Monday, October 31, 2011


Discipline yourself to do what you know you need to do to be the very best in your field. Perhaps the best definition of self discipline is this: "Self discipline is the ability to make yourself do what you should do when you should do it, whether you feel like it or not."

It is easy to do something when you feel like it. It's when you don't feel like it and you force yourself to do it anyway that you move your life and career onto the fast track.

What decisions do you need to make today in order to start moving toward the top of your field? Whatever it is, either to get in or get out, make a decision today and then get started. This single act alone can change the whole direction of your life.

Seven Steps to Success
There is a powerful seven step formula that you can use to set and achieve your goals for the rest of your life. Every single successful person uses this formula or some variation of this formula to achieve vastly more than the average person. And so can you. Here it is:

Decide What You Want
Step number one, decide exactly what it is you want in each part of your life. Become a "meaningful specific" rather than a "wandering generality."

Write it Down
Second, write it down, clearly and in detail. Always think on paper. A goal that is not in writing is not a goal at all. It is merely a wish and it has no energy behind it.

Set A Deadline
Third, set a deadline for your goal. A deadline acts as a "forcing system" in your subconscious mind. It motivates you to do the things necessary to make your goal come true. If it is a big enough goal, set sub-deadlines as well. Don't leave this to chance.

Make A List
Fourth, make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. When you think of new tasks and activities, write them on your list until your list is complete.

Organize Your List
Fifth, organize your list into a plan. Decide what you will have to do first and what you will have to do second. Decide what is more important and what is less important. And then write out your plan on paper, the same way you would develop a blueprint to build your dream house.

Take Action
The sixth step is for you to take action on your plan. Do something. Do anything. But get busy. Get going.

Do Something Every Day
Do something every single day that moves you in the direction of your most important goal at the moment. Develop the discipline of doing something 365 days each year that is moving you forward. You will be absolutely astonished at how much you accomplish when you utilize this formula in your life every single day.

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

First, decide exactly what you want, write it down with a deadline, make a plan and take action - on at least one goal - today!

Second, determine the price you will have to pay to achieve this goal and then get busy paying that price - whatever it is.

Be sure to check out:

Sunday, October 30, 2011


We've had several posts the past month about the importance of coaches being continual learners.  Last night I ran across the article from the New York Times in 2006 written by Judy Batista on how Bill Belichick as driven to learn more and more regardless of his accomplishments...these are just a few of the excerpts from the article:

But even as Belichick flourishes at the highest level of his profession, he is engaged in the equivalent of a postgraduate education program, an independent study tour that has taken him from Annapolis, Md., to Gainesville, Fla., from a cot in Ted Marchibroda's hotel room to Jimmy Johnson's boat.

At each stop, usually in the off-season and sometimes involving intensive film study, Belichick has picked the brain of his host, gleaning bits of wisdom about everything from Navy's run offense to Johnson's philosophies on drafting and contract negotiations.

Such sessions are common among college coaches, who freely share information about their schemes with coaches whose teams are not on their schedule.

Bear Bryant, the legendary Alabama coach, went to Texas one spring to study the wishbone. Current college coaches frequently visit Virginia Tech to learn some of Frank Beamer's special-teams techniques. But Belichick's forays are unusual in the N.F.L.; limited time in the off-season and heightened paranoia result in most coaches avoiding anything more than the most informal sharing of information.

"He's a perfect example of what we've let slip away in the image of a coach - the job is a teaching job," said Giants General Manager Ernie Accorsi, who was the general manager of the Cleveland Browns when Belichick became the head coach there in 1991. "Bill certainly has a great deal of self-confidence, but he's got the humility to know that he can always learn from somebody that's successful. To me, the smarter you are, the more you want to learn."

It's just an exchange of information with somebody that you have common ground with," Belichick said in an interview during training camp. "You talk about things that are successful, and sometimes that has an application to what you're doing."

When Belichick took his first job as a head coach in Cleveland, he made an unusual request when he and his staff members went to the scouting combine in Indianapolis. Each assistant was assigned three other teams; they were to ask members of those coaching staffs what their practice routines were. The point was to see if anybody else had good ideas about how to run practices.

Another summer, Belichick put a pile of books on a table in a meeting room. Each book had something to do with sports or great athletes. Belichick and his father have enormous libraries of football and sports books, about 500 volumes each, some historical, some technical. He assigned two books to each of his coaches, and when they returned to work for the start of training camp, he asked them what they had gotten out of their summer reading. Book reports for the shoulder-pad set.

"He said, 'I think you can learn from others,' " said Pat Hill, who was a member of Belichick's staff in Cleveland. He is now in his ninth season as head coach at Fresno State.

He added: "Bill is a very good listener. He wanted your opinions. He didn't want yes guys. There's a big difference between listening for what you want to hear and listening to learn. When he listens, he has a reason for the questions."

Perhaps that explains what Belichick and his quarterbacks coach, Josh McDaniels, were doing in Gainesville during the off-season. Belichick met with Florida Coach Urban Meyer while scouting his players, and they spoke about Meyer's spread-option offense. It was highly successful in Meyer's two seasons at Utah and is all the rage in college football.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


This is an excerpt from a speech by Bob Stoops, head football coach at Oklahoma many years ago:

You will never hear me tell the players that we should have won a game. You will never hear me quoted as saying, “we should have won.” I do not believe in it. You either do or you don’t. It is as simple as that.

The big quote association with me is “no excuses!” To be frank, I have never heard a good excuse. They all amount to the same thing. They all amount to losing.

If you give your players a reason as to why they did not win, or if you are quoted as to why you did not win, they are going to latch on to that.

