Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Received this today from Coach Dale Brown:

Coach John Wooden said, "A coach's primary function should not be to make better players but to make better people. Lift others even with your critical analysis. This is still the best method to get the best out of someone because pride is a better motivator than fear. I never wanted to teach through fear, punishment, or intimidation."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Encourage others in their pursuit of a dream is to give them a wonderful gift.

Because dreams are at the center of our souls, we must do everything in our power to help turn dreams into reality. That is one of the greatest gifts we can ever give. How can you do it? Follow these six steps:

1. Ask them to share their dream with you. 
Everyone has a dream,  but few people are asked about it.

2. Affirm the person as well as the dream. 
Let the person know that you not only value his or her dream but that you also recognize traits in that individual that can help him or her achieve it.

3. Ask about the challenges they must overcome to reach their dream. 
Few people ask others about their dreams; even fewer try to find out what kinds of hurdles the person is up against to pursue them.

4. Offer your assistance. 
No one achieves a worthwhile dream alone. You’ll be amazed by how people light up when you offer to help them achieve their dream.

5. Revisit their dream with them on a consistent basis.
 If you really want to help others with their dreams, don’t make it a one-time activity you mark off your list. Check in with them to see how they’re doing and to lend assistance.

6. Determine daily to be a dream booster, not a dream buster
Everyone has a dream, and everyone needs encouragement. Set your mental radar to pick up on others’ dreams and help them along.

From “25 Ways To Win With People” by John Maxwell


A head coach’s primary objective is to orchestrate the overall mentality of his team.  Great teams commonly display an air of confidence that separates them from others.  They have earned the right to be confident through their hard work and success.  The best teams utilized that confidence to share a feeling where they not only expect to win, they know they are going to win.  That knowing is what allows a team to play in the absence of fear. 

In my time as a coach I’ve learned that possibly the greatest detractor from high performance is fear:  fear that you are not prepared, fear that you are in over your head, fear that you are not worthy, and ultimately, fear of failure.  If you can eliminate that fear-not through arrogance or just wishing difficulties away, but through hard work and preparation-you will put yourself in an incredibly powerful position to take on the challenges you face.

I am a firm believer in the idea that more often than not, people will live up to the expectations you set for them, and when it comes to our players, we set those expectations extremely high from their first day in the program-often even well beyond what the player himself thinks he can achieve-and we make sure they know it.  High expectations are one of the most powerful tools we have.  But we also understand that, if those expectations are unrealistic, inappropriate for the individual player in question, or so overwhelming and long term that players don’t have the opportunity to enjoy smaller accomplishments along the way, then we are just setting our players up to fail. 

Ideally, we want to create an atmosphere or a culture where our players can perform in the absence of fear.  It is my job to orchestrate this “knowing we are going to win” mentality.  Achieving that means finding ways to prove to players that they can rely on themselves and their teammates to perform at the highest level in the face of any challenge-even losing. 

 While the Win Forever philosophy sounds great when things are going well, what happens when things go wrong?  How do you Win Forever given that everyone loses sometimes?  The reality is that, no matter how well you practice, how fully you develop your philosophy, or how effectively you recruit, you will lose now and then.  What separates those who have a true Win Forever outlook from those who don’t is the ability to approach that challenge of losing with the same competitive spirit with which they approach everything else.  When I say that “everything counts” or that every challenge in live is a chance to compete, I mean it. I don’t’ mean “everything except losing.”

From "Win Forever" by Pete Carroll


I’ve really enjoyed on this trip reading “Chuck Daily Coach U” written by Brendan Suhr. It goes into great detail at so many reasons why Chuck Daily was incredible successful at the highest of levels of coaching. Coach Suhr gives you inside information as to the teaching and coaching philosophical thoughts of Coach Daily. But there is also an X & O section of so many of the offensive sets and defensive schemes that the used. Here is just a short snippet on transition defense:

It all starts with “transition defense,” you cannot give up fast break points. Chuck stressed these 4 points.

1) Get to the free throw line

2) Offensive rebounds

3) Don’t turn the ball over

4) Take good shots, not quick shots

It’s interested how his mind worked, he just gave you 4 offensive tips to help your transition defense. He had a very strong believe that as a coach you can emphasize only 2 things to your team to be “GREAT” at, he chose: 1) DEFENSE and 2) REBOUNDING.

You can order the book at:

Portions of the proceeds go to the Jimmy V Foundation.

Friday, December 24, 2010


We will take a couple of days off from blogging but wanted to wish everyone out there a wonderful holiday season.  While working for Coach Dale Brown on the LSU men's staff, I would always be excited to see what motivational passout Coach Brown would come up with for our team.  He also was known for massive mailouts to high school coaches around the nation, mailing them our most recent passout.  By far, my favorite one was "The Last Day of School" by Roy Exum which Coach Brown always sent out around Christmas time.  I believe it is the essence of teaching and coaching and we hope you enjoy it.

When Tony Campolo was in Chattanooga last week to speak at the annual “Gathering of Men” breakfast, the noted sociologist told a story that begs to be repeated, especially on this day:

It seems that there was a lady named Jean Thompson and when she stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall, she told the children a lie.

Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn’t play well with other children, that his clothes were unkept and that he constantly needed a bath. Add to it the fact Teddy was unpleasant.

It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold ‘X’s and then marking the ‘F’ at the top of the paper biggest of all.

Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, nobody else seemed to enjoy him, either.

Now at the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child’s records and--because of things--put Teddy’s off until last. But when she opened his file, she was in for a surprise.

His first-grade teacher had written, “Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh. He does work neatly and has good manners … he is a joy to be around.”

His second-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy is an excellent student and is well-liked by his classmates--but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle.”

The third-grade teacher wrote, “Teddy continues to work hard but his mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest in school. He doesn’t have many friends and sometimes sleeps in class. His is tardy and could become a problem.”

