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Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Defending the Pick & Roll
   Make the big beat your
   Look to switch -- best choice when possible
   Double it
   Wing -- "Black" -- Push it baseline
   "Red" -- toes to the ball...thru you -- hard show

Take the ball out of the hands of their best players

When in doubt, front.

Communicate: talk your way through it

Blockout: send a message

"You are being a selfish player when you don't talk."

"You've got to compete at the free throw line."


The following comes from one of the absolute best coaching books I've every read, "Finding the Winning Edge," by Bill Walsh:

Drive the players to concentrate. Be assertive in your insistence that they focus on the task at hand.

Individualize your teaching approach to fit certain individuals, when necessary. Give extra time to those players who need it.

Be as precise as possible when teaching. Always use the system’s terminology as a common language.

Be patient, but demanding. Require your players to adhere to proper techniques at all times.

Teach the skills progressively. Adhere to a systematic methodology of teaching that allows the players to improve and enhances their level of confidence in your competence and professionalism.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the situation. Be alert to the intensity level of the players. Be sensitive to signs of those factors which can affect the learning curve. Never overlook the fundamental reality of the teaching axiom, “quality repetitions are the mother of all learning.”

Keep the meetings quality, not quantity, oriented. Use a variety of learning tools to enhance the learning environment and to help stimulate the players’ level of concentration and focus.

Demonstrate the highest level of knowledge about the subject matter being taught.

Teach the players in a professional manner. Unless you’re trying to elicit a specific emotional response from your players, refrain from screaming and demonstrative behavior. Keep in mind that such behavior seldom, if ever, enhances the learning curve particularly if the subject matter involves technical information.

Evaluate the players’ performance on a daily basis to ensure that they are progressively mastering the techniques required to perform the tasks they are assigned in an effective and efficient manner.

Rapidity is the essence of war; take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attach unguarded spots.

Another teaching technique that has proven to be very effective is to have players emulate the techniques and actions of other athletes. For example, if players watch videos showing Jerry Rice run a particular pattern in a certain way, you (as the head coach) can single out and stress particular coaching points, by using Rice as the case in point.

All factors considered, players tend to respond more favorably to an actual visual representation of a particular teaching point than to tan abstract illustration of that point drawn up on a chalkboard or written up in a playbook. This learning technique is typically referred to as “modeling.”

"Win the war, then win the fight."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


There was an interesting article on The Bleacher Report by one of their SEC beat writers, Barrett Sallee.  The writer interviewed former Georgia head football coach Jim Donnan.  Sallee asked Donnan who still lives in Athens if he gave new coach Kirby Smart any advice.  Here is his response.
"The one thing that I told him was that the biggest mistake that I made my first year was that I spent way too much time with the alumni clubs speaking and trying to promote the program rather than being with the players. I felt like I spent enough time with the players, but still, looking at the relationships the first year compared to the second year was night and day."
 It appears Smart took Donnan's advice to heart.
 As Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald pointed out in March, Smart scaled back his alumni club speaking events from where the schedule sent former head coach Mark Richt. That's not a slight against the alumni who helped and continue to help build the program. It's a matter of putting the current team first while also balancing the responsibilities that head coaches have to ensure a bright future.
 "I think I went to 57 of them my first year—either civic clubs or booster clubs or all of that," Donnan said. "You cut that in half or a fourth, and you can spend that much more time with your players. That's the real key. Not only the players, but the families. I think it's great that he invited some players' families over to a couple of the scrimmages this year early because you have to get to know them, too."

Simply doesn’t matter what sport or what level, it starts and ends with relationships.


We have spent plenty of time over the years blogging about coaching, playing & competing in the moment.  Coach Nick Saban refers to it as the process -- understanding that the only thing you can control is your effort on the very next possession. Coach Don Meyer refers to the concept as an "NBA Player" with NBA standing for Next Best Action.  Whether you've made a great play or mistake, you have no time or effort that you can expend thinking about it -- you must be on to the next action.

