Wednesday, February 27, 2013


“Top people have very clear goals. They know who they are and they know what they want. They write it down and they make plans for its accomplishment. Unsuccessful people carry their goals around in their head like marbles rattling around in a can, and we say a goal that is not in writing is merely a fantasy. And everybody has fantasies, but those fantasies are like bullets with no powder in the cartridge. People go through life shooting blanks without written goals—and that’s the starting point.”


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

• Once you have a plan, you must sell it to the players. It is not enough to put it on the blackboard and say, “Okay, here it is.” You have to convince the players that the plan is a good one and show them, in specific ways, why it will work. If you do, you send them out to the practice field with more confidence.

• As you are in private, so you will be in public. Given enough time, the public and private persons always merge.

• People will respect you more, not less, when you take a stand for what is good and right and live consistently according to your moral values.

• If you are loyal to your people, they will give you 120 percent effort.

• The best way to bring out the best in people on your team is to lead by example.

• Understand that real success is achieved through a team effort.

• I think having a relationship is important—being able to talk to guys, having a real concern for them and their future. To me, that’s the best approach. Players seem to feel that your job as a coach is to help them to be the best they can be. So, I think having a personal interest in them is crucial, and the way you show that is crucial.

• Look for players with character and ability. But remember, character comes first.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


There are, basically, three kinds of people: the unsuccessful, the temporarily successful, and those who become and remain successful. The difference is character.

The core of integrity is truthfulness. Integrity requires that you always tell the truth, to all people, in every situation. Truthfulness is the foundation quality of the trust that is necessary for the success of any business.

Steven Covey says that the key to earning the trust of others is to be “trustworthy.” Imagine that everything that you do or say is going to be publishes in the local newspaper.

A key part of trustworthiness is to always keep your promises. You should give promises carefully, even reluctantly, but once you have given a promise, you must always follow through on that promise.

From "How The Best Leaders" Lead by Brian Tracy

Thursday, February 21, 2013


These come from some old Nike Clinic notes when Coach Sampson was at Oklahoma:

How do you want your team to win a game?

These people are not allowed to have a bad practice
          Point Guard
          Best Player
          Head Coach

2 things a player can control

Everything has to be relative to something

Nothing has ever been taught until it's learned;
Nothing has ever been learned until it's taught.

Practice w/Bubble to work on rebounding -- great teaching aid

Best teams don't always win -- toughest teams usually win.

You give your team permission to be average if you allow your best player to take the day off.

Never penalize effort -- reward effort.

You might not be the best offensive team but you can be the offense that cuts the hardest...find something important to emphasize.

Transition Defense -- talk is critical...not important that you know, important that your teammates know.

Most coaches let up in practice after the first two weeks.

Doesn't matter if you closeout on the high-side or the low-side -- whatever is comfortable for you as a coach -- but make sure you players know how and why.

Good defense (man or zone) starts with transition defense.

In your community...
          ....find an ex-coach
          ...invite him/her to practice
          ...involve them
          ...make them feel a part
 day you will be that ex-coach

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Thanks to LSU Sports Information Director Bill Martin for tweeting this article from Golf Digest last week on Michael Jordan.  Here are a few excerpts, but you can read the entire article written by MJ and Craig Bestrom here.

1. Focus on the little things. During my basketball career, I always told myself to focus on the little things because little things added up to big things. I equate making putts with making free throws, and my biggest mental challenge shooting free throws was in my second year, 1986, when I came back from a foot injury for the playoffs and had a 63-point game against Boston in the Garden. I had to make two free throws to send the game into overtime, and all I focused on was the basics -- I'm not gonna be short. I'm gonna extend and reach for the rim -- all the fundamentals that I had worked on at home and at practice for all those years. Golf is no different. Don't assume, for example, that any putt is good. Make sure you putt every three-footer with conviction.

And keep score every time you play. I do.

2. Have total confidence in what you can do. If you have 100 percent confidence that you can pull off a shot, most of the time you will. I'll never forget the time I was playing with Seve Ballesteros in Valencia [Spain]. It was just a fun round, but very competitive, of course. Seve misses a green, and his ball ends up right up against a tree. He has absolutely no backswing, and I'm thinking he's out of the hole. Next thing I know, Seve's on his knees with some kind of iron in his hands, and he's choking down all the way to the hosel. He chips this thing, and it bounces onto the green to a few feet, and he makes par. Unbelievable!

3. Don't think about the prize; think about the work. At my basketball camps every year, I award the kids shoes if they make a certain number of free throws or if they complete an around-the-world or something like that. But I always tell them that if they're thinking about the prize, they should be thinking about the work. Prepare, practice and perfect it. Do the work, and the prizes will come.

4. Keep it simple. There are a lot of correlations between basketball and golf, especially on the mental side. Whenever I played a big game, I tried to stick to things I knew I was capable of doing. I do the same in golf. I've seen Tiger hit that stinger, and I know it's doable for me, too, but it isn't a shot I've practiced much. Why would I try that in the heat of the moment?

