Friday, March 29, 2013


Yesterday I was exchanging some tweets with my friend Coach Matt Grahn and we were talking about Coach Ray Giacolleti whom Matt once worked for.  It reminded me of a Baden Clinic I attended in 2005 in which Coach Giacolleti and Don Meyer were some of the featured speakers.  Coach Meyer and I went to dinner that night with Coach Giacolleti and it was a wonderful learning experience for me to sit and listen to them both. 

Here are some of my notes from Coach Giacolleti that weekend:

Broaden your horizons to get better...send all your assistants to visit with someone.

More things we can do with our players off the court the better we can coach them on the court.

Coach Giacolleti created a "license to shoot" in which a player had to make a number of shots at a certain percentage before they were allowed to shoot them in a game.

Not better way to improve your program than to improve your skill level.

Pet peeve -- "free shooting"

Team will get better as individuals get better.

Game goals were done by the half:
     Hold opponent to 30 points
     Commit 6 turnovers or less
     10 free throws a half

When the made all 3 -- never lost
When they made 2 of 3 -- never lost
Even making 1 gave them a good chance of winning

Use officials in scrimmages -- dictate one day for them to call is soft and the next to call it tight.

"Termination Plays" -- what do you run when your original stuff doesn't get you a shot?

Thursday, March 28, 2013


"The lowest common denominator every performer shares is the execution of the next task.  What has happened and what might happen will vary with each athlete and each circumstance.  But the next task must be made: a block, a tackle, a pass, a pitch, a stride, or a stroke.  It is a universal truth within every game."

H. A.  Dorfman

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


A great read for coaches (and all people actually) is "Getting Over The Four Hurdles of Life" which is written by my friend and mentor Dale Brown.  I have actually posted about the book before including this post about the book summary.

The book, with an introduction from Shaquille has gotten great reviews and now the publisher is offering a "Springtime Special."  The book, which regularly goes for $17.95 can be purchased for $10 if you take advantage of the offer by the end of April 2014 -- and there are no limits on the number of copies you can purchase should you want to purchase them for your staff, team or family.

They can buy one of three ways:

a) Call the publisher's office at (800) 850-8851, Ext. 102

b) Send a check or credit card information to: Acadian House Publishing, P.O. Box 52247, Lafayette, LA 70505.

c) Order by e-mail,

When ordering please indicate “Springtime Special.”


This is our 7th installment from Billy Packer's book "Why We Win" in which he ask coaches of all sports for insight on their philosophy.

Could you talk about organization and time management?

John Wooden: I had three rules I always used in preparation. 1) You be on time. 2) You never criticize a teammate. That’s my job. 3) You never use profanity. If you vio-lated any of those three rules, then you didn’t get to practice that day.

Ara Parseghian: Every minute that you wasted between the time a game ended and the next game started was wasted time because you only have so much time in there.

Joe Gibbs: The whole time during that season, if I took two hours to do something, I always worried.   Pat Summitt: I think time management and organization are obviously critical in terms of how, as a coach, I manage my time and allow me to prepare and organize for play-ers’ time...A time-out is what, 60 seconds, maybe 90 seconds? I talk to my staff, organ-ization, my players about the need to understand how to position themselves on the bench, how to really listen.

Bill Walsh: If the players feel that you are using every minute on the field to preapre them to win or to compete, then they’re going to be willing to give you every minute of their time. But if there’s wasted, loose, lackadaisical moments there, the players lose their concentration and lose their appreciation for practice.


During a team meeting on February 27, 2000, Coach Majerus was obviously wanting more energy from his team.  Here are some notes:

Energy + Enthusiasm

We just ask you to play hard

Come out every game to compete mentally and physically

Charges to be had by all

Consistency of effort vs. Momentum


I was going through some of my John Maxwell notes (and I have tons) and came across a passout he authored on "Excellence" -- it is simply one of the best things I've read and we are making this into a passout to give our team this week:

"Excellence" may bring to mind unmatched performance, unusual expertise, or consistent high-quality performance.  In our minds, we often associate excellent with talent.  To be the best, surely you have to be gifted, right?  Experience has taught me that talent, while important, in no way explains excellence. In fact, the primary pathway to excellence has three main steps, none of which depends on talent.

"You are nothing unless it comes from your heart.  Passion, caring, really looking to create excellence.  If you perform functions only and go to work only to do processes, then you are effectively retired.  And it scare me -- most people I see, by age 28, are retired.  If you have to go to work only to fulfill the process and functions, then you are a machine.  You have to bring passion, commitment and caring -- that's what makes you a human being."
-Horst Schulze, Former President of Ritz-Carlton

People of excellence love what they do.  They have learned how to fuel the fire that keeps them moving.  How do you spot a passionate person?

