Thursday, June 30, 2016


I've got a great way for you to honor Coach Pat Summitt, contribute to her Foundation and get great insight to why she was such a great coach.  Coach Greg Brown has wrote a book about Coach Summitt and Coach Don Meyer, whom he both worked for.  It is simply an outstanding book because Greg goes behind the scenes to speak about what made each special.  All proceeds from the book go to the Pat Summitt Foundation and Don Meyer Foundation.  

The name of Greg Brown's book is "The Best Things I've Seen In Coaching."  It's an outstanding book and you can order a copy HERE.

An example of the book's section on Coach Summitt includes:

The Tennessee Way -- The values that created the championship culture of the Lady Vols.

Summitt's Five Ways To Maintain Success -- A great list from someone who maintained the highest level of success over three decades.

Game Notes -- 12 pages of game notes from including pre-game, halftime and post game and team meeting thoughts from some of Tennessee's games including UConn.

John Maxwell Talk -- Coach Summitt brought in her friend John Maxwell to talk to the Lady Vols and Greg's notes on this talk are outstanding!

Definite Dozen Overview -- A detailed look at Coach Summitt's famous list.

Practice Expectations -- A great list one that we have modified to use with our team.

Work Ethic -- A list of characteristics of what Coach Summitt believed necessary for having a great work ethic.

Pat Summitt Core Values -- An interview with Coach Summitt on this area

Make Hard Work Your passion -- Another great list on the importance of hard work

Don't Just Work Hard, Work Smart -- Coach Summitt on the mental side of the game

Discipline Yourself So No One Has To -- Two great pages that also became a team passout for our team.

Learn To Be A Great Communicator -- Two pages on keys to being an effective communicator

Put The Team Before Yourself -- Two pages on thoughts that Coach Summitt shares on teamwork (some of which I share below).

Be A Competitor -- The first word I think of when I think of Coach Summitt is "competitor" -- this section by Greg is worth the price of the book by itself.

Take Full Responsibility -- This section deals with coach and player accountability.

Develop And Demonstrate Loyalty -- Coach Summitt talks about it positive and negative effects on a team

Respect Yourself And Others -- Again, another section that speaks to both players and coaches including the topic of body language.

Make Winning An Attitude -- A wonderful list on all that goes in to having a championship attitude.

Change Is A Must -- Greg gives a great list of why Coach Summitt thought that not only was change inevitable but necessary

These are but just a small sampling of some great notes that Greg took while being in staff meetings or listening to Coach Summitt talk to her team:

"Teamwork is not a matter of persuading yourself and your colleagues to set aside personal ambitions for the greater good. It's a matter of recognizing that your personal ambitions and the ambitions of the team are one and the same.  That's the incentive."

"Teamwork is not created by like-mindedness.  It's an emotional cohesion that develops from mutual respect and reciprocity and from coping with good times and adversity."

"To me, the greatest reward for being a team player, far outweighing any personal gain, is that it means you will never be alone.  Think about that.  Life has enough lonely times in store for all of us.  The wonderful thing about partnership is that it halves your sorrow and compounds your joys.  When you are pressure, your teammates will only multiply it.  The amount of success you are capable of enjoying and the pleasure you are capable of feeling, is equal to the number of people you are willing to share it with."

The name of Greg Brown's book is "The Best Things I've Seen In Coaching."  It's an outstanding book and you can order a copy HERE.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


Defending the Pick & Roll
   Make the big beat your
   Look to switch -- best choice when possible
   Double it
   Wing -- "Black" -- Push it baseline
   "Red" -- toes to the ball...thru you -- hard show

Take the ball out of the hands of their best players

When in doubt, front.

Communicate: talk your way through it

Blockout: send a message

"You are being a selfish player when you don't talk."

"You've got to compete at the free throw line."


The following comes from one of the absolute best coaching books I've every read, "Finding the Winning Edge," by Bill Walsh:

Drive the players to concentrate. Be assertive in your insistence that they focus on the task at hand.

Individualize your teaching approach to fit certain individuals, when necessary. Give extra time to those players who need it.

Be as precise as possible when teaching. Always use the system’s terminology as a common language.

Be patient, but demanding. Require your players to adhere to proper techniques at all times.

Teach the skills progressively. Adhere to a systematic methodology of teaching that allows the players to improve and enhances their level of confidence in your competence and professionalism.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the situation. Be alert to the intensity level of the players. Be sensitive to signs of those factors which can affect the learning curve. Never overlook the fundamental reality of the teaching axiom, “quality repetitions are the mother of all learning.”

