Wednesday, February 17, 2016


The following comes from one of the best books I've read on developing and maintaining a successful culture in your program.  "How to Build and Sustain a Championship Culture" was written by Jeff Janssen and it certainly needs to be a book in your personal library.  Below, Jeff discusses the differences between rules, expectations and standards of behavior:
“In developing teams, I don’t believe in rules. I believe in standards. Rules don’t promote teamwork, standards do. Rules are issued by a leader to a group, and the group can either follow those rules or break them. When something is presented as a rule, you can’t own it. You can’t live it. Standards, on the other hand, are lived. This is what we do all the time. These are the things for which we hold one another accountable.” –Coach Mike Krzyzewski
“I approached the building of the 49er organization with an agenda that didn’t include a timetable for a championship or even a winning season. Instead, I arrived with an urgent timetable for installing an agenda of specific behavioral norms-actions and attitudes-that applied to every single person on our payroll…” –Bill Walsh
“When your team completely embraces the standards that define you, you will begin to see those standards manifested in a shared pride that is reflected in everything you do.” -Coach Mike Krzyzewski
·         Rules - Rules do seem too rigid and they are often imposed from above
·         Expectations - Expectations, on the other hand, can be too soft.
·         Standards of Behavior -Standards of behavior, however, seem to find that effective middle ground between rules and expectations.

Saturday, February 13, 2016


The following comes from a press conference by Nick Saban before the game this past season with Auburn.  It was interesting to note that with Alabama's talent, Coach Saban knew the key was energy (which I believe comes from a combination of preparation and focus) and consistency (which comes from strong goals keeping you centered).  Especially late in the season when the season has become a grind:

"The number one thing is that the players need to understand the level of energy that goes into a game like this and you have to anticipate that and don’t let it take you by surprise,” Saban said. “The second thing is you have to be able to stay focused on what you need to do on the field, and at some point and time in this game you are going to have to be able to overcome adversity because everything is not going to go your way. How you respond to those things and play the next play is really important to being consistent, which is really important in a game like this.”

“Consistency has always been the issue with our team — to be able to play at a high level at a consistent basis,” Saban explained. “In this day and age, it doesn’t really matter what you did last week. You are only as good as your last play, only as good as your last game so how you play this week is the most important thing.”

Friday, February 12, 2016


The following comes from the book "How Champions Think" by Dr. Bob Rotella.  It's a great read the importance of the mind and our thoughts in helping or hindering us succeed: 

Exceptional people seem to seek out cues that in most people would trigger a bad habit and use them as a tool to reinforce good habits. Some people would look out the window and see rain and think, “Well, I guess I don’t have to practice golf today. I can play a video game.” An exceptional person would see the same rain and go out to practice, relishing the opportunity to improve his ability to cope with wet grips and squishy ground underfoot. He’d see it as a chance to get a practice advantage over rivals who would take the day off. Someone who wants to be exceptional at basketball sees a snowfall as an opportunity to shovel off the court, practice, and get better on a day when her peers and potential rivals will be inside, not getting better. An exceptional person who’s into fitness and a healthy diet will relish the chance to go to a banquet, which is the sort of occasion that cues a lot of people to drink and eat too much. The exceptional person sees it as a chance to demonstrate, if only to himself, the power of his will. He takes pride in doing things average people will not do. And pride is one of the rewards that reinforces a good habit.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


I'm taking the time to catch up on a little reading before game time and one of the places I love to go is  It is an amazing resource of information.  I came across the following article written by Henry Cloud.  While it certainly can benefit anyone, it really made a lot of sense for us in the coaching profession.  You can read about 10 Things Successful People Never Do Again here but below is the abbreviated list:

1. Return to what hasn’t worked. Whether a job, or a broken relationship that was ended for a good reason, we should never go back to the same thing, expecting different results, without something being different.

2. Do anything that requires them to be someone they are not. In everything we do, we have to ask ourselves, “Why am I doing this? Am I suited for it? Does it fit me? Is it sustainable?” If the answer is no to any of these questions, you better have a very good reason to proceed.

3. Try to change another person. When you realize that you cannot force someone into doing something, you give him or her freedom and allow them to experience the consequences. In doing so, you find your own freedom as well.

4. Believe they can please everyone. Once you get that it truly is impossible to please everyone, you begin to live purposefully, trying to please the right people.

5. Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit. Once successful people know they want something that requires a painful, time-limited step, they do not mind the painful step because it gets them to a long-term benefit. Living out this principle is one of the most fundamental differences between successful and unsuccessful people, both personally and professionally.

