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Friday, April 18, 2014

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #3: UTILIZATION OF MOTIVATIONAL VIDEOS

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #3: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

We are big believers in the utilization of video.  For most, this means observing video of our own team and players of them performing well or poorly -- for corrective measures.  We also show video of other players and other teams correctly executing.  Another important part of the process is providing motivation.  We are continually showing our players video with an inspiring message and one of the best ways to do that is with players they admire.  We provide them passouts for their team notebooks but there is something about video for today's young people that grabs their attention more.  And we try to share things with them as much possible.  We will show them in team meetings, individual meetings, or we might email them a video clip or text one to them.  It needs to be constant.  One of my favorite Zig Ziglar quotes is: "People often say that motivation doesn't last.  Well, neither does bathing -- that's why we recommend it daily."

Where do we get these videos?  Everywhere.  Coach Don Meyer used to always preach about having a blank tape in the video recorder for such possibilities.  DVRs make it even easier.  The internet, specifically youtube are great resources as well.

An example? Here's one that we showed our team last spring before the semester was out.  It's on Kevin Durant and shows how one of the games absolute bests is still working hard in the off-season on his game.

 


OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #3: MORGAN WOOTTEN'S POST SEASON EVALUATIONS

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #3: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

One of the first books I owned as a young coach was "Coaching Basketball Successfully" by the legendary Morgan Wootten.  As a high school coach why not learn from the very best.  In fact, I still refer to the book from time to time at this stage of my career.  It is an outstanding book for coaches on levels but if you coach on the junior high or high school level, it is a must-have for your library.

There is a section in the book about how Coach Wootten went about his duties during the off-season.  If you have the book, each of these sections delve into greater details but here is a quick look at the things Coach Wootten would do in the period immediately following the season:

A coach’s job is not over when the season ends; it just changes. Rather than working hands-on with players, you will be evaluating and planning for the future.
POST SEASON EVALUATION

No matter what kind of season you had, you need to sit down and thoroughly evaluate your program.  What you want to find out is where you were, how you did with what you had, and where you are going.

SENIOR FEEDBACK
The first step I recommend in analyzing your program is to have your graduating seniors write out their thoughts on the program.  Tell the seniors that you are not looking for flowery accolades, but substantive ideas and criticisms that they believe will improve your program.  It should be private, personal evaluation by the seniors; for it to be helpful, they must be completely honest.

ASSISTANT COACHES’ INPUT
I also ask all of my coaches for a written evaluation of the past season. I learned a long time ago from George Allen, the late, great coach of the NFL’s Rams and Redskins, that if you really want someone’s opinion, get it in writing.

EVALUATION OF ASSISTANTS’ PERFORMANCE
At the same time, you should evaluate your staff.  Again, I suggest you do this in writing.  Then sit down with each member of the staff and go over that evaluation with him.  Tell each of them what you honestly see as his strengths and weaknesses, and what he can do to improve.

PURPOSE OF EVALUATIONS
The evaluations should be completed for positive reasons, primarily so that all of the players and all of the coaches (including the head coach) can grow.  From examining the strengths and weaknesses of the coaches and the overall program,  I can get a pretty good picture of what I’m doing well or not doing well.

POSTSEASON PLAYER EVALUATIONS
My assistants and I evaluate our personnel the same way we evaluate ourselves and our program.  We have each player submit a written evaluation of himself to the coaching staff.  I will then meet individually with each player and discuss with him his own and the coaches evaluations.  At these meetings, I will share with each player the things that the coaching staff believes he needs to do to become a better basketball players.  I remind each player that individual evaluations continue throughout the year, and that he will undergo the same process during summer league play. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #2: THE TWO ADVANTAGES OF INDIVIDUAL WORKOUTS


OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #2: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

One of the things I enjoy most about the off-season is the individual workout time you have with a player.  Not only can your work directly with a player but it is the perfect time and environment to grow and improve a relationship.  Players never feel more special than when a coach gives them individual attention.  With that comes trust and more open communication.  It's a major reason I was thrilled that the NCAA created some guidelines that allow us to work individually with players in the summer.  Certainly skill development is improved but so do more important things like learning and understanding each other at a higher level.

