Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Here are some excerpts from another article on Nick Saban and his "process philosophy."  Interesting enough, this ran in the Business section of the Bradenton Herald, written by Gardner Sherrill.  You can read the entire article here.

"Process guarantees success," says Saban. "A good process produces good results."

As we review the year's end and make our economic and market forecasts for 2014, what lessons can we learn from the success of Alabama football?

Process is about control and focusing your efforts where you have the most control. Consequentially Saban doesn't focus on or talk about winning. Winning is an outcome and not something he can control. Instead, the focus is on effort and activities that applied consistently tend to result in success.

Nick's Paradox: "The more one emphasizes winning, the less he or she is able to concentrate on what actually causes success."

Saban, his staff and the team focus on perfecting the process.

"Eliminate the clutter and all of the things that are going on outside and focus on the things that you can control with how you go about and take care of your business," Saban says. "Take the other team out of the game and make it all about you and what you do." In their book, "Decisive," the Heath brothers detail how human decision-making is disrupted by irrationalities and biases. They state that we often put our faith in careful analysis and skip process, the softer, less analytical side of decision making:

"When researchers compared whether process or analysis was more important to making good decisions -- they discovered that process mattered more than analysis by a factor of six. But the reverse was not true: Superb analysis is useless unless the decision process gives it a fair hearing."

Although it may sound easy to adopt, a process mentality is very difficult to maintain. The noise of results can become so deafening at times that it feels impossible to remain disciplined toward the process.

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2013/12/31/4912555/coach-nick-saban-has-success-model.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.bradenton.com/2013/12/31/4912555/coach-nick-saban-has-success-model.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, December 30, 2013


Clippers Coach Doc Rivers talked about how much he admired how hard the undermanned Utah Jazz played in a 98-90 loss on Saturday night at Staples Center.

In that same vein, Rivers said his team has been playing hard too. The Clippers played hard in losing at Golden State and Portland last week, and they played hard in defeating the Jazz.

“I think we’re getting that way for sure,” Rivers said. “I think we play hard most nights.

"When you have the talent that we have, it’s more trying to get guys to play in the right spirit every night. And we’re getting there. I think our team is really close."

Rivers has been stressing that to be a good team, you have to play hard every night, no matter the opponent.

“I’ve been saying it for a week or two," Rivers said. "You can feel it. We’re close to being like really good.”


You need guidelines for an effective practice

Never let a player shoot on their own
Players need a coach, manager, or other player with them
No free shooting on their own

Have things in practice that are physically and mentally tough
Drills where players will bang/bruise each other
Drills that will challenge their mind (mental quickness)

Start practice with quick drills
Drills that require hand/eye quickness, and get their mind thinking right away

Don’t practice too long
You get to a “point of no return” with practice time
Start of season thru December = 2 hour, 15 min practice
January thru End of the season = Never go longer than 1 hour 15min
Player/Team Development
Drills that involve an individual skill – spend no more than 5 minutes
Drills that involve the team as a whole – spend no more than 10 minutes


Sunday, December 29, 2013


Followers of my blog already know what a follower I am of John Maxwell and his teachings.  He has not only made me a better teacher, coach and person but he has improved my teams as well.  This season our team is currently reading his book "Talent Is Never Enough" complete with worksheets that we have developed for them.  In fact, if you'd like a PDF of our complete worksheets that we use for this book, email me at rstarkey@athletics.tamu.edu and I will be glad to send you a copy.

This past year, Maxwell put out another great book titled "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn."  It is a great read certainly for anyone as we all suffer through defeats and setbacks.  But I think it is an amazing book for coaches to read.  I gave a copy to my head coach Gary Blair for Christmas and he was quoting portions of it to our team this week.

Here is just a few of my notes from one section of one chapter in which Maxwell deals with help us to be better learners:

1. Improving Yourself is the First Stem to Improving Everything Else

Success does not always bring growth, but personal growth will always add to our success.

