Sunday, March 16, 2014


The following comes from John Maxwell's outstanding book, "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn."  It's a must-read for coaches and teachers.  The following will be a passout for our team tomorrow.

1.       Teachable People Have an Attitude Conducive to Learning
People with a teachable spirit approach each day as an opportunity for another learning experience. Their hearts are open. Their minds are alert for something new. Their attitudes are expectant.

Up to 85 percent of success in life is due to attitude, while only 15 percent is due to ability.

2.       Teachable People Possess a Beginner’s Mind-set

“An open mind is the beginning of self-discovery and growth. We can’t learn anything new until we can admit that we don’t already have everything” – Erwin G. Hall

As Zen master Shrunryu Suzuki wrote in the classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Three things in mind:

Everyone has something to teach me.

Every day I have something to learn.

Every time I learn something, I benefit.

3.       Teachable People Take Lone, Hard Looks in the Mirror

Novelist  James Thorn remarked, “Probably the most honest, ‘self-made’ man ever was the one we heard say: ‘I got to the top the hard way fighting my own laziness and ignorance every step of the way.’”

“Lord, deliver me from the man who never makes a mistake, and also from the man who makes the same mistake twice.” – William Mayo
4.       Teachable People Encourage Others to Speak into Their Lives

Write Peter M. Leschak asserted, “All of us are watchers—of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway—but few are observes. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing.”

“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have preferred to talk.” – Doug Larson

5.       Teachable People Learn Something New Every Day

The secret to any person’s success can be found in his or her daily agenda. People grow and improve, not by huge leaps and bounds, but by small, incremental changes. Children’s advocate Marian Wright Edelman said, “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
Author and motivational speaker Dennis P. Kimbro gives insight into this in a piece he wrote years ago:

"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward, or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half of the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed—you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done and after a few lessons, I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men; and alas, of all failures, as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures. Those who are great, I have made great. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine, plus the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin—it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am a habit."

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Improving with "baby steps" is nothing new.  But as coaches, do we do a good enough job of explaining and outlining this to our team?  Often, when looking at the need for improvement to get your team to the next level, it can often seem staggering when all that is needed is for each player to improve a little.  If you can get each player to buy in and improve a little in one phase of their game over the course of a season (or in the off-season), it can mean a dramatic improvement for your team.

An example would be you want to improve your ability to score.  The stat sheet shows you are shooting only 41%.  A conventional thought would be we need everyone to become better shooters.  But that is not always possible.  Your approach could be to do the following:

1. Get more shots for your best shooters
2. Limit shot opportunities for other shooters
3. Work daily to improve your transition game
4. Stress offensive rebounding
5. How can we get to the free throw line more?

Now if you improve ever so slightly in those five areas listed above, it could dramatically improve you ability to score.  It is a much more effective approach then pressuring your team to "make shots."

You can take this approach in wide variety of ways in regard to your team's play.

Here is an excerpt of an article written by James Clear titled: What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains

It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.

Almost every habit that you have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time.
And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change.

So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it. Whether it is losing weight, building a business, traveling the world or any other goal, we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about.

Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable). But it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run.

And from what I can tell, this pattern works the same way in reverse. (An aggregation of marginal losses, in other words.) If you find yourself stuck with bad habits or poor results, it’s usually not because something happened overnight. It’s the sum of many small choices — a 1 percent decline here and there — that eventually leads to a problem.

In the beginning, there is basically no difference between making a choice that is 1% better or 1% worse. (In other words, it won’t impact you very much today.) But as time goes on, these small improvements or declines compound and you suddenly find a very big gap between people who make slightly better decisions on a daily basis and those who don’t. This is why small choices (“I’ll take a burger and fries”) don’t make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term.


The following in an excerpt from an article on written by Dan Feldman:

Tom Thibodeau rides his players hard. He plays his starters a ton of minutes, asks everyone to defend physically and doesn’t tolerate loafing.

In many ways, Thibodeau seems more like a college-style coach than an NBA coach.

Of course, Thibodeau is an NBA coach with NBA players, some of whom have more power in the Bulls organization than Thibodeau. It’s an organizational structure full of landmines, especially with a potentially grating coach like Thibodeau.
How does he make it work?