I never acknowledge injuries, and I am never going to acknowledge how young we are, or anything that has to with losing. The reason for this is because I never want one of my players to have an excuse not to succeed or to win.


1. Thou Shalt Be Decisive
Success is a choice. You must decide what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it. No one else can, will, or should do that for you.

2. Thou Shalt Stay Focused
Your ability to sustain focus from beginning to end determines the timing and condition of your future outcomes.
3. Thou Shalt Welcome FailureYou have no choice but to expect it as a temporary condition on the pathway of progress. Rather, the questions is how to anticipate failure and redirect resources to grow from the experience.

4. Thou Shalt Write Down Thy Goals
Your mind, while blessed with permanent memory, is cursed with lousy recall. People forget things; write down your goals.

5. Thou Shalt Plan Thoroughly
Planning saves 10-to-1 execution. Proper planning prevents poor performance.

6. Thou Shalt Involve Others
Nobody goes through life along. Establish your own “Personal Board of Directors,” people whose wisdom, knowledge, and character you respect to help you achieve your goals.

7. Thou Shalt Take Purposeful Action
Success is not a spectator sport — achievement demands action. You cannot expect to arrive at success without having made the trip.

8. Thou Shalt Reward Thyself
Rewards work. Think of what you will give yourself as a result of your hard work, focus, and persistence — you deserve it.

9. Thou Shalt Inspect What Thy Expect
The shelf life of all plans is limited. No plan holds up against opposition. Everything changes. Therefore inspect frequently and closely.

10. Thou Shalt Maintain Personal Integrity
Maintain your commitment to your commitment. Set your goals; promise yourself that you will achieve them.

From "The Ten Commandments of Goal Setting" by Gary Ryan Blair


From clinic notes I have from Coach Krzyzewski.  He talks about the importance of keeping a post behind the zone…

  • stretches the zone
  • opens flash against the zone
  • gives post players great vision of the court
  • puts them in great offensive rebounding position


One of the best Match-Up Zone coaches in the women's game is former Auburn head coach Joe Ciampi.  Joe, a member the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame still takes the time to teach and share his thoughts on match-up play and a lot more in terms of basketball.  Here are a few notes I took when Joe visited with our staff at LSU in 2005.  They excellent if you are looking to improve the way you play zone defense but they are equally important for you to read in your attack of zone defenses:

Four Key Words To Multiple Defensive System:

DELAY...the ball coming down the floor

DEFLECT...inside passes...all passes inside 3-point arc...fingertips on the ball.

DISRUPT...offensive flow thru traps...always trap out of a timeout.

DISGUISE...Auburn played 60% Match-Up 40% man during Ciampi’s career.
Offensive thoughts vs. Match-Up

Screen Outside (Elbow Screens)

Screen Inside (Post)

Few teams screen long enough or move often enough to have success against a true match-up.

Overall defensive philosophy: Have non-shooters shoot.

Ciampi defines offensive players as “shooters” or “drivers” (non-shooters)

Multiple defensive system will test opponent’s offensive IQ

Advantage to multiple defensive system is that offense has to constantly think about how they will score.

Good defense can make more adjustments than a good offense.

Thoughts on pressing: “The can pass around us or pass over us but we don’t want them to pass or dribble through us.”

Defenses either act or react...multiple defensive systems force offenses to react.

Awareness becomes better with strength, quickness and speed.

Can run system in segments...Ciampi likes to change before half or to start the second half.

Important to have defensive goals...players want to see numbers.

In everything you do in practice, have winners and losers….anything 2/2, 3/3, 4/4 have winners and losers...assign a coach to each team...ask winners why they won and losers why they lost...important they understand what went into the process.

Assign one coach to be a “praiser” at practice.

Ciampi believes that the coach controls practice and officials control games.

Ciampi believes that coaches spend too much time correcting poor performance and not praising good play.

Excellent 5/5 defensive possession doesn’t allow a pass inside the 3-point arc...give defensive team 3 points when that happens.

Consecutive turnovers by offense — stop practice and a value on the possession.

Timeout: 1 offensive thought

1 defensive thought

Give most important thought last

Assistant coaches don’t work officials...I’ve gotten better but not where I should be!

Half-time stats of importance:
.....Opponent’s FG%

Find something to praise

Extending defense forces opponents to start offense with :20 or less on shot clock — this makes offense basically work to get a shot with only 3 or 4 passes.

Ciampi has :25 on shot clock when working offense in practice...more game like.

Captain’s role is to voice and protect the coach's opinion.

Great statement: Leadership is more important in the 22 hours off the court than it is the 2 hours on the court!!!...reason Temeka was a great leader…(Coach Meyer: “Great leaders must be accessible”)

Important for head coach to have constant dialogue with team leaders.

Ciampi charts free throws by having player make 10 in a row to start and then chart the next 10...we need to do this in the fall with volunteer free throws….Ciampi also changes free throw pairs up each week...I think this is a great idea...we can do this easily by posting on the bulletin board who their FT and shooting partner is for that week...Ciampi likes to put good FT shooters with poor ones...veterans with rookies.

Two Main Concepts for Match-Up (in this order):
.....Where’s the ball
.....Where do I belong
.....(Can be said of our man-to-man defense as well!)


Highly competent people have some things in common:

1. They are Committed to Excellence
John Johnson in Christian Excellence writes, “Success bases our worth on a comparison with others. Excellence gauges our value by measuring us against our own potential. Excellence is available to all living beings but is accepted by the… few.”

2. They Never Settle for Average
To be mediocre is to do a job halfway, to leave yourself far short of the summit.

3. They Pay Attention to Detail
Dale Carnegie said, “Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do little jobs well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves.”