"It is the capacity to develop and improve themselves that distinguishes leaders from followers."
-Bennis and Nanus

2. Improvement Requires Us to Move Out of Our Comfort Zone

Novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky observed, "Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most."

What does it take to get us to move out of our comfort zone? In my observation, it requires two things:

--Handling our Aversion to Making Mistakes...Mistakes are not failures.  They are proof that we are making an effort.  When we understand that, we can more easily move our of our comfort zone, try something new, and improve.

--Overcoming a Life Controlled by Feelings...Improvement demands a commitment to grow long after the mood in which it was made has passed.

3. Improvement is Not Satisfied with "Quick Fixes"

Losers don't lose because the focus on losing.  They lose because the focus on just getting by.

If you have a quick fix mindset, then you need to shift it to continuous improvement.  That means doing two things:

--Accept the Fact that Improvement is a Never-Ending Battle...Carl Sandberg said, "There is an eagle in me that wans to soar and a hippopotamus in me that wants to wallow in the mud."

Make this your motto:

I'm not where I'm suppose dot be,
I'm not what I want to be,
But I'm not what I used to b.
I haven't learned how to arrive;
I've just learned how to keep on going.

--Accept the Fact That Improvement is a Result of Small Steps...As Andrew Wood observed, "Success in most things comes not from some gigantic stroke of fate, but from simple, incremental progress."

4. Improvement Is a Daily Commitment

David D. Glass, the president and chief executive officer of Walmart was once asked why he admired Sam Walton, the founder of the organization.  His answer was, "There's never been a day in his life, since I've known him, that he didn't improve in some way."

As I have worked to improve on a day-by-day basis, two words have helped me to stay on track.  The first is intention.  Every morning as I start my day, I intend to learn something that day.  This develops a mind-set in me to look for things that will help me improve.

The other word is contemplation.  Time alone is an essential for self-improvement

If you want to spend some time each day to try to improve yourself, you might want to begin by asking yourself three questions at the end of the day, as I do.  They are:

--What did I learn today? What spoke both to my heart and my head?

--How did I grow today?  What touched my heart and affected my actions?

--What will I do differently? Unless I can state specifically what I plan to do differently, I won't learn anything.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


Each day I get an email from Brian Williams and "The Coaching Toolbox" -- rarely do I not get something that helps me coach my team better.  If you aren't signed up, you are missing out.  Click here and place your email to get daily coaching nugget.  Brian's website is also one of the best resources out there for coaches.  Please go here and take some time to visit and learn.

Here is an example of what you can expect -- got this one today.  It is an "End of the Game Coaching Checklist" -- and it speaks to the organization of NBA coaches.  This list was assembled by former long-time NBA assistant coach Gordon Chieas.  I had the opportunity to listen to Coach Chieas speak this summer at Coaching U Live and he is a passionate teacher of the game. Here is his "End of Game Checklist" provided by Brian and The Coaching Toolbox:


Best offensive team when our team is losing.

Best foul shooting team when our team is winning.

Best ball handling team when protecting a lead.

Best three point shooting team when our team needs a “Three.”

Best individual match-up to score a basket/create a foul.

Which opposing player is in deep foul trouble, and our offense can go directly at him?

Who is our best inbound passer? Who is our 2nd best inbound passer?

What side of the floor, when inbounding from the sideline do we prefer?

Know/Understand with how much time left on the game clock, and the score is tied, when should the offensive player take the shot?

Know/Understand  that the defense is going to switch-out of any screening action regardless of size The sceener should look for a slip move as he starts setting the screen. The passer has to be ready to “Read and Pass.”

Know/Understand that when the opponent has a foul to give and our team has used our last time out, the Head Coach, during that time out, has to give our team two offensive plays to execute.

