Thursday, July 26, 2012


1. Practice Gratitude. Research shows that when we count three blessings a day, we get a measurable boost in happiness that uplifts and energizes us. It’s also physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. Two thoughts cannot occupy our mind at the same time. If you are focusing on gratitude, you can’t be negative. You can also energize and engage your coworkers by letting them know you are grateful for them and their work.

2. Praise Others. Instead of complaining about what others are doing wrong, start focusing on what they are doing right. Praise them and watch as they create more success as a result. Of course, point out their mistakes so they can learn and grow, but make sure you give three times as much praise as criticism.

3. Focus on Success. Start a success journal. Each night before you go to bed, write down the one great thing about your day. The one great conversation, accomplishment, or win that you are most proud of. Focus on your success, and you’ll look forward to creating more success tomorrow.

4. Let Go. Focus on the things that you have the power to change, and let go of the things that are beyond your control. You’ll be amazed that when you stop trying to control everything, it all somehow works out.

5. Pray and Meditate. Scientific research shows that these daily practices reduce stress; boost positive energy; and promote health, vitality, and longevity. When you are faced with the urge to complain or you are feeling stressed to the max, stop, be still, plug-in to the ultimate power, and recharge.

From "The No Complaining Rule" by Jon Gordon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


1. Climbers think vertical—Connectors think horizontal
Climbers are always acutely aware of who is ahead of them and who is behind them in the standings or on the organizational chart. Connectors, on the other hand, are focused on moving over to where other people are.

2. Climbers focus on position—Connectors focus on relationships
Because climbers are always thinking about moving up, they are often focused on their position. However, connectors are more focused on relationships.

3. Climbers value competition—Connectors value cooperation
Climbers see nearly everything as a competition. For some, that can mean trying to win at all costs. Connectors, however, are more interested in using their relationships with others to foster cooperation. They see working together as a win.

4. Climbers seek power—Connectors seek partnerships
If your mind-set is always to win, then you naturally want power because it helps you to climb faster and reach the top more quickly. The way to create really high-powered teams is to form partnerships, which is what connectors are more likely to do.

5. Climbers build their image—Connectors build consensus
Because movement either up or down the ladder often depends on other people’s perception of their performance, climbers are often concerned with their image. Connectors are more concerned with getting everyone on the same page so that they can work together.

6. Climbers want to stand apart—Connectors want to stand together
Climbers want to distinguish themselves from everybody else in the organization. Connectors, on the other hand, find ways to get closer to other people, to find common ground that they can stand on together.

From "Leadership Gold" by John Maxwell

Monday, July 23, 2012


“In a coaching sense it was something I read in John Wooden’s book, where he said that he never talked about winning. He always talked about the process. If you practice well every day and give a great effort, it’s the daily, minute-by-minute acts that lead to performing well. And really after reading that, the last several years that I coached, I don’t ever recall mentioning winning to our players either. Probably the most important advice that I got from my dad was to finish what you start. He had a good work ethic and he always wanted me to follow through on whatever I had begun.”

-Tom Osborne

Sunday, July 22, 2012


The best defensive teams have great off ball defenders that stay in defensive stances.

Don't deny the wing because you can overload on defense when the offense has the ball on the wing -- defense will have a 5/3 advantage.

Teach defensive spacing (jump to the ball).

Jumping to the ball with all five guys should be a priority.  Jump in unison.  You lose when players come out of their stance and don't jump to the ball.  Jump with your hands out.

Building you defense to come back quickly from a point deficit.  You must be able to trap and rotate.

What kills good defense? Dribble penetration.  Have a system to attack dribble penetration. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012


The following is a list of defensive goals from Kevin Stallings via Mike Neighbors email newsletter:

1. Stop all penetrations

2. Keep the ball out of the post

3. Eliminate all dumb and lazy fouls

4. Do not allow any uncontested shots- get a hand in their face

5. Box out, rebound it and finish the play (get an outlet to finish your defensive work)

6. High hands on all closeouts

7. Jump to the ball on every ball movement

8. Get into the gaps- show the dribbler that they cannot come here. The slower the defender the closer to the ball they need to be.