4. They Perform with Consistency
Highly competent people perform with great consistency. They give their best all the time, and that’s important.

From "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player" by John C. Maxwell

Friday, October 28, 2011


Follow-through is the cornerstone of execution, and every leader who’s good at executing follows through religiously. Following through ensures that people are doing the things they committed to do, according to the agreed timetable. It exposes any lack of discipline and connection between ideas and actions, and forces the specificity that is essential to synchronize the moving parts of an organization. If people can’t execute the plan because of changed circumstances, follow-through ensures they deal swiftly and creatively with the new conditions.

From "Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done" by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan

Thursday, October 27, 2011


The following is a list I pull out each season of press offense guidelines that I wrote down through the years of working with Coach Gunter.  What I like about them is that I think they are universal for all pressure offense.

#1 Remember that the biggest of all keys is to always maintain good spacing. With good spacing, it leaves more room for the defense to cover, and longer distances for them to run before making a trap or steal attempt.

#2 Make all your cuts hard and sharp. If you are not cutting as quickly as possible, you are helping the defense to defend you. Cut to create help. The same holds true if you don’t cut properly, rounding off your cuts instead of cutting in straight lines.

#3 We must always keep someone behind the basketball. We don’t want that player “on top of the basketball.” Stay behind the basketball as a release valve, but maintain proper spacing.

#4 Always come back to meet a pass made to you. This one is critical. If you wait for the pass, someone near you can beat you to the pass and get an interception. Come back for the ball and catch it with both feet in the air to land with a jump stop for pivoting.

#5 If at all possible, we don’t want to receive the entry pass to close to the inbound baseline. Again, this is poor spacing. Try to catch the ball as deeply as possible to give you more room to operate.

#6 Utilize pass fakes at every opportunity. Almost all full-court pressure is based on active, gambling-aggressiveness and therefore will go for pass fakes. A good pass fake will get the defense in the air and allow you a chance to put the ball on the floor or give you an opportunity to make an easier, more effective pass — “fake a pass to make a pass.”

#7 Don’t waste your dribble. Catch the ball, pivot, and look ahead for a possible pass as well as to read the defense. If you pick up your dribble without looking ahead or reading the defense, you become an easy target to be trapped with very few options.
#8 Avoid the half-court area as a momentary position for the ball. Don’t pass the ball to a teammate just over the half-court line when there is a possibility she can be trapped. And certainly don’t dribble the ball just across the half-court line and hesitate where you can be trapped

#9 Always remember, once you beat the pressure, the good press defense teams like to come from behind and try to knock the ball away. You must always stay alert and watch out for back taps.

#10 At the end of the press offense, always look for a good shot. If we execute properly, we can get lay ups, short jumpers, and wide open three-pointers. We want to make a team pay a heavy price for pressing us. Always remember that a forced or bad shot is the same as a turnover for a pressing team.

#11 If we don’t get a shot from our press offense, get directly into our man-to-man or zone offense. Often teams that press, especially zone presses or run and jump presses, have a difficult time recovering to their proper defensive assignments in their half-court defense. Stay on the attack — let our offense be the aggressor and not their press.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I love and have always incorporated writing letters/notes to my teams.  I saw the benefits first hand from Dale Brown at LSU who constantly wrote letters to his team as a whole or to players individually. Now with email, text messaging, twitter, facebook and other social media we have a number of ways to communicate with our team.  I think good coaches will take advantage of as many of those as possible.

“Our edge has to come from outworking our opponents in every phase of the game and this certainly includes off-season conditioning. The program is in your hands…. If you are self-motivated and dedicated, you will go to work immediately. We are going to win in Philadelphia. It is just a matter of being persistent. Go to work. The job you save may be your own.”

From the first letter Dick Vermiel wrote to his first team in Philadelphia

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


The following comes from "High Hopes: Taking the Purple to Pasadena" by Gary Barnett with Vahe Gregorian.  It is a book that details Coach Barnett's turnaround at Northwestern in the 1990's.  It's a book that I would recommend to anyone trying to turnaround or rebuild a program:

People think that there’s one or two or three things that you do to make a change or a difference in a negative environment, or that there’s some type of master blueprint you can draw up and use as a guide. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any one thing I can put my finger on. But the closest analogy I have for our situation is a jigsaw puzzle.

When you buy a jigsaw puzzle, the only way you know what that puzzle is supposed to look like is by looking at the picture on the top of the box, the vision of what the puzzle should ultimately be. But when you open the box, the first thing you see is chaos.

What a jigsaw puzzle represents, though, is a system for turning chaos into order. That’s what we set out to do, just like we used to do on our card table at home when I was growing up.

Before we could do anything else, we had to figure our precisely what the cover—our vision—was going to be. At the first staff meeting, I said, “If you can’t see the invisible, you can’t do the impossible.” Invisible and impossible as it might have seemed, what I saw was the Rose Bowl.

At our basketball arena later that night, January 11, 1992, I was introduced to our student body. When I was handed the microphone, I blurted our, “We’re going to take the Purple to Pasadena”—to the Rose Bowl. The student all went nuts, and as I left the court I sort of wished I hadn’t said it. But once I made that statement, which came from a sentiment of former Northwestern player John Yale, it became the top of the jigsaw puzzle. We had committed ourselves to that vision.

When I make a commitment it’s like what Cortez did when he conquered Mexico. He left no way out for his men—he burned the boats. There was no turning back; there was only the rest ot Mexico. Now there was no turning back at Northwestern. When I made that statement, I burned the boats. Every decision from then on was going to be based on whether it would ultimately get us to the Rose Bowl.