Best defensive team when our team needs one defensive stop (under 7 seconds on game clock)?
Best defensive team to contain dribble penetration
Best rebounding team when the opponent goes big?
Best “Comeback” Defensive Team by trapping/presses creating havoc defensively?
Best zone defensive team to take away the opposition set offensive plays?
Be ready to match-up small to defend the opponent’s 4 or 5 man who can make three point shots,
Know and understand the concept of staying home on 3-point shooters on dribble penetration.
Know and understand how to foul on the catch before the shooter goes into his shooting motion
Be ready to sub out a key offensive scoring player who has four fouls and ‘sub In” a “designated fouler.” Teach the designated fouler that he is making a positive contribution towards winning. We are not trying to embarrass him.
Know/Understand that when the score is even or our team Is up one or two, we will early double team or create a running trap situation against the “star perimeter player” in the scoring area. Philosophically we are not going to let the star perimeter player beat us with a basket or create a foul. We are going to make him pass the bail to a lesser offensive threat. Also,as an alternative, we could play a zone defense on the last possession against the star player.
Know the score of the game and the time left on the shot clock and game clock.
Know the timeout situation for both teams
The Head Coach will tell the players the team foul penalty situation from both an offensive and defensive standpoint. The players will always know if we have a foul to give.
Know/Understand when to call timeout by a Player who is not involved with the ball when his teammate is in a bad disadvantage.
Who are the worst foul shooters in the game?
Who are the worst foul shooters not in the game in case of an injury situation. and the opposing team can choose the new shooter?

Friday, December 27, 2013


One of the things I enjoy most about social media is the opportunity to meet individuals that share the same interests that I do -- such as teaching.  It has been an incredible learning opportunity for me in terms of all that is being shared.  One such person that I have enjoyed a "twitter friendship" with is Jennifer Hoover who has an amazing passion towards teaching and education. 

I want to share an excerpt from her most recent blog post but will back track a little first.  One of may favorite quotes is the one above from Bruce Lee.  "Know is not enough, we must apply.  Willing is not enough, we must do."  It is a quote that I often share with players and teams and actually posted it on my Instagram account a few weeks on the day I shared it with this year's team.

It is also the basis for an outstanding post by Jennifer.  I am sharing a portion of it, but I hope you will read the entire post here.

Heard of the knowing-doing gap? It’s a term used in education and in business… it means sometimes we know things, but we don’t always do them. Having a positive mindset and belief system will help us to DO them and narrow or eliminate that gap.
Dr. Charles Garfield is a renowned researcher in the area of high- achieving individuals. One of the main things his research showed was that almost all peak performers are visualizers. They see it; they feel it; they experience it before they actually do it.
Affirmations are positive sentences that you repeat to yourself each day. Over time, you can change your mindset.
Steven Covey, in The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, says that a good affirmation has five basic ingredients: it’s personal, it’s positive, it’s present tense, it’s visual, and it’s emotional.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


Coach Mike Dunlap has a blog and it is a must read.  Please check it out here.

For example, here are some thoughts from Coach Dunlap on cutting down on your turnovers. 

1) Evaluate the "who" and the "what."

2) Look for patterns.

3) Addition by subtraction, which means either stop running the  "what" or take the ball away from the "who."

4) Speed kills-slow the car down.

5) Throw the pass you see not the pass you want.

6) What is in the mind of the passer must be in the mind of the receiver.


The secret of Bill Belichick success? Process-oriented -- one game at a time, one day at a time, one possession at a time, one play at time.  Here is an excerpt from an article by Ben Volin of the Boston Globe (you can read the entire article here):

I asked Belichick Monday if he has allowed himself to reflect at all on what an amazing season this has been for himself, his players, and his coaching staff. Belichick is famous for his “on to the next one” approach, but surely someone as well-versed in NFL history and machinations as he is could appreciate the success his team is having despite the obstacles.
“I don’t really think that’s what it’s about,” he replied. “We’re in a week-to-week business. We all see in the NFL every week that games that you think are going to go one way go another way.

“This game, this league is so even. All the teams are so evenly matched. Every team has good players, good coaches, good schemes, they work hard, they have experienced guys, they have guys that are explosive and playmakers.

“Every week we line up across from those challenges. If you don’t move ahead and meet the next one, if you sit back there and spend too much time feeling good about what you did in the past, then you’re going to come up short the next turn at bat.”

