Wednesday, November 30, 2011


This is a series of thoughts from "Competitive Leadership: 12 Principles for Success" by Brian Billick:

“Leadership: The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

At one time, leadership was considered simply a position of authority. Over time, that viewpoint has chanced considerably. The new paradigm of leadership implies that leadership involves a position of responsibility — responsibility for setting the vision of an organization; responsibility for putting into place a process whereby the vision can be achieved; responsibility for motivating and inspiring other s in the pursuit of greater goals than they themselves might have believed possible; responsibility for establishing a value system and an institutional culture that reflects the organization’s vision and the strategic plan for achieving that vision; and finally, responsibility for providing both momentum and urgency for achieving the organization’s goals.

My professional experiences and observations have led me to believe that leadership might best be defined as the ability to influence the behavior and actions of others to achieve an intended purpose.

In my opinion, sound leadership is exhibited in three fundamental ways: mentally, emotionally, and physically. It is important to note that each must be adhered to in appropriate measure in order to maintain the overall balance that leadership requires.
First, in order to be a leader you must have a basic knowledge of the environment in which you are expected to lead.

“While you go about learning the tricks of the trade, don’t forget to learn the trade.”

Next, you must have a passion for the work you do. All leaders have passion for their calling in life.

As a leader, your goals and aspiration must be strong enough to sustain you through the toughest of times. And trust me, if your goals are set high enough and your aspirations are worthy enough, there will be tough times.

When I came to the Baltimore Ravens in 1999, there were two major ingredients missing from the team: passion and accountability. It is the very first thing I addressed as their new head coach.

Anything worth doing is seldom achieved without passion.

“Far and away, the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

Passion is the lubricant of success.

You must have a level of physical energy that will not only sustain you through your endeavors, but will also set the pace for those around you as well.

“The personal physical exertion of leaders must not be overlooked. It is as important as any strategy or tactic.”
-Karl Von Clousewitz

If you are not prepared to exhibit a constant level of energy, those around you will respond in kind.
...everyone in a leadership position should have a consistent conditioning routine to maintain their physical and emotional health.

I don’t have the time not to work out.

There are countless times when an individual can find a thousand reasons during the course of a day to not take the time to work out. In the short term that may seem to be a reasonable option in your opinion.

What has evolved in the league is the realization that teams should focus on the concept of working more intelligently in order to get their players to the game healthy and fresh. This process must be monitored and gauged by leadership, which itself must also be healthy and fresh for battle.

...the best way to become a skillful leader — whether as a coach, an executive, a politician, or whatever — is not to set out to become “perfect,” but rather to aim to be effective all of the time. is interesting that the most successful of all coaches did not list “winning,” “championships,” or “success,” at the top of the pyramid. Instead, he used the term “competitive greatness.” That term is brilliant in its simplicity, yet limitless in its interpretation.
-Billick on Wooden


The following is an excerpt from an article written by Lee Imada for the Maui was brought to my attention by Clarence Gaines, Jr.

Sports as "a microcosm of life" has the ability - if given the chance - to teach young athletes more than simply how to kick or throw a ball or to play the game, says an official with the nonprofit Positive Coaching Alliance. And while winning on the scoreboard may be a goal, if it is the only goal, as legendary football coach Vince Lombardi suggests, then so much is lost on the child athlete.

"We want winners. We want competitors, but we want that life lesson piece," said Kiha Pimental, a trainer with the Alliance who ran a workshop Saturday for Maui United Soccer Club parents in the Maui Waena Intermediate School Cafeteria.

Learning to deal with defeat, overcoming challenges, seeing the benefits of hard work, working together as a team are some of the character values from sports that young athletes can take with them into their adult lives.

"We're coaching a life," said Pimental. "We're not only coaching a sport."

The Alliance trainer tried to get parents to see winning in a different light, not only focusing on the "scoreboard definition." He offered a "mastery definition" of winning that included effort, learning and the acceptance of mistakes.

Throughout the session, he provided facts about youth athletics, throwing in a "relax" after a bit of information that might debunk a widely held belief. For example, he noted that:

* Less than 1 percent of high school athletes get college scholarships. Student athletes "have way more chance of getting a scholarship if they study," he said.

* Those few athletes that may have college-level skills are better off being multisport athletes, he said. Different sports allow young athletes to use different muscles, which may prevent injury in the long run, and the diversity may prevent burnout. The highly successful Punahou School supports multisport athletes, Pimental said.

Keeping things lively and fun for young athletes is critical to keeping them playing. Pimental said studies show that 70 percent of players quit sports by age 13.

"The longer you can keep it fun, the longer they will play," he said.

The young athletes don't need the "DAGL," or "dreaded after-game lecture," said Pimental, eliciting a roar of laughter from the parents. They don't need their parents coaching from the stands, sometimes contradicting the coach; using negative language and lecturing rather than listening. He reminded parents that they are models of behavior for their young athletes.