5. Control your emotions until the round is over. Celebrating during a round can be a good thing if it inspires you to keep doing great things. But be careful not to overdo it. Sometimes, celebrating too much adds pressure and makes you feel like you've got to live up to it the rest of the round. Worse, your celebrating can motivate your opponent. My enjoyment doesn't come until the round is over. Most of the time, anyway.

6. Use tough losses for motivation. Turning negatives into positives has always worked for me. I think back to when I was cut from my high school basketball team as a sophomore. That was the biggest disappointment of my sports career, but it only made me work harder.

7. Competitors always want to have something riding on the outcome. It isn't the amount of money, it's something to keep the focus at its highest. Whenever I meet people, they always have this idea that I like to play for big money. My line is always: I play for whatever makes you nervous. That's enough to give me a competitive edge. It could be five dollars. It could be 10. It could be a shirt in the pro shop. It doesn't have to be for $500,000 or a million. Sometimes it might be enough if we're just playing for pride.

8. I love trash-talking, and there's an art to turning it into a competitive edge. Trash-talking is a means of (1) giving you confidence, and (2) taking your opponent's mind off what he's trying to do and putting a little more pressure on him. I don't talk trash to demean people.

I don't talk about their parents or any of that. But I do love talking trash no matter who I'm playing. President Clinton is the only U.S. president I've played golf with, and I talked trash with him, too. Why wouldn't I? Talking trash, especially with someone like that, is giving him a better understanding of who I am. He wants to experience what it feels like to hang out with Michael Jordan, and that's me.

I enjoy moments like that. I love competitiveness. So why would I do anything less?

9. Nervousness is not a bad thing. I was nervous a lot of times before games. The key is, does that nervousness go away once the ball is thrown up because of your preparation and your routine. Once the game got started, I was back in my routine.

Golf can work the same way if you put in the work to prepare. Yeah, you're going to be nervous on the first tee, but all it takes is one good shot, and that nervousness goes away.

10. Learn from Tiger's competitiveness. We'll never really know which of the two of us is more competitive.

He plays golf, and I played basketball. But he'll do anything to beat you.

One day we were playing with a friend of mine, Jacob Brumfield. He played pro baseball [with four major-league teams] in the '90s. Jacob was so trash-talking Tiger that when we got to the 18th hole, Tiger told him he'd play every shot on that hole from his knees and Jacob could play normal. Now that is confidence. That's the kind of stuff I'd do in basketball.

Monday, February 18, 2013


One of my original mentors in the game of basketball is Marianne Stanley.  During my early years of coaching I worked her summer basketball camps at Old Dominion.  In fact, I was good for two weeks for about nine years in Norfolk.  Marianne ran a great camp -- it was a teaching camp -- because she is first and foremost a teacher.  She is one of the greats of our profession that have fought to get our game where it is now.  That's why Sunday was such a special day as she came by to observe our practice.  Marianne is currently an assistant coach for the Washington Mystics and is doing her homework for the upcoming draft. 

She took the time to talk to our team about elements that go into taking your game to the next level and the word that came to the forefront is passion.  You have to be passionate about your profession to excel in it.

She also took a few minutes to pass on a conversation she had had with Coach John Wooden.  Many years ago she was asking Coach Wooden about what made Bill Walton such a great player.

"He didn't get bored with the repetition that you need to be great," replied Coach Wooden.

How many players are good but don't work at something long enough and hard enough to excel at it?  The word Marianne used was "mastery."  She said the great ones didn't mind the constant repetition because their goal was to master the parts of their game.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


1. Simplify Your Message. Communication is not just what you say. It’s also how you say it. Forget about impressing people with big words, or complex sentences. If you want to connect with people, keep it simple. Napoleon Bonaparte used to tell his secretaries, “Be clear, be clear, be clear.”

2. See The Person. Effective communicators focus on the people with whom they’re communicating. They know it is impossible to effectively communicate to an audience without knowing something about them.

3. Show The Truth. Credibility precedes great communication. There are two ways to convey credibility to your audience. First, believe in what you say. Second, live what you say. There is no greater credibility than conviction in action.

4. Seek a Response. As you communicate, never forget that the goal of all communication is action. Every time you speak to people, give them something to feel, something to remember, and something to do.

From "The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader" by John C. Maxwell

Friday, February 15, 2013


During my tenure at LSU we had something each year we referred to as the "Dedication Game."  We would pick a game each year, usually late in the season, and have our team individually dedicate that game to someone.  It was a very emotional event.  We would sit in a circle in the locker room and each person in the circle would tell the team who they were dedicating the game to and more importantly why.  Each answer was very unique and personal.  Tears always flowed.  Not only did we have a powerful motivational force for our next opponent but more importantly, we learned something deep about each member of our team.  As we are doing this, we would pass a basketball around and you had to autograph the name of the individual that you were dedicating your effort to -- also that night, you had to write a letter to that person explaining that you had selected them and why.  As you can imagine, this was a special process to go through.  Often the person would be deceased -- yet the letter would be written.  The autographed basketball went with us everywhere.  If were on the road a player had to carry it.  It went to pre-game meals, was center of the locker room floor for pre-game speeches and even had a seat on the bench with us. 

