 629 through Sunday and made 525. Through 81 games — only one of which he had missed — Harden was averaging 10.2 free-throw attempts, with 8.8 of them successful. Both figures were also league highs.

He is just the 11th player in N.B.A. history to sink more than 700 free throws in a season.
 
* * * * *

“Getting fouled is definitely an art, and he’s very good at it,” Rockets Coach Kevin McHale said, adding that Harden’s body awareness allowed him to initiate contact that works in his favor.

“You either know how to draw fouls or don’t, and I’m not sure you can teach it,” McHale added. “It may be innate.”

 * * * * *

Steve Javie, a former N.B.A. referee who analyzes officiating for ESPN, explained that Harden had an uncanny knack for sensing when a defender had entered into an illegal guarding position and initiating contact at that very moment, creating a defensive foul that might not have materialized otherwise.

How does he do it, then? To start, Harden’s tactics would not work if he did not already possess a devastatingly varied offensive skill set. For casual viewers, he may not inspire the same delight as Curry, who fires shots from absurd ranges and swaggers back down the court before they land, like an action-movie star strolling away from an explosion. But Harden’s intelligence and technical sophistication have won him widespread admiration.

* * * * *

“It’s difficult to ever figure out what he’s going to do because he scores in such a variety of ways,” said Terry Stotts, the coach of the Portland Trail Blazers, who knocked the Rockets out of the playoffs last season.

Harden’s array of weapons instills in defenders high levels of respect, fear and uncertainty and a basic desire to stop whatever Harden might be doing at a given moment. In turn, he plays off these impulses. It helps that he has strong hands and an equally strong grasp of league rules.

Harden’s most idiosyncratic maneuver involves holding the ball away from his body, like a waiter balancing a tray of tempting hors d’oeuvres — or as Harden refers to it, “the cookie jar.”

“Just when you think you can reach and get a steal, he takes his arm up into your arms, and that’s an automatic foul,” said Markel Brown of the Nets, who helped hold Harden to 15 points in a Feb. 27 game. “You’re fouling him, but he pretty much made you foul him.”

Such a loss of self-determination is common among those who guard Harden. He isolates defenders, stares them down, flinches, twitches, and moves his eyeballs. If the opponent loses his equilibrium, Harden accelerates, clipping a piece of hip or shoulder or leg on the way.

“He’ll lull you to sleep,” said Cory Joseph of the Spurs. “He gets you on your heels, almost moves you where he wants you, and then he works his angles to get contact and a foul call and also get his shot off.”

Thus Harden punishes defenders for even a split second of laziness. “As a defender, you better be doing everything right,” Harden said. “I’m talking about hands out of the cookie jar, sliding your feet, straight up.”

COLLEGE SHOULD NOT BE THE BEST FOUR YEARS OF YOUR LIFE BUT SHOULD BE PREPARATION FOR YOUR BEST YEARS

I've heard it said/tweeted recently and I always cringe when I do, "College is the best four years of your life."  If college is the best four years of a student-athlete's life then we haven't did the job we are suppose to in preparing them for greater things in life.  Don't get me wrong, we always want their college experience to be memorable and special -- but it should always be a stepping stone to even greater things.  I mean are we actually telling our student-athletes that college will be the best four years and that everything else will be less -- that it's all downhill from here.

Back in December of 2013, I posted this and I am reposting it because I was blown away by the comment that Texas football coach Mack Brown made to his team in the locker room following the Longhorns victory in the National Championship team.  It absolutely spoke to the essence of why we should be doing what we do and it was evidence that Coach Brown truly cared long-term about his players:

The following comes from a blog post by Chris Hill, a former Texas Longhorn football player who played under Mack Brown.  This is an excerpt of his post and I truly hope you will take the time to read the entire post here because it is lengthy and incredibly well written. It is something that only coaches and players could know about and appreciate.  Here is a great passage on how Coach Brown felt about his players by discussing their future after a National Championship victory -- raising the bar for the rest of their life:

On the night of January 4th, 2006, I watched the most incredible athletic performance I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. I was a redshirted scout-team offensive lineman for the #2 team in the country. I had done all I could to prepare our first-team defense for what many considered to be the best college football team to ever play, the 2005 USC Trojans. You would have thought we were a 6-6 team they way ESPN talked about our matchup… Of all the talking heads I only know of 1 person that actually picked us to win the game, Lee Corso. 

That night I watched our team play their hearts out. Never give up. And fight like they had a slugger’s chance the whole 60 minutes. Vince Young played the best game of football I’ve ever witnessed. Seriously. That game is what every Texas fan remembers… Who could forget such an extraordinary sight?!? If those same story lines were played out in a movie, no one would believe it could happen in real life.