9. Help and Recover- try to eliminate the help part of help and recover by getting far enough into the gap that the dribbler should not want to go there, but if they do, the defender should not have to move to help, he should already be there. The defender should only have to move in one direction and that is to recover, as he should not have to move to help by playing proper position.

10. Do not allow the offense to feed the post from above the foul line.

Thursday, July 19, 2012


When I coached at Maine, we created a program called "Choice Not Chance," which stemmed from a philosophy that I thoroughly believe in and endorse.  My mantra is simple: "Choice, not chance, determines destiny.  Choose to become a champion in life."

I came up with five components of the philosophy that grew out of that quote:

1. Choices dictate life's opportunities, so make choices with great care.

2. You "little choices" do matter. You must commit daily to seeking out the right choices for yourself, and operate according to a belief system that all of your choices do matter.

3. It is crucial to practice "right thinking," which means to "think deeply, think clearly, and allow yourself to feel deeply." All of those are part of the process of making reasonable choices.

4. Keep your power.  Recognize that you are in control, and continue to develop your "power" further.  Incorporate a mind-set to "stay in the moment" to fortify self-determination an your power to perform.

5. "If it's mean to be, it's up to me." Always remain focused, and embrace reason over emotion at all costs.

From "Choice Not Chance" by Joanne P. McCallie

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Principle-centered leadership introduces a new paradigm—that we center our lives and our leadership of organizations and people on certain “true north” principles.

My experience tells me that people instinctively trust those whose personality is founded upon correct principles. We have evidence of this in our long-term relationships.

To value oneself and, at the same time, subordinate oneself to higher purposes and principles is the paradoxical essence of highest humanity and the foundation of effective leadership.

Correct principles are like compasses: they are always pointing the way. And if we know how to read them, we won’t get lost, confused, or fooled by conflicting voices and values.

Principles are self-evident, self-validating natural laws.

The lesson of history is that to the degree people and civilizations have operated in harmony with correct principles, they have prospered. At the root of societal declines are foolish practices that represent violations of correct principles.

Principles, unlike values, are objective and external.

Values are like maps. Maps are not the territories; they are only subjective attempts to describe or represent the territory.

When people align their personal values with correct principles, they are liberated from old perceptions or paradigms.

From "Principle-Centered Leadership" by Stephen Covey


You must collapse the defense (post entry, penetration, offensive rebounding) versus superior teams.  You can't win by just shooting 3's.  Those that play closest to the rim, win games.

Your players must be able to read and react (speed reading).  Teach less for quicker reaction.

Bad spacing leads to turnovers, don't allow your players to turn the ball over. 

Angles of passing are important.  Don't throw passes across your body, no skip passes in transition, not passes on a straight plane. 

Most important decision you have to make with your offense is whether you are going to use an open or closed post.

When you don't have the ball you need to make space for driving lines.

Keep records on all shooting drills and make them competitive.

Swing into your shot rather than being squared up.  Heel-toe for inertia or ball in the air, feet in the air.

Monday, July 16, 2012


Here are some excerpts from an article in the Charlotte Observer written by Rick Bonnell on the approach of the Bobcats new coach Mike Dunlap:

This looked and sounded military:

A single water break in two hours of strenuous exercise. Speak only when spoken to. Eye contact with the instructor isn’t optional. Expect to be critiqued, and always be ready with an answer for why you did what you did.

This wasn’t Marine boot camp. It was the first day of summer league practice in Mike Dunlap’s tenure as Charlotte Bobcats coach. You knew something was different from former Bobcats coach Paul Silas’ laid-back approach when Dunlap called a dozen players into a circle, yelling “eyes up!” to demand rapt attention.

It’s easy to intimidate the eight or so free agents just hoping for an invitation to training camp in October. But Dunlap had the same attention from the four Bobcats under contract. They see a guy intent on helping them get better. The criticism is balanced with encouragement.