We always played with great emotion for those games. Having someone or something other than yourself to play for can be transformational.

Later, when Nick Saban became the football coach at LSU, we learned that he talked to his team about this same process but went beyond a single game.  For Coach Saban, he would ask his players, "Who's your 68? The passage below was taken from Nick Saban’s book “How Good Do You Want To Be?” It was something that he constantly talked about to his National Championship team at LSU -- and I'm sure his ones at Alabama:

“Who’s Your 68?”

Dr. Kelvin Elko is a world-renowned sports psychologist who has worked with numerous NFL teams and Fortune 500 companies. I have had the pleasure of listening to him talk on several occasions, and one story always sticks out in my mind. Dr. Elko was talking about playing and working with passion, not just for the glory or for money. In the long run, he said, having that flame or passion will allow you to succeed and be happy. He gave the example of superstar NHL player Jaromir Jagr, who wears number 68. Why 68? In 1968, the Soviet army invaded the nation of Czechoslovakia. In the chaos, Jagr’s grandfather was jailed. While imprisoned, he fell ill; he died shortly after his release. Jagr had not yet been born, but learned all about his grandfather from family members. He has since dedicated his playing days to his late grandfather and wears 68 to remind him of what he is playing for — what conviction really means.

“So what is your 68?” Dr. Elko asks. It is a fair question. Each of us has a 68 inside, that thing that stirs our passion, that keeps us committed even when we face adversity. It shapes our convictions. Perhaps your 68 is a family member or a time or place or even a burning desire to prove something to someone.

For me, my 68 is my grandfather G.E. Hartney.  He more than anyone else inspired me with sports.  I rarely played a game during my youth that he wasn't there, always staying after and critiquing my performance.  It started at an early age and continued through my coaching career.  My conversations with my grandfather are some of my most cherished memories.  He would never hesitate to bring out my shortcomings of my performance but he was also my biggest supporter. 

During a Senior Babe Ruth weekend series when I was 18, we played a game on Saturday afternoon.  I wasn't prepared to play.  I had an error at first base and some poor at bats.  My grandfather would always sit in a lawn chair down on the first base line.  After the game I made my traditional stroll to him.  He told me the honest truth.  He said he could live with the error and the poor cuts at the plate but he was disappointed in my effort.  That cut me like a knife.  We had a game that next afternoon as well and I begged him to come back, that I would play the game the way it was supposed to be played.  He promised he would. 

Later that night my mom informed me that they had to take him to the hospital, he was having some trouble breathing.  Yet the next afternoon when I stepped to the plate I looked down the first base line and there he was sitting in his lawn chair.  Needless to say my effort was much better.

In 1989 as an assistant coach for Dale Brown's LSU Tigers, we were fortunate enough to win the Southeastern Conference.  And per collegiate tradition, we received SEC championship rings.  I had my grandfather's initials engraved in the basketball on the ring -- "GEH."  I gave the ring to my grandfather -- I wanted it to be a token of my appreciation for all that he had done for me.

Many years later, when my grandfather passed away, my mother was cleaning out his apartment and found the ring in an envelope with a note saying he wanted me to have it back now.  I have been blessed as a coach to be a part of 6 Final Four teams -- and have received 6 beautiful Final Four rings.  But the ring I wear is that SEC Championship ring.  Each morning I put it on with my grandfather's initials facing my heart.  Each morning I think about my grandfather -- and more importantly use it to jump start my day, thinking what kind of coach would Paw Paw Hartney want me to be.  He is my 68.

My friend Tori Collar, the daughter of one of my former players Nancy Peele, has a 68 this morning as she lost her younger brother Bobby yesterday.  It is Tori and Bobby pictured above. In fact, I am dedicating this blog post to my grandfather and Bobby.  The best monument you can build to someone you've loved and lost is in the life you live.  That's why I know Bobby's life will be remembered in a very special way -- because of the one that Tori will live.  Tori and I will keep our 68's close to our heart and more importantly they will continue to motivate us from above.

The circle of life is amazing.  My grandfather, a welder by trade, actually welded a tossback and some weight machines for Nancy to utilize when she was playing for me.

So, who's your 68? And what are you doing on a daily basis to honor them?

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Here are some, offensive notes from early January 2000 as part of our "Season With Majerus" series.