I once heard an interview with Coach Mike Krzyzewski in which he was asked about the challenge of "repeating" as a National Champion.  He simply said "repeating" wasn't part of the Duke equation.  He explained that repeating was impossible because each season is a different journey with a different team, different opponents, different adversities.

More on Coach K's views on "defending a championship" can be found in the book "Toughness" written by Jay Bilas:
Krzyzewski would have none of it. Nobody outside his team defined his players or his team, defined its mission or framed its journey. Only Krzyzewski and his team did that.  In the very first team meeting before the start of the season, Krzyzewski told the team he didn’t want to hear anyone use the term “defending” national champions. “We aren’t defending anything,” Krzyzewski said. “That trophy has already been won, and is displayed out in the lobby of Cameron. It doesn’t need to be defended.  “We are pursuing this championship. We are not defending. We are pursuing. That is the job at hand.” 

In fact, the best coaches rarely speak about destination goals or spend anytime talking about past seasons.  Bill Belichick says "To live in the past is to die in the present."

Belichick also has spoke of the balance of motivating teams coming off championship runs saying, "You'll tiptoe on the line between helping your players forget that they're the champions and helping them remember why they're champions."

Quite simply, the best know how to move it forward.  

I recently read a great example of this in "What Drives Winning" by Brett Ledbetter who shared a story he got from North Carolina's Anson Dorrance whose Tar Heels have won 21 National Championship.  Here is what Dorrance revealed to Ledbetter: 
Anson Dorrance gives his soccer players at the University of North Carolina roses after they win a national championship. He’s won over twenty of them as a head coach. I asked him why he did that. He told me, “I’m not really big on championship rings or trophies. I prefer flowers. The reason I give them a rose is because it’s ephemeral—the rose dies and it dies relatively quickly.”


Stats of importance defensively
   1. Defensive FG% -- most important
   2. Rebounds
   3. Shot selection -- distribution 

Defense travels on the airtime of the pass

We want to influence bounce passes

Stance - lower, wider, longer

Denial stance: ear in chest w/toe pointed = better vision

Don't allow post catch... the paint rhythm 

Helpside Stance
   Maintain stance and vision
   Be close to the line of the ball than too far away
   Escape the paint and attack penetration
   Get out of the paint to block out
   Leave to soon rather than too late
   Meet cutters outside the paint.

   Talk it -- w/echo
   Touch it
   Switch it
   Deny it

Allow no pass from the top to the low post

Make sure referee sees your palms

Put a chest on anyone trying to get into the paint.

Distort route & timing

No one cuts below you to the rim

Scouting Report -- what are we going to take away?

Monday, June 20, 2016


Motivation can come in a variety of ways.  Certainly self-motivation ranks as the highest form.  But there is something to say for any form of motivation that can unify a team...something that everyone feels a part of and can rally around.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came ups with just that -- inspiration that the entire team shared during their historic playoff run.  

As reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Cavs James Jones created a concept of a  a puzzle with 16 pieces, one for each win needed to take the title. When put together, it would form the trophy.

As Windhorst wrote:
The golden puzzle was kept quiet by players and coaches, revealed only after the Cavs completed the greatest comeback in Finals history with their93-89, Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
The trophy puzzle was kept in a case hidden from outsiders and traveled with the Cavs as they made their way through the postseason. Different players who contributed in different ways would place a symbolic piece after every playoff win. For example,Kevin Love was selected when the Cavs won Game 3 of the Finals without him as he frustratingly missed the game with a concussion.
The final piece was in the shape of the state of Ohio and was placed by coach Tyronn Lue as the Cavs poured champagne over one another in the Oracle Arena's visitors locker room.
"Together, that's how you win a championship," Jones said. "Individually we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role. Everyone has to have their piece."

Doc Rivers speaks of the importance of the buy in.  What as a coach are you doing -- what are you creating to rally your team together?  And don't wait for the post season.  What can you do that can help center your team's energy during the off-season?  Could it be a well-thought out phrase that you have on t-shirts or wristbands?  What can you come up with symbolic that will inspire your team? 