We immediately got a Rose Bowl banner and hung it in the entryway to the Nicolet Center. I put a 1949 Rose Bowl ticket on display on one of my desks. I got a Rose Bowl poster from 1949 and put that up. My high school baseball coach, Don Sparks, had sent me a nylon rose that I put in a bowl in my office. We staggered our recruiting mailings with pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that came together with a picture of the Rose Bowl.


"Consistency is overrated. A leader is obligated not to be consistent, but to be right—to do what’s best for the organization."
-Bill Parcells


“The most meaningful way to differentiate your company from your competition, the best way to put distance between you and the crowd, is to do an outstanding job with information. How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose.”

Monday, October 24, 2011


The following thoughts on developing people comes from "The 5 Levels of Leadership" which is John Maxwell's most recent book:

People development by its very nature shares responsibility for getting things done.  I say that because people development is more than just teaching.  It's transforming.  It invites people into the process of leadership because many things can be learned only through experience.

The first benefit comes to the people being led.  When new leaders are developed, they become better at what they do and they help everyone who works with them to do the same.

The second benefit comes to the organization.  with the addition of more good leaders, the organization's current efforts improve.

The final benefit comes to the leaders are doing the developing, because new leaders help to share the load.

One of the principles I teach is that everything rises and falls on leadership.  Most people apply that concept to productivity but it also applied to responsibility.

"If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometimes, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you off in the right direction."
-Melinda Gates

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Everyone thinks talent is fixed—that this guy’s got it and that guy doesn’t—but it’s just not true. Talent is elastic, and particularly so in team sports. A team of athletes that are well coached well disciplined and play hard together can beat a team with more talent, if that team lacks character, or proper attitudes or cohesiveness. You can beat a team like that—and it’s satisfying when you do!

Everyone knows this. But how do you do it? I’ll tell you how: You coach them all—and let the cream rise to the top.

Here’s the point: You’re not going to yell your way to the top of your profession. If your people are going to perform their absolute best, you need to give them the tools to do so.

If you’re mining gold, you better give your miners the best shovels and picks out there—or you won’t get much gold out of them.

Why coach everybody? Because no one is so smart they can tell you which young prospects are going to develop, when they’re going to develop, or how far they’ll go.

Here’s another reason you should coach them all, instead of just the hotshots: because you recruited them! And if you picked them, you should help them. If he’s no good—well hell, whose fault is that? Yours! So you’d better do your best to make them better.

I’ve always thought you can get more out of every player, even the stars, if you coached them as a team. If you try to win championships, instead of individual awards, everyone will get better.

This means everyone on your team must have a clear, specific role to play, and they have to see those roles as being vital to the success of the entire organization.

The most important things we gave every player, though, were time and attention.

If one of our players wanted to see me, he got to see me, no questions asked. And whether or not they wanted to see me, I wanted to see them! That’s why we set up those meetings twice a year, so I could go over their grades, their goals, and let them know what they could do to contribute to the team’s success that season.

When they left that meeting, they had no confusion about where they stood on the team, what I expected of them, and why there were important to us.

From "Bo's Lasting Lessons" by Bo Schembechler and John U. Bacon

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Step I: Understand the Power of Attitude
Your attitude is a powerful tool for positive action. It’s inherently interwoven into everything you do. It’s your most priceless possession. The good news is, you don’t have to buy it. But you do have to develop it.

Step 2: Choose to Take Charge of Your Life
Transform your attitude into action, you must accept responsibility for what goes on inside your mind by monitoring your internal dialogue.

Step 3: Identify Through. Self-Awareness the Attitudes That Hold You Back or Propel Your Forward
Practicing self-awareness, you will learn the three types of bad attitudes. You will discover how to assess your present-day attitude by identifying the things that may be holding you back and to find the attitude needed to propel you forward.

Step 4: Reframe Your Bad Attitude
An attitude of anger can be transformed into an attitude of gratitude and forgiveness by shifting your perspective.

Step 5: Find Your Purpose and Passion
Once you’ve determined what has been holding you back, it’s time to look ahead and analyze where you want to go. Understanding the importance of living your life with purpose and passion—having a personal vision—is critical to achieving success.

Step 6: Be Pre-Active
Even with a positive attitude, purpose, and passion, life is never without challenges, disappointments, setbacks, and problems. By developing a pre-active approach to life, you will become better prepared to handle the hazards you face in life.

Step 7: Discover How to Motivate Yourself
E keys to self-motivation by making use of the Attitude Tool Kit: affirmations, visualization, attitude talk, positive greetings, enthusiasm, spiritual empowerment, humor, and exercise.

Step 8: Build Supportive Relationships
Nobody makes it alone in this world. We all need supportive relationships to get through challenging times.

Step 9: See Change as an Opportunity
One of the greatest challenges to a positive attitude is change, whether it’s a change of jobs, a change in a relationships or a change in your economic status.

Step l0: Leave a Lasting Legacy
Sometimes we forget that the greatest thing we can do to build a healthy attitude is to get involved in something greater than ourselves.

From "Attitude Is Everything" by Keith Harrell

Friday, October 21, 2011


"If the competition has laptop computers
and you're still using yellow legal pads, it
won't matter how long and hard you work
 -- they're going to pass you by."

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Goal Setting
Every morning, take 3 to 5 minutes to write out your top goals in the present tense. Get a spiral notebook for this purpose. By writing out your 10 goals at the beginning of each day, you will program them deep into your subconscious mind.

This daily goal writing will activate your mental powers. It will stimulate your mind and make you more alert. Throughout the day, you will see opportunities and possibilities to move more rapidly toward your goals.

Planning and Organizing
Take a few minutes, preferably the night before, to plan out every activity of the coming day. Always work from a list. Always think on paper. This is one of the most powerful and important disciplines of all for high performance.