Mikan Drill: rotate shoulder (11 & 12 release) -- "climb ladder w/trail leg"

Major turnover in the low post -- pulling out on the pass

"Look to the moon" -- not the baseline
          -see the cutters better
          -see shooters better
          -see double teams better

"Point toes to the ball" on post feed

Same angle feed is difficult

Lob -- don't throw it to the post players -- throw it to the rim

Post players must be selfish
          -Selfish posting
          -Selfish coming off screens
          -Selfish hitting the offensive boards

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


From my favorite Jon Gordon book, "Training Camp":

There is no such thing as an overnight success. Too many believe in the fantasy that superstar athletes, actors, musicians, doctors, Olympians, and others were born that way or simply stumbled on their success overnight. After all, the best of the best make what they do look so easy that people either think anyone can do it or that there are those who are chosen to do it. This myth is perpetuated by the media. On television we see the successful person performing his craft. We see the concert, the movie, the computer program, the presentation, the game, the play, the miracle surgery, the lecture, the Nobel Prize, the latest discovery, or the Olympic event. We see the end result—the outcome—but what most of us don’t see are the countless hours of sweat, toll, dedication, practice, and preparation that lead to greatness. The golf champion practiced thousands of putts before hitting the one to win the U.S. Open. The tennis champion hit a million backhands before winning Wimbledon. The rock star sang for countless hours before reaching stardom. Technology designers spent thousands of hours to create new and revolutionary products that make our lives easier. The teacher spent a career preparing and practicing ways to better connect with and teach her students before winning a teacher of the year award. The symphony practiced thousands of hours to create music that brought the audience to tears. And the sales team spent a year preparing for the important meeting that landed their biggest client. The ideal of the overnight success is a myth. Just as the Olympian must train for years for one defining race, you must wake up each day and practice, prepare, and train to be your best. Don’t settle for mediocrity, but strive each day for excellence. It requires hard work, preparation, and hours of effort, but it’s worth it.

So if you want to be great you have to commit to a challenging process of preparation. “He’s right,” Coach Ken added. “Yesterday I told you that you had to be willing to pay the price. Well, that price is paid with countless hours of hard work on the field and off the field. In fact, most of our time is actually spent preparing off the field, and it’s not always fun. It’s the same way with every aspect of life. I call it the Game-Day Principle. Five percent of a person’s life is made up of our performance on game day, while 95 percent is made up of the time we are preparing, practicing, and waiting to perform. Think about it: We spend two hours on the field each day for practice and three hours, tops, during game day, and yet we spend thousands of hours in the weight room, training in the off-season conditioning during the week, studying film, memorizing playbooks, the list goes on. The fact is, how we practice and prepare with 95 percent of our time determines how we perform on game day. It requires thousands of hours of practice, dedication, hard work, and focus.”


A. Get to your spots quickly before the person taking the ball OOB gets to the ball

          1. Lets the coach see if it is zone or man.

B. The person taking the ball OOB needs to take their time getting to the ball.

C. Signals – Head, Hips, Knee, Shoulders

D. Use signals and words to distract the other team.

E. The play will begin when the ball is handed to the person taking it OOB. Not on the slap

F. Everyone set up with your hands on your knees

          1. Does not allow the defense to get into you.

          2. Gives appearance of being tired ( Actor)

          3. Gets you low to begin the play

          4. Eye contact is better then any play (See)   G. Attack the Attacker. Do not let the defense rest.

          1. No set up

          2. No numbers called for plays

          3. Keep the defense moving. Do not let them entrench themselves.

H. If you see that the person you want to pass it to is denied, dribble at them and they should back cut.

I. A hard cut is equal to a good screen

J. Rules for offense

          1. Catch and see

          2. Finish your cut

          3. Help someone out


"Players should think about three things when closing out: do not let the dribbler turn the corner, do not give up the rhythm shot, and disrupt the offense."

-Dick Bennett


The following comes from a Sports Illustrated article by Michael Rosenburg.  I got a kick out of the five stages because I think as coaches we can all relate.  It's a lengthy and well-written on Coach Tom Izzo and you can read it in it's entirety here.

"I'm a little confused where we are, but I've been confused all year," Izzo said, after his team improved to 21-4. "I was a little amazed we were 20-4, if I'm honest about it."

Izzo is confused every year. This is part of his charm, and a big part of his greatness. Every season, he goes through the Five Stages of Izzo. He doesn't mean to do it. He can't help himself.

The Five Stages are ....

1. Optimism -- Izzo is optimistic in October and early November. The Spartans are either favorites (meaning they have players who have won big) or underdogs (and Izzo, a short guy from a small town, loves being an underdog), but either way, Izzo says, "I'll tell you what, I like my team." I always feel it is appropriate to nod, even though I know what is coming next.

2. Concern -- This comes after an early-season loss or two, Izzo blames himself for overscheduling, bemoans a lack of practice time and worries about injuries, but says he still likes his team, and the Spartans will be OK, as soon as they get past the brutal schedule, the lack of practice time, and the injuries.

3. Confusion -- This often comes after a great win and a bad loss, back-to-back. Izzo wonders: Why isn't his team consistent? Why doesn't winning doesn't mean enough to some of his players? He is confused, he'll tell you. But he still thinks tomorrow will be OK, except hang on folks, because we're heading into ...