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem but Christmas was coming fast.

It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard on that last day before the vacation would begin.

Her children brought her presents, all in gay ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy’s, which was clumsily wrapped in heavy, brown paper of scissored grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents and some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet, with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne.

But she stifled the laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and she dabbed some of the perfume behind the other wrist.

At the end of the day, as the other children joyously raced from the room, Teddy Stoddard stayed behind, just long enough to say, “Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to.”

As soon as Teddy left, Mrs. Thompson knelt at her desk and there, after the last day of school before Christmas, she cried for at least an hour.

And, on that very day, she quit teaching reading and writing and spelling. Instead she began to teach children. And Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called Teddy.

As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded and, on days that there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember the cologne.

By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and … well, he had also become the “pet” of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he’d had in elementary school, she was his favorite.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. And then he wrote that as he finished high school, third in his class, she was still his favorite teacher of all time.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, that he’d stayed in school, had stuck with it, and graduated from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.

Then four more years passed and another letter came.

This time he explained that after he got his bachelor’s degree, he decided to go a little further. That she was still his favorite teacher but now that his name was a little longer. And the letter was signed, “Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D.”

The story doesn’t end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said that… well, that he’d met his girl and was to be married.

He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering … well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether or not she wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.

But I bet on that special day, Jean Thompson smelled just like … well, just like she smelled many years before on the last day of school before the Christmas Holidays begin.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


A special thanks to my friend Shane Dreiling for sharing the following thoughts from Mike Dunlap, assistant coach at St. John's.  It's one of our more lengthy posts but well worth the read.  How we praise and how we criticise if far more important that what offense and defense we run because it is the essence of teaching and teaching is what it is all about. 

From day one the teacher-coach should explain the power that positive criticism will establish within a team. In brief, we must drink from the cup of criticism if we are going to improve.

Criticism is much like weightlifting as there is a process that will make the team and the individual change.

The criticism strategy is simple—Praise, Prompt, and Leave. For example, “I like the way you locked out your elbow on the shot. Please use more legs and then we will have something special.”

We must use the word “criticism” in a literal sense. We do not want to be clever by using “feedback” sessions—call it what it is.

There will be an adjustment period with any positive criticism technique. The instructor must show emotional maturity. For instance, you may get “the face” when you first correct the pupil. Keep a level head and get to your point quickly and move on…for example, “I like when you sprint from spot to spot. You can do this for longer than you think and when that loose ball comes up late in the game you’ll be ready.” If you see “the face” during this criticism, ignore it until you see a pattern.

Criticism will ultimately involve consequences for actions—good and bad. In other words, use actions, not words. If you get “the face” in a repetitive manner then move quickly with your discipline. For example, I remove the player from the court to the locker room. Hence, he is not a distraction to the group and I am letting the team know that my energy will be spent on those that are doing what I want. I will do this early in the season as the bitter pill of discipline and should be taken early in the process. This player has done you a favor.

Different students have varying degrees of handling criticism—positive or negative. They simply nod to everything you say. I move quickly on this situation as the player is deflecting what you are saying. For instance, the coach says, “Please stop reaching on the ball,” yet the player keeps doing this while always nodding at your corrections. “O.K., we are going to play a defensive game and everyone must hold their hands behind their back while on defense.”

If done poorly, criticism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your observations and words must push towards the positive.

Wrong: “You are a dog and if you keep doing that you’ll never get better.”

Right: “Yesterday you moved around here like a champion getting 6 loose balls. Today, you are off two beats and just need to get 2 boards in a row to start the engine—now do it!” (Praise, Prompt, and Leave)

a) You have not only told the player something positive but also have given him a specific target.

The consequences for actions should be used in a positive manner. Specifically, reward the behavior that you want and like. The example would be, “Rick, you really please me by jumping through the pass and that will get us at least one win this year in crunch time.” We let the group know what wins and also how to gain the praise of the instructor.

Criticism must be realistic when you lay out your positive predictions. Such as, “I see you getting two more boards a game with those V back cuts on the weakside of the boards—good!” If I use the number 10 instead of 2 I have over done it and will lose credibility over time. The instructor must take a balanced approach. Hence, a statement of expectation can be good or bad.

Positive Criticism should use the language of the audience. We use metaphors that are relevant to the times as word pictures create a visual imprint. For instance, “Lee, you must think of yourself as a yo-yo. You are trying to stop and go with the dribble, changing speeds and creating space.” Another way of using language is, “When we start out the season everyone must board the plane, get seated, follow instructions, as there is no getting off. We will pick up speed as we go along.”

Use prediction with your positive criticism (e.g. “When you make the front pivot with your eyes to rim no one can defend you—period—no one!”)

Do NOT use conjunctions when you praise:

Wrong: “I really think you are doing a superb job with your voice but you could really speak up.

Right: “I really think you are doing a superb job with your voice. Now try to speak louder because we are going to play in a packed house next week.”

If the coach personalizes the criticism or uses sarcasm, you will be rejected by the player and ultimately by the team. You should criticize the act as much as possible.

Wrong: “You didn’t get that board in crunch time and we lost the game at that moment. Maybe if you drank a little less beer we would have won.”

Right: “I know you will get that board next game because you are using the V back technique on the weakside. What do you think?” Thus, your player has specific targets and this takes away from the subjective evaluation of the instructor. Our players talk about the deflection chart as the criticisms become most powerful when the players accept them as an objective form of evaluation.

Positive criticism is on going. We develop a critical eye with experience. We must be careful as time can create a negative view.

a) How? Just like quality wine, we begin to understand bad wines. Does this mean we do not continue to try other wines? No! We simply understand the depth of our experience and use caution as we grow more aware.

b) The evolution comes from using fewer words to instruct. While our database grows with time, the economy of words becomes our reward.