He offered some tips:

* The "magic ratio" of positive statements to criticism is 5 to 1 (Pimental added that marriages where the ratio is 1 to 1 end in divorce, according to the study).

* "If you are starting a cheer with a verb, you are not cheering, you are coaching," he said, citing "get the ball" as an example. Adjectives as lead words are better.

* When in a conversation with a child about athletics, make sure the child is talking at least 70 percent of the time. If the parent is talking 70 percent of the time, the conversation is likely "about you," the parent. Let the child set the terms of the talk.

* Parents may police parents in the stands. If a parent is being negative or haranguing a referee, give that parent a lollipop, a signal to tone it down.

Read the entire article:

Sunday, November 27, 2011


While breaking down video in the office today, I would take an occasional break to tweet a quote or thought from John Maxwell's book "The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player."  Here is a review of those tweets:

"Working together precedes winning together...collaboration is multiplication."
-John Maxwell

"Iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another."
-King Solomon

"There are no half-hearted champions."
 -John Maxwell

"Commitment comes as a result of choice, not conditions."
-John Maxwell

"People forget how fast you did a job --but they remember how well you did it."
-Howard W. Newton

"Building the team is as important as producing the product."
-Bob Taylor

"...inspiration is easy, implementation is the hard part."
-Bob Taylor

"Fear not those who argue but those who dodge."
-Wolfram Von Eschenbach

"All we do is done with an eye to something else."

"Dependable teams members possess the desire to do the things they are capable of doing."
-John Maxwell

Saturday, November 26, 2011


"I say, whatever your philosophy, whatever your standards, whatever your expectations, you establish those on Day One. Don’t waste a second! Let them adjust to you, not the other way around. You can always soften up if you need to, but you can’t get tougher later on."

-Bo Schembechler (from: "Bo's Lasting Lessons" by Bo Schembechler and John U. Bacon


You start with the fact that there’s only one way to play defense:  Shuffle your feet, knees bent, hands up.  That is the correct defensive posture – although you’d never know it watching some players today.  Any other way is wrong.  The inside hand should be in the shooter’s face to disconcert him.  The other arm extends almost parallel to the floor to deflect passes.  The player shuffles because that allows him to slide with the man he’s guarding.  Cross your feet, you might lose your balance.

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

Friday, November 25, 2011


Dr. Walter Doyle Staples, writing in Think Like a Winner! says, “I credit one simple concept with getting me started on my journey into self-discovery. After a great deal of study and contemplation, I came to the conclusion that people have in their lives today exactly what they keep telling their mind they want.”
From "Day by Day with James Allen" by Vic Johnson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


"To this day, I consider preparation the most enjouable part of my work, and the most challenging.  to the extent my teams have succeeded, I'd say that solid preparation -- not talent or strategy -- was the primary factor."

-Bill Parcells

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


A special thanks to my mentor Coach Dale Brown for passing this on to me.  As Coach Don Meyer also preaches, "We should all study Coach Wooden."  This message is written by Craig Impelman for The John R. Wooden Course:

This issue of The Wooden Way is devoted to the second item of Coach Wooden’s seven point creed “Help others.”

One of Coach Wooden’s favorite role models was Mother Theresa, whose quote, “Unless a life is lived for others, it is not worthwhile,” served as the bedrock of Coach’s lifetime commitment to helping others. After reading about her tremendous work among the poor in Calcutta, Coach resolved to do one kind thing each day for someone who could never return the favor; and he often put that same challenge to others. Coach realized that not everyone could bring hospices, orphanages and schools to underprivileged people like Mother Teresa, but we could still make a difference in someone’s life every day. Whether serving others’ needs physically or emotionally, even the simplest acts of kindness can have a tremendous positive impact. As Mother Teresa often said, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

Abraham Lincoln, another of Coach Wooden’s mentors, was also an inspiration to him in this regard. Lincoln’s once remarked that, “The worst thing you can do for those you love is to do the things they could and should do for themselves.” This piece of wisdom inspired Coach to help other people find balance in their own lives. When my wife, Christy (Coach Wooden’s granddaughter), was in high school, she was also working part-time to buy a car. Coach probably could have just purchased a vehicle for her, but in keeping with his philosophy, he suggested that he and her other grandfather match whatever monies Christy earned to help her save towards her purchase. From this experience, Christy learned that one can help others by helping them to help themselves, thereby making them better, stronger people.

As usual, Coach gave us some great maxims to illustrate this point:

“Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”

“Forget favors given; rememberthose received. “

“Be more concerned with what you can do for others than what others can do for you.”