Bobcats coach Steve Clifford, who worked with Thibodeau on Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks staff, sheds some light. Clifford, via Aggrey Sam of CSN Chicago:

“The big thing he taught me was about being what he called an effective assistant. A lot of guys can play coach. But he spent a lot of time talking to me about learning the NBA animal and trying to learn how to deal with players in a way that they will actually listen to what you’re saying so you can actually coach them instead of passing them the ball and giving them tips on their shot,” Clifford said. “One of the biggest things he always told me was don’t get into a conversation with an NBA player about a performance of their individual game unless you’ve rehearsed what you want to get accomplished in the conversation. And it’s really true, particularly with older guys who are proven and have played for a lot of different coaches. You have to be careful, for instance, the first time you work out a player. Look at our guys, the guys they’ve played for. A guy like [Bobcats veteran forward] Anthony Tolliver has played for five or six really good NBA coaches, plus a really good college coach. So if you think you’re going to walk on the floor and start throwing out things to them if you haven’t studied their game and have a clear plan of what you want to get accomplished in your time with them, then you’re not going to be effective.”


The following is an excerpt of an article from written by Michael Stallard. It is a lengthy article with incredible depth and detail on importance of communication and relationships and how Coach Mike Krzyzewski learned from his wife and daughters.  It's well worth it to read the entire article here. But here are some of the more important points that I took from the article:

Coach K’s perspective took a major turn when, having grown up in male-dominated cultures, he found himself outnumbered at home by his wife, Mickie, and their three daughters. Every night at dinner he observed how Mickie and the girls reconnected by sharing the details of their day, including how they felt about it.  Whereas guys cut to the chase in conversations, Mickie and the girls invested time each day.

He also observed how attuned Mickie and the girls were to how people felt.  Their intuition was  like radar.  Time and again, Mickie would sense when something was bothering one of Coach  K’s players.  She was nearly always right so he learned it was wise to follow up and ask the player if something was wrong.  Sure enough, something was always amiss and talking about the problem made the player feel, and play, better.  When he didn’t follow up, the player would be out of sync with the team and performance suffered.

Coach K’s “ah-ha” moment, his epiphany about the importance of connection and relationships, transformed his coaching style.  He began involving Mickie and his daughters in the Duke men’s basketball program.  The Krzyzewski women became, in military terms, a reconnaissance team to sense the state of relationships and emotions, and the sense of connection, community and unity among the team.  They thought of the boys as extended members of their family.  They hugged them.  (Hugs have been found to boost the trust hormone oxytocin.)  As Coach K became more intentional about developing the feeling of connection among the team, it helped produce superior results.

Consider a few of Coach K’s quotes that appeared in an excellent article from a few years ago:
  • “Almost everything in leadership comes back to relationships”
  • “When he recruits a player, Krzyzewski tells him, ‘We’re developing a relationship here, and if you are not interested, tell me sooner rather than later.’  That word — relationship — is one he uses frequently.  [He tells players] ‘If you come here, for however long, you’re going to unpack your suitcase.  We’re going to form a bond, and you’re going to be part of this family.’”
  • “Game day is not a day for long, drawn-out speeches.  It is a time for interaction.”
  • “Know their names.  You know what? Please and thank you go a long way.  You can be damn sure that every guy on my team says that.  The best way to get better as a team is if everyone has ownership, and if you do these things they will.”
The Connection Culture:  Vision + Value + Voice

The key to developing connection can be summarized in a simple, easy-to-remember formula: Vision + Value + Voice.  When members of a group of any size, from a basketball team to a business organization, share a vision that makes them feel proud, feel valued, and feel that they have a voice to express their ideas and opinions, it creates a connection, a bond, a feeling of unity or esprit de corps.  
In groups where connection is high, members give their best efforts (i.e. employee engagement) and they align their behavior with group goals (i.e. strategic alignment).  When times get tough, as they periodically do, groups with connection pull together rather than tear one another apart.  Connection is the force that differentiates a dog-eat-dog culture from a sled dog team that pulls together.