6. Trust someone or something that appears flawless. It’s natural for us to be drawn to things and people that appear "incredible." We love excellence and should always be looking for it. We should pursue people who are great at what they do, employees who are high performers, dates who are exceptional people, friends who have stellar character, and companies that excel. But when someone or something looks too good to be true, he, she, or it is. The world is imperfect. Period. No one and no thing is without flaw, and if they appear that way, hit pause.

7. Take their eyes off the big picture. We function better emotionally and perform better in our lives when we can see the big picture. For successful people, no one event is ever the whole story. Winners remember that – each and every day.

8. Neglect to do due diligence. No matter how good something looks on the outside, it is only by taking a deeper, diligent, and honest look that we will find out what we truly need to know: the reality that we owe ourselves.

9. Fail to ask why they are where they find themselves. One of the biggest differences between successful people and others is that in love and in life, in relationships and in business, successful people always ask themselves, what part am I playing in this situation? Said another way, they do not see themselves only as victims, even when they are.

10. Forget that their inner life determines their outer success. The good life sometimes has little to do with outside circumstances. We are happy and fulfilled mostly by who we are on the inside. Research validates that. And our internal lives largely contribute to producing many of our external circumstances.


The following comes from "Above the Line" by Urban Meyer.  It's one of the best books I've read in recent years that I believe could help a young coach in developing a philosophy to build a program.  The chapter on culture alone is worth the price of the book.  Here is just a portion from the section to let you know how much culture means to Coach Meyer:

Remember, leadership isn't a difference maker, it is the difference maker.

Performance cannot be declared.  It must be lead.  Great results are initiated and sustained by great leadership.  Not just leaders at the top, but leaders at every level.  Leadership is the triggering factor in the Performance Pathway.

Leaders = Culture = Behavior = Results

Ironically, some coaches are so preoccupied with pushing for results that they fail to build a culture that sustains the behavior that produces results.  But winning behavior will not thrive in a culture that does not support it.

As a leader, you are responsible for creating a winning culture that drives behavior and produces winning results.  It's not someone else's job.  It's your job!

Exceptional leaders create a culture that engages hears and minds, energizes action, and executes with discipline.  When that happens, the number and wins follow.

Culture eats strategy for lunch.  Talent, schemes, tactics and plans cannot replace a strong culture.  A great culture can make even a mediocre strategy successful, but a weak culture will undermine even the best strategy.  The foundation of culture is core beliefs.  Not platitudes or quotes.  Core beliefs.  The beliefs that are the heart of the team.


The following comes from the book "Resilience" by Eric Greitens.  He speaks of how children can often be more resilient than adults but that sometimes, in the way we raise them, we can lessen their ability to handle adversity by trying to shield them from it.  In coaching, a popular term has become "helicopter" parents because they hover over their child and try to eliminate any and all obstacles in their path.  The problem is that life is full of obstacles and that success is based on our ability to overcome them.  Here is what Greitens writes:

Generally speaking, children have a greater capacity for resilience than adults. This is not just because they are younger. And it is not just because they have different bodies or more supple brains. It’s because, in my opinion, adults have forgotten how to fail.
If you’re growing, you’re likely failing. If you’re not failing, you’re not likely growing. 
·         (And one caveat here: I’m not really sure that many American children today are more resilient than adults. When we swaddle our kids in bubble wrap, keep red ink off their school papers to spare their feelings, rush to pick them up every time the fall, don’t let them climb trees, and give them trophies for everything they do-we have stopped letting them fail.)

The prospect of a new adventure promises a confrontation with our inadequacies and failings. Adventure can throw our comfortable sense of self into doubt.
“And happiness… what is it? I say it is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing or that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.” –John Butler Yeats

To begin again does not mean that we start something new every day. That is not to begin, but to bounce. Nor does it mean that we abandon what we learned at each new beginning. But if every few years we dedicate a part of ourselves to a new endeavor, we find that we are again disciples, and that the habit of beginning is renewed. We are reminded of how we grow, we are reminded that we can grow, and we are reminded of how we profit from growth.


Or, we can decay.
Virtues that are not practiced die. Resilience that is not practiced weakens. The only way to keep resilience alive-through success, through temporary comfort, and through the challenges of age-is to engage ourselves in purposeful learning at every step of life. Every master must still have a master. Every good teacher must still be a good student.  

To learn resilience, children must be exposed to hardship. If they don’t meet hardship early, they’ll certainly find it later. And if they haven’t built a habit of resilience and earned some self-respect by then, the adult pain they meet probably won’t strengthen them. It will likely overwhelm them.
Protecting children from all suffering is, in fact, one of the only ways to ensure that they will be overwhelmed and badly hurt one day. They will have none of the resources, the experiences, the spiritual reserves of courage and fortitude necessary to make it through future difficulties. You wouldn’t want that for your kids, and I don’t want it for mine.