The following are some take aways from a chapter out of the book "The Landry Legacy; 20 Principles of Success." The book was well-written by Michael Thornton and looks into 20 keystones of the culture that Coach Landry utilized to develop one of the most consistently championship programs in professional sports. It's an outstanding book for coaches as well as anyone looking to lead an organization. This particular section dealt with the importance of preparation:
Nothing is more important to winning than preparation.

Coach Landry did not use emotion to get a player motivated. He used preparation. Emotion can come and go. Preparation is more concrete. Preparation removes questions, doubts, and indecision from a players mind.

Coach Landry’s philosophy was this: if you get a player thoroughly prepared to play, then he will be confident and excited about going out and performing. The greatest thing you can do for a football player or a person in life is to prepare them for success. Conversely, the worst thing you can do is send an individual out there unprepared.

You have to have determination. You cannot just want to win. You have to be determined to win. You have to have the will to win. You have to be willing to do the things that are necessary to win.

If everyone on the football team is not on the same page in their commitment to preparation, then inevitably it will cause conflict, which can grow into dissension, which can become a major distraction for a football team. If some guys are working hard to get prepared and other guys are not, then it is going to create a problem.

Everyone needed to be getting the most out of every minute of preparation. That’s how you get ready to win.

All of those teams had certain common denominators.

Those teams always had great leadership. Those teams always work hard as a whole. Those teams were always prepared to play week after week. Our teams were always completely committed to doing whatever we could do to accomplish team goals.

Some things are out of your control, but what you can control is how hard you work to be prepared to win. That is in your control. Our teams wanted to win and we were prepared to win. An unwillingness to work and to prepare was never a problem for our teams.

Ultimately, you can tell how competitive a person is by how hard they are willing to work in order to put themselves in a position to win. Great preparation puts you in a great position to win. How hard a guy is willing to prepare to win will tell you everything about how bad he wants to win.

Winners hate to lose, and they will do anything and everything in their power not to lose. No player wants to lose or likes to lose, but some players are willing to lose. Rather than having a willingness to win, some players have a willingness to lose. In reality, they choose to lose, because they refuse to do everything they possible can in order to prepare themselves to win. 


Questions for your players:

1. How many people do you know who are really committed to excellence?  List them.  And if you aren't on this list, why?

2. What did you do to make us a better team this week?  List them.

3. What players made our team better this week?  If you aren't on this list, why?

(These are good questions whether your are in-season or not)

Defensive Thoughts:

Over help on defense rather than under help.

Soft is bad unless it's a shot.

Defensive objectives
   No transition baskets
   No 3's by 3 point shooter
   Hand up on every shot
   Stop a score in the post

Make the spot up shooter dribble

Four advantages of soft on the wing
   Difficult to get beat off the dribble
   Discourages post feeds
   Encourages dribble or early shot
   Hard to feed cutter

Post Defense: "They all turn to one shoulder more than the another.  Park on that shoulder."

Fronting the Low Post: "Get into their legs.  Butt into the knees."


"We must outlast our opponents on every possession."

The hub on defense is defending the low post.  Great post defense may be even more important than playing great defense on the ball.

Anger is the wind that blows out the flame of the mind.

Keep you cushion in defending the ball.

Defensive objectives
   Set our defense
   Pressure the ball
   Help stop the ball and recover
   Finish the play defensively


Point Guard
Sprint to half court...ball side
Attack the dribble by half court
Slow the ball down
Get the ball under control
Push to sideline without giving ground

2 Guard
Sprint to elbow...ball side
Do not give up lay-up
Make them make another pass

1st Big Back
Disrupt route & timing of post
No hands, palms up...bump with chest
Get low and wide
"Thru me" to get into the paint

Shadow ball as long as his man hasn't come down the floor

Last Big Back
Weakside elbow protecting against skip pass & shot

"You win transition on the first three steps...take first three steps without any concern for vision."