The block on the Pyramid of Success that is the best reminder of helping others is Team Spirit. Coach Wooden defines Team Spirit as: “A genuine consideration for others. An eagerness to sacrifice personal interests of glory for the welfare of all.” If you think of the human race as your team, having team spirit means helping your fellow man to succeed in life.

So, how can you start helping others today? Perhaps you might begin by being more observant of the people and situations around you. Pause each day and really look around. Do not wait to be asked for help – the very best time to help others is before they have to ask. Consider taking out the trash or making the bed or doing the laundry. Compliment a co-worker on a great idea; a pat on the back is always appreciated, and a great motivator. Mentor a child, or teach a youngster to ride a bicycle. Volunteer an hour of your time at a senior citizen’s home, church, hospital or homeless shelter. Even the smallest gesture can mean a lot.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “Rings and other jewels are not gifts, but apologies for gifts. The only true gift is a portion of thy self.” One way that Coach Wooden’s gave freely of himself was that, although he was arguably the most famous coach in American sports, he never had an unlisted phone number. If you wanted to reach out to Coach Wooden his number was always put there in public for anyone to find. He was committed to being available to visit with anyone who cared to pay him a visit. Similarly, Coach Wooden’s players did not leave the locker room – either at home or on the road – until (as he put it) “the orange peels, gum wrappers, towels and soap chips are off the floor.” Of course, Coach also helped with cleaning up himself. He viewed this as a common courtesy to the cleaning staff. Being considerate of others makes you naturally inclined to help others.

Strive each day to be considerate of others, giving freely of your time, energy, and resources to help them –and expect nothing in return. Trust that the joy you will experience in doing so cannot be matched. Opportunities to help others are all around you, every day, all the time. You need only to take a moment to notice them, and then act.

Here is a video of Coach Wooden speaking on the subject of helping others:


As I have said before, Stephanie Zonar has been a hero of mine since she wrote "Leader of the Pack," a very touching book about the courageous Kay Yow. It's a very well written tale of how Coach Yow not only shaped the young women she coached at North Carolina State, but how through her incredible will and determination, she galvanized a nation through women's basketball to fight against breast cancer. Stephanie has gave portions of the book sales to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Stephanie has a great website ( with an inspiring blog and has travelled the nation to work with teams.

And now she has a new book out and I love it -- I believe it should be in every coach's library. I have reviewed it already but wanted to do so again with a different topic.

"Wisdom for the BusyCoach" -- is just that -- a book filled with short passages on a variety of subjects that can help us with our teams and more importantly -- with ourselves.

Each topic starts with a quote such as:
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."
—John F. Kennedy

That is followed with a passage of wisdom:
BusyCoaches can easily get stuck in the day-to-day grind of managing a team and lose sight of the big picture. But if you step back and re"ect on your life and team you’ll see the blessings you may have missed. Recounting your abundant blessings may remind you that giving thanks through words—while certainly important—is not the highest form of appreciation. Saying that you’re thankful for your players, for example, doesn’t carry much weight if you disrespect and degrade them the other 364 days of the year.

And then an action question:
Make it your goal to show gratitude both in word and deed, and the people around you will know that you truly mean what you say.

Followed by a biblical scripture on that subject:
"And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father."
—Colossians 3:17

Purchase this book at:


Failure to Execute You’ve thought through the crisis. You have your strategy. Now the question is, can your teams execute? Will they? Some people in your organization are getting it done. Some aren’t and probably never will. Then there’s the great middle—how much more could they contribute if they performed more like those who are getting it done?

Crisis of Trust
Levels of trust drop in uncertain times. Securities markets plunge due to crisis of confidence. People lose confidence in their own organizations. On an uncertain road full of pitfalls, everyone decelerates: it’s not called a “slowdown” for nothing.

Loss of Focus
You have fewer resources, fewer people, more confusion. People try to do two or three jobs at once. A person trying to do two jobs has half the focus of a person doing one job, and half the likelihood of doing either job well.

Pervasive Fear
Economic recession causes psychological recession. People fear losing jobs, retirement savings, even their homes. It’s “piling on.” And it cost you. Just when you need people to focus and engage, they lose focus and disengage.

From "Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times" by Stephen R. Covey and Bob Whitman


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

For an athlete, relentless behavior is an expression of his will to win.  An expression of mental toughness.  The primary reward is, once again, in the behavior, not in the result.  But invariably, a "way to winning" is in being persistent.  To persist in doing the right thing.  In executing tasks well and responding to adversity with courage and determination.

John Cheever called it the discipline of continuousness.  To the relentless pursuit of what is challenging or difficult.

Coaches should concede that this kind of toughness can be learned by so-called soft athletes if the subject is addressed and reiterated regularly -- as instruction, rather than ridicule of an athlete's softness.