Duke’s men’s basketball has developed a sustainable competitive advantage thanks to Coach K and the lessons he’s learned from the women in his life. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


One of the things I learned early as a coach was that you truly get what you tolerate.  It was important that you had in mind that which you must accomplish to be successful and that you demanded the effort -- mentally and physically -- from yourself and those around you on a daily basis.  The most influential people in my life was my father and my junior high coach Allen Osborne.  Both were very demanding in their expectations of me.  I didn't always enjoy those moments when I was held accountable but I always respected them and now have a greater appreciation for what they were not only trying to accomplish at the time, but teach me for later in life.

The following are some thoughts in being demanding from Bob Knight in his book "The Power of Negative Thinking."

The key to consistent execution is to be demanding. The word demand is important in leadership success. Demand is a negative word, since it assumes a critical lack of action or production. The best teachers and the best leaders are the most demanding people I’ve known-intelligently demanding. Don’t demand of people what they can’t do. Demand what they can do.

Always remember that the people you lead are going to be satisfied with the minimum of what you demand. Maximum results come from maximum expectations-not unrealistic, but maximum. Tolerant people do not make food leaders. Successful leadership is being hard to please-and your players or employees or students know it. They will settle for what you tolerate. A great leader is an intolerant one.
It isn’t just you playing hard. It’s you making other guys play hard. I can’t do it all. You’ve got to demand to other guys that they have to play harder. You’ve got to get on these guys.

Recruiting was where demands had to start. I was often asked what was most critical to me in evaluating potential recruits. It’s a good question, but not one that fits into any formula.
First of all, I wanted players who were going to be the most difficult to play against, because of their athletic ability and the way I thought they could play defensively, learning and accepting my mistake-avoidance strategy. Then I thought about unselfishness. I also thought about skills. These kids were all good athletes, so their attitude was more important to me.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Pat Williams and his book "The Magic of Teamwork."
I absolutely love this!  It comes from

My competitors do more for me than my friends do. My friends are too polite to point out my weaknesses, but my competitors go to great expense to advertise them. My competitors are efficient, diligent, and attentive. They make me search for ways to improve my products and service. My competitors would take my business away from me if they could. This keeps me alert to hold onto what I have. If I had no competitors, I would be lazy, incompetent, and inattentive. I need the discipline they force upon me. I salute my competitors. They’ve been good to me. God bless them all.

Friday, March 7, 2014


I'm a big believer in the importance of your circle influence.  We talk about this with our student-athletes constantly.  But the same can be true of us as coaches as well.  This is an outstanding excerpt from Darren Hardy's "The Compound Effect" -- an amazing book that I highly recommend for all coaches:

Birds of a feather flock together. The people with whom you habitually associate are called your “reference group.” According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, your “reference group” determines as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.
Who do you spend the most time with? Who are the people you most admire? Are those two groups of people exactly the same? If not, why not? Jim Rohn taught that we become the combined average of the five people we hang around the most. Rohn would say we could tell the quality of our health, attitude, and income by looking at the people around us. The people with whom we spend our time determine what conversations dominate our attention, and to which attitudes and opinions we are regularly exposed. Eventually, we start to eat what they eat, talk like they talk, read what they read, think like they think, watch what they watch, treat people how they treat them, even dress like they dress. The funny thing is, more often than not, we are completely unaware of the similarities between us and our circle of five.

How are we not aware? Because your associations don’t shove you in a direction; they nudge you ever so slightly over time. Their influence is so subtle that it’s like being on an inner tube out in the ocean, feeling like you’re floating in place, until you look up and realize the gentle current has pushed you a half mile down the shore.
If you haven’t already, jot down the names of those five people you hang around the most. Also write down their main characteristics, both positive and negative. It doesn’t matter who they are. It could be your spouse, your brothers, your neighbor, or your assistant.

It’s time to reappraise and reprioritize the people you spend time with. These relationships can nurture you, starve you, or keep you stuck. Now that you’ve started to carefully consider with whom you spend your time, let’s go a little deeper.
I’m constantly weeding out my life people who refuse to grow and live positively. Growing and changing your associations is a lifelong process.


Thursday, March 6, 2014


Most know that success can create problems.  But few plan to handle the problems it causes.  Here are some great thoughts in this regard from John Maxwell and his book "Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn."

The biggest detriment to tomorrow’s success is today’s success. That problem can manifest itself in many ways. Here are the ones I’ve observed most often:

·         Been There, Done That: Some people hit a milestone, and they make it a tombstone. They get bored, lose their curiosity, and disengage. Don’t let that happen to you.