Along those lines, I'd like to share some guidelines form Bill Walsh (from "Finding The Winning Edge") on working with players that speaks to teaching as well as relationships:
 

·         Have answers

·         Be an expert in your specialized area

·         Isolate the skills and the techniques that are essential to each position

·         Develop a plan on how best to teach these skills and techniques

·         Treat each player as a unique person

·         Demonstrate sincere interest in each player

·         Gain the players’ confidence by working with each athlete to help him reach his full potential by enhancing his level of abilities

·         Determine how each player best responds to instruction

·         Be sensitive to and flexible with the players’ moods and demeanors while teaching and coaching

·         Search for and implement new ways to teach and impart information and to get and maintain the attention level of the players

·         Move on quickly to a different method of handling the situation if your current approach to dealing with and teaching your players is not eliciting the intended level of results

·         Exhibit strength and persistence in your dealings with your players. Hold your players to the highest expectations

·         Be personal with your players, but not too familiar. Excessive familiarity, in a misguided attempt to be socially accepted by your players, will prevent you from fully developing their performance potential

·         Avoid attempting to communicate with your players in their vernacular or their 1990s dialect. Be natural in all of your dealings. Anything else will be perceived as phony

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #2: DON MEYER INDIVIDUAL BALL HANDLING DRILLS

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #2: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

We are big believers in the work involved handling the basketball and how it not only effects your dribbling but all areas involved that utilize the ball such as passing and catching.  We have ball handling routines that we use with our players -- and that includes our post players.  Much of what we do we have learned from Coach Don Meyer years ago and it is still relevant to improving our players offensively today. Handling the basketball in the off-season is something that is important but can be overlooked.  Most players want to grab a ball and immediately get some shots.  I think it is important that you create a ball handling routine and encourage your players to start each workout with those drill.  Here is a look at some of his ball handling drills -- we are very big on the two-ball dribbling drills.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #1: JOHN MAXWELL ON THE OFF-SEASON PROCESS FOR LEADERS

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #1: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

This actually a article we posted back in 2001. This off-season post doesn't have to be just about our student-athletes but us as coaches as well.  The off-season is a renewal -- about a new beginning.  A great post from John Maxwell on some thoughts for developing during the off-season. How well did you approach your off-season?  Did you have a plan of attack?  In all actuality, we need to come up with another term instead of "off-season."  Because thought we aren't actively involved with our teams per rules and guidelines, we are always (or should be) working to develop ourselves and our organizations.  Here is what John has to say about "off-seasons":

Leaders are revealed during the busy seasons, but they are made during the offseason. Work done for months behind-the-scenes determines what happens onstage the night of the show. Here are five ways leaders, and the teams they lead, can make the most of the offseason.

Develop Stamina
During the offseason, leaders develop stamina through a mixture of rest and training. Recognizing that they’re ineffective when worn out, leaders prioritize rest during the offseason to replenish energy reserves. However, leaders must also condition themselves to be ready for the rigors of the upcoming season. Much as a runner would be foolish to show up for a marathon without having trained, leaders cannot remain idle throughout the offseason and expect to be at their peak when the season arrives.

Revisit Vision
The offseason is an opportune time for leaders to revisit vision and values, and to make sure their team is focused on what matters most. Once they’ve gained personal clarity, leaders then can help their team generate its goals for the future. Keeping a vision in front of a team, and giving it goals to reach for, brings much-needed purpose and motivation to offseason activities.

Build Team Unity
During the offseason, teams face less stress than at other times of the year, and they do not have as many critical tasks to accomplish. This makes the offseason a prime occasion for investing in relationships. When teammates connect meaningfully during the offseason, they form bonds that can sustain team unity during the pressure-cooker of busy seasons.

Pursue Personal Growth
The frenetic pace of life’s busy seasons crowd out time for personal growth. Conversely, during the offseason leaders find themselves with plenty of room to breathe. Wise leaders make productive use of their extra time by attending training seminars, studying industry experts, and reading up on cutting-edge strategies. Those leaders who develop their skills and enhance their knowledge during the offseason have an advantage over the competition once the season starts.

Rehearse
Much as a music band must rehearse before going on a concert tour, a team must practice together in the offseason to prepare itself for future projects. Championship teams spend the offseason shoring up their strengths and working out the kinks in their systems. They conduct trial runs and pilot programs to test new ideas and fine-tune their processes. The practice that a team puts in over the course of the offseason improves its performance, and instills confidence for the upcoming season.