"Victory belongs to the most persevering."
-Napoleon Bonaparte

Monday, November 21, 2011


The following passage is from "The 5 Levels of Leadership" by John Maxwell:

Momentum Takers
The vast majority of people don't start anything, nor do they stop anything.  They just go along for the ride.  If momentum is moving, they move with it.  If it has stopped, so do they.  Their productivity and effectiveness are based almost entirely on what others do to make things happen in the organization.  for that reason, they need good leaders who produce and create a productive environment.  That is one of the reasons that I define more as "faith in the leader."

Momentum Breakers
The second type of person actually hurts morale and momentum in an organization.  Not only do they not produce, but they prevent others from producing.  These types of people cause problems and, whether intentionally or not, hurt the organization.

Momentum Makers
The final type, momentum makers, are Level 3 leaders.  They produce.  They make things happen.  They create momentum.  Their behavior is consistent with the advice given by the legendary Alabama football coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who said, "Don't worry about making friends; don't worry about making enemies.  Worry about winning, because if you win, your enemies can't hurt you, and if you lose, your friends can't stand you."

Sunday, November 20, 2011


1. Every now and then we should just sit and think. Never know what you willcome up with.

2. Success has a price and players have to know that they have to pay it just as much as you and your staff have to.

3. Success does have down payments: work ethic, discipline, preparation,consistency.

4. We are the sum total of the experiences we've had and the people we've met. What have you done? Who have you associated with?

5. Preparation is so important because it can help eliminate fear and

6. Before we can eliminate excuses that keep us from improving we have to recognize what those excuses are. Write down your top three excuses and then eliminate them for the next month. This will create a habit of not using them any more!

7. It's very important to take a close look at your locker room. Whose voices are being heard? Are these the messages that you would want being sent?

8. What messages are on your locker room wall? May seem corny but it's something that players will see -- and probably read -- almost every day!

9. Never be concerned about repeating a message; repetitive verbal teaching is a great form of teaching. Teaching doesn’t always have to be physical.


The following comes from time management expert Brian Tracy talking about being in organized isn't enough...prioritizing isn't must have a strategy to be efficient.  I loved this post:

This law says that, "There is never enough time to do everything, but there is always enough time to do the most important thing."

You Always Find the Time
When you run out of time and the consequences for non-completion of a key task or project can be really serious, you always seem to find the time to get it done, often at the very last minute. You start early, you stay late and you drive yourself to complete the job rather than to face the negative consequences that would follow if you didn't get it completed within the time limit.

Rule: "There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do."

You Are Already Overwhelmed
The fact is that the average person today is working at 110% to 130% of capacity. And the jobs and responsibilities just keep piling up. Everyone has stacks of reading material they still have to go through. One study concluded recently that the average executive has 300-400 hours of reading and projects backlogged at home and at the office.

What this means is that you will never be caught up. Get that out of your mind. All you can hope for is to be on top of your most important responsibilities. The others will just have to wait.

Deadlines Can Be Counterproductive
Many people say that they work better under the pressure of deadlines. Unfortunately, years of research indicate that this is seldom true.

Under the pressure of deadlines, often self-created through procrastination and delay, people suffer greater stress, make more mistakes, and have to do redo more tasks, than under any other conditions. Often the mistakes that are made when people are working under tight deadlines lead to defects and cost overruns that lead to substantial financial losses in the long-term. Sometimes the job actually takes much longer to complete when people rush to get the job done at the last minute and then have to redo it.

The Key Question You Should Ask
The key question you can ask is: "What is the most valuable use of my time, right now?"

This is the core question of time management. This is the key to overcoming procrastination and becoming a highly productive person. Every hour of every day, there is an answer to this question. Your job is to ask yourself the question, over and over again, and to always be working on the answer to it, whatever it is.

Do first things first and second things not at all. As Goethe said, "The things that matter most must never be at the mercy of the things that matter least."

The more accurate your answers to this question, the easier it will be for you to set clear priorities, to overcome procrastination and to get started on that one activity that represents the most valuable use of your time.


The following comes from "Coaching Team Basketball" by Tom Crean and Ralph Pim courtesy of Shane Dreiling's newsletter: 

1. Why do you want to coach? Explain the driving force for wanting to be in the coaching profession.

2.  Are you willing to dedicate yourself 24 hours a day, seven days a week, if necessary for your players and fellow coaches?

3. Is your family willing and able to bear the sacrifices?

4. Are you willing to lead by example in everything that you do? This will require you to live your life in a “fishbowl” with your professional and personal life always open to view.

5. Do you have the personal courage to live by your core values and make tough decisions regardless of the consequences?

6. Are you passionate about teaching and dedicated to helping others improve their lives?

7. Do you possess the knowledge, energy, and tenacity to lead your program to excellence?

8. Are you willing to take full responsibility for everything that happens, or doesn’t happen, in your program?

9. Do you understand that loyalty is a two-way street?

10. Are you entering the profession fully understanding the risks in coaching and knowing that you may be relieved of your job at any time?