Monday, December 23, 2013


This will be our last post until following Christmas. We come off of Christmas with three games in seven days so the next few days I will be breaking down tape and squeezing in some Christmas shopping. Below is a motivational passout that Coach Dale Brown would mail out each Christmas. It speaks to our ability to teach...not teaching subjects (or plays)...but teaching students (and players) -- and there is a big difference. Enjoy and may you all have a wonderful holiday season!

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

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

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

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

It got to the point during the first few months that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold ‘X’s and then marking the ‘F’ at the top of the paper biggest of all.
Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, nobody else seemed to enjoy him, either.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her children brought her presents, all in gay ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy’s, which was clumsily wrapped in heavy, brown paper of scissored grocery bag. Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents and some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet, with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then four more years passed and another letter came.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


Got an early Christmas present from Coach Jeff Osterman from the University of South Florida -- a package of basketball clinic and reading notes!  Appreciate you Jeff (I'm easy to shop for).  Here is a sample of what he sent me which includes "insights" he shared at the National Junior College Athletic Association a few summers ago:

Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximize their own performance.  It is helping them learn, rather than teaching them.

"Talented people use their talents to better others." - KG

Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but what you should have accomplished by this point in your career.

Your idea may not be exactly God's idea, but I can promise you this: God's way will be better than your way.

Change your thoughts and change the world.

If anything goes bad - "I did it"...Semi-good - "we did it"...real good "you did it."

"If you don't see perfection, you can never reach excellence." -Don Shula

"A leader is a dealer in HOPE." -Napoleon Bonaparte

Adversity only visits the strong but stays with the weak.

Chose to be a fountain, not a drain.  A fountain is a diver, a drain sucks the energy out of a team.

The key to achieving greatness is not so much what you accomplish -- but what others accomplish with your assistance.

All I ever want to do is make 5 people play like 1.

"Start by doing what is necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible." - St. Francis of Assisi

A STANDARD is what you do ALL the time and EVERYONE holds one another to that STANDARD.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


The following comes from a blog post by Chris Hill, a former Texas Longhorn football player who played under Mack Brown.  This is an excerpt of his post and I truly hope you will take the time to read the entire post here because it is lengthy and incredibly well written. It is something that only coaches and players could know about and appreciate.  Here is a great passage on how Coach Brown felt about his players by discussing their future after a National Championship victory -- raising the bar for the rest of their life:

On the night of January 4th, 2006, I watched the most incredible athletic performance I’ve ever seen with my own eyes. I was a redshirted scout-team offensive lineman for the #2 team in the country. I had done all I could to prepare our first-team defense for what many considered to be the best college football team to ever play, the 2005 USC Trojans. You would have thought we were a 6-6 team they way ESPN talked about our matchup… Of all the talking heads I only know of 1 person that actually picked us to win the game, Lee Corso. 

That night I watched our team play their hearts out. Never give up. And fight like they had a slugger’s chance the whole 60 minutes. Vince Young played the best game of football I’ve ever witnessed. Seriously. That game is what every Texas fan remembers… Who could forget such an extraordinary sight?!? If those same story lines were played out in a movie, no one would believe it could happen in real life.

But I’m writing this to tell you that what happened on the field that night is not what made an impact on an 18-year-old Chris Hall. It wasn’t the last second touchdown Vince Young scored or the celebration in the stadium after… What has stayed with me these 8 years were the words Coach Brown spoke to us in the the locker room:
“Don’t let this be the greatest thing that ever happened to you.”
Coach Brown could have told us many things… Of course he congratulated us. Of course he was proud of us. He told us we were champions and that nobody could ever take that away from us. All those things were true. But he emphasized what was important. He knew the men in that locker room wouldn’t always be football players. So he told us to not let this be the best thing that ever happened to us. But to go on to be great fathers, great husbands, and great citizens.

Coaching football, in real sense, is not about winning games. It’s about investing into and shaping the character of young men.