4. The World Is A Terrible Place And Why Are We Even Alive? -- At some point in January or February, Izzo will rant about any and all of the following: toughness; injuries; the Big Ten schedule; the media favoring Michigan; the media favoring the ACC; the media favoring how today's players are coddled; cell phones, text messages, camera phones and any other technology invented since 1987; how recruiting never really got easier for him, despite his success; some random lousy player from an opposing team who somehow played great against Michigan State; leadership; and the depressing reality that Mateen Cleaves ran out of eligibility in 2000. Izzo loves Cleaves, not just because Cleaves was a great player who won the national title, but because together, Cleaves and Izzo willed Michigan State to prominence. Izzo's son's middle name is Mateen.

5. Success -- This comes in March. Nobody in college basketball has gotten his teams to play their best in March like Izzo. A few others have won more, but only a few, and they all had more talent.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013



The following comes from the book "Practice Perfect" by Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway and Katie Yezzi .  It speaks of a reporter, Barry Svrluga who followed Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins around to obverse preparation and practices.  It shows that Coach Shanahan believes in the importance of mental practice as well as physical and utilizes the mental to set up the physical.

As Stephen Covey wrote: "Habit 2 is based on imagination--the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation. The physical creation follows the mental, just as a building follows a blueprint. If you don't make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default. It's about connecting again with your own uniqueness and then defining the personal, moral, and ethical guidelines within which you can most happily express and fulfill yourself. Begin with the End in Mind means to begin each day, task, or project with a clear vision of your desired direction and destination, and then continue by flexing your proactive muscles to make things happen."

What strides do you take to help your players and staff visualize what you want accomplished? 

Here is what Coach Shanahan does with the mental preparation of a physical practice:

"Wednesday and Thursday practice are preceded by walk-throughs -- rehearsals for what will happen in practice."  The coaches have mapped out a script -- sometimes 40 pages long -- of the players they intend to use.  Then before the practice, they bring the whole team to rehearse the practice they have scripted, walking through to check that everyone knows where he needs to be and when, and to ensure that the plans on paper translate into the practice they are looking for on the field.  Questions that might arise from translating the written script to the playing field are answered; explanations of the next steps or the next moves are made during this time.  The team comes to practice ready to use each moment doing -- improving and inscribing success rather than talking about what they are doing.


The following is an excerpt by Mike Robinson for Swish Appeal.  You can read the entire article here.  There are two sides to this story that I liked.  First was the "process-oriented" approach from Coach Muffet McGraw who doesn't worry about the result of a possession but all the details involved in said possession.  Second, was the fact that Kayla McBride trusted her coach to accept the teaching part of the game.  It's made for a great combination for Notre Dame.  Here is part of the story:

While her physical talents are immense and obvious, it’s her mindset that sets her apart -- it has made her the special player that she has become. In today’s culture of "Me, Myself and I", McBride is the polar opposite; she’s always willing to listen even if it’s a tough critique from Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw -- a woman that McBride laughingly calls "intimidating." A prime example of that came after their upset of UConn, which reverberated around the women’s basketball world; McGraw made it a point to say something to her star junior after the game.

"Front row on the plane and coach - I just scored 21 points and had my career-high - and coach was like, ‘K-Mac, have you watched the film?’," said McBride. "And I was like, ‘No, coach why?’ She’s like, ‘You need to box out.’ It’s not even about what I did on the offensive end; it’s about the little things. It’s about that competitive (edge); she doesn’t want anybody to get more rebounds than us.

"She doesn’t care what the score was and that’s why she’s very intimidating: she isn’t looking at the made baskets, she’s looking at me missing box outs."

Many players might have brushed off such an assessment, figuring the coach was being too "picky". However, instead of doing that and basking in the moment of her performance, she actually appreciated that observation by her coach. That willingness to listen, to be a student of the game on a consistent basis, has helped mold McBride into the player she is today.

"She just pulls everything out of you, even when you don’t want to do it; she’s going to pull it out of you," McBride said. "That’s something I admire about Coach McGraw so much. Because she makes me get better -- and I respect that, she sees my potential. It’s just that fire and competitive nature (that she has)."

One consistent theme is that McBride, who by nature has myriad wonderful traits - fun-loving, charismatic and humble - also has a couple attributes that she has and admires in others: competitive nature and paying attention to the little things.

Monday, February 11, 2013


The following "How Poor Leaders Become Good Leaders" was written by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman for the Harvard Business Review.  You can read the entire article here.  HBR is a great resource for coaches (leaders) with some amazing articles.

Using 360-degree feedback data over a 12- to 18-month period, we were able to track what, exactly, the leaders who'd made the most significant progress were doing. We found that practically all of them (more than 80%) significantly improved their ability to executive nine particular leadership skills.

They improved their communication effectiveness. This was the most common skill that these people improved. Communication skills are highly malleable. For many of these leaders, improvement here was less about learning new skills than about using the skills they already had more often and with more people. (When we talk to groups of leaders and ask, "Who here communicates too much?" we see very few hands rise.) We have also found that when struggling leaders spend time improving presentation skills, the effort can produce an immediately payoff.

They made an effort to share their knowledge and expertise more widely. Poor leaders tend to be stingy with information and know-how. By sharing their knowledge more frequently and teaching people what they know how to do they can simultaneously impress and develop their direct reports.

They began to encourage others to do more and to be better. Some leaders believe that if they minimize challenges to their team and expect less of their people, subordinates will see them as better leaders. This is wrong! Fewer challenges is the opposite of what a work group or organization needs. When leaders challenge their direct reports to do more and be better they thought they could be, the leaders are actually perceived to be better themselves.

They developed a broader perspective. It's easy for leaders to become preoccupied with work demands and internal politics and become oblivious to what's happening in the outside world. Getting leaders to stop and look at the bigger picture can help them see potential problems sooner and focus more on strategic and less on tactical issues. This leads to constructive change and innovation.

They recognized that they were role models and needed to set a good example. It frequently happens that leaders unintentionally (or unknowingly) ask others to do things they don't do themselves. This never works. Many of our 71 leaders were surprised to discover that they were perceived as hypocritical. They learned to walk their talk (or at least to "stumble the mumble").

They began to champion their team's new ideas. Many of our 71 leaders were also surprised to learn that their teams considered them to be the "Abominable NO man (or woman)." When they shifted from discouraging new proposals to encouraging and supporting innovative ideas and thinking, positive changes occurred.

They learned to recognize when change was needed. More generally, our successful leaders were those who learned to willingly support and embrace change, and encourage others to do so, as well. How? Essentially, by becoming more proactive — that is, by doing a better job of spotting new trends, opportunities, and potential problems early.

They improved their ability to inspire and motivate others. Practically all of the actions we've already mentioned create a more inspirational environment. In addition, there were two notable things these leaders did to inspire others. First, they did a better job keeping people focused on the highest priority goals and objectives. Second, they made a special effort to stay in touch with the concerns and problems of their teams. When a leader is the last to know that an employee is having difficulties, others interpret that as a lack of concern. Providing support and assistance to an employee in difficult circumstances not only helps that employee, but also reassures others they can expect to receive the same treatment.

They began to encourage cooperation rather than competition. Many leaders come out of school believing that work is a zero-sum game that creates winners and losers, and so they compete, in an effort to get ahead. Battles are costly and consume a great deal of resources. In the long run, internal competition causes every participant to lose. When leaders look for ways to encourage cooperation and generate common goals, they become more successful.

As you review this list of what our bad leaders did to improve, we believe you'll agree that what we are describing are common virtues that had not been practiced commonly enough. Our data show that taking these steps are especially effective in increasing the success of leaders who've been formerly regarded as poor, but they can improve all leaders. To us, that means that everyone — bad leaders, average leaders, and even good leaders — can change their spots. So, what's holding you back?


Thanks to Zak Boisvert, the assistant coach for the Iona College men’s basketball program for passing this article along.  Zak puts out a great newsletter and you can sign up for it by emailing him at:

This is an excerpt from Forbes written by Jason Belzer titled: "Why Butler Basketball Holds The Key To Organizational Success" -- read the entire article here -- it's worth it.

Almost 100 years ago, the legendary Paul “Tony” Hinkle began what would become a legendary half century reign over the Butler athletics program and community. A true renaissance man, Hinkle accumulated an incredible 1060-800-16 record over the course of his career coaching the Butler football, basketball and baseball teams. While the future “Wizard of Westwood”, John Wooden, was still perfecting his jump shot as a player up the road at Purdue, Hinkle was performing his own wizardry, leading the Bulldogs to two national titles and a reputation as “Big Ten Killers”. Even then, the small school from a small Midwest city was slaying giants.

The impact Hinkle had on the Butler program goes beyond just wins and losses. Under his leadership, Butler developed not only the first true culture of success in sports, but among modern day organizations as we know. Hinkle passed down his teachings to his coaching proteges and players throughout the years, the programs culture propagating into all aspects of the Butler community. Barry Collier, former head coach and now athletic director of the Bulldog program, eventually formalized the program philosophies by creating five pillars collectively called, “The Butler Way”:

Humility – Those who humble themselves will be exalted;

Passion – Do not be lukewarm, commit to excellence;

Unity – Do not divide our house, team first;

Servanthood – Make teammates better, lead by giving; and

Thankfulness – Learn from every circumstance

The principles that make up The Butler Way are not uncommon to coaches or business leaders. What is different is that Hinkle and those that followed him have not only lived this philosophy themselves, but built the program with fellow coaches and players who already embodied those same beliefs. College basketball teams, not unlike successful corporations, are organizations that compete to attract the top talent in their respective fields. In many cases, with the best talent also comes the biggest egos and organizations can quickly fill to the brim with toxic superstars. Rather than be like most leaders who attempt to forcibly install a “for the greater good” culture in which the individual exists below the team, Butler has instead recruited players who are already willing to sacrifice maximizing their own self-interest for the ultimate goal of winning as a team. Players can thus devote themselves entirely to playing their role without being biased towards shifting any particular situation towards an outcome that favors only them.

The Butler Way has always begun with a collective determination to conduct oneself appropriately in all circumstances. All Butler team members and coaches are required to promote the program’s culture by doing the following:

Living our core values;

Placing the well-being of our teammates before individual desires;

Embracing the process of growth; and

Demonstrating toughness in every circumstance

Yet the Bulldog’s success is more than just principles, but rather resides in the life blood of the very players who join the program and help perpetuate every positive thing the Butler name stands for. Butler’s Associate Head Coach, Matthew Graves, has been a part of the Bulldog basketball program for over two decades as both a player and a coach. Graves is the living embodiment of this very concept.

“We have talented players but even greater teammates. Everyone is consumed with embracing the core values our program while also making sure to enjoy the process of getting better everyday”, said Graves, adding, “Everyone involved with the program becomes firmly rooted by those values; it makes it easy for us to distinguish the type of player who shares our vision and goals.”


Thanks to Coach Kyle Adams of Cheyney University for sharing this:

“I still think the most important aspects of coaching are CREDIBILITY, TRUST, and COMMUNICATION. If you have those things going for you in football, you’ll win. And if you have them going for you as a business executive, you will win, too. They are the fundamental building blocks to success in any field."

-Marty Schottenheimer


In 2008, Pat Williams, the GM of the Orlando Magic and a tremendous motivational speaker put out a book, "The Ultimate Coaches' Clinic." It is a fascinating book because of the style Pat utilized. He surveyed over 1000 coaches and administrators for insights to what is important to successfully do their job. It is a great book to own and I highly recommend it. Here are some thoughts from one of my heroes -- Kay Yow.

Your attitude is the key. Keep up your enthusiasm and optimism through the tough times.

Never criticize your players publicly.

Preparation and hard work are important.

Deal with your players with love and truth. That is how you win their confidence.

Help your players believe in themselves. Without confidence, people can’t perform.

Nobody follows a leader with just words. They hear it, but they must see it too. Then you’re in business. The leader sets the tone. A leader is a role model.

Friday, February 8, 2013


The following comes from a blog titled "In Focus."  This partilucar post is written by Tyler Bradstreet.  It's a very lengthy post and well worth you clicking here to read it in it's entirety and he goes into the different variations that create practices and how each are specific towards important.  Here is a short excerpt of this post:

Practice makes perfect – this means that the more you practice, the better you will become. If you want to become great, then you should practice as much as possible. “See how fast you are getting better at hitting the baseball? Practice makes perfect.” To practice is to do something regularly. Perfect is the best you can be. Practice makes perfect means that the way to become the best is to practice often. “Do you know how a player like Pete Rose gets to be so good? By taking rounds and rounds of batting practice every day. Practice, practice, practice! Practice makes perfect.” Practice makes perfect is said to encourage people to keep practicing so they will become better at what they are doing. “Come on kid, do it again! I want to see you getting this right. Practice makes perfect!”

However, is this really the case? There is the rule of 10,000 hours, which states that in order to reach elite “expert” status (such as collegiate and professional athletes) 10,000 hours of sport-specific experience (e.g., practice; performance), or roughly ten years, is necessary (Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Römer, 1993).

But, my question is…..

Are all practices equal? Is player X’s 10,000 hours of practice the same as player Y’s 10,000 hours?

What’s more effective – A player who goes out at practice for 2 hours and throws the ball around, takes a round of batting practice, fields a few ground/fly balls and heads home….OR…. A player who goes out for an hour and fields game-situation ground/fly balls and throws from his position and takes batting practice incorporating game-situations? I’ll take the latter.

This second example leads me into deliberate practice – practice that is effortful, highly structured, organized, and direct toward extrinsic goals and rewards (Colvin, 2010). In order to be most effective, practice/training must be structured in a systematic and purposeful manner. So, how do we deliberately practice? The following paragraphs will provide the most effective ways to practice.


"Life is very simple, but keeping it that way is very difficult."
-John Maxwell

The following comes from "The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth" by John Maxwell.  I think they are three key points when creating a game plan or making teaching points to your team.

1. Can it be received personally? A profound implication -- it must be internalized and transform the soul of the leader.

2. Can it be repeated easily? Simple application -- it must be passed on after only a brief encounter.

3. Can it be transferred strategically?  A universal communication -- it must be passed on to all cultural contexts.

"The secret is found in simplicity."
-Neil Cole


The following comes from "Your Greatest Victory" by Ken Rohlf:

Magic Johnson, was, without question, a great basketball player.  Although his legacy as a player is certainly remarkable, his smile made him stand out in a way that few people can.  Magic's smile is real.  It lights up any room he enters and makes people feel good.  Larry Bird says, "I always get this good feeling when I'm gonna see him because he makes you feel good.  He really does.  He's unbelievable.  I mean, if he walk in her, this whole room would change."  Magic Johnson, plain and simple, energizes everyone with whom he comes into contact.