Be sure to visit: www.JohnMaxwell.com

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #1: RICK PITINO'S 3 PLAYER GUN SHOOTING DRILL

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #1: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

We always talk about the importance of utilizing your imagination in coaching.  Whether you are creating a drill or tweaking one to maximize the workout for your players, the off-season is a great time to take a look at your drill package -- especially ones that you would like for your players to utilize in the summer.

Below is a three-player shooting drill form Rick Pitino utilizing The Gun that has movement and passing involved -- "game like action."

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS - DAY 1: TODAY MATTERS

OFF-SEASON THOUGHTS -- DAY #1: During this 10-day period, we are going to load up our blog on thoughts that are relevant to developing or improving your off-season program.  We will delve on off-season topics from player development and drill work to motivation and team building.  It will be our sincere wish that over the next 10 days we can provide you with at least one item or thought that will help you and your program.

We are firm believers that programs of excellence are that because they strive for excellence each day in all areas at all times.  They're aren't just interested in putting forth great effort the day before a conference game in February.  Concentrated commitment goes beyond a practice session in November.  It's about being the best you can be every day. 

There is an old Bob Knight video that was sponsored by Adidas where Coach Knight said that when the ball is tossed up all players want to win.  But the one's that will be successful are the one's that want to win the day before, two days before and three days before "because the will to win is not nearly as important as the will to PREPARE to win."  Today, I think it can be paraphrased one month before you play and two months and three months.

Coach Don Meyer referred to it often as Arete - a Greek word meaning "the act of living up to one's potential."  In the programs that I have worked with the past 10 years, the phrase we've used, borrowed from a John Maxwell book, is "Today Matters." Our thought is that we must have the mindset that each and every day is critically important to the overall goal of being the best we can be. 

In fact, "Today Matters" is the name of our summer workbook that we give to our team each year.  The book includes a page for each day of the off-season with a quote about the importance of daily commitment.  It also has a suggested workout for them on the basketball court as well as in strength training and conditioning.  The workout suggestions are geared individually to meet the needs of each player.

Here is the first page of our "Today Matters" off-season book:

Improvement, consistent improvement, is done on a day-by-day basis. To improve anything in your life, you must work at it in some form each day. For our basketball team, we are looking for student-athletes that are committed to improving. We desire to have a team that will leave a legacy of leaving the program better than when they arrived — this is consistent and constant improving. Improving is not a result-oriented program. It is a process–related experience. It is why so many fail to improve at a rate that they are capable. Working in the gym for two hours on a Sunday night by yourself doesn’t give you immediate results. There is no scoreboard to keep count of your made

baskets. No crowd to cheer on your good play. No coach to oversee your dedicated effort. But those that pay the price — working daily on their game, out of the sight of many — are

the ones that reach their potential.

If you have not accomplished what you desire than you can be sure that you are not working hard enough:

“If you want something you have never had,
you must do something you have never done."
 
And don’t sell yourself short — you can be great! Just remember:

“Good enough never is!”

 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

INSIGHT INTO RICK MAJERUS AND HIS ATTENTION TO DETAIL

A big thanks to Jeff Osterman for passing along a great article on Rick Majerus as written by one of his assistant coaches at St. Louis, Paul Biancardi.  It's a great article and you can read it all here.  But here are some the excerpts that struck a chord with me:

During the season on our "days off," you would arrive in the office in the morning, then we would meet at noon for lunch on The Hill and talk about our team, recruiting, scheduling, academics and in between he would have to take some calls. Before you know it is was 5 o'clock and he would say, "Let's go have dinner and talk ball."
As we prepared for that first season, he had us come to Milwaukee, near where he grew up, for staff meetings. We went to the playground he grew up on and walked through all of our offensive and defensive drills and concepts outside on the cement, with cracks and weeds popping out of the ground. It was so pure. It was so Rick.

As a coach, he was an extraordinary teacher of the game and a master of detail. He would always cite people he learned from or coached with, such as the great Al McGuire, Don Nelson, George Karl, Del Harris, Don Donoher and Doc Rivers, whom he coached at Marquette. He had a philosophy and a plan for skill development and every phase of the game. His preparation for opponents was overwhelmed with detail.