“I think right now he’s tearing us down and then building us back up to what he wants us to be,” said forward-center Byron Mullens, entering his fourth NBA season.

“What I love about him is he stays on me. If he sees me slacking – even if I don’t know I’m slacking – he’ll stop play and let you know in front of everybody. But before he gets done talking, he’ll say, ‘Good job.’ ”

Dunlap is similar to former Bobcats coach Larry Brown but without so much edge. Like Brown, Dunlap is intricate about every facet of basketball: He’ll tell a player to lift his chin 4 inches while shooting, to be more focused on the rim. He’ll correct a player for standing just inside the 3-point line while shooting, rather than step back for maximum effect. He’ll question what’s the point of setting a screen for a shooter if that shooter is reluctant to shoot.

But here’s where the similarities end: Brown’s perfectionism bled into exasperation and then negativity. Dunlap is demanding without being so abrasive.

“I just like his attitude, the way he talks to us,” said point guard Kemba Walker. “He’s a fun guy to be around, even when he’s getting on us.”

We’re going to get the ball down, instead of like last year when we got into our offense with 10 to 12 seconds left on the (shot) clock,” Mullens said. “Now we’re into our offense with 20 to 18 seconds left. It’s going to be fast-paced, so you better be in shape.”

Dunlap hasn’t been a head coach since 2006, when he left Division II Metro State in Denver to be a Nuggets assistant. But he doesn’t lack conviction about who he is or how he’ll function overseeing the Bobcats.

“Detail is all I know. …I like simplicity with detail,” Dunlap concluded.

“We won’t have a thick playbook. Offensively, first-and-foremost, is the pass. I believe in the pass. That’s a trademark to be developed over time.

“Defensively, I love ball pressure. We’ve got to do it the right way, so we’re not fouling all the time, but people should say, ‘They really get after it.’ ”

Read the entire article:

Friday, July 13, 2012


1. Focus on the top goals.
In our turbulent times, you can’t afford to take your eye off the key goal. Organizations fail to execute their key goals when (1) there are too many goals, (2) there are no defined goals, or (3) people get distracted from the goals.

Think about it. If you have one goal, you chances of achieving it with excellence are high. If you have two substantive goals, you have just cut in half your chances of achieving them both with excellence. Three goals make things geometrically more chancy. And so forth.

No defined goals. Too many organizations have no goals to speak of—that is, no one can speak of them because no one really knows what they are. If your success depends on a critical goal, it’s worth defining well.

People get distracted from the goals. But in bad times, the distractions are more severe than ever. The first requirement of a good execution system is that everyone must know and buy in to the key goals.

2. Make sure everyone knows the specific job to be done to achieve these goals.
Leaders decide what the goal is, but they don’t decide how to achieve it; that’s where the team comes in.

Leaders who hand down goals must give teams the time and opportunity to learn how to achieve them. By definition, every new goal requires people to do things they’ve never done before.

3. Keep score.
Smart leaders know that there are two kinds of measures to watch: lag measures and lead measures. Lag measures are the ones we usually think of because they tell us what just happened. Lead measures, on the other hand, are predictive and influenceable. They tell you what is likely to happen. You can control them.

A weak leader focuses only on lag measures.

A strong leader focuses on lead measures. She helps the team isolate three or four key actions the team can control and that are most likely to bring the desired results. Then she tracks those actions consistently.

4. Set up a regular cycle of follow-through.
The mistake leaders often make is to announce a grand goal and then sit back in luxurious expectation that it will happen. If you never ask about the goal, you team members won’t care about it. They have plenty to do already. If you don’t revisit progress on the goal regularly and frequently, team members will conclude that you didn’t mean it, and they will go do what they normally do.

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

Thursday, July 12, 2012


First and foremost, let me say thanks to all of those that have inquired and already registered for our coaches academy -- it's extremely exciting to see this kind of support.