Do you have a Magic Johnson on your team?  Not in terms of a skill set of course, but attitude -- an energizer.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Everyone that follows Coach Don Meyer knows of his addiction to the dictaphone. He carries it 24/7, constantly talking into it to give him reminders of how to improve his players, his team and himself. He used it at practice, games and everywhere away from the court at anytime a thought of relevance comes to him. Many of us, including myself, now own one and utilize it as well. In July 2008, while speaking at clinic in Baton Rouge, Coach Meyer was kind enough to let me borrow two years worth of his dictaphone notes. You see, each night he sits down and transcribes what he has recorded into a spiral notebook.  A few years back I shared some of Coach Meyer dictaphone thoughts in my blog from the 2007-2008 season.  For the next few months, I will share some from his 2008-2009 season at Northern University.  Please also check out his new website here.  Here is segment #1:


The following comes from the book "How The Mighty Fall" by Jim Collins:
Teams on the Way Down

• People shield those in power from grim facts, fearful of penalty and criticism for shining light on the harsh realities.

• People assert strong opinions without providing data, evidence, or a solid argument.

• The team leader has a very low questions-to-statements ratio, avoiding critical input and/or allowing sloppy reasoning and unsupported opinions.

• Team members acquiesce to a decision yet do not unify to make the decision successful, or worse, undermine the decision after the fact.

• Team members seek as much credit as possible for themselves yet do not enjoy the confidence and admiration of their peers.

• Team members argue to look smart or to improve their own interests rather than argue to find the best answers to support the overall cause.

• The team conducts “autopsies with blame,” seeking culprits rather than wisdom.

• Team members often fail to deliver exceptional results, and blame other people or outside factors for setbacks, mistakes, and failures.

Teams on the Way Up

• People bring forth unpleasant facts—“Come here, look, man, this is ugly”—to be discussed; leaders never criticize those who bring forth harsh realities.

• People bring data, evidence, logic, and solid arguments to the discussion.

• The team leader employs a Socratic style, using a high questions-to-statements ratio, challenging people, and pushing for penetrating insight.

• Team members unify behind a decision once made and work to make the decision succeed, even if they vigorously disagreed with the decision.

• Each team member credits other people for success yet enjoys the confidence and admiration of his or her peers.

• Team members argue and debate, not to improve their personal position, but to find the best answers to support the overall cause.

• The team conducts “autopsies without blame,” mining wisdom from painful experiences.

• Each team member delivers exceptional results, yet in the event of a setback, each accepts full responsibility and learns from mistakes.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The following comes from a Wall Street Journal article written by Rachael Bachman.  Many wonder what the secret of success is for Alabama football and Nick Saban.  I have blogged often about his "process-oriented" approach to teaching and playing.  But the bottom line is still his tremendous work ethic and that of his staff.  If the most important part of your program is the people you have, than recruiting must be priority.  We all hear coaches talk about it "being the life-line" of a program but do they approach it every single day as the top priority. 

I was told once that when he was at Kentucky that Rick Pitino and his staff met each and every day, first thing in the morning, to go over recruiting.  I was told that if you were to contact a player the night before you had better got it done -- no excuses.  You better have the phone number to his parents, his girl friend, his coach, his assistant coach, his friends -- anyone you might need to track him down on that particular night. Coach Pitino was also quoted as saying "real recruiting occurs after they say 'no' to you."

During my tenure at LSU on Dale Brown's staff, we had the "War Room" which is designated for recruiting and video breakdown.  Dale was intensive in how we contacted recruits as well down to the letters and notes we sent out -- to the recruit, his parents, his coach, his principal, his counselor -- anyone that we considered to possibly be in his "circle of influence."  In fact, Dale would travel to a school and make sure he got the name of everyone he came in contact with that day.  That might include a math teacher...a guidance counselor...the custodian in the gym...the cashier at the Dairy Queen -- and when we got back to Baton Rouge he wrote a short hand written note to each.

Here is what Bachman discovered about Saban and recruiting from Paul Finebaum:  

Perhaps the Crimson Tide's boomerang success with  (Rueben) Foster should come as no surprise to most of the college-football world, which has watched Alabama win three of the past four national championships.

"I talked to an Alabama assistant coach Sunday morning fairly early," Finebaum said. "I said, 'Where are you?' He said, 'Where do you think I am? I'm at work.' We were talking about coach (Nick) Saban, and he said, 'He is the hardest-working recruiter I've ever been around and it's no different today than it's been over the years.'"

Finebaum said Alabama even has a "situation room" dedicated to recruiting.

"No one is allowed in there other than key personnel," Finebaum said. "There's a board of every player for four years, their grade-point average, where they're leaning—any nuggets of information. There's not a day in the year, other than two weeks in the summer when coaches are off, when they don't go into that room and look at that board and talk recruiting." An Alabama spokesman confirmed there is such a room.