Use the Socratic method to engage the minds. For example, “I’m going to ask the team a question and I want to see if you have the answer.” This is effective because the entire audience is thinking as opposed to one person. They are probably thinking please don’t ask me but nonetheless the team is on their toes.

A quality critic bases his criticism on a certain criteria. This helps you be more specific and objective. Your reference points for judgment are important. For example, “Our effort is measured by our deflection chart which calculates your positive impact on the outcome. Specifically, you get 1 point for getting a loose ball, taking a charge, or getting a deflection.”

When criticizing, know the person you are addressing as we say, “Understand but do not accept negative behavior.” See through the eyes of the student when evaluating their background and role models.

When you are forced to criticize someone for a personal matter, link it to a bigger outcome. “Frank, I am hesitant to tell you this because I don’t want to embarrass you. This bad habit will hold you back as a team leader, with women, and the business community. You need to shower everyday. Your odor affects others in a negative way. We can change this habit now. What do you think?”

Criticism in groups is more dangerous than criticizing the individual alone. However, there may be a time and place to do both. Know your audience, the situation, and the person.

Criticism must be linked to individual accountability.

a) The teacher must admit his mistakes when they happen, as it is a show of humanness and accountability.

b) We cannot accept excuses in our team culture.

c) The instructor must tackle the excuse maker quickly as this can only go one way—BAD.

The teacher must be ready for criticism when it comes your way—it WILL!

a) Please do not take the approach that the customer is always right—as there are times when they are not. Hence, we still want to get resolution and move on and besides we want to show emotional intelligence and maturity.

b) The technique goes something like this when confronted by a player, “I think you are a jerk, because you keep coming at me in practice and it isn’t fair!”

Coach: “O.K. let’s assume you are right. I’m not sure that the jerk part will help us go anywhere. Why don’t we just stick to the part about me coming at you because ultimately you want to play here and so do I. Why don’t you be specific about what is bother you. We will then put together a strategy that works. Again, please respect my position and you will address me with manners.”

Criticism is a fact of life. We must have a system in place so that we can be effective and grow as a team. Certainly there will be some “hot” moments. Yet, we can be proactive with our communications. When pressure is applied, chaos will thrive unless we build in a flexible system for communication and criticism.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


"You can do anything you want in practice but not everything you want- simplify."

-Jim Beilein


Sometimes it’s easier to  criticize than to praise. We all know that timely, constructive criticism can erase mistakes and reverse organizational decay. But it’s praise that fuels a company’s progress, that bolsters people’s confidence and spurs them on to greater things. Winning managers look for opportunities to praise—for the person who stays late to finish a report, or helps seal a complicated deal, or points out a way to cut costs. The achievement doesn’t have to be large or dramatic. Anything that reflects a commitment to the company is praiseworthy.
From "Finding A Way To Win" by Bill Parcells


As a coach, how do you define success?  If you ask the players on your team do they know your definition of success?  Make sure you are all on the same page, rowing in the right direction.  Here are some great definitions of success by some people that have had their share:

Red Auerbach:
"There are two kinds of success. There’s success in your own eyes and there’s success in the eyes of other people. If you want to feel successful in your own eyes, you gotta feel satisfies with your life, satisfied with your accomplishments. That’s success.”

John Chaney:
“I always say to my guys, ‘The most important day of your life is today. This very moment is the most important minute of your life. You must win this minute. You must win this day. And tomorrow will take care of itself.”

Anne Donovan:
“Success to me is the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve been prepared, I’ve done absolutely everything I could do that’s in my control to be prepared. And I guess part of success is being committed to enjoying the process.”

Tony Dungy:
“I would define success as doing the absolute best that you are capable of doing. That’s not the same as winning every game—it’s being as good as you could possibly be.”

Dan Gable:
“I look at what impact you as a person have in society. And when the people that I directly influence go out and influence other people for positive and good, I think success had been accomplished.”

Marvin Lewis:
“Preparation. Accomplishing your goals through preparation.”

Lute Olson:
“Being the best you can be, regardless of what it is that you do. And a person needs to be passionate about what they do because that’s the only way you’re going to be happy: if you have a passion for what you do.”

Tom Osborne:
“So I guess my definition of success would hinge more on doing the best you can with what you have. Having good character, a good work ethic, integrity. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you make a lot of money or that you ever attain a position of power.”

Bill Parcells:
“I would say that success is never final. No matter what you achieve, you’ve gotta move forward. It’s gotta be onward and upward because it’s not final. You can go from being pretty successful to pretty downtrodden and you can do it very quickly, particularly in this business.”

Tubby Smith:
“To me it’s the satisfaction within each individual that they’ve given their best effort. That you did all you could. You did the right thing. You felt like in your heart, in your mind, in your soul, that you have done your best.”

Joe Torre:
“To me, success is getting the most out of your ability. It’s being able to go past that wall where you feel tired and frustrated. And once you go beyond that wall I think there’s a great deal of pride involved. Life isn’t easy and if you just sit down when you get tired instead of pushing on, then I don’t think you ever realize satisfaction and self-esteem.”

Bill Walsh:
“Success is progress. It’s becoming better at what you do. That’s what I always emphasize with the players, that if you can improve your skills and take advantage of it, that’s success. I don’t necessarily measure it in winning and losing, although that’s always a factor. But if you’ve improved, that’s success.”

John Wooden:
“Success, to me, is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you were capable. Success is coming as close as possible to reaching your maximum potential at whatever task you’re involved in.”