Priority Setting
The essence of all time management, personal management, and life management is contained in your ability to set proper priorities and use of your time. This is essential for high performance.

Concentration on your Highest-Value Activities
Your ability to work single-mindedly on your most important task will contribute as much to your success as any other discipline you can develop.

Exercise and Proper Nutrition
Your health is more important than anything else. By disciplining yourself to exercise regularly and to eat carefully, you will promote the highest possible levels of health and fitness throughout your life.

Learning and Growth
Your mind is like a muscle. If you don’t use it, you lose it. Continuous learning is the minimum requirement for success in any field.

Time for Important People in your Life
Relationships are everything. Be sure that in climbing the ladder of success, you do not find it leaning against the wrong building. Make time for your relationships every day, no matter how busy you get.


The following is an article written by Carl Dubois of The Advocate.  It is a tremdnous look into one of the most powerful parts of the Nick Saban philosophy -- "being process driven" as opposed to being "result oriented."  Carl does a great job of painting the way the 2003 National Championship Team viewed goal development.  We gave this to our team yesterday:
They called them "Tiger Goals 2003." They posted them on the wall of the corridor leading from the locker room to Tiger Stadium.

They followed them and won a national championship.

LSU seniors and other leaders met before the season to compile a list of goals. That list matched the personality of coach Nick Saban, as it was process-oriented rather than result-oriented, but Saban said the players chose their 2003 goals on their own.

Half a year later, the Tigers celebrated a No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll and a BCS national championship after a 21-14 victory over Oklahoma in the 2004 Nokia Sugar Bowl. Saban said the team's determination to live up to their goals helped them achieve their success this season.

"We started out this year saying that we might not have the leadership that we need, and we challenged everybody to be responsible for their own self-determination," Saban said. "I have never seen a group of players that were able to do that and become so close and unified in the way they did it."

LSU senior offensive tackle Rodney Reed said the Tigers wanted to set goals that were realistic. The 2002 team authored a list that was topped by the most result-oriented goal in college football: Win a national championship.

The team finished 8-5, losing four of its last six games.

A year later, the 2003 team refrained from specific outcomes on its wish list, and in so doing, created a foundation for the kind of success LSU hadn't seen since 1958. The Tigers won a national championship without expressly setting out to do so.

It was a decidedly Saban-like approach, and the proof is in the payoff.

Here, in ascending order, are the goals on the "Tiger Goals 2003" pyramid, with some reflections from Saban and his players about how the team followed them.
Saban said often that the Tigers had the best chemistry of any team he's been associated with in 30 years of coaching. Players said it took many forms, and it started when they bonded during demanding offseason strength and conditioning workouts.

LSU defensive end Marcus Spears, whose 20-yard interception return for a touchdown proved to be the difference in the Sugar Bowl, used words that evoked references to the first goal on the list -- when he could have been talking about what a great play he made.

"I think the big key was it was a total team effort on the defensive side of the wall," Spears said, using a cliché but saying it with sincerity and conviction. "We didn't have one player stepping out from each other."

Not even senior tackle Chad Lavalais, a consensus All-America, tried to put himself above his teammates, Spears said.

"Even though Chad is a great player, he believed in everybody around him," Spears said, "and he believed that when he wasn't there, somebody else was going to be there (to make a play)."

Saban said the Tigers were an inclusive group, not a divisive one. Everyone on the team accepted everyone else, he said, like he'd never seen before.

"It was because of the older guys' willingness to accept the younger guys to be a part of the team," Saban said, "that made a big difference on this team."

Together Everyone Achieves More
If this goal sounds similar to the first one, that's because it is. It's instructive to note the Tigers put a lot of emphasis on goals that valued teamwork.

Freshman running back Justin Vincent said he spent a lot of time around the seniors, who earned Saban's praise by choosing not to follow sports convention and ostracize, haze or alienate newcomers. Saban said there was no class system on the team, a rarity for a large group of such diverse people.

Vincent, the Most Outstanding Player of the Sugar Bowl, said senior offensive guard Stephen Peterman typified the Tigers' belief in teamwork this season.

"He's like a great mentor," Vincent said of Peterman. "There's nothing more you could ask for in a teammate or a person. He showed me the ropes, told me to take things in stride."

LSU's offense didn't score a second-half point Sunday, but Reed was grateful the defense came to the rescue with a smothering performance against an explosive Oklahoma offense.
"All of our credit goes to our defense," Reed said. "Our defense played just lights-out and just put us in so many opportunities to be successful. I guess the offense did just enough. It was a team win, and I'm just proud as heck of everybody who was involved in it."

Saban said the players showed their faith in each other during the most trying moments of the championship game, such as when Oklahoma blocked a punt to set up a 2-yard touchdown drive that tied the game at 7-7.

"They believed in themselves, they believed in each other, and this game was no different than a lot of other games we played this year," Saban said.

Players throughout the season talked about trusting the system, trusting that if they did the work, they would see it bear fruit. The season-ending eight-game winning streak and BCS national championship proved it in a big way.

The Tigers gave credit to Saban and his staff. Implicit in their remarks was the notion they trusted the coaches because they saw how hard the coaches worked.

"I think the chancellor of LSU is happy that the coaches don't work on an hourly salary," quarterback Matt Mauck said. "That would be a lot of money. They put in a lot of effort.

"The knowledge that they pass along to us is the reason we have success."

Dominate Your Opponent Every Day
The idea is to outwork the other guy, to do something each day to get the edge, to run that extra sprint or do that extra repetition in the weight room in the hope of seeing it pay off down the road.

Before the championship game, Peterman said he's a believer in that approach, a Saban staple.

"One thing that definitely rubs off on me is his idea to dominate and create a nightmare for the other team," Peterman said. "I try to go out there every time and dominate the guy I'm going to play against. The way he preaches that all the time, it rubs off on you."

LSU uses a weightlifting program, inspired by Gayle Hatch and adapted for the Tigers by their strength coach Tommy Moffitt, that helped Tennessee and Miami win national championships four years into the system. Saban added an offseason running program featuring a brutal stretch of 26 sprints of 110 yards.
Lavalais said the strength and conditioning program is one aspect of trying to dominate your opponent every day.

"I'm not saying it's impossible to do," Lavalais said of the workouts. "You can do it, but they make it so hard to where the games come easy. There's no game I've played in that's as hard as the 110s that we run in the offseason.

"That's a testament to the coaching staff, the strength coaches. If you go out there with the mindset that you want to get better and try to kill all these sprints and the weight training we do, when it comes time for the game, it's a breeze."

Spears said the Tigers buy into the system, and it works.

Lavalais said players on other teams tell him they don't do nearly as much as the Tigers in the offseason. He smiled when he said it, then laughed, knowing it is probably a big difference-maker.

Discipline, Focus, Execution
Saban's ability to focus is almost legendary at LSU. The discipline required in long hours of work is hard for most people to sustain. Execution, he believes, is a product of repeatedly doing the work.

LSU Chancellor Mark Emmert and Athletic Director Skip Bertman said they see the Tigers as an extension of Saban's personality, and in the areas of discipline, focus and execution, they both said they've not been disappointed by the team.

Saban's team had precious few discipline problems and no embarrassing off-field incidents that put the program in a bad light. As for focus, Emmert said it starts at the top, with perhaps the best example he's ever seen.

"He is incredibly focused on the task at hand," Emmert said of Saban. "Many people work very hard. Many people work as hard as Nick does, but to stay as focused on the detail of what needs to occur and to have a systematic game plan for achieving that success is, I think, a really distinct characteristic that he has."

Finish Plays
The underlying message here is also to finish games. LSU saw a big opportunity slip away at the end of 2002 when Arkansas rallied in the final minute of the regular season for a touchdown and a 21-20 victory over the Tigers. That sent the Razorbacks, not LSU, to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

LSU was not without its mistakes this season. Replay the games on videotape and you'll find flaws. You'll also see defenders closing holes, wrapping up on a tackle and bringing the ballcarrier down, offensive linemen staying on their blocks and heading downfield to deliver another.
Wide receivers did that too.

Finishing plays and finishing games with the right competitive spirit, Saban said, is how you finish a season the right way. Few will argue with the results of an LSU team that didn't lose in eight games after Oct. 11.

Positively Affect Someone Every Day
Saban said veteran cornerback Randall Gay roomed with freshman Daniel Francis early and helped him with his struggles to learn how to play defensive back in Saban's system.

"That happened on every level of our team," Saban said. "Every older guy helped every younger guy like I've never seen."

Be A Champion
Saban couldn't have scripted it any better. The Tigers didn't wear on their sleeves their desire to win a championship. They instead were careful to emphasize the steps needed to get there.

In so doing, they won three championships: the SEC Western Division, the SEC overall title, and the BCS national championship.

Today they can walk with their heads held high as champions because for the last six months, and more, they tried every day to carry themselves as champions.

"That's the thing," Reed said in August. "You can set goals that anybody can accomplish every day, whether it's in the classroom or on the football field. If you do those things every day, follow the goals and pay attention to the details, good things will happen to you."

He was right.


Big thanks to J.P. Clark of the UCF Men's Basketball program for passing on these thoughts from Chris Widener:

We can choose our attitudes about anything, including learning and education. That's right. We get to choose what our attitudes are. Here is the definition of attitude: "The feeling or opinion about something or someone, or a way of behaving that follows from this." We choose our opinion about people and situations. We choose the way we will behave in relation to other people and circumstances. We choose what we believe about learning. We choose it. Learning doesn't have to be bad. It doesn't have to be anything but what we want it to be. We have the option. We can have tremendously optimistic attitudes about learning - attitudes that will help us grow in ways we have never achieved before! The choice of a right attitude will significantly determine new circumstances.

Choosing to have the right attitude will change the world around you. This isn't any sort of magic; it is just how the world works. Now, don't get me wrong. It won't cure everything and turn your world into a virtual Shangri-La, but it will significantly improve the world you live in. For example, let's say that everyday you go into work and you gripe about life and work from the moment you get there until the moment you leave. Will others want to be around you? Will others ask your opinion? Will others like you? Will others ask you to join them for lunch? Probably not! But what if you come to work every day and you are the positive optimist of the crowd? Will everybody love you? No, but significantly more people will than if you are the office pessimist! Your choice of attitude will determine what kind of circumstances you get!

The same is true with learning. What we feel about learning, and what we believe about it will determine the outcomes of our learning. And the outcomes of our learning will determine the outcome of our lives. Ultimately, our attitude is a choice. Nobody else can force you to have a bad attitude. Nobody else can force you to have a good attitude. It is simply a choice we each make.

Where are you with your attitude about learning? Is it positive? Take some time to give it some serious thought. Then, no matter where you find yourself, decide to take your attitude to the next level! If you have a really bad attitude, decide to take it up a couple of levels!

So, if our attitudes determine to a great degree what kind of life we have, shouldn't we focus on the best attitudes to have and then make them ours? Absolutely! If we want to soar with the eagles in this life, and if there are attitudes that will make us soar, shouldn't we pursue them with all our hearts? By all means! So here we go!

Attitudes of Successful Learners

1. "I can."
This is the most basic of all attitudes. We simply must choose to believe that we can learn. In our house we are not allowed to say, "I can't." We can say, "I'll try," or "I tried and failed," but not "I can't." Telling yourself that you can't will in effect make it so. But telling yourself that you can, will in effect enable you to learn much more. Even if you actually only achieve 50% of what you tell yourself, you will achieve at least that much more than if you told yourself you couldn't. So many people were told at a young age that they couldn't learn. Many others were allowed to engage in that kind of negative self talk (tell themselves, "I can't learn", "I don't understand", I'll never get this", etc.) and their parents and teachers didn't intervene. This enabled them to develop the "I can't" attitudes that become self-fulfilling prophecies. I actually have a standard way of going about getting myself off of the starting block. I simply say if somebody else has achieved great learning heights, then I can too. I have to be smarter than at least one of those who has already done it. I have to be able to work harder than at least one other. There has to be at least one other person who has come from more difficult circumstances than me. And if they can do it then certainly, "I can!"

2. "This is a long-term approach."
Learning isn't something that happens overnight. Yes, you can learn individual facts, but the real growth comes when you see your learning build on itself and compound for years, when your knowledge meets up with your experience. When we take the attitude that it all has to happen immediately, we hurt ourselves in the long run because the fact is that it takes time to learn (even though we can accelerate it). If we expect it to happen immediately and it doesn't, then we can get frustrated and stop learning altogether. Instead, we need to take a long-term view just as we do in financial matters, weight management, leadership, etc. Long-term thinking, including our learning is always the best way to go for success.

3. "Learning is valuable."
Some people have a "learning schmearning - who needs learning" attitude. They think that learning is overrated. I hate to tell you this, but not only was that wrong 5000, 500 and 50 years ago, it is especially wrong today. We live in the information age. We must gain knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge if we are going to be successful. We must tell ourselves and cultivate the attitude that learning is valuable and that it will affect our lives.

4. "I will make a difference in the lives of those around me."
People who soar are generally people who have the attitude of helping other people. Yes, they may do it for monetary gain, but they are others-focused. They want to change the way people live and experience life for the better. They are difference makers all around. This is the same in what we learn. We learn first for ourselves, but then with the goal of taking what we have learned, and what we make of ourselves, and we then help others to do the same.

I live in a town that is very affluent. Most of the people I know, work with and have as friends are very successful in this world. They have learned a lot about life and how it works. They have learned how to make money and be successful in business. One thing I can say, as almost a universal truth, is that as people, they are not self-consumed but genuinely care about others and will do what they can to help others. This is what I know to be true about the attitudes of the genuinely successful. These are the attitudes of people who are not just successful at getting information into their minds, but in becoming good people because of that information. Learn all that you can, and be sure to keep the attitudes that will make you a successful learner and a successful person!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Thoughts from John Maxwell's "Teamwork Makes The Dream Work"

Are you dreaming big enough?

I find that many people are afraid to dream big.

Teams are incredible things. No task is to great, no accomplishment too grand, no dream too far-fetched for a team. It takes teamwork to make the dream work.

The question is not, “Will you participate in something that involves others?” The question is, “Will your involvement with others be successful.”

No problem is insurmountable. With a little courage, teamwork, and determination a person can overcome anything.

“You do not climb a mountain like Everest by trying to race ahead on your own, or by competing with your comrades. You do it slowly and carefully, by unselfish teamwork.”
-Tenzing Norgay (renowned mountain climber)

Teamwork gives you the best opportunity to turn vision into reality.


The following comes from "Coaching The Mental Game" by H. A. Dorfman:

The coach should create an environment in which learning is valued.  Not just technique or strategy.  The coach should acquaint himself with the kinds of thinking patterns that help athletes perform more effectively; he should understand the obstacles that inhibit performance; and he should determine which practice patterns work best -- for the individual and for the team.  In other words, he should learn about the mental and physical aspects of the sport and the athlete -- and create an atmosphere in which the athlete is encouraged to learn as well.

Athletes should be encouraged to learn the sport on their own, as well.  The mental game is intellectual as well as psychological.

It's been said that NFL running back Marshall Faulk knows the responsibilities of every player on any play called in the huddle.  He himself says that his learning has helped him to be more effective.  What seems to observes to be astounding spontaneous reactions are, Fault explains, actions based on anticipating (knowing) what will happen in front of him.

Hall of Fame basketball player Larry Bird said he kept a mental record of the moves made by opposing players.  "When you see the same move four or five times, you begin to anticipate what he is going to do," said Bird. 'you cant also get a lot of steals that way."

Bird constantly utilized his learning skills.  His lawyer Bob Woolf said about Bird, "He'll play a golf course once and memorize the location of every tree.  When we work out together, he will measure each step on the court to perfect what type of shot he can take and from what distance."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


"Offensive thinking very rarely encompasses an immediate adjustment to defense.  We always tried to set up a triangle for rebounding.  The forward on the strong side rebounds at the foul line.  Whoever’s at the post, he rebounds on the strong side of the basket.  The weak-side forward takes the weak side.  We were always looking ahead to that, taking the other team out of their offense while we still had the ball."

-Pete Newell
From "A Good Man: The Pete Newell Story" by Bruce Jenkins


We are in an instant media generation.  There was a time where someone came to practice and interviewed you and your players.  Now it can be done via telephone, text, internet -- and by people who may not know the subject matter or care at all about your players and team's public persona.  There was also a time where that interview ran in just the newspaper of the writer that did the interview.  Now such interviews go viral in seconds to masses of media outlets.

What are you doing to help paint the picture of your program in a way that you want it to be received.  The best programs spend time working with their players on the interview process -- everything from the correct answers, to appearance, tone, and even body language.

Here are some great guidelines from Lawrence Frank:

When interviewed during the first 6 weeks, you must mention at least 1 teammate.

When interviewed during the 2nd 6 weeks, you must mention 1 teammate and 1 assistant coach

When interviewed during the 3rd 6 weeks, you must mention someone other than a teammate or an assistant coach.


The following is a passage written by Steve Goodier and passed on to me via Coach Creighton Burns.  When I read it, I thought of players and assistant coaches.  Players must not only accept the roles but take great pride in being the absolutely best at what their coaches are asking them to do.  If the coach is asking you to be primarily a screener -- work to be the best screener on your team, your conference.  If the coach is expecting you to be a defensive stopper -- take great pride in working and developing so that you can be the best stopper in the history of your program. 

If you are an assistant coach, you too will have a role.  If the coach is asking you to be responsible for the team managers, than create an organization of managers that will be second to none.  Maybe you have to represent your head coach in marketing meetings.  If that's the case, take great notes, do your homework so you can contribute in those meetings.  Become an expert in the areas that your coach has assigned to you.  Make a different in your program no matter what your head coach has assigned you to do.

Hope you enjoy this passage:

Pablo Picasso, the great Spanish painter and sculptor, once said this about his ability: 'My mother said to me, if you become a soldier, you'll be a general; if you become a monk, you'll end up as Pope. Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.' No lack of confidence here!

But he would have agreed with Abraham Lincoln. 'Whatever you are,' said Lincoln, 'be a good one.' He demonstrated the wisdom of that advice with his own life. And in this present age, which often seems to be contented with mediocrity, his words summon a yearning for improvement and growth.

I think it helps to remember that excellence is not a place at which we arrive so much as a way of traveling. To do and be our best is a habit among those who hear and understand Lincoln's admonition. Viennese-born composer Frederick Loewe, whom we remember from his musical scores that include - My Fair Lady, Gigi and Camelot, was not always famous.

He studied piano with the great masters of Europe and achieved huge success as a musician and composer in his early years. But when he immigrated to the United States, he failed as a piano virtuoso. For a while he tried other types of work including prospecting for gold and boxing. But he never gave up his dream and continued to play piano and write music.

During those lean years, he could not always afford to make payments on his piano. One day, bent over the keyboard, he heard nothing but the music that he played with such rare inspiration. When he finished and looked up, he was startled to find that he had an audience - three moving men who were seated on the floor.

They said nothing and made no movement toward the piano. Instead, they dug into their pockets, pooled together enough money for the payment, placed it on the piano and walked out, empty handed. Moved by the beauty of his music, these men recognized excellence and responded to it.

Whatever you are, be a good one. If what you do is worth doing, if you believe that who you are is of value, then you can't afford to be content with mediocrity. When you choose the path of excellence through this life, you will bring to it your best and receive the best it can offer in return. And you will know what it is to be satisfied.

Monday, October 17, 2011


I am a big believer in that which is important must somehow be measured.  We keep score during a game to measure who wins the game and who loses the game.  Because we are so processed involved, it is important to measure things that are important to the process of developing what we do as a team.  We have blogged before about the need to create stats that support the parts of your game that are important for you to be successful.  Good, bad or indifferent, kids are very stat conscience.  They see them constantly on ESPN and in the newspapers.  Your goal must be to create stats that tell a story of your success or lackthereof in what you are attempting to execute.

Now to go one step forward, if practice is the place that you lay the foundation of your system of play -- and we certainly believe it is -- than you need to stat your practices.

Beyond keeping stats that matter, it is important that you post those stats for your players to read and that you actually discuss them so that they understand what you are trying to get across to them.  You can incorporate it in other ways.  If you have an emphasis of the day, you may want to stat it so that you can talk to your team about how successful they were in that area.  You can also back up your stats with video -- another strong, visual support system.

For us at UCF, as we develop our motion offense, a couple of stat sheets that are important would be our "Turnover Chart" and our "Screening Chart."

The Turnover Chart doesn't just tell us the number of turnovers we have committed.
1. It goes in order of the turnovers
2. Tells us the player and what number of turnovers she has committed
3. Tells us what type (bad pass, bad catch, travel, etc.)
4. Tells us how (Ex: Guard to Guard Pass)
5. Tells us what phase (Motion, Primary Break, Press Offense, etc.)

What this does is show us if there is a pattern for a player or our team.  If a player has four turnvers and three are LPF (low post feeds) we know that we must work on that area with that player and maybe tell her to stay away from LPF until she improves in that area.  Maybe as a team we created 5 of our 12 turnovers in Transition.  Then we know this is an area that we can address in video and practice.

Another chart for us that is important is the Screening Chart.  On this stat sheet, we are going to chart the number of screens you set, how many of them were set properly, how many lead to scores and how many of them were illegal screens.

This is a great stat sheet to help develop roles.  If you run motion, setting continual, correct screens is critical.  Players that can set screens and get key people in your offense open on a consistent basis are very important -- but also under appreciated by many.  This stat sheet allows them to shine.  It also of course, tells you who is setting screens and setting them properly.

One note: we chart illegal screens.  They don't have to be whistled by the official.  If it is illegal, we will mark it so that we can correct before an official has a chance to call it.

These are just a couple of stat sheets that are relevant to the way we play.  I encourage you to use your imagination.  If I was a press coach, I'd have a stat sheet to chart deflections, steals and lay-ups that we give up.  If I was a "pound-it-inside" coach, I'd chart paint touches -- who got 'em and who threw 'em.

It's a great way to make your players think about what's important.