Here is the updated information for discounted lodging at the Hawthorne Suites:

Hawthorn Suites – College Station is providing a discount to any coaches attending the Gary Blair Aggie Coaching Academy. Simply call and tell them that you are with the “Aggie Coaching Academy” and they will be good to go.

You will need to provide the reservation attendant with the group rate code which is below. Also below is the phone number that each person needs to call for their reservation.

Reservation Phone # 979-695-9500
Hawthorn Suites-College Station

We are very excited to announce today the dates of the inaugural Gary Blair Texas A&M Aggie Coaching Academy. The dates for the Academy will be August 11-12. This will be a unique experience because our Aggie basketball team will be available for demonstration purposes as we prepare for our summer tour in Italy.

Here is a look at the two-day schedule of the Academy:

Saturday - August 11, 2012
12:30 Registration

1:30 Practice Philosophy (Coach Blair)

2:00 Perimeter Workout (Coach Bond)

3:30 Post Workout (Coach Starkey)

4:45 Dinner

6:00 Aggie Team Practice

8:30 Coaches' Social

Sunday - August 12, 2012
8:00 Breakfast

9:00 Shooting Workout (Coach Wright)

9:30 Aggie Program Stations

       Motivating Today's Student-Athletes

        Creating Recruitable Student-Athletes

        The Art of Scouting

        Strength & Conditioning

11:30 Facilities Tour

12:00 Lunch

1:00 Defensive Conditioning (Coach Starkey)

2:00 Aggie Team Offense (Coach Blair)

3:00 Q&A with the Aggie Staff

Cost for the Academy is only $50 and includes all three meals listed as well Coaches' Social. Also included will be an Academy Notebook that will include sections on philosophy, motivation, scouting, conditioning, recruiting, playbook and practice planing. There will also be a DVD provided later with footage of the various sessions.

More on the clinic from our website including links to register online:

We are also working on discounted hotel rates and will be announcing that soon as well.

You can also get updates by "likiing" our Gary Blair Coaching Academy Facebook page:


Five characteristics for a unifying vision statement from Jon Gordon's tremendous book "Soup."

1. It had to be a vision everyone could rally around.

2. It needed to capture the essence and spirit of the business and to be something the organization could share with words and reinforce through actions.

3. It needed to remind everyone what Soup, Inc., stood for and to serve as the North Star that kept everyone on track.

4. It needed to be easy to remember by leaders and employees so they could live and breathe it every day. It couldn’t exist only on a piece of paper in a filing cabinet. It needed to come alive in the hearts, minds, and actions of everyone at Soup, Inc.

5. It had to be clear, simple, energizing, and compelling.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


"One of the worst things anybody can do is assume.  I think fools assume.  If people have really got it together, they never assume anything.  They believe, they work hard, and they prepare -- but they don't assume."

-Mike Krzyzewski

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Chuck didn’t believe in using many drills, instead he had a couple of good ones for each phase of the game. His belief was that the players had to see and practice the “whole” part of offensive and defensive styles of play. He was concerned about players ability to have a “transfer of learning” from frills to games.

Chuck believed that it should be quick, efficient and have clarity. Most of all, he wanted his team to leave there with great sense of confidence that they were ready to win. He didn’t want to overload the players with information. We would simply go over only a couple of players based on the frequency of the plays that our opponent what run. The BIG thing that we stressed is how are they going to defend our Pick and Rolls, Post-ups and what plays might we use in this game. We wanted to provide the answers to our team and them a lot of confidence they were ready for them. We see too many coaches more concerned with everything that our opponent does and NOT providing “solutions” for their team.

From "Chuck Daly Coaching" by Brendan Suhr

Monday, July 9, 2012


I’m going to share a little secret with you. Running has always been a source of my stamina. Early in my career I learned to run until I was tired, then run even more after that. But all the running I did before the fatigue and pain was just the introduction to my workout. The real conditioning began when the pain set in. That was when if was time to start pushing. That was when I would count every mile as extra strength and stamina.

What counts in the ring is what you can do after you’re exhausted. The same is true of life.