·         The Banquet Tour: When you succeed, people want to hear your story. However, there’s a real danger that you can replace doing with speaking. Consultant Gail Cooper advises, “When you win an award, set it up in the lobby and go back to work.”

·         Success Guarantees Success: Just because you can do one thing well doesn’t mean you can do all things well. When you win, maintain your perspective.

·         The Momentum Myth: People’s natural inclination after a win is to take a break. Bad idea. When you’re winning, capitalize on the momentum. You’ll be able to do things that might otherwise be impossible.

·         One-Hit Wonders: Have you ever known someone who was successful once-and is still living off of it? It’s a good idea to build off of yesterday; it’s a bad idea to live off of it.

·         The Entitlement Mind-Set: People who have something they didn’t win for themselves start thinking they are entitled to more. That’s why many inherited businesses go out of business. To keep winning, you need to stay hungry and keep learning.

·         Playing Not to Lose: After some people win, they become cautious and defensive. They worry about staying on top. Not wanting to do something stupid, they do something stupid; they focus on not losing instead of winning.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


It's not the first time and won't be the last but everyone should be following @JonGordon11 on twitter and certainly you've signed up for his email letter (click here and sign up in top right hand corner) -- incredible stuff to utilize with your team.  And all of us who have been impacted by Jon are excited for his newest book to be released in May -- The Carpenter.
Here is an example of what you can get from Jon's email.  It will be a passout for our team next week when we get back from the SEC Tournament:
1. Set the Example - Instead of worrying about the lack of performance, productivity and commitment of others you simply decide to set the example and show your team members what hard work, passion and commitment looks like. Focus on being your best every day. When you do this you’ll raise the standards and performance of everyone around you.
2. Use Your Strengths to Help the Team - The most powerful way you can contribute to your team is to use your gifts and talents to contribute to the team's vision and goals. Without your effort, focus, talent and growth the team won't accomplish its mission. This means you have an obligation to improve so you can improve your team. You are meant to develop your strengths to make a stronger team. Be selfish by developing you and unselfish by making sure your strengths serve the team.
3. Share Positive Contagious Energy - Research shows emotions are contagious and each day you are infecting your team with either positive energy or negative energy. You can be a germ or a big dose a Vitamin C. When you share positive energy you infectiously enhance the mood, morale and performance of your team. Remember, negativity is toxic. Energy Vampires sabotage teams and complaining is like vomiting. Afterwards you feel better but everyone around you feels sick.
4. Know and Live the Magic Ratio - High performing teams have more positive interactions than negative interactions. 3:1 is the ratio to remember. Teams that experience interactions at a ratio equal or greater than 3:1 are more productive and higher performing than those with a ratio of less than 3:1. Teams that have a ratio of 2:1, 1:1 or more negative interactions than positive interactions become stagnant and unproductive. This means you can be a great team member by being a 3 to 1’er. Create more positive interactions. Praise more. Encourage more. Appreciate more. Smile more. High-five more. Recognize more. Energize more. Read more about this at
5. Put the Team First - Great team players always put the team first. They work hard for the team. They develop themselves for the team. They serve the team. Their motto is whatever it takes to make the team better. They don’t take credit. They give credit to the team. To be a great team member your ego must be subservient to the mission and purpose of the team. It’s a challenge to keep our ego in check. It’s something most of us struggle with because we have our own goals and desires. But if we monitor our ego and put the team first we’ll make the team better and our servant approach will make us better.
6. Build Relationships - Relationships are the foundation upon which winning teams are built and great team members take the time to connect, communicate and care to build strong bonds and relationships with all their team members. You can be the smartest person in the room but if you don’t connect with others you will fail as a team member. (Tweet This) It’s important to take the time to get to know your team members. Listen to them. Eat with them. Learn about them. Know what inspires them and show them you care about them.
7. Trust and Be Trusted - You can’t have a strong team without strong relationships. And you can’t have strong relationships without trust. Great team members trust their teammates and most of all their team members trust them. Trust is earned through integrity, consistency, honesty, transparency, vulnerability and dependability. If you can’t be trusted you can’t be a great team member. Trust is everything.
8. Hold Them Accountable - Sometimes our team members fall short of the team's expectations. Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they need a little tough love. Great team members hold each other accountable. They push, challenge and stretch each other to be their best. Don’t be afraid to hold your team members accountable. But remember to be effective you must built trust and a relationship with your team members. If they know you care about them, they will allow you to challenge them and hold them accountable. Tough love works when love comes first. Love tough.
9. Be Humble - Great team members are humble. They are willing to learn, improve and get better. They are open to their team member's feedback and suggestions and don’t let their ego get in the way of their growth or the team’s growth. I learned the power of being humble in my marriage. My wife had some criticism for me one day and instead of being defensive and prideful, I simply said, "Make me better. I'm open. Tell me how I can improve." Saying this diffused the tension and the conversation was a game changer. If we're not humble we won’t allow ourselves to be held accountable. We won’t grow. We won’t build strong relationships and we won’t put the team first. There’s tremendous power in humility that makes us and our team better.