From "How to Succeed in the Game of Life" by Christian Klemash


"Do the next right thing right."
-Coach Don Meyer

Meyer coached that their goal should be small and immediate: Execute the next play properly. That’s all. When you had the ball on offense, you focused on making the right decisions in that moment and executing correctly, with the proper mechanics. Each time the team was on defense, the challenge was the same. This is why Meyer stopped and started practices constantly, to loudly note that players had approached the trap the wrong way, or that there was a moment when the ball could’ve—and should’ve—gone into the post, or that the offensive player who had position in the post had not demanded the ball effectively. Meyer did not place emphasis on the whole, on the final score; he wanted his players to do each small thing with excellence—knowing that if they did that successfully, if they properly focused on the process and not the product, then the end result would be great.

From "How Lucky You Can Be: The Don Meyer Story" by Buster Olney

Sunday, December 19, 2010


This yet another great post from Brian Tracy and one that is especially good for assistant coaches:

There are many things you can do to put your career onto the fast track. You can set clear, specific goals for each area of your life and then make plans to accomplish them. You can plan your work and work your plan.

Ask For Greater Responsibility
You can accept 100% responsibility for everything you are and everything you become. You can refuse to make excuses or to blame others. You can tell your boss that you want greater responsibilities and then when you get them, put your whole heart into doing an excellent job.

Utilize Your Inborn Talents
In the parable of the talents in the New Testament, Jesus says, "Oh good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over small things. I will make you master over large things."

If you too will carry out every assignment to the very best of your ability, you will be given larger and more important things to do and you'll be paid more as a result.

Dedicate Yourself to Continuous Improvement

The key to long term success is for you to dedicate yourself to continuous improvement. If you become one tenth of one percent more productive each day, that amounts to 1/1000th improvement per working day. Is that possible? Of course it is!

Improve A Little At A Time
If you become one tenth of one percent more productive each day, that amounts to one half of one percent more productive each week. One half of one percent more productive each week amounts to two percent more productive each month and 26% more productive each year.

The cumulative effect if becoming a tiny bit better at your field and more productive amounts to a tremendous increase in your value and your output over time.

How to Double Your Productivity
Twenty-six percent more productive each year, with compounding, amounts to doubling your overall productivity and performance every 2.7 years. If you become 26% more productive each year, with compounding, times 10 years, you will be 1004% more productive over the next decade. That is an increase of ten times over ten years.

The Reason For All Great Successes
This is called the Law of Accumulation, or the Principle of Incremental Improvement. It is the primary reason for all great success stories. By the yard, it's hard. But inch by inch, anything's a cinch!

Become A 1000% Person
Make a decision, right now, to be a 1000% person. Commit yourself to continuous personal and professional development. Read, listen to audio programs and take additional courses. This process will completely transform your life.

Action Exercises
Here are two things you can do to put these ideas into action immediately.

First, make a plan to become a little bit better every single day. Learn and apply one new idea each day to help you to become more productive and effective at your work. The incremental effect will amaze you.

Second, be patient. Don't expect overnight changes or instant results. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. Become a little bit better each day and your future will take care of itself.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Last summer in Atlanta,  I was honored to be selected to be a speaker at the first Assistant Coaching Symposium sponsored by Felicia Allen-Hall and Associates.  The concepts was an incredible one -- create a weekend with speakers and presentations designed to help assistant coaches achieve maximum results in their jobs while create a blueprint for growth.

I've known Felicia for years both professionally and personally and when she first approached me with her idea for this clinic I was instantly excited because I knew she would leave no stone unturned in putting together a tremendous weekend -- and she certainly delivered.

There were several key topics for the weekend including:

1. Positioning Yourself as a Valuable Part of the Program
2. Recruiting...Finding the Right Fit
3. The Art of a Good Practice Coach
4. Effective on the Bench Coaching
5. Think Like a Head Coach
6. Presenting a Scouting Report

Each topic had two to three presenters.  I found this very important because it allowed the coaches at the clinic to see that there are more than one way to do their job.

I walked away with three prominent thoughts:

First, I wished I could have had access to this type of clinic when I was a young assistant coach.
Second, I was able to bring back so much information to share with our staff and improve our program.

Third, I was going to make sure I attend next summer whether I was a presenter or not.

I am both honored and excited to have been asked to again speak at the 2nd Annual Professional Development Symposium in Chicago, IL.  The date is April 29 through May 1 and Felicia has put together another incredible group of speakers that can give you great insight into being better at your job.

A STEP UP (Athletic Symposium TElevate Professionals & Uplift Performance) is a labor of love for Felicia who has spend a life time of helping people.

This is not an X & O clinic -- there are tons of them out there for us to all go get the drills and plays.  But I know of nothing out there that is specifically designed for assistant coaches to help them better function in the variety of roles that we have in our programs.

Felicia, of course, wanted to add some "basketball" to the weekend and last year got us in to observe an Atlanta Dream practice where their coaches stayed after to talk hoops with us. And she has really stepped that part up this year as well.  On Friday, April 29, 2011 as Mike Procopio of ATTACK ATHLETICS (Where the Pros Train) will do a two hour on court demonstration with NBA predraft prospects for Symposium participants. Mike has trained several NBA All-Stars including Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, Kevin Durant, Rajon Rondo & Tracy McGrady.

For more information:

I will blog more in the months to come especially as topics are assigned but it is important to know that there are limited spots available.  Last year in Atlanta the max out number was 200 and it filled up quickly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Great stuff from Kevin Eastman of the Boston Celtics:

We all want our teams to talk on defense, but do we really get them to understand how important it is and what it does for us and to the opponent? Defensive communication is so important because it:

• Intimidates: especially when the opponent knows that you know everything they're running because your players are calling out the plays and coverages as soon as they hear the call!

• Gives your defense a head start: alerting a teammate of the action before it happens is critical to successful defense.

• Gives the man on the ball more confidence: if he knows he has help and protection behind him he'll be much more confident and aggressive.

• Wakes up a disengaged defender: talking to a player who's not paying attention on defense can alert him to get back and re-engaged.