Keep the meetings quality, not quantity, oriented. Use a variety of learning tools to enhance the learning environment and to help stimulate the players’ level of concentration and focus.

Demonstrate the highest level of knowledge about the subject matter being taught.

Teach the players in a professional manner. Unless you’re trying to elicit a specific emotional response from your players, refrain from screaming and demonstrative behavior. Keep in mind that such behavior seldom, if ever, enhances the learning curve particularly if the subject matter involves technical information.

Evaluate the players’ performance on a daily basis to ensure that they are progressively mastering the techniques required to perform the tasks they are assigned in an effective and efficient manner.

Rapidity is the essence of war; take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attach unguarded spots.

Another teaching technique that has proven to be very effective is to have players emulate the techniques and actions of other athletes. For example, if players watch videos showing Jerry Rice run a particular pattern in a certain way, you (as the head coach) can single out and stress particular coaching points, by using Rice as the case in point.

All factors considered, players tend to respond more favorably to an actual visual representation of a particular teaching point than to tan abstract illustration of that point drawn up on a chalkboard or written up in a playbook. This learning technique is typically referred to as “modeling.”

"Win the war, then win the fight."

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


There was an interesting article on The Bleacher Report by one of their SEC beat writers, Barrett Sallee.  The writer interviewed former Georgia head football coach Jim Donnan.  Sallee asked Donnan who still lives in Athens if he gave new coach Kirby Smart any advice.  Here is his response.
"The one thing that I told him was that the biggest mistake that I made my first year was that I spent way too much time with the alumni clubs speaking and trying to promote the program rather than being with the players. I felt like I spent enough time with the players, but still, looking at the relationships the first year compared to the second year was night and day."
 It appears Smart took Donnan's advice to heart.
 As Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald pointed out in March, Smart scaled back his alumni club speaking events from where the schedule sent former head coach Mark Richt. That's not a slight against the alumni who helped and continue to help build the program. It's a matter of putting the current team first while also balancing the responsibilities that head coaches have to ensure a bright future.
 "I think I went to 57 of them my first year—either civic clubs or booster clubs or all of that," Donnan said. "You cut that in half or a fourth, and you can spend that much more time with your players. That's the real key. Not only the players, but the families. I think it's great that he invited some players' families over to a couple of the scrimmages this year early because you have to get to know them, too."

Simply doesn’t matter what sport or what level, it starts and ends with relationships.


We have spent plenty of time over the years blogging about coaching, playing & competing in the moment.  Coach Nick Saban refers to it as the process -- understanding that the only thing you can control is your effort on the very next possession. Coach Don Meyer refers to the concept as an "NBA Player" with NBA standing for Next Best Action.  Whether you've made a great play or mistake, you have no time or effort that you can expend thinking about it -- you must be on to the next action.

I once heard an interview with Coach Mike Krzyzewski in which he was asked about the challenge of "repeating" as a National Champion.  He simply said "repeating" wasn't part of the Duke equation.  He explained that repeating was impossible because each season is a different journey with a different team, different opponents, different adversities.

More on Coach K's views on "defending a championship" can be found in the book "Toughness" written by Jay Bilas:
Krzyzewski would have none of it. Nobody outside his team defined his players or his team, defined its mission or framed its journey. Only Krzyzewski and his team did that.  In the very first team meeting before the start of the season, Krzyzewski told the team he didn’t want to hear anyone use the term “defending” national champions. “We aren’t defending anything,” Krzyzewski said. “That trophy has already been won, and is displayed out in the lobby of Cameron. It doesn’t need to be defended.  “We are pursuing this championship. We are not defending. We are pursuing. That is the job at hand.” 

In fact, the best coaches rarely speak about destination goals or spend anytime talking about past seasons.  Bill Belichick says "To live in the past is to die in the present."

Belichick also has spoke of the balance of motivating teams coming off championship runs saying, "You'll tiptoe on the line between helping your players forget that they're the champions and helping them remember why they're champions."

Quite simply, the best know how to move it forward.  

I recently read a great example of this in "What Drives Winning" by Brett Ledbetter who shared a story he got from North Carolina's Anson Dorrance whose Tar Heels have won 21 National Championship.  Here is what Dorrance revealed to Ledbetter: 
Anson Dorrance gives his soccer players at the University of North Carolina roses after they win a national championship. He’s won over twenty of them as a head coach. I asked him why he did that. He told me, “I’m not really big on championship rings or trophies. I prefer flowers. The reason I give them a rose is because it’s ephemeral—the rose dies and it dies relatively quickly.”


Stats of importance defensively
   1. Defensive FG% -- most important
   2. Rebounds
   3. Shot selection -- distribution 

Defense travels on the airtime of the pass

We want to influence bounce passes

Stance - lower, wider, longer

Denial stance: ear in chest w/toe pointed = better vision

Don't allow post catch... the paint rhythm 

Helpside Stance
   Maintain stance and vision
   Be close to the line of the ball than too far away
   Escape the paint and attack penetration
   Get out of the paint to block out
   Leave to soon rather than too late
   Meet cutters outside the paint.

   Talk it -- w/echo
   Touch it
   Switch it
   Deny it

Allow no pass from the top to the low post

Make sure referee sees your palms

Put a chest on anyone trying to get into the paint.

Distort route & timing

No one cuts below you to the rim

Scouting Report -- what are we going to take away?

Monday, June 20, 2016


Motivation can come in a variety of ways.  Certainly self-motivation ranks as the highest form.  But there is something to say for any form of motivation that can unify a team...something that everyone feels a part of and can rally around.

The Cleveland Cavaliers came ups with just that -- inspiration that the entire team shared during their historic playoff run.  

As reported by Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Cavs James Jones created a concept of a  a puzzle with 16 pieces, one for each win needed to take the title. When put together, it would form the trophy.

As Windhorst wrote:
The golden puzzle was kept quiet by players and coaches, revealed only after the Cavs completed the greatest comeback in Finals history with their93-89, Game 7 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.
The trophy puzzle was kept in a case hidden from outsiders and traveled with the Cavs as they made their way through the postseason. Different players who contributed in different ways would place a symbolic piece after every playoff win. For example,Kevin Love was selected when the Cavs won Game 3 of the Finals without him as he frustratingly missed the game with a concussion.
The final piece was in the shape of the state of Ohio and was placed by coach Tyronn Lue as the Cavs poured champagne over one another in the Oracle Arena's visitors locker room.
"Together, that's how you win a championship," Jones said. "Individually we are all just a piece. Everyone had to have their role. Everyone has to have their piece."

Doc Rivers speaks of the importance of the buy in.  What as a coach are you doing -- what are you creating to rally your team together?  And don't wait for the post season.  What can you do that can help center your team's energy during the off-season?  Could it be a well-thought out phrase that you have on t-shirts or wristbands?  What can you come up with symbolic that will inspire your team? 


The following are some take aways from a chapter out of the book "The Landry Legacy; 20 Principles of Success." The book was well-written by Michael Thornton and looks into 20 keystones of the culture that Coach Landry utilized to develop one of the most consistently championship programs in professional sports. It's an outstanding book for coaches as well as anyone looking to lead an organization. This particular section dealt with the importance of preparation:
Nothing is more important to winning than preparation.

Coach Landry did not use emotion to get a player motivated. He used preparation. Emotion can come and go. Preparation is more concrete. Preparation removes questions, doubts, and indecision from a players mind.

Coach Landry’s philosophy was this: if you get a player thoroughly prepared to play, then he will be confident and excited about going out and performing. The greatest thing you can do for a football player or a person in life is to prepare them for success. Conversely, the worst thing you can do is send an individual out there unprepared.

You have to have determination. You cannot just want to win. You have to be determined to win. You have to have the will to win. You have to be willing to do the things that are necessary to win.

If everyone on the football team is not on the same page in their commitment to preparation, then inevitably it will cause conflict, which can grow into dissension, which can become a major distraction for a football team. If some guys are working hard to get prepared and other guys are not, then it is going to create a problem.

Everyone needed to be getting the most out of every minute of preparation. That’s how you get ready to win.

All of those teams had certain common denominators.

Those teams always had great leadership. Those teams always work hard as a whole. Those teams were always prepared to play week after week. Our teams were always completely committed to doing whatever we could do to accomplish team goals.

Some things are out of your control, but what you can control is how hard you work to be prepared to win. That is in your control. Our teams wanted to win and we were prepared to win. An unwillingness to work and to prepare was never a problem for our teams.

Ultimately, you can tell how competitive a person is by how hard they are willing to work in order to put themselves in a position to win. Great preparation puts you in a great position to win. How hard a guy is willing to prepare to win will tell you everything about how bad he wants to win.

Winners hate to lose, and they will do anything and everything in their power not to lose. No player wants to lose or likes to lose, but some players are willing to lose. Rather than having a willingness to win, some players have a willingness to lose. In reality, they choose to lose, because they refuse to do everything they possible can in order to prepare themselves to win. 


Questions for your players:

1. How many people do you know who are really committed to excellence?  List them.  And if you aren't on this list, why?

2. What did you do to make us a better team this week?  List them.

3. What players made our team better this week?  If you aren't on this list, why?

(These are good questions whether your are in-season or not)

Defensive Thoughts:

Over help on defense rather than under help.

Soft is bad unless it's a shot.

Defensive objectives
   No transition baskets
   No 3's by 3 point shooter
   Hand up on every shot
   Stop a score in the post

Make the spot up shooter dribble

Four advantages of soft on the wing
   Difficult to get beat off the dribble
   Discourages post feeds
   Encourages dribble or early shot
   Hard to feed cutter

Post Defense: "They all turn to one shoulder more than the another.  Park on that shoulder."

Fronting the Low Post: "Get into their legs.  Butt into the knees."


"We must outlast our opponents on every possession."

The hub on defense is defending the low post.  Great post defense may be even more important than playing great defense on the ball.

Anger is the wind that blows out the flame of the mind.

Keep you cushion in defending the ball.

Defensive objectives
   Set our defense
   Pressure the ball
   Help stop the ball and recover
   Finish the play defensively


Point Guard
Sprint to half court...ball side
Attack the dribble by half court
Slow the ball down
Get the ball under control
Push to sideline without giving ground

2 Guard
Sprint to elbow...ball side
Do not give up lay-up
Make them make another pass

1st Big Back
Disrupt route & timing of post
No hands, palms up...bump with chest
Get low and wide
"Thru me" to get into the paint

Shadow ball as long as his man hasn't come down the floor

Last Big Back
Weakside elbow protecting against skip pass & shot

"You win transition on the first three steps...take first three steps without any concern for vision."

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Early this week I wrote about Urban Meyer and his use of the formula E + R + O (Event + Response = Outcome).  He got this from Tim Kight of Focus 3, a leadership consulting organization.  For a clearer look at the equation, here is are a few notes from Focus 3:

Sounds simple enough, right?

An event (E) happens, you choose a Response (R), and an outcome (O) is produced.

Just choose better R's to produce better outcomes.  The challenge is that this simple equation is not easy to manage.  

Focus 3 gives 3 major impediments to any behavior change.

1. The Power of Impulse
Everyone has impulses and those impulses do not always align with the direction of the organization or the specific need of the moment.  One of the hardest challenges is getting people to behave in alignment with the company's desired culture and strategy and resist the impulse to act in ways that do not align.

2. The Gravitational Pull of Old Habits
Not every habit is productive and improving habits and behavior can be met with resistance and frustration

3. The Challenge of Difficult Events
Not all events are created equal.  Some situations are just more difficult to manage than others.  And different situations are challenging for different people.

Focus 3 also talks about steps to help people manager the R better:

1. Identify Defining Moments
2. Clarify the Desired Outcomes
3. Asses Behavior Patterns
4. Coach for Behavior


The following comes from the book "Relentless" by Tim Grover:

To be the best, whether in sports of business or any other aspect of life, it’s never enough to just get to the top; you have to stay there, and then you have to climb higher, because there’s always someone right behind you trying to catch up. Most people are willing to settle for “good enough.” But if you want to be unstoppable, those words mean nothing to you. Being the best means engineering your life so you never stop until you get what you want, and then you keep going until you get what’s next. And then you go for even more.

Decide. Commit. Act. Succeed. Repeat

Friday, June 17, 2016


The following comes from one of my favorite books by John Maxwell (and that's really saying something).  It's titled "Talent Is Never Enough."  It's one book that I think is an absolute must read for all young people -- not just athletes. 

I was thumbing through my outlined portions. I use a red pen to make notations on relevant passages for myself and my team.  I then have those notes typed and organized for use.  My friend Renee' Braud would always joke when a new Maxwell book came out -- "better break out the red pens."

This particular passage resonated with me this morning:
What carries people to the top?  What makes them take risks, go the extra mike and do whatever it takes to achieve their goals?  It isn't talent.  It's passion.  Passion is more important than a plan.  Passion creates fire.  It provides fuel.  I have yet to meet a passionate person who lacked energy.  As long as the passion is there, it doesn't matter if they fail.  It doesn't matter how many times they fall down.  It doesn't matter if others are against them or if people say they cannot succeed.  They keep going and make the most of whatever talent they possess.  They talent-plus people and do not stop until they succeed.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


We constantly preach to our players about being an "NBA Player" -- meaning "Next Best Action."  The best players don't dwell in the past.  They are on to the next play.  If they are thinking about the last play -- a missed shot, a turnover, a poor play be a teammate, a bad call by an official -- then they are not give 100% of their mental capacity to the most important play of the game -- the next one.  After all, as Sue Gunter would constantly tell her teams, "The next possession is the only one we have control of."

By now I am hopefully that you've all heard of The Players Tribune.  If not it needs to be a must read for you and your players.  It is articles that are written completely by athletes.  Not coaches. Not writers.  It gives us an amazing perspective and insight into what some of the best are thinking in so many different situations.

One of the more recent entries came from Cal Ripken, Jr. in an article titled "The Best Play I Ever Made."  One of the take aways from the article was when Cal had failure on the field, an error or poor at bat, he always seemed to follow it up with success -- a good defensive play or a hit.  This is the Next Best Action attitude.  This is a look into Cal's mentality: 

"More often than not, whenever I made an error, I’d get a hit in my next at bat. If I struck out a few times, I’d be more likely to make a nice play in the field. Whatever I was struggling with, I tried to excel in another area to balance it out. I always viewed baseball as a constant internal battle within myself. You have to keep your emotions low when pressure is high, but play with passion when pressure was low. It’s not about focusing on perfection so much as on consistency."


In his book "Above the Line,"   Urban Meyer talks about a relationship he developed with Tim Kight, the founder of Focus 3 which is a leadership development firm.  What he learned, and applied with his football team became known as "the R Factor."  In fact, Chapter 2 of Meyer's book is completely dedicated to "The R Factor."

Here are a few take aways from that chapter:

This equation teaches something very important about the way life works.  We don't control the events in life, and we don't directly control the outcomes.  But we always have control over how we choose to respond.  How we respond means everything.

We call it the R Factor.

Every day you make R Factor decisions.

It is the factor that determines the quality of your life.

Coach Meyer says that they teach their team 6 R Factor disciplines:

R:1 Press Pause
We teach our players, in response to any situation they face, to press pause and ask: What does this situation require of me?

There are two important benefits of pressing pause:

A) It helps you avoid doing something foolish or harmful.
B) It focuses you on acting with purpose to accomplish your goals..

R:2 Get Your Mind Right
Elite performers win in their minds first.  The mind is a battleground where the greatest struggles take place. The thoughts that win the battle for your mind will direct your life.  Mental state affects physical performance. 

Getting your mind right means managing two things:

A) What you focus on
B) How you talk to yourself

Urban Meyer to his players: "The voice in your mind is a powerful force.  Take ownership of that force."

R:3 Step Up
It is your responsibility to understand the situation, be clear about what is required of you, then respond Above the Line.  This is what it means to step up.

Simply stated, Big E's and Big O's require Big R's.

Under pressure, we do not rise to the occasion. We rise or fall to the level of our training.  When contact is made, it is too late to train and build skill.

Every team faces some kind of adversity.  Mediocre teams are destroyed by it.  Good teams survive it.  Great teams get better because of it.

R:4 Adjust and Adapt
The ability to be flexible and responsive in today's competitive environment is a mandatory skill.  The best athletes and teams are exceptional at adjusting and adapting to challenging circumstances.

Here is another reality -- life will get increasingly difficult for you if you don't.

Every day you are creating or reinforcing habits in your life.  The question is, are they habits that help or habits that hold you back?

R:5 Make a Difference
Your R is an E for others.  Your attitude and behavior have a profound impact on your teammates and your coaches.  The quality of your relationships is determined by how you choose to manage the R.  You don't get the team you want -- you get the team you build.

Making a difference means taking complete ownership of the experience you give your teammates and the contributions you make to the culture of the team.

R:6 Build Skill
Talent is a gift.  Greatness is a choice.

Talent can take you to a level of ability that produces good results.  But talent by itself will not take you to the elite level.  Exceptional performance is the result of an uncommon level of focus and discipline in the pursuit of greatness.  Build skill every day and consistently get better.  Be coachable.  Train and practice Above the Line.  Be intentional and on purpose.  Complacency is the enemy of exceptional.  Grow beyond your talent.

Embrace discomfort.  Discomfort marks the place where the old ways meets the new way.  Discomfort indicates that change is about to happen.  Push through the pain.  If it doesn't challenge you, it will not change you.

Champions are made by how they manage their R.