Outrun the people who quit when they feel discomfort, outrun the people who stop because of despair, outrun the people who are delayed because of prejudice, outrun the people who surrender to failure, and outrun the opponent who loses sight of the goal. Because if you want to win, the will can never retire, the race can never stop, and faith can never weaken.

My heart told me one thing and my mind told me another. And when I had to decide between them, I chose to follow my heart.

From "The Soul of a Butterfly"
by Muhammad Ali with Hana Yasmeen Ali

Sunday, July 8, 2012


It’s persistence that makes you great. It’s persistent that allows you to reach your dreams.

It’s persistence that enables you to perform at your fullest potential.

To achieve peak condition, virtually all the great overachievers I have known compete against themselves.

Failure is only fertilizer for future success.

The only time failure is truly bad is if you use it as an excuse to quit.

I’ve never known a successful person who isn’t organized.

From "Success is a Choice"
by Rick Pitino

Saturday, July 7, 2012


The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy's not coming, but on our own readiness to recieve him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable.

There are five dangerous faults that may affect a general, of which the first two are: recklessness, which leads to destruction; and cowardice, which leads to capture.

Next there is a delicacy of honor, which is sensitive to shame; and a hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults.

The last of such faults is oversolicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble, for in the long run the troops will suffer more from the defeat, or at best, the prolongation of the war, which will be the consequence.

These are the five besetting sins of a general, ruinious to the conduct of war.  When an army is overthrown and its leader slain, the cause will surely be found among these five dangrous faults. 

From "The Art of War"
by Sun Tzu (edited by James Clavell)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


I have greatly enjoyed reading "Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success" by Ken Segall. The introductory chapter is titled “The Simple Stick.” People that worked for Apple would talk about when one of their ideas was shot down by Steve Jobs as being “hit with the simple stick.” Segall translated is at: “Steve had rejected their work – not because it was bad but because in some way it failed to distill the idea to its essence. It took a turn when it should have traveled a straight line.”

Here’s what else Segal said:

The Simple Stick symbolizes a core value within Apple. Sometimes its help up as inspiration; other times it’s wielded like a caveman’s club. In all cases, it’s a reminder of what sets Apple apart from other technology companies and what makes Apple stand out in a complicated world: a deep, almost religious belief in the power of Simplicity.

Having played a lead role in the marketing of Intel, Dell, and IBM, as well as Apple, I can assure you that Apple’s focus on Simplicity is unique. It goes beyond enthusiasm, beyond passion, all the way to obsession.

By no means am I saying that Simplicity is the sole factor behind Apple’s success. Leadership, vision, talent, imagination, and incredibly hard work may have just a bit to do with it. But there’s one common thread that runs through it all. That’s Simplicity.

Simplicity not only enables Apple to revolutionize – it enables Apple to revolutionize repeatedly.

If Apple’s obsession with Simplicity is so obvious, and the financial results are equally obvious, why on earth aren’t other technology companies simply copying Apple’s methods to achieve the same level of success?

The quick answer: It ain’t easy.

Simplicity is not merely a layer that can be grafter onto a business. It isn’t available in a prepackaged version. It doesn’t work with an on/off switch. Yet it’s there for absolutely anyone to take advantage of, if only they have the determination and knowledge.

Monday, July 2, 2012


The following comes from "Finding The Winning Edge" by Bill Walsh -- quite possibly one of the best coaching resource book ever written:

A team should do everything possible to ensure that the skills and talents of each player on its roster are developed, refined, and utilized in an appropriate way. A team’s players are obviously the core building blocks (i.e., human capital) for a successful organization. One of the best investments a team can make in those “building blocks” is to establish a systematic plan to train and develop its players to their fullest potential.

The essence of such a plan is to create an environment where meaningful learning can offur.

The progress of each player should be measured. All instructive procedures and programs should be reevaluated and changed, as appropriate. Constructive feedback and encouragement should be provided to each player.

“There is no greater waste of a resource
than that of unrealized talent.”
–Theodore Roosevelt