• Catches a mistake before it happens: so many times we have alerted a player to an offensive action before it caught him and that kept us from dealing with a mistake

• Energizes your teammates: talking teams always seem to play with more energy – it’s a fact of basketball!

Monday, December 13, 2010


Another gem from Creighton Burns' newsletter -- this one is our team passout for the day:

“Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles."

-- Og Mandino


Recently at a coaching clinic Pete Carroll, USC Head Football Coach asked the coaches if any of them had a coaching philosophy, and everyone raised their hand. Then he asked them if they could tell him in one minute… most people put their hand down. His was simple…“Win Forever”. Carroll explains, “Of course we want to win every game, but winning forever is simply realizing your potential and making yourself as good as you can be.” Other recent and simple examples have been, “Get Better” and “Ask as if…” How much can you simplify your philosophy into something short and concise. Could you text it to someone in a single message?

-- Via Creighton Burns newsletter - Shared by Ray Lokar

Sunday, December 12, 2010


"Lombardi didn’t believe in complimenting people for doing what they were supposed to do.  If you did well, he’d say so.  But to get praise, you had to do something really extraordinary.  It was a matter of understanding your men and getting maximum performance, not just maximum effort, out of them."

-Bill Curry


Yet another qualtiy post from Brian Tracy:

Clarity accounts for probably 80% of success and happiness. Lack of clarity is probably more responsible for frustration and underachievement than any other single factor. That's why we say that "Success is goals, and all else is commentary." People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine. This is true everywhere and under all circumstances.

The Three Keys to High Achievement
You could even say that the three keys to high achievement are, "Clarity, Clarity, Clarity," with regard to your goals. Your success in life will be largely determined by how clear you are about what it is you really, really want.

Write and Rewrite Your Goals
The more you write and rewrite your goals and the more you think about them, the clearer you will become about them. The clearer you are about what you want, the more likely you are to do more and more of the things that are consistent with achieving them. Meanwhile, you will do fewer and fewer of the things that don't help to get the things you really want.

The Seven Step Process for Achieving Goals

Here, once more, is the simple, seven-step process that you can use to achieve your goals faster and easier than ever before.

First, decide exactly what you want in each area of your life. Be specific!

Second, write it down, clearly and in detail;

Third, set a specific deadline. If it is a large goal, break it down into sub-deadlines and write them down in order;

Fourth, make a list of everything you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. As you think of new items, add them to your list;

Fifth, organize the items on your list into a plan by placing them in the proper sequence and priority;

Sixth, take action immediately on the most important thing you can do on your plan. This is very important!

Seventh, do something every day that moves you toward the attainment of one or more of your important goals. Maintain the momentum!

Join the Top 3%
Fewer than three percent of adults have written goals and plans that they work on every single day. When you sit down and write out your goals, you move yourself into the top 3% of people in our society. And you will soon start to get the same results that they do.

Review Your Goals Daily
Study and review your goals every day to be sure they are still your most important goals. You will find yourself adding goals to your list as time passes. You will also find yourself deleting goals that are no longer as important as you once thought. Whatever your goals are, plan them out thoroughly, on paper, and work on them every single day. This is the key to peak performance and maximum achievement.

Action Exercises

Here is how you can apply this law immediately:

First, make a list of ten goals that you would like to achieve in the coming year. Write them down in the present tense, as though a year has passed and you have already accomplished them.

Second, from your list of ten goals, ask yourself, "What one goal, if I were to accomplish it, would have the greatest positive impact on my life?" Whatever it is, put a circle around this goal and move it to a separate sheet of paper.

Third, practice the seven-step method described above on this goal. Set a deadline, make a plan, and put it into action and work on it every day. Make this goal your major definite purpose for the weeks and months ahead.

Get ready for some amazing changes in your life.

Check out:


A special thanks to my mentor Coach Dale Brown for sending me a copy of a letter that he recieved from former NFL player Phil Olsen (younger brother of Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen) who now owns Know Your Strengths Company.  Here are some great thoughts from Phil as he outline them to Coach Brown"

Bill Glass got it right. Successful people live a life of "Expect to Win."

We must "expect" good things to happen in our lives before they ever will.

In addition to attitude and effort, visualization is also critical to expectations becoming reality. I've never met a high-performance athlete who didn't practice visualization. Someone once asked Cleveland Browns running back Jimmy Brown how he could make such incredible runs and lead the NFL in rushing every year. He simply responded: "Because I've seen myself do it a thousand times in my mind."

The subconscious mind is like a computer. It can't tell the difference between right and wrong - good or bad. It simply responds to the thoughts we program into it. We must see ourselves being successful before we ever will be. I'm willing to bet that the great teams you coached and the great players who played for you saw themselves as great teams and great players- and they played like it. Great coaches see their players and their teams not as they are but as they can be. Great coaches motivate and inspire performance in their players by treating them as they can be, not as they currently are.

And, I believe the same thing is true for every area of our life, not just in sports. Success rarely happens by accident. I've heard it said that successful people are those who are willing to do the things that unsuccessful people are not. I honestly believe that expectations, attitude and effort must precede performance.

Not a sermon...just a thought.

I've attached information from one of the most fascinating studies I've ever seen. Take a look at the Top Five Characteristics for success in Sports and let me know what you think.

Top Five Characteristics for Success in Sports

Researchers at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, recently compiled a list of 128 characteristics of what makes a good athlete a winner. They divided the list of 128 traits into half psychological and half physical characteristics. Examples of psychological characteristics were: they perform well under pressure, they are teachable, etc. Examples of physical characteristics were items such as body size, natural physical strength, and general talent or athletic attributes.

They then asked 658 coaches from 43 different sports to choose five of these characteristics that they felt defined winners. The majority of these coaches chose psychological qualities over physical abilities for determining successful/winning athletes.

These researchers determined that the top five characteristics for success in sports to be:

1) That these athletes love to play their game or sport.