The first time I ever scouted a game for him, I thought I had just taken a final exam. He was one of the best at preparing his teams for a game. Like all great coaches, his favorite place to be was practice or watching film. In the film room, he could pick out multiple breakdowns or good plays in just one possession.

His teams and players always improved under his tutelage. His practices were special because there was never any slippage from him. Whether it was the first practice of the year or the last, he was always well-prepared and detailed. He beat teams that were more talented because his teams were better prepared -- and when he had equal or better talent, he rarely if ever beat himself.

There are many reasons he will go down as one of the greatest coaches of all time in my book. His knowledge of the game, his thirst to learn more and his ability to translate that knowledge to his teams was remarkable. Games are won and lost in practice and coach Majerus conducted an incredibly detailed practice with purpose.


But as detailed and demanding as he was on the court with his players, he was equally concerned about their academic effort and progress. He would spend hours lecturing them about the importance and value of their education and how hard all of their parents sacrificed for them over the years. Rick would get off on life-lesson discussions that were deep and personal. One of his main points and phrases to all of his players was, "I don't expect an A, but I do expect an A effort in the classroom, and in your conduct and character toward others."

Friday, April 11, 2014

BILL WALSH: PREPARING TO WIN

The following comes from "Finding The Winning Edge," by Bill Walsh:
 
-Once you have a plan, you must sell it to the players. It is not enough to put it on the blackboard and say ‘Okay, here it is.’ You have to convince the players that the plan is a good one and show them, in specific ways, why it will work. If you do, you send them out to the practice field with more confidence.

-Although physical conditioning must obviously be an integral part of an athletes efforts to prepare for the upcoming season, great care must be taken to avoid overtraining your players. Unfortunately, it appears that overtraining is a common occurrence at all competitive levels.

-Overtraining can lead to several negative consequences. For example, it can result in excessive physical and emotional fatigue, thereby exposing a player to a higher risk of being injured and diminishing his capacity to master a particular skill or subject.

 -Training that does not provide adequate time for recovery can also bring on staleness and a decreased level of performance. Furthermore, this type of training can lead to a sense of apathy, irritability, and an altered appetite in your players.

-Somewhat surprisingly, several research studies have shown that the average football player is more fatigued prior to the first game of the season, not at the end of the season when most people might expect.

-It is very important that you, as the head coach, make sure that your coaches and players understand what you expect from them concerning the tempo and pacing of the team’s practices. In this regard, you should remember and be sensitive to the fact that an up-tempo , fast-paced practice offers the most conducive environment for learning on the field.

-Committing to an up-tempo, fast-paced practice does not mean that such a pace must be maintained at all times. In reality, occasionally, a situation may arise when you must temporarily slow down the pace of practice in order to emphasize a particular point.

-As a general rule, however, the basic pace of practice should encourage the players to exhibit a high energy level- one that “forces” them to keep up with the tempo.

-Untutored courage is useless in the face of educated bullets.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

SABAN ON COMPLACENCY AND ESTABLISHING A TEAM'S IDENITY IN OFF-SEASON PROGRAM

The following comes from an article from AL.com written by Mike Herndon.  You can read the article in it's entirety here.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said before his team's loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl in January that he detected a slip in its mindset and focus late in the 2013 season.

Saban believes a team's identity is forged during off-season conditioning and strength work, and he never felt like the 2013 team fully embraced it the way past teams had.
 
"I don't think our team, coming off beating Notre Dame a year before, ever did that a year ago," he said. "They were a little complacent, a little satisfied. Where we always prided ourselves in hard work, all the sudden we resented it."
 
This year, Saban said: "We probably don't have the talent in some positions we've had in the past, but this team has a much better attitude."
 
"Our fans think success is a continuum -- it's going to continue forever and ever," he said. "The problem is, it's just momentary. As soon as you put that trophy down, you have new challenges."

How do you meet those challenges? Saban said success is founded on three things: vision, commitment, and discipline. 
 
His definition of discipline: "There's something you know you're supposed to do that you really don't want to do. Can you make yourself do it? Then there's something over there that you really shouldn't do, but you really want to do. Can you make yourself not do it? Those two decisions we have to make probably a couple hundred times a day.
 
"You have to have an ability to be where your feet are," he added. "Most people worry about what's going to happen in the future ... Be where your feet are. Focus on today."