There’s one sure way to build self-respect: through achievement. A child who learns to tie her own shoes grows in confidence. So does a child who learns to spell his name. so does a student who learns to stand in front of class and read his poem.

Self-respect isn’t something a teacher or a coach or a government can hand you. Self-respect grows through self-created success: not because we’ve been told we’re good, but when we know we’re good.

Not everyone gets a trophy, because not every performance merits celebration. If we want our children to have a shot at resilience, they must learn what failure means. If they don’t learn that lesson from loving parents and coaches and teachers, life will teach it to them in a far harsher way.

Children need to be loved. And part of loving is to comfort, hug, and hold them when they are hurting. Both you and I know that, especially as parents, it is our job to provide love at all times and in all circumstances. But as guys who want to protect other people, we have to realize that we can overdo this. As hard as it is to do, part of loving someone means letting her experience hurt in the right way.

In protecting too much, kind people can inflict great cruelty.

P. S. Greitens book, "Resilience" is quite possibly the best book I've read in the past 20 years.

Monday, February 8, 2016


In honor of his Super Bowl Championship, here are some of our best blog posts on Peyton Manning:

Peyton Manning's Advice to Rookies

Peyton Manning's System of Viewing Video

Peyton Manning: Sharing the Ball as a Motivational Tool

And my favorite:

Peyton Manning's Orange Folder


I thought I'd spend a few minutes telling you about the first coach I looked up to -- my uncle, Joe Hartney.  Other than my father, Joe was my first role model.  My grandfather made sure of that by telling me about every positive trait Joe had -- and there were many.  My grandfather took me to watch him play fastpitch softball where he was a catcher and outstanding player.  And he took me to watch him coach.  He coached at all levels but when I was young it was watching his team dominate at Hayes Junior High School that stood out the most.  And it didn't matter -- playing softball and working the sidelines as a coach, I watched his every move.

Unlike me, Joe was an outstanding athlete.  He was all-state in baseball and football and won the West Virginia Golden Glove Boxing title.  He of course played collegiately.  He was also incredibly tough.  As an outstanding football player at Stonewall Jackson High School, he broke his arm during the season.  The next game was against their cross town rival Charleston High School.  Joe cut his cast off before the game and lead his team to victory. His parents didn't know until the next morning when they picked up the paper and read of his heroics.

Joe had a quiet confidence about him.  He carried himself differently than anyone I had known at that time.  He spoke softly but again, with confidence.  I wanted to be my Uncle Joe.  I saw how he coached and how his players responded to him.  As a young boy in elementary school I thought it would be great to be a coach -- like my Uncle Joe.

I last saw Joe this summer at my father's funeral.  I had given the eulogy and afterwards, not very mobile at all, he made his way to the front so we could talk -- so he could talk and I could listen.  What he said to me that evening will remain private but I'll never forget it.

My Uncle Joe died this morning after battling cancer for nearly a decade.  Many didn't know he was in pain all these years because he didn't broadcast such things -- part of his toughness.  Even in passing he has taught me.

How amazingly blessed I was to have such a great role model at such a young age.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


With our team playing a nationally televised game today, ESPN's Sue Bird is in town to do the game.  To try and put it in perspective, Sue is a consummate champion.  She has won two National Championships at Connecticut, two WNBA titles and three Olympic Gold Medals.  So we had an Aggie team locked in when Coach Gary Blair asked her to say a few words to our team after practice today. 

Here are some great take aways that she shared with our team:

"The difference between good and great are the little things.  Little things that I'm still learning about."

Some of the little things she spoke of was nutrition and working out at a high level.  She told our team that even though she is on the road a lot covering games for ESPN that she very often asks the coach of the arean she is covering a game in if she can get shot shooting time in while she is in town.  She spoke of the amazing amount of video that pro players watch on their own.

"The great ones know how to play in the moment.  They are not still thinking about the previous player or possession.  They realize that the next possession is everything because its the only one they can control."

Of course this reminds me of Coach Don Meyer who always said you had to be an "NBA" player -- meaning that you concentrated only on the "Next Best Action."

Sue also spoke of personal accountability in terms of being a professional player.  You were responsible for so much that in college you hadn't had to worry about because a coaching staff took care of it for you.

She talked about when you move on to the next level that you won't be your pro team's best player.  This means you aren't their first option offensively.  So her question was "What are going to do to separate yourself from the rest of the squad if you want to make the team?"

Coach Blair asked her where she and her Connecticut team got their confidence from.  Without any hesitation she replied, "Practice."  She went on to say that their practices were so difficult and demanding that the games were easy and they couldn't wait for the games.

She also told our team that confidence can't come from coaches.  It has to come from the work you put in and the level of your effort in practice and workouts.

Nothing like a great message from a great player to start our day!