2) They have a positive attitude in general toward life.

3) They are teachable and coachable.

4) They are self-motivated.

5) They have the discipline and drive to take the necessary steps to improve their game.

The “natural physical athlete” characteristic ranked 19th out of 128 characteristics listed in this study. These finding support the belief of many sports psychologists that success in sports is as much as 90% mental. 


A big thanks to Phil Beckner of Weber State for passing this on to us!  I'm a big believe in the power of words and how they can help shape and inspire a team.  Here's a great story about how one word helped force the Boston Celtics into NBA Champions:

Two former classmates see each other in passing. A word is exchanged. They go their separate ways. No big deal. Except that in this case the word inspires a man, who inspires a team, which wins an NBA championship. That’s some word.

The word is “ubuntu” (Ooh-BOON-too), roughly “I am because we are.” A Bantu term, it served as a rallying cry for South Africans battling apartheid, voiced by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“When you’re building a new country and you’ve spent so long divided, with one group oppressing another, it’s a very big statement,” says Stephanie Russell, Arts ’83, executive director for Marquette’s Office of Mission and Identity.

It can also be a big statement for a newly rebuilt basketball team trying to forge a cohesive identity. “It caught me right away,” says Boston Celtics Coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers, Arts ’85 and Marquette trustee, who heard about ubuntu from Russell during a lunch break at a Marquette Board meeting. “It’s not just a word. It’s a way of life, a way of being.”

Recently, Russell and Rivers shared their memories of that conversation.

The Celtics were coming off a rough season. Nine of 15 players were new. Rivers was searching for something to unite them. When Russell explained the core concept of ubuntu — I can’t be all I can be unless you’re all you can be — he was hooked. “Right when she said that, I said ‘That’s it. That’s the word. That’s the philosophy. That’s what I need,’” Rivers remembers.

He stayed up late that night, reading everything he could get his hands on about ubuntu. Then he went back to Boston and gathered his Celtics. “Our first team meeting,” Rivers says, “I walked in front of the team and I said, ‘ubuntu,’ just like that. I said it again. One of the players, I think Kevin Garnett, raised his hand and asked, ‘What is it?’”

Rivers didn’t answer. He made everyone wait a day and then had the team’s rookies explain. “I brought them up to my office and told them this is not a joke. This is not you singing your team song here. This is very, very personal to me and very important to me,” he says.

Why rookies? Rivers knew they would work the hardest. And because, unlike the veterans, they wouldn’t be skeptical of something new.

“They were sensational, better than I ever would have been,” he says of the rookies. “And it caught the team immediately.”

The Celtics went on to become the 2008 NBA champs, buoyed by the power of a word. “I was amazed at how many times the word helped our team get through tough times. It was the perfect philosophy for our team,” Rivers says. “And it still is. Recently I was thinking about trying a different motto, and one of my players informed me, ‘No, we are ubuntu.’”

Also amazing to Rivers are the circumstances that brought the word to him. “Being in the right place at the right time was huge,” he says. “What if Stephanie had left? What if she had decided to eat lunch on the other side of the room? I honestly don’t know. Without that word our season could’ve been different.”

Read the entire article from at:

Friday, December 10, 2010


I watched the movie "Rookie" last night (have seen it several times)  It really is a "must see" if you haven't.  It's a true story about a high school coach who makes a deal with his high school team that he will tryout for the major leagues if they win their district title -- which they do.  In his late 30's he can still bring the heat (upper 90's).   But he has to leave his wife and kids and work his way through the minors.  He comes upon a difficult stretch struggles with his decision and considers quiting and going home.  Then one night he stumbles upon a little league game and realizes his love for the game.  The next day he comes into the locker room and tells his teammate with a big smile: "We get to play baseball today."  Well, I'm just as to practice -- "I get to coach basketball."  To all those coaches out there -- have a great day!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Coach Don Meyer will celebrate a birthday on December 16.  Our team will be sending him a birthday card and thanking him for his contributions to the game and our program.  If you want to send him some birthday wishes, the address is:

Coach Don Meyer 
Northern State UniversityNSU
1200 S Jay Street 
Aberdeen, SD, 57401


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 (ex. Nothing great has ever been accomplished without great


• 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
Thanks to Coach Steve Smiley for these notes!


I received this email from Coach Dale Brown this morning -- after reading it, I'm not surprised.  Coach Les Miles obviously comes from the Dale Brown School of Coaching.  I wish I could count how many times while working for Coach Brown that he told me that coaching was simply a vehicle to do good things for others.  I do not know exactly where this email originated so I will simply post it as Coach Brown sent it:

"I have a personal story to share. My cousin, Charlie Cangelosi, was shot after the Alabama game while trying to help a pregnant lady that was screaming when being robbed by some evil-doers. The perpetrators sped off in a car that night while Charlie laid on the ground with a bullet through his mid-section. Charlie survived, and the media picked up the story about how Charlie risked his life to save another in need. On Wednesday after the shooting, Charlie’s parents got a call from the OLOL administration, with a message from Les Miles asking for permission to visit Charlie. Being big LSU fans, they granted permission. Les indicated he would be there around 6 pm on Wednesday.

Right on time, Les showed up … alone, no cameras, no bodyguard, in his coaching outfit. He was extremely kind to the parents and was allowed to go into the room where Charlie was still in critical care. Though Charlie had been in a medically induced coma and had intubation in his mouth preventing verbal communication, Charlie was able to see Les and communicate with eye-blinking. Les told Charlie that the world needed more people like him, that he was a champion and that when he was better (remember, at this time he was “touch and go”), Charlie could come to any home game next year and stay on the field with the team or sit with Les’s family in their box. Les then pulled out an autographed LSU football for Charlie. After this pleasant visit, Les explained that he had to leave. It was Game Week (the Monroe game was coming up) and Les had to prepare for his radio show that was just a few minutes away. When listening to the radio show that night, Charlie’s family heard that it was Les’s birthday, too. OK, so this man took an hour of his day during Game Week, on the day of his radio show, and on the day of his birthday, to say thank you and give a game ball to a stranger? Wow."