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Today has been designated the official release date of the documentary "Man in the Glass: The Dale Brown Story."  I was fortunated to have been on Coach Brown's staff for a dozen years and was moved beyond emotions watching the early release I received.  It is an amazing story about an amazing man.  There is not a fan of college basketball that won't want to see it.

Dubbed "The film the NCAA doesn't want you to see", Man in the Glass:  The Dale Brown Story is the inspirational story of legendary former LSU basketball coach Dale Brown.  With a cast that includes Matthew McConaughey, John Wooden, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Brando, Don Yaeger and Dick Gregory, Man in the Glass:  The Dale Brown Story is the compelling story of how an overachiever from tiny Minot, North Dakota relentlessly fought, scratched and clawed his way to the top.  Hired by Louisiana State University in 1972 as head men's basketball coach, Dale's on-the-court success would quickly become overshadowed by his work off of the court.  His efforts to integrate the basketball program would ultimately lead to the complete integration of the school; his battles with the NCAA, which began in 1981 would continue long after leaving LSU and his weekly letters to a self-conscious struggling teenager would help to create the superstar the world has come to know simply as "Shaq".  Man in the Glass:  The Dale Brown Story is the inspiring story of a truly unique man on a life-long quest to answer the question:  How much can one man really do?

Click here to purchase a copy:

Click here to watch some of the trailers:

Monday, November 7, 2011


I'm going to have to put UCF men's basketball staffer J.P. Clark on the payroll if he keeps passing on gems like this to us!  Here is a great list from Mike Dunlap on "The 10 Worst Things We Do as Coaches." 
1. Take time to explain what we want from our players.
We must strive for clarity first.

2. Demonstration after we tell our players what we want; there must be a demonstration each time.
We need to give our players a picture demonstration before we get into repetition.

3. Building blocks are the only way to develop a player.
For example, if we do not address a players feet and be specific about how we want him to pivot then it will cost us down the road. Do not rush your teaching. We should do one thing at a time.

4. Teaching your team to be physical takes technique, sequential instruction, and patience.
It is easy to call a player a "nutless wonder" without considering that most players have never been taught the finer points of hand to hand combat. If we would spend a little more time with football coaches we would figure out how to teach our team to be physical.

5. Be objective about an all out effort.
We demand that a player go at 100% effort. What is 100% effort and has there ever been a player who knew what that meant. Probably not? For instance, put a heart monitor on a player and measure their heart rate. The instructor can be more objective about individual effort this way. Yet, we talk and sometimes yell at our players about going "all out" all the time. What a stupid statement when you really think about it. How can a player read and think? For example, a good offensive player must learn how to changespeeds with cutting and ballhandling. This requires that the offensive player control his body and NOT play at 100%. Too many times we buy into the myth of the 100% effort and forget about going after a player's intellect before asking for a quality effort.

6. Demanding perfection.
What a bunch of crap! The more a person chases perfection the less they can enjoy each act. How can a perfectionist be happy with anything? The least enjoyable person to be around is the perfectionist; I find a lazy dog to be just as unpleasant. Demand that people do the right thing, yet do not fall into the trap that nothing is ever good enough. If you are always chasing perfection then how can you teach a player to enjoy a job well done. As Coach Wooden stated, "A man must find balance, be it emotional, physical, spiritual, or intellectual.". Why is it that certain coaches will say that they were devastated by the loss at the end of a 33-1 season? If you believe in your preparation and teaching process then how can any loss devastate you? In other words, losing is part of sports; you learn from it and move on. A disciplined mind comes in many different forms and being mentally tough also requires that you must accept the brutal reality that no one is perfect and a quality effort is a joy in and of itself regardless of outcome.

7. Follow through.
If you want discipline in your organization then follow through with consequences for actions. Our discipline breaks down when we do not quickily punish the transgression. How come so many coaches fall prey to this area? Because it could hurt the outcome of your season if you lose a certain player. My experience tells me just the opposite. For example, George Gwoldecky, head hockey coach at Denver University, benched his best player for the national championship game. Coach Gwoldecky made a statement for all time- period.

8. Take care of ourselves first.
Whether it is our mental and physical health (i.e eating, exercise, prayer, reading, etc) daily schedule, finances, family, and other personal matters, we need to address those things first. Why? Because if you are not in order how can you fully give to your team, staff, and school? You cannot.

9. Apologize.
We demand so much from others and we want them to see their mistakes and fix them. In short, we set ourselves above our own vulnerabilities; we should openly admit our errors. Once you have done this in front of your team it will be much easier for them to acknowledge their mistakes. This is an imperative act by the head coach if you want quality communication.