But I’m writing this to tell you that what happened on the field that night is not what made an impact on an 18-year-old Chris Hall. It wasn’t the last second touchdown Vince Young scored or the celebration in the stadium after… What has stayed with me these 8 years were the words Coach Brown spoke to us in the locker room:

“Don’t let this be the greatest thing that ever happened to you.”

Coach Brown could have told us many things… Of course he congratulated us. Of course he was proud of us. He told us we were champions and that nobody could ever take that away from us. All those things were true. But he emphasized what was important. He knew the men in that locker room wouldn’t always be football players. So he told us to not let this be the best thing that ever happened to us. But to go on to be great fathers, great husbands, and great citizens.

Coaching football, in real sense, is not about winning games. It’s about investing into and shaping the character of young men.

7 MONTHS SIDELINED

I have never had the opportunity to meet Abby Jump, a three-point shooting guard that plays for Wright State.  But she has a big fan in me.  Abby has spent the last seven months rehabbing an injury...being away from basketball as she has known it for the better part of her life.  But instead of wallowing in self-pity she has utilized the time to look at herself and the game through a different set of lenses. 

One of my friends made through our relationship with Coach Don Meyer is Keith Freeman who is an assistant coach at Wright State.  This past weekend at the PGC/Glazier Coaching Clinic we were talking about Coach Meyer, basketball and student-athletes that had great attitudes and worked hard.  This morning, he shared with me a paper written by Amy in which she speaks to the process she's gone through and how she has grown from it.  Our team at Texas A&M currently has three players rehabbing from injuries and I will share this with them as well.

Thanks for sharing Abby and continued success in your rehab:

7 MONTHS SIDELINES

As a basketball player you prepare yourself everyday. Offseason, regular season, and post season, you are always preparing. Preparing for practices, games, individual workouts, lifting, and if you want to get more specific, studying your plays and opponents. However, the last thing you prepare for is an injury, especially a long-term injury. We can handle full court presses thrown at us and 1-3-1 traps but as soon as an injury happens, it is natural to immediately hit the fetal position. The way I see it, when an injury occurs you can still look at it as if it is a full court press. How you handle and overcome an injury can either be a quick turnover or a hard- earned layup at the other end.

For seven months I wondered everyday if I would play basketball again. Some of those days I wondered if I would ever walk, sit, or stand without pain again. Back injuries can be severe and scary. For those seven months I was not only thinking of basketball, I was envisioning my life outside of it. My injury taught me about myself and about others. It opened my eyes to things I have been blind to everyday. It showed me the hard knocks of life and how to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It showed me the game stripped down from the sidelines everyday.

I could never deny that I was angry, scared, and frustrated everyday. But I also was thankful that God entrusted me enough to throw something of this caliber on my shoulders and know I would make it through. Because I know I would never be given something I could not handle. Although some days seemed the complete opposite.

Like I said, you are always preparing in basketball. What I did not realize was my injury was preparing me for life, whether I liked it or not. For seven months sidelined I wrote down notes of what I realized and learned about life and basketball from my coaches and teammates. Although no two injuries are the exact same and everyone handles them differently, my hope is, these notes may help some basketball player trying to break a full court press of their own.

There is enormous value in being a good friend and teammate.

You never accomplish all that you accomplish alone.

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

The most important stat for players to pay attention to: Leading your team in effort.

Three attributes for backup point guards:
Rarely turns the ball over.
Defends the dribble.
Respects the starting pg.

Be grateful for every ounce of talent and opportunity God has given you. He chose you to give them to. Be thankful.

Opportunities are not seen with your eyes. They are seen with you mind.

High character players all have these in common:
Works hard everyday.
Accepts their role.
Coachable

YOU CAN WIN WITH THESE PLAYERS

Fear and frustration only has two goals:
Ignore grace
Forget joy

If you only look at what you don’t have and what isn’t there, you will never enjoy what is there and what you do have.

You may have succeeded in high school off of raw talent, but you will never succeed in college without a tremendous work ethic and tremendous attitude.

Sometimes the biggest obstacle in life is getting over yourself. BE HUMBLE.

Enjoy all there is to enjoy about basketball because one day, no matter who you are or how great of a player you are, one day that ball will stop bouncing.

Your coaches and teammates learn a lot about you from the way you handle things being thrown at you. Not just what you do with a ball in your hands.

A choice to have a great attitude is something that nobody or no circumstance can take from you.

A rising tide will raise all boats. Make the people you are surrounded by better!

How great of a teammate and a leader you are isn’t determined by how much power you have. It’s determined by how much you serve and sacrifice for the people around you.

Be a servant leader, you’ll never regret it.

You can only hold your teammates accountable if you can be honest with yourself and accept your role.

You have to recommit yourself everyday to the cause. Some days you won’t feel well or don’t want to be there, but that’s never an excuse. Be committed.

Great teammates want to see the guy next to them succeed just as bad as they want to succeed themselves. Be selfless.

When you wake up in the morning, one positive thought in the morning can set the course for the entire day.

Find a way to win the day.

Coaches Pet Peeves:
Missed layups with no defense
No box outs
Dumb fouls – contest, make them shoot over you
Bending down for loose balls and not diving for them
Not knowing plays – be prepared when your name is called
Not screening a body in set plays
A silent bench with selfish teammates – don’t suck the life out of the gym

It’s all about the process. Putting people together that believe in each other, play hard for each other, are accountable for each other, and are selfless. If a team can buy into that then they can be successful.

5 Things That Kill Offenses:
Weak screens
Lazy, non credible cuts
Poor spacing
Holding the ball too long
Over dribbling

Too many people forget that happiness doesn’t come from getting what we don’t have. It’s about recognizing and appreciating what we do have.

When you have something taken from you. Whether it’s a short or long amount of time, it’s humbling. You become even more grateful for having the opportunity to do something you love.

Life is too short to be bitter. Bitterness never takes away from the pain, it adds to it.

When you have a 4 low baseline out of bounds offensive play, make sure your pass will be caught. If not, no one will be back for transition defense.

Even experiences we think are awful can carry the seeds of a great blessing.

Less is more. Don’t try to be a player you aren’t.

It’s important as a guard to have a go to move and a counter move in transition.

When you have the right culture it will attract high-level players.

Players think little about body language! Be aware that your body language to your teammates and coaches doesn’t whisper, it screams!

One of the main things I learned about leadership: People always say leadership is not about you. I disagree. I think is about the example YOU set and example YOU live for OTHERS. Be conscious of your actions and your decisions.

There’s a huge difference between interest and commitment. When you are interested in something, you do it only when you feel like it. When you are committed to something, you do it ALL the time.

The problem with players today is, they are only committed when they are conditionally bought in. Meaning, when things are going well for them, then they are committed to the cause. If things are going well, then they have a good attitude and they are coachable, they listen. But if it’s not, they are the complete opposite. They think it’s ok to not be coachable, to have a bad attitude, and to be a bad teammate.

Don’t fear making mistakes! That is the greatest mistake you can make in life is to not take enough risks. That is how you grow! Not by doing everything perfect.

You become your habits in pressure situations.

Make the right decision. Never make the easy decision because more than likely it isn’t the right one.

Peer govern your teammates if you are a leader. Don’t just worry about yourself and making sure you do right, make sure your teammates do right also.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

PGA GOLFER SHOWS INTEGRITY AND PRIORITIES

It's true I'm not the greatest of golf fans though I have great respect for the skill and levels of mental concentration.  I watch golf when afforded the time.  And I'm starting to become a James Hahn fan.

In case you missed it, Hahn, in an inspiring moment of integrity, penalized himself a shot at the Masters. 

A penalty shot for a ball that moved one dimple.  A movement that no one saw but Hahn.  His reward?  Missing the cut at the Masters by -- you guessed it -- one stroke.  But I loved his tweet after the cut.

Repeat: "Sometimes you don't get rewarded for doing the right thing. Bus it doesn't mean you shouldn't do the right thing."  Hashtag - Integrity.

I started doing a little more research on Hahn.  I found out that he was a grinder who took some time and sacrifice to find success on the PGA.  When he captured his first win in February 2015 at the Northern Trust Open the story was told of working during the week as a shoe salesman to make just enough money to keep chasing his dream.

After winning the Northern Trust Open, he automatically qualified WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral and a chance at another good pay day.

But he skipped it -- with good reason...the birth of his daughter.

TIM CORBIN: "VIDEO IS A COACH IN ITSELF"

I've been a huge Tim Corbin fan since being introduced via Coach Don Meyer who never missed an opportunity to visit with Tim when getting back to Nashville.  I'm also a big believer in the utilization of visual including video to both teach and motivate athletes and found this article written by Adam Sparks of The Tennessean fascinating.  To follow are some excerpts of the article but you can read it in its entirety here.

Game film is not a typical baseball coaching tool. But then again, Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin is not a typical baseball coach.

"Video is a coach in itself to the kids," Corbin said. "These kids were born with a camera in their face. Whether it's Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, it's a visual moment for them. It incorporates a picture.

"So to see themselves in video, it's probably right up their alley."

The No. 1 ranked Commodores (27-6, 10-2 SEC) first utilized game film during a national championship run last season, and Corbin has expanded its use since then with upgraded high-tech equipment and access to SEC Network telecasts.

"Film study is more in the football coaching realm, but I like it," Corbin said. "It's a very visual world we live in, and you want to acquire as much as you can to help the kids."

About three times a week players gather in the team classroom for film study, but it's not a tiresome frame-by-frame lecture like one would expect.

Instead, each three-hour game is squeezed into a 15-minute condensed version. Only "result plays" are viewed, including outs, hits, the last pitch of a strikeout or walk, a stolen base, wild pitch or passed ball.

Film school
Corbin's team film sessions run at a frenetic pace, but they occasionally pause to replay a funny moment amid the action of the game.

On one occasion last week, Corbin broke away from reviewing the proper footwork on catching a fly ball to poke light-hearted fun at pitcher Tyler Ferguson, who was caught on video making an animated call for an out.

"So we are an umpire too, huh?" Corbin said to the laughter of the team.

The rest of the time Corbin spends racing through the condensed video, stopping at unexpected points. He shows rightfielder Rhett Wiseman where he made false steps on breaking on a fly ball. When Bryan Reynolds quickly fields a ball off the centerfield wall, Corbin puts the video into slow-motion.

"Young outfielders, watch closely how quick his exchange is off the wall, out of the glove and to the cut-off relay," Corbin said.

* * * * *

Corbin watches most condensed videos immediately after the game. He then pares them with audio notes he takes on a digital recorder from the dugout during each game. By the next morning, he has a concise presentation ready to roll out when his players arrive.

"This helps them visually rather than just a practice environment," Corbin said. "They see it in motion, and they can correct it. You have to continue to reach these kids in a way that's current. Video does that."

EXTREME NEXT GAME PREPARATION

There are always the stories about the coach that starts thinking about the next game as they are marching off the field or leaving the court.  But I've never read or heard of a coach that took it to the extreme level that Paul "Bear" Bryant did while coaching at the University of Kentucky in 1950. The following comes "The Last Coach" written by Allen Barra:

"The tenth game was a horrific 83-0 slaughter of North Dakota University in which Bryant yanked his starting players out of the game at the half and sent them to the practice field to start preparing for the following week's game with Tennessee."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

"THE COACH K WAY"

The following is an excerpt from an article written by David Whitley of the Orlando Sentinel.  Whitley went to here Coach Mike Krzyzewski speak and listed the following as the "Coach K Way:"

• Treat everybody right.

Example: Before each season, Krzyzewski introduces his team to the crew that cleans Duke's basketball facilities.

"You need to treat these people like they're your family," he says.

• Give your team ownership.

The U.S. Olympic team was a spoiled-brat mess when Krzyzewski took over in 2005. Before the first practice, he told players there would be no team rules, but he wanted them to come up with "standards."

Players were given responsibility. They've responded by winning gold medals in 2008 and 2012.

• Adapt.

Krzyzewski won his first title 24 years ago, when players often stuck around four years. This year's Duke team will probably have three one-and-dones. Rent-a-player goes against Duke's brainy image, but clinging to the old way was a permanent ticket to the NIT.

"You have to be in a constant state of trying to learn," Krzyzewski said.

• There is no totem pole.

When players are treated equally, they gain confidence. Case in point: Grayson Allen.

He was the relative runt of Duke's freshman litter. But when the Blue Devils trailed Wisconsin by nine points with 13 minutes left, Allen slapped the ball away on defense, scrambled after it and dived to save it from going out of bounds.

"It was one of the greatest plays in the history of our program," Krzyzewski said.

Allen didn't get up and beat his chest. He looked at the Duke bench as he yelled, "Let's go! Let's go!"

Duke rallied to win 68-63 in Indianapolis. The emotion in Krzyzewki's voice was still crackling in Orlando.

 

SABAN ON "THE ILLUSION OF CHOICE"

This is one of the best things I've read in some time and something that we will share with our team.  It comes from Coach Nick Saban who has had some discipline issues with his team this off-season.

“They all think they have this illusion of choice,” Saban told AL.com. “Like ‘I can do whatever I want to do’. And you kind of have a younger generation now that doesn’t always get told no, they don’t always get told this is exactly how you need to do it. So they have this illusion that they have all these choices.”

Then Saban got a little philosophical, and provided an interesting look at how he views the price you have to pay to be successful.

“But the fact of the matter is, is if you want to be good, you really don’t have a lot of choices, because it takes what it takes. You have to do what you have to do to be successful. So you have to make choices and decisions to have the discipline and focus to the process of what you need to do to accomplish your goals.”

“All these guys that think they have a lot of choices are really sadly mistaken. And I think, as we all have done with our own children, they learn these lessons of life as they get older, and sometimes the best way to learn is from the mistakes that you make, even though we all hate to see them have to make them. And we don’t really condone them when they do.”