Thanks for forwarding this to me Coach Brown...makes me proud to be a coach and proud to be an LSU Tiger this morning!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Coach Meyer and Buster Olney will be guest speakers at a luncheon and book signing at Lipscomb University in Nashville on Friday, Dec. 17 at noon.

Cost is $10. RSVP to


Another great post by Brian Tracy!  Our athletic director and one of my mentors, Skip Bertman, use to always talk about this in terms of coaching.  He would use the example of an airplane pilot and how they would constantly make course corrections in flight to get you to your destination.  He explained that things such as weather, turbulence, traffic and the weight of the plane would never allow it to fly straight to where it was to land.  The pilots would constantly check their instrumentation and make the necessary corrections.  He also spoke about how the flight would seemingly be smooth but that did not mean that it did not need occasional corrections to get exactly where it needed to go -- and of course, he said the same would be true of our teams.

Military leaders talk about the importance of plans but the understanding that very often when the bullets start to fly that you'd better be flexible and have back up plans -- be ready to make some "course corrections."  Here is what Brian Tracy has to say about it:

Problems, difficulties, and setbacks are a normal, natural, and unavoidable part of life and business. When you set a new goal or launch toward a new destination, you will experience challenges and difficulties that you never expected or anticipated. By the true test of character is the inevitable and unavoidable crisis. Your ability to solve problems is important, but your ability to deal with a crisis largely determines your success or failure in life.

Leadership Abilities
In a multi-year study conducted at Stanford University, researchers examined the annual performance appraisals of hundreds of presidents and chief executive officers of Fortune 1000 companies, some of the most successful executives in every business or industry. This study revealed that top executives had two dominant qualities in common. The first was the ability to function well as a member of a team. When they were starting out, they were good team players, making valuable contributions to the teams they were on. As they were promoted to more senior positions, they demonstrated the ability to bring together winning teams of talented people and organize them to accomplish important goals and results for their companies.

The Most Important Leadership Quality

The second, and most important, quality that top leaders had in common was the ability to function well in a crisis. Top people in every field had demonstrated throughout their careers that they were able to deal effectively with the inevitable crisis when it came along. The ability to deal with a crisis could be learned and demonstrated only in a real crisis, an unpredictable and unexpected reversal or setback that had the potential to cause major damage of some kind. During such a crisis, the true leader would emerge to save the situation and resolve the problem.

How Leaders Perform in Crisis
Over the years, I have worked with the presidents and chief executive officers of many large companies. I have coached, counseled, and consulted with millionaires, multimillionaires, and even billionaires. I have been able to watch them up close and personal. One quality that they all seemed to demonstrate was their ability to remain calm and cool when faced with a major reversal or setback. When they were confronted with a problem or crisis, they seemed to be able to turn on a switch in their minds that enabled them to become calm and completely in control.

How Leaders Perform in Crisis
Harold Geneen, the past president of IT&T, a 150 company conglomerate, once said that the most important step in dealing with any business problem was to get the facts. He said, "Get the real facts. Not the assumed facts, the apparent facts, the obvious facts, or the hoped for facts. Keep digging until you get the real facts. Facts don't lie." The more information (the greater number of facts) he gathered about any problem or crisis, the more obvious the correct solution or course of action. The solution would seem to emerge as the result of delving deeper and deeper into the problem.

Be sure to check out: 


In 2008, Pat Williams, the GM of the Orlando Magic and a tremendous motivational speaker put out a book, "The Ultimate Coaches' Clinic." It is a fascinating book because of the style Pat utilized. He surveyed over 1000 coaches and administrators for insights to what is important to successfully do their job. From time to time I will share a few but it is a great book to own and I highly recommend it. Here are some thoughts from Bob Knight:

The best teachers I have known are intolerant people, because they want to get the students to be better than the students ever thought they could be. I have always said that players will accept and be satisfied with whatever the coach tolerates.

I have one training rule: If you do anything in any way, whenever or wherever, that I think is detrimental to the good of this basketball team, to the school, or to yourself, I’ll handle it as I see fit.

I’d like to be respected as a coach, but I’m not concerned about being liked. If you worry about whether people like you or not, you can never make tough decisions correctly.

Be enthusiastically critical. You can do something wrong enthusiastically and it can turn out right.

You can’t stay with big wins. You can’t be thinking of the last game when the next game is coming up. Get away from games you win and into the next game right away.

Winning is basically eliminating why you lose. You can make all kinds of great plays and still get beat if you don’t eliminate the ways you could lose.

The team that’s willing to prepare to win is going to be the team that wins. Most everybody plans to win, but preparing to win is the most important thing in successful play.

Basketball is a game that can be played many different ways. There are a wide variety of approached to defense and all kinds of things a coach can choose to do on the offensive end of the floor. However, there are two things that really stand out, in my mind, as essential for a coach to get his team to do if it is going to be successful over the long haul of the season. These two ingredients are getting players to play as hard as they can, each possession of the game at both ends of the floor, and doing it as intelligently as possible. I simply try to tell our players that they have to play hard and they have to play smart if we’re going to win. I also tell them that my definition of playing hard carries with it a much higher standard then their own definitions would have. Getting players to match my definition of playing hard, as a coach, is probably the single most difficult skill there is in teaching the game of basketball. With today’s athlete, I think being able to demand their best in thought and performance is more important than ever.