10. Allow for failure.
Part of learning is the margin of failure and sometimes you just have to let the players fall flat on their rumps. This is difficult but necessary.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I recently ran a series of blog posts on thoughts and theories about practices and how to improve on them.  In his most recent newsletter, Coach Creighton Burns gave a long laundry list of practice pointers -- gotta believe everyone can find something in this list to improve their practices:

There is an old adage that says, “you play the way you practice.” With that in mind let’s take a look at some practice principles.

Do not give your team too much — keep it simple. (KISS Method)

Have players stretch on their own — this saves time. If you are going to stretch, it should be done at the end of the practice session.

Start the practice session with a dynamic warm-up routine.

End practice on a positive note. Send them home happy.

Vary the drills to prevent monotony. Have different drills that teach the same skills, and use drills that have several different fundamental skills within the drill.

Make the drills competitive.

Start and end practice on time.

Use the clock.

Do not run drills into the ground. Individual drills should be from 5 to 7 minutes in length and team drills should last no longer than 10 to 12 minutes.

Teach new concepts early in the practice session when the players are fresh mentally.

Repeat new concepts daily until the results are satisfactory — if that can ever be the case. Coach John Wooden said three of the most important teaching methods are repetition, repetition and more repetition.

Follow hard, tough, physically taxing drills with less strenuous drills.

Have free throw shooting drills after tough, physical drills.

Make pass fakes and shot fakes a part of your drill situations.

Spend time each day on overtime or special situations. Again, use the clock.

Keep all the players active — do not allow players to stand around.

Name the drills and make sure the players know the names of the drills.

Basketball is a game of quickly changing situations — demand that your players move quickly from drill to drill.

Involve your assistant coaches in practice planning, if at all possible.

Provide each coach with a practice plan and have one posted for the players to view.

If you cannot get it done in two and a half hours, you are not going to get it done.

Shorten practice time as the season progresses.

Utilize the whole-part-whole method of teaching.

Present concepts to your team at their level of understanding. It is not how much you know but it is about how much you can get across to your team.

The gym is your classroom — make sure everyone treats it as such.

Run your practices the same way you coach in a game.

Stress attention to detail — strive for excellenceand demand proper execution of the fundamentals.

Explain to your team what the drills are going to accomplish. Tell them the WHY!

Use the experienced players to demonstrate the skills and drills correctly.

Teachable moments occur naturally during the practice session. Always look for the teachable moment.

Assume your players know nothing. As a matter of fact, assume nothing.

If a drill requires both offensive and defensive actions, explain both aspects. Do not let the players develop bad habits fundamentally, merely because you are emphasizing another fundamental skill.

Stress offense one day and defense the next.

Run your drills full court. Transition is a huge part of the game.

Never condition at the end of practice. Build conditioning into all your drills. If you condition at the end of practice, the players will pace themselves, and save themselves for the conditioning. Make running a large and important part of ALL drills.

When you do condition, put them on the clock, and use the basketball during conditioning.

Remember, “tellin’ ain’t teachin’.”

Shout praise and whisper criticism. Use both enthusiastic praise and constructive criticism.

Make the practice drills as “game like” as possible.

In closing, it is important to remember – many times, “less is more.”


The Foremost of the Values
Winston Churchill once said, "Courage is rightly considered the foremost of the virtues, for upon it all others depend." The systematic development of the deep down quality of unflinching courage is one of the fundamental requirements for leadership in any field. Fear, or the lack of courage is more responsible for failure in management, and in life, than any other factor. It is always fear that causes people to hold back, to sell themselves short, to settle for far less than they are capable of!

Eliminate Fear and Doubt
I firmly believe that you can do, have or be far more than you now know if only you could eliminate the fear, doubts and misgivings that consciously and unconsciously interfere with your realizing your full potential.

Unlearn Your Fears
If there is anything positive about fear, it is that all fears are learned, that no one is born with fears, and that having been learned, they can be unlearned. If you want to understand the role of fear in shaping the course of your life, just ask yourself, if you had a magic wand that would absolutely guarantee you success in any one thing you attempted, what goal would you set for yourself.

The Great Question
"What one great thing would you dare to dream if you knew you could not fail?" If you had no fears at all with regard to money or the criticism of others, what would you do differently? Most people can think of all kinds of changes they would, or could, make in their lives if they had no fears to hold them back.

The Origins of Fear
The development of courage begins with understanding the psychological origins of fear. The newborn child has only two fears; the fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. All other fears that we experience as adults are learned as we are growing up, primarily as the result of well-meaning but destructive criticism from our parents.

How Fears Develop
When the curious child gets into things and makes a mess, the parent scolds and punishes the child, eventually building up a pattern of fear connected with trying or getting into anything new or different. As adults, we experience this as the fear of failure, the fear of risking, of making a mistake, of losing.