Saturday, March 1, 2014


If you want to impact the life of your players, you have to care about much more than their jump shot.  In fact, caring about them off the court -- in the classroom and with their personal lives will allow you to teach them better on the court.  During my coaching career, I had no better example of coaches that care beyond the court than Dale Brown.  The following gives you just a small look at how Coach Brown cares about his student-athletes with a story about his relationship with Shaquille O'Neal:

"His thing was - go to class, get your education," Shaq said as he introduced Brown as the recipient of the Colangelo Award. "I wanted to test his theory out, so one day I didn't go to class.  About 4:30 the next morning I felt the hand of God on my chest. I looked up, and it was Dale Brown. I still don't know how he got in my room, but he did. Then he ran me from about 4:30 to 7:30 - and then I had to go to class. I said, 'You know what -€“ I'll never miss class again.'"

That tough love eventually helped Shaq believe in himself and conquer many demons, including forcing the now popular commercial spokesman for several national brands to attend speech class.

"I brought him in and showed him his schedule," Brown laughed.  "He said, '€˜Speech class - c-c-c-coach - I don't want to be in speech class.' I said 'Well, you're going to be.' To show you how conscientious he is - the first time he had to give a speech, he came to my office and asked 'Can you shut the door and turn off the phones? Will you critique the speech for me?' So I did. Next, he wanted me to go to class. He had the highest GPA on our team, which most people don't know."

"The heart of a coach - at least my heart - is the relationship you have with players," said Brown.

The above is are excerpts from an article at Fox Sports and was written by Jennifer Hale.  You can read the entire article here.


The following comes from "Finding The Winning Edge" by Bill Walsh.  It's obviously directed towards the football position of quarterback but I've passed it out to our point guards down the years as well.  Any sport with player that is a central figure, play caller, or leader would benefit from this as a passout. 

Functional intelligence. The ability of a player to organize and isolate different categories of tasks that he must perform in a particular situation is commonly referred to as functional intelligence. This ability is the key to being able to instantly process information on in highly stressful situations.

Ability to learn. A quarterback must have the ability to develop and adhere to the proper mechanics for playing quarterback. For some athletes, the learning process will be intuitive—almost natural-requiring minimal effort on their part. For other individuals, the steps to understand and to ingrain these abilities will require more time and hands-on instruction.

Willingness to improve. An inherent willingness to improve and learn is vital to the developmental progression of a quarterback. With regard to the learning process, a quarterback must have a reasonable level of compatibility with the coaching staff and his teammates.

Good work ethic. Not only should a quarterback understand the proper mechanics for his position, he must also spend an appropriate amount of time working on them. The most effective approach in this regard is frequent repetitive practice.

Emotional stability. A quarterback must have the ability to handle the stress and pressures that occur during the game. He must be able to control his emotions to a point where he can think clearly, evaluate his options, and act rationally, regardless of the situation.

Leadership abilities. A quarterback should lead by example. In this regard, his performance during the game is crucial. While different quarterbacks will have different leadership styles, ranging from somewhat casual, not particularly demonstrative to vocal and very demanding, all successful quarterbacks exhibit the proper mind set, the necessary poise, and the absolute focus required for the position while on the field-characteristics which are often subsequently emulated by their teammates.