1. They work with their whole heart
2. They work with undistracted attention
3. They work with maximum energy

"If people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it would not seem so wonderful at all." -Michelangelo

Passion won't take you anywhere unless you combine it with disciplined practice.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Outliers, studies success and discovers that innate talent has a lot less to do with excellence than does practice.  In face, he found that the successful people he studied (including the Beatles to Bill Gates) put in 10,000 hours of practice before making a big splash.  Nobody cruises to the top on natural giftendess along.  As Gladwell writes, "Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good.  It's the thing you do that makes you good."

"I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside of me." -Abraham Lincoln

We all could give examples of talented, charismatic people who sabotaged their careers by abandoning their values.  Passion and practice bring excellence, but character sustains excellence over time.  Absence of strong character eventually topples talent. People cannot climb beyond the limitations of their character.  Eventually the limelight of success brings to light the cracks in their integrity.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


I really liked this from

1. Your call and yours alone: Consciously choose the attitude you take to work this morning. (Bingo: Positive, enthusiastic—regardless of how you feel inside.)

2. Realize that each day literally offers up on a silver platter a dozen leadership opportunities, regardless of your age/experience/rank/seniority/status. (So grab ONE.)

3. Arrive early. Leave late. (Out work 'em ... it works.)

4. Listen aggressively: Formally practice and improve listening skills. (Effective listening = #1 long-term differentiator.)

5. Learn something new today. Meet someone new today. (Reside permanently on the edge of your discomfort zone.)

6. Cherish your boo-boos. (No screw-ups today = Abject failure to nudge ye olde envelope.)

7. Civil. Always. (Make it a religion.)

8. Unbidden, help someone with some[little]thing. (Make it a religion.)

9. Take a nanosecond to say "Thanks" for the tiniest atoms of helpfulness. (Make it a religion.)

10. Smile. (Make it a religion.)

11. Eye contact. (Make it a religion.)

12. EXCELLENCE. Always. (Excellence is not an "aspiration." Excellence is the next five minutes. Or not.)


After closing out the season last night with a tough loss in the NCAA Tournament, I took the time this morning to pick up the phone and call Don Meyer.  Needless to say 30 minutes late I was feeling a lot better.  It would be hard for me to come up with someone that has impacted our sport more than Coach Meyer.  Though his clinics, academies, teaching DVDs, and lectures, he has impacted junior high school, high school, college and professional coaches and players -- men and women.  His impact will be one for the ages as so many of us that have learned from him will continue to pass on the lessons he has taught us.

One of the things we talked about is his new website.  He completely revamped it and he is really proud of it.  There can be no great testament to what Coach Meyer stands for than the banner at the top of his home page: "The purpose of this website is to help develop teachers, coaches, and servant leaders."

The site is full of great information that coaches and players can use -- as well as those who want to improve their families and businesses.  There are videos of him speaking on a variety of subjects as well as a link to purchase any of his DVD's or books -- the best in the business.

There are two things about Coach Meyer that standout to me:

First, Coach Meyer is a continual learner -- he has an unquentionable thirst for knowledge.

Second, Coach Meyer is a continual giver -- he deeply believes with great passion that he was put on this earth to teach and to share and mentor.

And for that we should all be thankful!

Please take time to visit his website:


In anything important, there will be pressure.  Everybody feels it, but the toughest competitors react positively to that pressure.  Competitors want to be at their best under pressure, and but putting yourself in pressure situations as often as possibly, you are acclimating yourself to that pressure, and the pressure will be less likely to get in the way of your performance.

"We put our players in stressful situations all the time in practice, especially end-of-game situations," Tom Cream said.  "We put pressure on them, and we let them figure it out under great stress, together.  Did we work to get and take the right shot?  Did we do the tough necessary to get the right shot?"

From "Toughness" by Jay Bilas


Some great insight on some characteristic traits of a bad leader by Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D. in Cutting-Edge Leadership:

Inspired by some recent examples of bad leadership, I thought I would start a series of posts on bad leadership, and note some of the tactics used by "bosses from hell."

1. Use of Threats and Punishment
Punishment is simply a bad and generally ineffective leadership tactic. The goal of punishment is to STOP undesired behaviors. It does nothing to encourage positive, productive behaviors in employees. People who are punished, or threatened with punishment, feel resentment and want to get back at the source of the punishment.

From the leader's perspective, punishment is ineffective because it turns you into a "police officer," constantly on guard to catch any and all offenders (punishment is only effective if it occurs immediately and consistently after each violation).

Threats can only be effective if a boss is willing to follow through with the threatened punishment ("do that again and I'll fire you"). If unwilling or unable to follow through, then it will be seen as an "empty" threat, and the leader will lose control.

2. Use of Fear Tactics
Leaders sometimes use fear to try to get followers to toe the line, or as a motivational strategy ("if production doesn't pick up around here, people are going to lose their jobs"). Similar to threats, this strategy can often backfire. Fear can cause stress, and in extremes, reductions in performance and efficiency.

A common use of fear occurs when leaders create an "us versus them" mentality. We have seen this used by political leaders when they create an atmosphere of fear from threats outside of the group or nation (e.g., fear of unnamed terrorists; statements like "they are out to get us"). Fear can cause groups and organizations to "hunker down" and go into a self-protective mode that can stifle creativity and innovation.

3. Self-Serving Use of Power
How often have we heard the phrase "power corrupts"? Actually, power only corrupts when it is used for self-serving ends. Often leaders become "intoxicated" by the increased power that their position gives them. Bad leaders let that power go to their heads and do things that are in their own best interests without considering the interests of the collective.

Corporate leaders who ensure that their salaries and bonuses are secure, while freezing employees' pay or using layoffs to decrease expenses are recent examples of the self-serving use of power.

4. Creating Factions: Ingroups vs. Outgroups
Although there is nothing wrong with creating "A teams" of top performers, or favoring your best employees, there is a delicate balance between creating healthy internal competition and blatantly playing favorites. Bad leaders, however, reward ingroup members not because they are top performers, but because they show loyalty or "kiss up" to the leader.

Bad leaders cultivate their ingroups with favors, and that makes it difficult for outsiders to identify bad leaders, or for followers to dislodge the leader from the position of power. The ingroup followers defend the leader and work to keep him or her in power. Bad leaders often exist because their followers allow them to remain.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I am obviously disappointed and even angry with the firing of Tubby Smith at Minnesota today.  I rarely take a stand one way or another on such instances but Tubby Smith is one of the truely great guys in this business.  He is a role model for his players as well as all of us who coach.  He runs a clean program and stresses academic and personal growth of his student-athletes.  And he did an incredible job at the University of Minnesota.  Here are few of our past posts on Tubby regarding defensive play.

TUBBY SMITH: Defensive Principles
12 guidelines for Tubby Smith style defense

TUBBY SMITH: 4 Defensive Goals
What Tubby is looking for each defensive possession

TUBBY SMITH: 10 Keys to Good Defense
The components of good team defense


The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article on Coach Nick Saban and his belief in "the process" written by Greg Bishop -- you can read the entire article here:

“Well, the process is really what you have to do day in and day out to be successful,” he said. “We try to define the standard that we want everybody to sort of work toward, adhere to, and do it on a consistent basis. And the things that I talked about before, being responsible for your own self-determination, having a positive attitude, having great work ethic, having discipline to be able to execute on a consistent basis, whatever it is you’re trying to do, those are the things that we try to focus on, and we don’t try to focus as much on the outcomes as we do on being all that you can be.

“Eliminate the clutter and all the things that are going on outside and focus on the things that you can control with how you sort of go about and take care of your business. That’s something that’s ongoing, and it can never change.”

Saban added, “So it’s the process of what it takes be successful, very simply.”

The rest of his thoughts on The Process came out in other answers. Saban loves to explain how the greatest athletes, like Michael Jordan and Mariano Rivera, understand that the “last race doesn’t matter.” They focus on the next game, the next quarter, the next pitch or shot.

Saban pushes his Crimson Tide in much the same way. In the first meeting after Alabama won the national championship last season, he told the assembled they were not national champions. They may have played a title team, but this team was not that one.


I came across a great article on the internet on leadership by Paula Davis-Laack:

Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the privilege of coaching, teaching, and talking to thousands of leaders from varied walks of life. What I’ve noticed is that while most are successful on some level, a handful of them have that something extra. Their path hasn’t always been easy, and they’ve encountered numerous challenges, but this select group of leaders thrives both personally and professionally. Here is what they do differently:

1. They put relationships first. Successful leaders not only build networks, but they also nurture the connections they make. They make time for their clients and colleagues. They make time for people they mentor. They make time for their personal relationships. It takes a great deal of energy to keep connections thriving, but successful people are willing to put in the time and the effort. I’m reminded of a quote by Robert Martin that illustrates this point: “Taking an interest in what others are thinking and doing is often a much more powerful form of encouragement than praise.”

2. They know that meaning matters. In a recent Psychology Today blog post, I talk about the importance of incorporating meaning into your life, your work, and your business ventures. Many entrepreneurs, particularly millennials, are building their businesses around giving back and doing something that will affect the world in some way. Successful leaders know how their life’s work fits into a broader, more significant context.

3. They use humor. Successful leaders deal with tough stuff, but they fight back with humor. Early studies of humor and health showed that humor strengthened the immune system, reduced pain, and reduced stress levels. Since humor builds positive emotion, it can also help reduce feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety (McGhee, 2010). Additional research in this area shows that positive emotions predicted increases in both resilience and life satisfaction (Cohn et. al., 2009). What’s interesting is that the more stressful the situation, the more successful leaders tap into the funny side of life.

4. They lead and live with their strengths. Research by the Gallup Organization shows that the most effective leaders invest in their strengths, surround themselves with the right people to maximize their team, and understand their followers’ needs (Rath & Conchie, 2008). Successful leaders understand that they cannot be everything to everybody and remain effective; instead, they have a keen awareness of how to leverage their unique blend of strengths, skills, and talents.

5. They manage pessimistic thinking. Successful leaders reign in their pessimistic thinking in three ways. First, they focus their time and energy on where they have control. They know when to move on if certain strategies aren’t working or if they don’t have control in a specific area. Second, they know that “this too shall pass.” Successful leaders “embrace the suck” and understand that while the ride might be bumpy at times, it won’t last forever. Finally, great leaders are good at compartmentalizing. They don’t let an adversity in one area of their life seep over into other areas of their life.

6. They make their own luck. The concept of “grit”—perseverance and passion for long-term goals, is not new, but recent research has shed interesting light on the concept. Researchers studied an incoming class of cadets at West Point in order to better understand why certain cadets dropped out and others continued along the path of military mastery. What they found is that the group who stayed was not more athletic, well-rounded or smarter—they were grittier; in fact, grit was a better predictor of success for these cadets than IQ or standardized test scores (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007). Successful leaders pursue goals with passion, don’t back down from challenges, don’t allow a failure to define who they are as a person, and simply put, don’t quit.

7. They manage their energy. Jim Loehr, co-author of the Harvard Business Review article entitled, “The Making of a Corporate Athlete,” describes an ideal performance state as prolonged and sustained high performance over time. Successful leaders become adept at moving between energy expenditure (stress) and energy renewal (recovery). In order to get the energy renewal required to live and work in an ideal performance state, successful leaders know when to refill their tank. Burnout is a potential reality for people in high-stress professions, and successful leaders keep burnout at bay by knowing how and when to take a break.

Joel Baker said it best: “A leader is a person you will follow to a place you wouldn’t go by yourself.” What steps can you start taking today to make your leadership style a success?


I have often spoke of Mike Neighbors and his University of Washington email newsletter and will continue to do so -- if you are coaching you need to get on this mailing list.  A couple of times a month, Mike is putting out tremendous information like this drill I got from his last email.  To get on Mike's email list simply hit him up at  He'll be glad to add you.  Here is one of the drills he passed along:

One of the “necessary evils” late in a season is working with your team in 5-on-0 situations. I used to call it Dummy Offense but the high school principal at my school thought I was demeaning my players. Some people call it skeleton O, some call it Dry O, some call it shell O… regardless of what we call it, simulating your team offense without a defense is an important part of what we do.

A team’s ability to PRETEND in this situation has always been a good sign for us. If our players have the ability to simulate a defender in front of them requiring them to catch and square, to use short/violent fakes on their moves, to make crisp cuts/passes, and then finish with a move that mirrors one that might be taken in traffic at the buzzer… Not all players and teams can do this. Our best teams can… our worst teams can’t.

During this week between our Conference Tournament and the post-season, we had four practices in which we had no opponent to prepare for. It’s the first time that has been the case since late October.

To help simulate game situations in a competitive setting, we split our ten players into two even teams. Purple was up first. 3:00 on the clock… We told them they could score on any of our Dribble Drive options. The only requirement was that on the first five possessions each of the five players must be the player to attempt the first shot of the possession. After the first five trips, they anyone could take the first shot. A made three pointer was worth three points. A made two pointer was worth two points. If they first shot of the possession was missed, and they could rebound that miss before the ball hit the floor, they could shot from that spot and if made could earn 1 point. Coaches also could wave off ANY POINTS if the execution was incorrect or the effort wasn’t up to game like standards. At the end of the three minutes, Purple moved to the side where each player attempted a 1 and 1 FT to add to their First Period Score. Gold got their 3:00 under the same rules and then attempted their FT’s on a side goal as Purple began Period #2.

In Period #2, scoring and having all five players attempt first shot on possession remained the same. In this period, the team had to execute any of our Three Zone Motion actions. At the end of 2nd period, each player shot a 2 shot FT opportunity. Teams switch.

Period #3 was back to man-to-man actions from a chosen family of set plays. At the end of this period rather than shoot FT’s the team executed 5 bounds plays of their choice.

Period 4 was back to Zone using any of our set plays utilized against zone defense. At the end of the 4th period, each shooter had a 1+1 Free Throw… IF, they made both ends, they were rewarded with a 3rd free throw. This put extra pressure on that first shot.

We did this four days in a row, with a wide variety in the way we split the teams. Each day, the winner was determined during the last period’s FT’s. My point being, regardless of how we split the talent, the team and competitive nature of the drill made it very productive.

You could vary it to fit your offensive attack. You could vary the times to give more or less conditioning. You could vary the FT’s at the end of periods or eliminate them totally.

Some things we noticed:

· After the mandatory all five players shoot possessions, it was very telling who THAT team wanted to be taking their shots. (We had pretty substantial consequences for the teamthat lost!!!)

· Players from the team quickly pointed out to coaches if the team didn’t execute, or so-and-so didn’t pop her feet on the screen, etc .

· As coaches, if one team got a big lead we could manipulate the score a little by nit picking

· One day a team got particularly hot, so I simulated a BAD OFFICIAL, and started calling travels when it wasn’t even close. A player rolled her eyes… TECHNICAL FOUL… So that team quickly just played through it… It’s not always fair. It gives you a lot of control and variety. I really suspected after 4 straight days there would be some drop off of intensity and focus but I was wrong. In fact, the first day back after learning who we played next in post-season, a player asked me why we didn’t do Competitive 5-on-0 today…

Play around with it and let me know ways you tweak it with your team if you try it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Back in 2003 I flew to Columbus, Ohio to spend a couple of days with Coach Jim Foster. He was kind enough to open his program up and spend time with me discussing a variety of topics. I have always had a great deal of respect for Coach Foster back from his days at St. Joe's through his time where we competed against each other during his tenure at Vanderbilt. Over the next few days I will share some of the notes I took from our discussions.

First, why is she missing passes...bad eyes?...taking eyes off pass?...poor hands?
Medicine ball work is good for hands
A player with poor hands must work on it everyday.
Bad Pass Drill - player's back to passer...turns for catch on verbal call
Always stress 2-hand catches
A player with bad hands places responsibility on the passer as well.
Motivate poster by telling her she is "protecting the passer"

Coach Foster likes squats for post players to develop base
Use bench press position as a visual for players that only use one hand to post up.
Coach Foster: "We want you to post up like you bench press.  Can you bench press with just one arm?"

Breaks players into groups by position in the middle of practice for 15 minutes for individual work.

In 4 Player Workouts, Coach Foster will work 2 Post/2 Perimeter at times and other times keep the post players together...when post players are together, he spends a lot of time working on X-Out options.

For footwork, relies on strength coach for agility and on their own basketball specific drills for footwork.

Coach Foster is big on just having one coach responsible for Ohio State Coach Foster is the individual shooting coach...doesn't want different coaches giving different things to shooters to work on...lock in one area and improve it.
Coach Foster talks to players about shooting in 3rd person.
4 ways to miss a shot: short, long, off right, off left
Short & long are depth perception problems
95% of all misses to right or left deal with guide hand
The better the shooter, the more competitive you must be with her.


The first handout we gave to our team at the beginning of this season was on Coach K's "Next Play" mantra (you can see it at the bottom of this post).  We spoke to them not only in terms of having a Next Play Mentality in games, but in practice, in class and in life.  It was interesting to read Jay Bilas' thoughts on it in his book "Toughness."  The Next Play Mentality is part of understanding that process is more important than results because it is the process that leads to the result.  Here is what Bilas says about the Next Play:

When something happened in the game, positive or negative, we were conditioned by Coach K to immediately move on to the next play without concern over what had just taken place.  If we committed a turnover or made a costly mistake, he did not want us to react to the error.  If we lingered on the past play, perhaps we would miss an opportunity to get a stop or a steal or otherwise impact the game in a positive manner.  Essentially,by not moving on to the next play immediately, we would be compounding that mistake, either by making another or by missing an opportunity to make a great play.  Failing to move on to the next play was itself a mistake, because it took focus and concentration off of the current moment, the only point in time that we could do something positive to impact the game.

If we just reacted to the mistake by throwing up our hands, shaking our heads or cursing our failure, we would be making a bigger error -- one of omission.

For Krzyzewski, it is one of the best concepts in his coaching paradigm, and in his life.  "By moving on to the next play, concentrating and trying to move to the next thing, you have a better chance to be your best at that moment," Krzyzewski said.  "You have to be tough enough to move on, whether the last play was or crappy.  It takes real mental toughness."

Saturday, March 23, 2013


No on questions the importance of confidence in determining success.  But the roots of confidence are sometimes misconstrued.  People don't get it from fancy pep talks, or psychological string-pulling, or positive-thinking handbooks.  An organization's confidence level is defined, first and last, by its tangible performance.  Confidence is only born of demonstrated ability.

In my business, a team's collective mental state is ruled by the psychology of results.  In other words, past outcomes dramatically affect the group's attitude going into the next game..  A team teaches itself what it is on the field, in action.  Sometimes this can be a resource to the leader; at other times, you're fighting your darnedest to overcome it.

To keep his team on track, a coach must take this syndrome into account before the fact, and frame the most positive mind-set he can for his players.  (As Bear Bryant once advised me, "You better know what you're gonna tell 'em if you're winnin' at halftime, and you better know what you're gonna tell 'em if you're losin'.")  Coaches can't leave their teams to decide for themselves what's going on; they have to assert their influence, prepare their players for any results.

From "Finding A Way To Win" by Bill Parcells


The most important thing in good leadership is truly caring.  The best leaders in any profession care about the people they lead, and the people who are being led know the caring is genuine and when it's faked or not there at all.  I was a demanding coach, but my players knew that I cared for them and that my caring didn't stop when they graduated and went off to their careers.

I believe it's accurate to say that the most effective leaders have these things in common: the talent to create a sound strategy for their teams or businesses; knowledge of the important of recruiting good people who wish to improve their personal skills and believe in the companies' or teams' philosophy; understanding that whether they like it or not, they lead by example; belief in the importance of being light enough on their feet to adapt to changing conditions; and the ability to honor their commitments, admits their mistakes, and take responsibility for their failures.

It's also true that leaders in virtually all professions must learn how to compete.  While we talk with our players about the process and not about winning, that didn't mean we didn't want to win.  Winning was important to us, very important.  Leaders must know hoe to bring their teams back from defeat.

From the "Carolina Way" by Dean Smith


Teamwork was a prominent word in the vocabulary of Vince Lombardi. He wanted them to possess “selfless teamwork and collective pride,” which, as he said, would “accumulate until they have made positive thinking and victory habitual.”

1. “Teamwork is the primary ingredient of success.”

2. “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses or the complex problems of modern society."

From "Run to Win" by Vince Lombardi

Friday, March 22, 2013


Managers must know the people they manage, but as a team player you must know yourself, and by that I mean acknowledging your skills, your limits, and your potential.

Recognizing your own talents is crucial.

The successful ballplayer knows his strengths and skills, and he avoids fruitless attempts to be someone he isn’t.

Part of knowing yourself as a team player, therefore, is accepting your limits.

Stay within yourself.

Recognizing our limits can also be a way to recognize our strengths.

Most high achievers have a specialty.

Add knowledge of your own strengths to a maximum effort to improve, and you have a formula for success.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Here is a portion of an article written by Shawn Windsor of the Detroit Free Pass on Michigan coach John Beilein.  It is an excellent article and I strongly recommend that you read the entire piece here.

Cut to a scene Tuesday in Ann Arbor, two days before tonight's NCAA tournament opener against South Dakota State at the Palace and some 40 years after the days of dribbling by the family apple orchard. Beilein's team is practicing on the main floor of the renovated Crisler Center. Guards, wings and forwards are working on separate drills on different parts of the sprawling floor with eight hoops.

Assistant coach Bacari Alexander is teaching Jon Horford, Jordan Morgan and Mitch McGary how to position themselves to defend the post. Instructions are precise and repeated, as if this were a summer basketball camp.

Watching the coaches teach such basics is startling, considering the time of year and proximity to the Big Dance. But consider that slab of concrete in upstate New York: Beilein wasn't going to eat until he mastered a particular aspect of the game on any given night, and he wasn't going to let his team feast on the anticipation of the NCAA tournament until it relearned how to defend in the post.

"Did you see the Wisconsin game?" asked Beilein's assistant Jeff Meyer. "We got beat up down there. John's philosophy is: 'Before we move forward, we've got to try to fix this. It's got to be retaught.' "

And so even on the heels of a successful regular season in which U-M attained a No. 1 ranking and came within a few inches of a second consecutive shared regular-season Big Ten title -- Beilein spent a good chunk of Tuesday reminding his players how to dig into a post player and how to switch through screens and how to close out on a shooter on the perimeter.

"Sometimes the review is every bit as important as the initial (teaching)," Beilein said. "It's the old saying: 'Read a book once and instead of reading another book, read (the original) again.' "

Beilein is fond of review. Not just of games, but of practices, which are filmed, cut into 30 digestible nuggets, then fed to the players and staff.

"It's unique," said Meyer, who has coached college basketball for more than 30 years. "It's a divider. I don't know of anybody else who breaks down practice like this."

Or who prepares so thoroughly for it.

"For every minute we were on the court Tuesday, we spent that much time preparing for that practice, down to the minute," Meyer said.

Many coaches at major college basketball programs are meticulous by nature. Then there is Beilein.

"I remember the first time I watched a practice of his. I was taken aback with all the time he spent on passing," Meyer said.

Fire with backspin so that the shooter catches the ball in proper position; receiving a knuckleball is harder to aim. Beilein breaks down footwork in the same manner. And cutting. And pivoting.

"These are things that most young men don't know how to do when they get to college," Beilein said.

No passing phase

There is a reason the Wolverines average 9.2 turnovers a game -- fewest in the conference -- despite playing an up-tempo game within a philosophy that allows players offensive freedom. Part of this begins in the summer when Beilein teaches the snap pass and the arch pass and the chest pass and all those fundamentals. And part of this is because Beilein values skill. He recruits it. He nurtures it. He emphasizes it. This dates to his solitary ballhandling sessions on the slab.

Beilein's wooden board for X's and O's has become famous in the basketball offices. He loves to navigate the pieces in search of open floor space. No doubt the minicourt feeds his need for angles and geometry, something, he acknowledges, that satiates his meticulous nature.

Yet what separates him as a coach, at least according to those who have coached with him, is his love of skill. Though he arrived in Ann Arbor with a reputation as an offensive innovator or, as he likes to say, "as someone who likes to let big men chuck threes all day," his assistants argue the success begins much earlier.

"I always laugh when I hear about the offensive guru label," said Mike MacDonald, who coached under Beilein at Canisius and is now the coach at Medaille College in Buffalo, N.Y. "It's not so much the offense. It's him teaching how to pass and catch and dribble with both hands. He breaks (players) down as well as any coach in the country. He will break down the simplest type of chest passes. A lot of teams don't teach it. There is a base there."


Here are a few excerpts of an excellent article on Jim Crews written by Shane Ryan.  You can read the entire article here:

What Crews will talk about is the Saint Louis system. He's quick to downplay his own contributions, repeating over and over that he's simply had to step back and allow his players — the top eight in the rotation are juniors and seniors — to execute the system the way they've been trained. He even claims that the players know it better than he does, and that from time to time, he has to ask them questions.

And that's the Majerus imprint. He taught his players not only how, but why. According to Crews, this is Majerus's permanent legacy with this team, and the reason the system could keep working after he was gone. The players know the steps of the dance, but they also know the motive behind the steps. It's ingrained.

It was no coincidence that Crews didn't mention a single player's name until we were 13 minutes into our conversation, and it's no coincidence that I haven't mentioned one until now. They're a collective, one that Crews calls "quietly incredible."

"It's kind of a unique group the last few years in terms of emotion and leadership," he said. "Most teams that I've been around have had one or two guys at the forefront, leading, and we really haven't had that. It's just been a group leadership, with different guys at different times and different situations."


I came across this article last night on and was fascinated it about.  Brought back recollections of Coach Rick Majerus and his theory of "helicopter parents." You can read the entire article here.

Authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman have made a habit of slaying the sacred cows of parenting in their writing on child development. The pair made headlines two years ago in "NurtureShock" -- their first book together -- in which they criticized the way many parents choose to raise their children.

Bronson and Merryman have just released their newest work, "Top Dog." In two interviews, they shared some thoughts with me on strategies parents should follow to best ensure their offspring are (broadly defined) winners, not losers.

Q: You say parents have a common misconception about their role raising children. Can you explain that?

Bronson: Parenting is not just about safety and security. It's about expanding your child's comfort zone. For example, a child needs to know he or she is safe, but after that, it's OK for a parent to make their son or daughter feel unstable. Meaning, children have to get used to the frustration and jealousy that come from competition.

Q: What do you mean exactly?

Merryman: We have placed too much focus on the importance of comforting children.

There are still too many soccer teams that don't keep score and give trophies to every player. Kids aren't fooled when adults don't keep score. They know exactly who got what goal and who missed.

Q: Why is competition so important?

Merryman: Research says what makes an individual successful is the development of agency. Agency is that inherent belief in yourself -- the ability to have a vision and know you can go for it. The alternative is to look over your shoulder to get your friends' approval.

Bronson: Healthy competition also teaches kids to stand up for themselves. They learn to be vocal. They learn to be comfortable getting attention. When they can be successful, competition also teaches children to circumvent the desire to quit. These are all precursors to what happens when they get older.

Q: Not all children enjoy competition. Some kids shy away from it. What do you say to parents of these children?

Bronson: Parents can wire their children so they are ready to compete. One way is to make sure you never put your child in a competition they don't have a fighting chance of winning.

Merryman: Competition is not just about athletics. Competition could be a science fair or a spelling bee. In any competition, parents can help their children by asking them the right, open-ended questions: Do you need to work harder next time? What could you have done to produce a different result? The most important lesson for parents is to encourage their children to work through challenges in a problem-solving way.

Q: Finally, to raise a "Top Dog," what's the worst mistake a parent can make?

Merryman: Doing too much for your kid and protecting children from failure.

Bronson: Parents who think they're helping their children by keeping them safe from losing may be inadvertently creating kids who are less capable of competing as adults. Parents must allow their children to fail. Children should be given the opportunity to connect the dots between winning and losing and that winning takes effort.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013



A few days ago, I spent a good part of my tweets on some wise words from Pete Carril.  They come from his book "The Smart Take from the Strong."  Today I came across an old book review I did on the book and thought I'd share it.

An old school book by an old school coach. When one thinks of Pete Carril they obviously start with the Princeton Offense but it goes far beyond ball reversal to a back cut. Carril is someone who had been around the game on many levels from his dominance at an Ivy League school to taking his ability to teach in the NBA. He is a fundamentally sound coach that knows how to teach — and that is why he is respected on all levels.

This is a great book to read. Small in size but detailed in each paragraph. For the basketball purist it is a book that is simply impossible to put down. Carril shares his philosophy and holds no punches. Regardless of your system of play, this book is a must to own. You will be a better coach for reading it along with finding a great number of passages that you can share with your team.

Here are just a few words of wisdom we took from Coach Carril:

“Whenever two players or teams of equal ability play, the one with the greater courage and intelligence will win.”

“A very important part of my life is teaching. At some big-time basketball universities, the emphasis is on recruiting: ‘Let’s get a coach who can bring in talent.’ For me, the basic things has to be teaching.”

“When you teach basketball, it has its technical parts and its life parts. It has to be that way because it’s played by humans.”

“What you must realize is that you cannot coach without factoring in the human equation.”

“I take a look at a basketball player who’s got some innocence in his face, with eyes that are telling me he wants to be good and wants me to help him — that turns me on.”

“Three factors influence your behavior. One is the way you think about something. Two is that what you see is affected by the way you think. And three is that what you see affects what you do.”

"I believe you have to teach the whole...teach the specific skill.”
  “Overemphasizing winning is bad, but singling out winning as the most important thing you do is good, and you should do everything you can to prepare so you can win. Winning is the only objective measure for a team; all the rest is subjective.”
“Two words to avoid in teaching are “always” and “never.” There is nothing that happens a certain way 100 percent of the time.”

“Flexibility is the key.”

“A coach’s job is to put his team where it can function effectively and win. That’s more true with older kids where habits are well established than with younger kids, where the coach has to work on teaching them the fundamentals and how to develop the right habits. His other main job is to make each player better than the man he is playing against.”

“It’s in the best interest of a coach to make sure he is not spending three hours a day practicing things that don’t happen very much.”

“Our later offense wasn’t slow; it was judicious.”

“I want things to go right all the time every day. Winning is in the details.”

“The coach has to make sure that he is watching, and that he corrects every mistake, and doesn’t take any shortcuts.”

“Whatever you emphasize and to the degree that you do, you get better at it.”

“It’s results that count, and they should determine your principles.”

“It is a mistake we all make as coaches to think that there is only one way of doing something. There is not. Whatever works works.”

“When you explain a point to player X, the other players should listen so that they know about that point as well. There’s a tendency for players to believe that because the coach is talking to someone else, they don’t have to listen.”

“Wherever fast players go, they always get there faster than slower players.”

“As a player, you want to be good at those things that happen a lot — that cannot be overstated.”

How good is this book? The preceding passages were all taken from the first 33 pages of the book. Trust us...there is so much more on the next 170 pages — this is a must have book!

Monday, March 18, 2013


You can be a more effective communicator if you follow four basic truths.

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 Maxwell

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Back in 2003 I flew to Columbus, Ohio to spend a couple of days with Coach Jim Foster.  He was kind enough to open his program up and spend time with me discussing a variety of topics.  I have always had a great deal of respect for Coach Foster back from his days at St. Joe's through his time where we competed against each other during his tenure at Vanderbilt.  Over the next few days I will share some of the notes I took from our discussions.

Wants a stance that is low if the defender is playing behind...does not have to be as low when fronted.

Elbow bent at 45 degrees...both hands up

Teaches both hands up on lob to take push-off call away from official.

Wants feeder to see low post defender's head...throw the ball the posting player's hand opposite of the defender's head...if you can't see the defender's head, then throw the pass directly at the posting player's head.

Only utilize bounce passes to baseline when poster has a leg-lock.

Coach Foster likes high-low action vs. aggressive defense...does not like lob from wing...wants lob to come from high post feeder.

Teaches post player to act like they are battling for the lob from the wing when they are in fact creating space for the lob when the ball is pass to the high post.

1. Sikma Move (Reverse Pivot)...great move for LP trapping
2. Jump Hook
3. Up and Under...counter to jump hook
4. Drop Step...middle of the lane w/leg lock

Ohio State teaches post players to catch and look middle...looking to the middle is BIG in their philosophy...see more of the floor...see more of the defense...trap will almost always come from high post area or weakside player attacking the high side of the poster.

Coach Foster: "Biggest mistake players make is that they hurry and don't read."