Action Exercises
Here are two steps you can take immediately to put these ideas into action.

First, imagine that you had no fears at all. What would you set as a goal for yourself if you were guaranteed of success?

Second, decide exactly what you want and then act as if it were impossible to fail. You may be surprised at how successful you are.

Be sure to check out:

Friday, November 4, 2011


Stephanie Zonar has been a hero of mine since she wrote "Leader of the Pack," a very touching book about the courageous Kay Yow.  It's a very well written tale of how Coach Yow not only shaped the young women she coached at North Carolina State, but how through her incredible will and determination, she galvanized a nation through women's basketball to fight against breast cancer.  Stephanie has gave portions of the book sales to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

Stephanie has a great website ( with an inspiring blog and has travelled the nation to work with teams.

And now she has a new book out and I love it -- I believe it should be in every coach's library.

"Wisdom for the BusyCoach" -- is just that -- a book filled with short passages on a variety of subjects that can help us with our teams and more importantly -- with ourselves.

Each topic starts with a quote such as:
“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of becoming.”


That is followed with a passage of wisdom:
Sometimes BusyCoaches long for their players to “grow up.” You recruited them because you saw the potential, yet the road to maturity can take so, so long. When you refuse to coddle or make excuses for your athletes, but instead consistently expect them to exhibit character qualities like discipline, commitment and responsibility, you give them tools to achieve greatness. When you hold them accountable for their actions, you create a culture in which maturity will grow.

And then an action question:
Do you respond to your players based on where they are or where you want them to be? How will you help them reach their potential?

Followed by a biblical scripture on that subject:
“Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.”
—1 Thessalonians 5:11

Another great quality of the book is the index in the back.  Looking for a particular word such as "attitude?"  Go the index and find the pages that have passages regarding "attitude."  In fact, there are over 70 such words including character, persistence, respect, vision, honor, balance and many more.

To appreciate Stephanie's perspective of our profession, you need not go any further than her dedication:

Dedicated to my coaching buddies who model excellence, impart wisdom and teach athletes so much more than x’s and o’s. Thank you for tirelessly investing in the next generation of athletes.

Purchase this book at:

Thursday, November 3, 2011


In developing solid perimeter play, we want to first look for and then develop the following characteristics:

Vision is a very encompassing matter. A good perimeter player does more than just see her teammates, she also sees the defense. This particular type of vision allows the good perimeter player to make the proper decisions with the basketball.

A good perimeter player knows what she does well and works hard to get in position to take advantage of those skills and fundamentals. Just as important however, is the fact that a good perimeter player knows what her limitations are, her weaknesses, and stays away from them.

This is very difficult for the average perimeter player, and in fact, it is a rare quality usually found in the best perimeter players. That special type of perimeter player knows who the best shooters are on the team and tries to get them the ball when they are open. She knows who the best posters are and feeds them the ball. She knows who has trouble dribbling the ball and doesn’t pass them the ball when it might put them in a dribbling situation.

The good perimeter player knows when to push the ball up and when to hold it up. She knows when to attack the basket and when to reverse the ball. She is prepared to play at whatever speed is necessary for her team to be successful.

A good perimeter player is constantly working to get open and at the same time occupy her defender. She understands that she must move with a purpose, because she must never confuse “activity for achievement.”

Whether she is dribbling, passing, or holding the ball, she is going to be strong. She is not going to let the defender rush her into a mistake.

The best perimeter players never let anything upset them. They don’t let the crowd effect their play; they don’t let the other team effect their play; and they don’t let any breakdowns by their teammates effect their play.

We want players that are warriors in the weight room. This is an area that you as a coach must be committed to as much as the players.  Players know what is important to a coaching staff. Working hard in the weight room doesn’t mean that we are interested in huge muscle bound athletes. We are interested in developing upper body strength and explosiveness from the lower body.
We expect our perimeter players to be able to outrun the opposing perimeter players down the court for fast break opportunities. And, just as important, we expect our perimeter players to be able to outrun the opposing perimeter players and be in good defensive position in defensive transition. In our motion offense, our perimeter players are constantly moving. We are always telling them, “be hard to guard.” All of this demands a supreme physically conditioned athlete.

We expect our perimeter players to be able to “think” the game. Again, because of our motion offense, our perimeter players are expected to constantly decisions while on the floor. When and who to screen, when to pass, when to dribble are just some of the instant decisions we expect them to make. Equally, because we utilize scouting reports, they must know which particular player they are defending and how to defend them.

Obviously, to be a warrior in the weight room, and supreme physically conditioned athlete, and a mentally prepared basketball player, you must first possess a great work ethic. We demand a lot from a our perimeter players and the truly good ones are not afraid to work. To be a top-flight player, a good work ethic is a year round necessity.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Big thanks to J.P. Clark for passing the following on to us from Jon Gordon:

I had the opportunity this past week to speak to the Atlanta Falcons football team. As I prepared for these talks I thought a lot about what I should say that would benefit them.  After all, I would be talking to people who have reached the pinnacle of their industry.  What could I say that they haven't heard before? I realized that there was nothing new I could say.

They have heard it all. We all have. But what I could do was say it in a way that would inspire them towards positive action. My job was to help the best of the best get even better. This inspired a series of thoughts about what makes someone great in their field of work. I realized the best of the best, whether you are a sales person, teacher, athlete, nurse, entrepreneur, etc, share a number of similar characteristics. Here are three. I hope they inspire you to be your best.

1. The best are always striving to get better.
When I was speaking in Dallas in June, Zig Ziglar was in the front row and to my surprise he was taking notes. Wow, I thought. Here was one of my heroes, eighty years old, and he's still learning and growing. Any speaker could have been up there and Zig would have had his note pad and pen ready. How about you? Are you striving to get better? Are you a life long learner?

2. The best do ordinary things better than everyone else. (Chuck Noll).
There really isn't anything new when it comes to success principles. It's not about doing anything different. It’s about closing the gap that is bigger than the Grand Canyon-the gap between knowing and doing. The best take action. They execute and excel in the small things that create big results. They know that to be the best you must do a hundred simple things 10% better than everyone else.

3. The best stay positive.
Every individual and team faces negativity and challenges but the best rebound with positive energy, resilience, hope and faith. The best stay positive and don't let adversities and obstacles sabotage their individual and team success. The best don't let naysayers and energy vampires keep them from their goal. The best teams get on the bus together, stay positive and move forward with a shared vision,focus and direction.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


An attitude can give you the mental edge. It can be the edge over an opponent or a situation.

Emphasize positive experiences
Mentally reliving success helps build confidence that success can be repeated. Remember achievements and use them to create a framework of self-confidence. “I know I can do it because I’ve done it before.”

Commit to the attitude
Only by making a serious and sincere determination to believe in an attitude can it be effective. Attitudes are not about lip service; they demand dedication.

Visualize positive expectations
Sometimes a player needs to stop, shut his eyes, and see himself getting a hit off a tough pitch or pitcher; or a pitcher needs to see himself making a well-executed pitch. The more realistic the visualization, the more impact it will have.

Use self-talk to ingrain attitudes
The player speaks to himself with conviction and emotion until these attitudes become natural, ingrained in the subconscious mind. Understanding the situation and knowing yourself ill dictate the right emotional level for the task, and that level can be controlled by the speed and intensity of self-talk.

Commitment and repetitious affirmations of attitude
As with everything in athletics, attitudes demand practice and regular rededication. A player must reestablish his goals and renew his reasons for providing such intense dedication. The more these thoughts are repeated, the more ingrained they become. Discussing this with a friend or teammate will help affirm the attitude and hold the player accountable.

From "Mental Toughness: Baseball’s Winning Edge" by Karl Kuehl, John Kuehl, and Casey Tefertiller


Here are a few random thoughts on leadership from 360 Degree Leadership by John Maxwell:

Leadership is not just one quality, but rather a blend of many qualities; and while no one individual possesses all of the need talents that go into leadership, each man can develop a combination to make him a leader.

Most important of all, to be successful in life demands that a man make a personal commitment to excellence and to victory, even though the ultimate victory can never be completely won. Yet that victory might be pursued and wooed with every fiber of our body, with every bit of our might and all our effort. And each week, there is a new encounter; each day, there is a new challenge.

The leader must always walk the tightrope between the consent he must win and the control he must exert. Despite the need for teamwork and participation, the leader can never close the gap between himself and the group. If he does, he is no longer what he has to be. The leader is a lonely person. He must maintain a certain distance between himself and the members of the group.

You, as a leader, must possess the quality of mental toughness. This is a difficult quality to explain, but in my opinion, this is the most important element in the character of the leader.

You do not need to like someone in order to love them. Love is loyalty. Love is teamwork. Love is respect for the dignity of an individual. Love is charity. The love I speak of is not detraction. A man who belittles another—who is not loyal, who speaks ill of another—is not a leader and does not belong in the top echelons of management.

But remember that the will is the character in action. If we would create something, we must be something. This is character. Character is higher than intellect. Character is the direct result of mental attitude. A man cannot dream himself into character; he must hammer and forge one for himself. He cannot copy someone else’s qualities; he must develop his own character qualities to fit his own personality.

We should remember, too, that there is only one kind of discipline, and that is the perfect discipline. As a leader, you must enforce and maintain that discipline; otherwise, you will fail at your job.