There are three phases of the game where playing hard or not doing so is most noticeable. They are rebounding at both ends of the floor, playing defense, and running the floor to the offensive as well as the defensive end. I always felt that, left on their own, players want to play the game as comfortably as they possibly can. That is why, to be successful, a coach must have much higher standards in regard to playing hard than the players may think is possible. Playing hard seems to be a very simple thing, but it is not and that goes back to the comfort level that the players themselves basically want throughout the game.

Do what’s right and do what you think you have to do, and don’t worry about what somebody says. That would be about as simply put as my philosophy could be.


From his book, "Sunday Morning Quarterback," Phil Simms talks about playing for Bill Parcells:

On game days Bill never put pressure on us. I never remember him giving us ultimatums or saying something that would make us tight or wouldn’t make us confident about what we were doing. In fact, his other great saying on game day was, “Hey, remember, it isn’t going to go perfect. Don’t worry about it. This game is not about being perfect. Something’s going to go wrong. Just keep going.”

He puts you in a situation where, if he ever says, “You did a good job,” you know it means so much more than that. It’s a proud moment.

Everybody thinks he’s just a curmudgeon and a mean man, but he definitely cares about his players as people. His approach wouldn’t work if he didn’t care. There were times in my career when I would struggle and he would just find the right moment and the right words, and say them to me.

Here’s another Bill Parcells saying: “If you keep pressuring the other team and apply enough pressure to them, eventually they’ll succumb to it.” What that really means is play as hard as you can play, play smart, and just by doing that—never letting up and continuously coming out every round ready to battle and showing no signs of slowing down—sooner or later the other team will say, “They’re never going to quit, so we might as well just get it over with and pack it in.”

Your philosophical beliefs determine whether you win or lose. What you believe in, deep down, as a coach and as an organization, forms and becomes your team. How you dress it up with some of your X’s and O’s and all the cute stuff is the final piece that really gets you over the top to win. However, what you believe in—great physical conditioning, toughness, practicing under pressure—forms the core, because that’s how you’re going to play.

There has to be a master plan. You’re not going to go out on the field on Sunday and be overly aggressive and the roughest and toughest bunch out there if you don’t work on it in practice. No coach can go through a week where it’s always easy, and then all of a sudden say, “All right, men, let’s turn it on.”

Playing aggressively and having that edge is a deep-seated mentality that you can only develop over a long period of time and through constant reinforcement. It’s something you just can’t create overnight. It’s something you have to learn to accept.

Establishing a foundation is the hardest thing for coaches to do. But once you establish what you are, what your team is, what you’re going to be as an organization, the reinforcement kind of takes care of itself. When the newcomers arrive, the coach doesn’t have to sit down and teach then everything because he knows his incumbent players and his organization are going to mold them. You learn quickly what is accepted and not accepted. The coach doesn’t even have to give the newcomers his agenda-setting speech because his other players are going to snap them into shape. They tell them, “For this to work right, for us to win, you’ve got to get in line with the rest of us.”

Everybody needs disciples. You’ve got to have people help you spread your message. You teach the whole group, but really you need the core guys, the ones making a lot of plays for you, to sell your ideas to everybody else.

Friday, December 3, 2010


The following comes from John Maxwell and will be a team passout for us.  We are in the middle of a stretch where we are struggling to finish plays, practices and games in the manner we are capable of finishing:

I once heard that 91 million Americans make New Year's Resolutions, but that 70 million Americans break those commitments within a week! Going to a health club seems to confirm the stats. During the first week of January, gyms are packed. All of the treadmills are in use, people are lining up for a turn on the exercise equipment, and it's hard even to find a parking space. Yet, by about the third week of January, you can park in the space nearest the front door and exercise on any machine that suits your preference. What happens between January 1st and January 21st? People demonstrate their unwillingness to finish.

Character, discipline, sacrifice, tenacity-these qualities aren't stylish, but they are surefire ingredients for any leader who wishes to finish strong. As we enter the final month of the calendar year, I encourage you to make the most of the remaining weeks in 2010. Live and lead in December so that you'll end this year on a high note and cruise into the New Year with positive momentum.

Emotions are unreliable allies. One moment they propel us forward, while the next minute they impede our progress. People guided primarily by emotion must feel good before doing right. They make popular choices, choosing whichever route is most convenient. They are concerned about protecting their rights instead of taking care of responsibilities, and they are easily discouraged by adversity.

Emotion might drive us to make a decision, but character, or discipline, is what keeps us going when the journey gets hard. A person with character makes decisions on principle, not on the basis of what is popular. He or she honors commitments instead of catering to convenience. High-character, disciplined individuals work steadily regardless of circumstance, creating their own momentum by dint of a steady work ethic.

Being a finisher requires recurring installments of sacrifice, not a one-time payment. Sacrifice is a leader's constant companion. As influencers, we must give up to go up, ever exchanging our rights for greater responsibility.

I believe most people expect to pay a price to achieve their goals. Yet, many people seem to have a vague concept of sacrifice, viewing it as something distant or far-off. Consequently, when their goals demand a significant investment, people are bewildered and resist giving up anything. If you desire to finish strong, you will need to sacrifice earlier than expected and to give up more than is comfortable.

Pierre and Marie Curie had made 487 experiments to try to separate radium from pitchblende. All had failed. "It can't be done; it can't be done," Pierre Curie lamented. "Maybe in a hundred years it can be done, but never in our lifetime." Madame Curie replied, "If it takes a hundred years it will be a pity, but I dare not do less than work for it so long as I have life." Madame Curie's tenacity goaded the scientists into making another attempt and opened the door to new scientific discovery.

Tenacity means quitting only when the job is done, not when you're tired. Much of life is spent laboring in the trenches. To reach the finish line, you must wade through tedious details, take care of thankless tasks, and tie up thousands of loose ends. Most people tire along the way, settle for second-best, and stop before reaching their goals. However, a select few push on, refusing to stop until they've taken hold of their dreams.

Be sure to check out: