Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I love the PlayersTribune.com!  It gives great insight directly from those involved -- the athletes.  They share so much in an open forum that can benefit your players as well.  We share many of them with our team.

One example is the most recent post by Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks titled, "On To The Next."  It's a concept that we constantly talk to our players about.  The best move on to the next quickly -- instantly in fact.  On to the next shot...the next possession...the next day...the next game.  Live in the present -- the past and future are irrelevant.  Be process oriented.

Of course it is much easier said than done -- even for veteran professionals.

Sherman opens the article with this:
Earl Thomas was sitting in front of his locker after the game, and I could tell he was frustrated. Then he stood up, put his backpack on, left the locker room and walked out to the parking lot. He didn’t really talk to anybody. He just got in his car and went home.
That was in Week 1.
After we won.
That’s one of the things that makes Earl great. Anybody who knows him knows that he holds himself to an incredibly high standard. That day, he felt he didn’t play up to that standard. We got a win, and that was great. But Earl understands — like everybody else in the locker room — that just because you win doesn’t mean you did everything perfectly.
And conversely, just because you lose doesn’t mean you did everything wrong.

That's process oriented thinking.  It's not the result that makes a difference in the evaluation of your level of execution.  This is the mindset of the best that allows them to grow and improve as opposed to becoming complacent.

As Sherman than points out, this is the outcome of that type of thinking:
That’s one of our many mottos: Control what you can control. That expression was why Earl came in the next morning — after walking out of the locker room on Sunday frustrated, without talking to anybody — and went on to have a great week of practice. Because he knows that come Monday morning, you can’t control what happened on Sunday, and every minute you spend living in the past and dwelling on it is a minute you won’t be spending looking ahead to the next week and the next opponent. And that’s an easy way to lose back-to-back games.

Sherman goes on to talk about the culture of the Seahawks that allows them to hold themselves accountable in part due to the philosophy of Coach Pete Carroll:
Our coaches are probably tougher on us after a win. Coach Carroll always tells us that he wants us to be ourselves, because that’s why he brought us here. Because we’re competitors. We’re the kind of players — and the kind of people — he wants on his team.
Part of being a competitor is being self-motivated. We don’t need a coach to get on our ass after a loss. I’ll get on myself about it, and so will each guy in our locker room. Like I’ve said before, we have a crazy team with some chaotic dudes — a bunch of alphas. Take Earl, for example. He’ll do everything he can to get better, even after a win, because that’s how Earl is. That’s what makes him great. He’s never satisfied, even when he plays well.

The result is a process-oriented mindset displayed in this great quote by Sherman:
"Was I angry that we lost? Of course. Winning never gets old and losing always sucks. But you have to treat those two impostors just the same."

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Trust me -- who you follow on twitter makes a difference!  It has become an invaluable resource for me.  One of the guys I benefit from so much is Fran Fraschilla.  While he has retired from coaching to work in the broadcast booth he certainly hasn't forgotten us that still teach -- constantly posting invaluable material to make us better. 

Yesterday was no different when he tweeted this:

The article was outstanding and touched on so many things pertinent.

1. The importance of of being ready to go at a moments notice.

2. The basic necessity for intentional preparation.

3. The need for retired coached to still be around and part of the game.

The basis of the story was the relationship between Hall of Fame Coach Bill Parcells and a high school quarterback that was coached by his son-in-law.  That high school quarterback is now the third-string passer for the New England Patriots, Jacoby Brissett.  The same Jacoby Brissett that came of the bench for injured Jimmy Garoppolo (filling in for suspended Tom Brady) and help guide the Patriots to 31-24 victory over Miami.

Parcells has been mentoring Brissett since his high school playing days and during the Patriots camp this fall he would constantly text Brissett the phrase "One Snap."  Meaning you are just one snap away for your opportunity.

The article was written by Jenny Vrentas for Monday Morning Quarterback on SI.com and you can read it in it's entirety here.

Here are some great take aways:

On Parcells using the tag “One Snap”:

Bill Parcells has known Jacoby Brissett since the Patriots rookie quarterback was a Florida teen just old enough to drive. But for the past five months, Parcells hasn’t addressed Brissett by his first name. No, when they exchange text messages, the legendary coach calls Brissett a nickname, of sorts: “One Snap.”

Yes, that’s right. “Hey, One Snap,” sounds kind of funny, but don’t tell that to Parcells.

“Oh, no. No. We are not making light of that,” Parcells said in a scolding tone during a phone conversation Monday. “That’s a message. He understood it. I was trying to put his ears up like a German Shepherd. Put your ears up; you are only one snap from playing. Sure enough, it happened.”

Great stuff on preparation:

“I certainly wish he had more time to ingest the material,” Parcells said. “The keys are always the same keys. Do your work. Do your preparation. Try to comprehend the plan of attack that the coaches have laid out for you and make sure that you have an understanding, to the best of your ability on a short week and your first time around the league and not much experience playing, to give yourself the best chance to be successful, knowing full well it probably won’t go smoothly right away.”

On the type of mindset Parcells want to instill into Brissett:

The fact that Bill Belichick, Parcells’ defensive coordinator on his two Giants championship teams, used his No. 91 draft pick on a player his old boss has known for seven or eight years is no accident. But far be it from either one to share the details of those conversations. Before Belichick even got Brissett in the building, Parcells had already instilled in him a similar way of thinking. No commercials, no trade shows, Parcells told him. Your only job is to learn the offense.

On Parcells still wanting to be around the game:

Parcells was at the Giants-Saints game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday when on a nearby TV he caught a glimpse of Brissett taking the field for New England. As hard as it might be to imagine Parcells saying this, he immediately felt like an “expectant father.” The Hall of Fame coach is something of an NFL godfather for Brissett and a line of pro-caliber football players to come out of Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Parcells spends the winters in nearby Jupiter, and the pro at his golf club is the father-in-law of Dwyer’s football coach, Jack Daniels. Or, as Parcells explains it, “I am a football guy, so I like football, so I go around where football is.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


"Races are won by a fraction of a second, National Championship games by a single point.  That fraction of a second or a single point is the result of relevant details performed along the the way."

John Wooden
From "Legacy" by James Kerr


Here's a few concepts and teaching points from Jim Boone in regard to the way he plays Pack Line defense.

Keys in Teaching:
1. Position players in such a way to already be in help.
2. Build a wall to stop the ball.
3. Five players working together.
4. Communication

Coach Boone: "We are zoning the ball."

Five Things to Work on Daily: 
1. Conversion defense
2. Low post defense
3. Pressure on the ball
4. Help/recover
5. Blockout

Coach Boone: "You can't play transition defense while you're in transition."

Coach Boone: "Low post defense dictates how you set your entire defense up."

Five Defensive Goals:
1. Pressure the ball
2. Contest all shots
3. Keep the ball out of the lane
4. No second shots
5. Do not foul

Coach Boone: "We want to determine what shots you get."

Conversion Defense:
1. No fast break lay-ups
2. Out number the offense
3. Build from the lane out

Coach Boone: "The one thing that beats you in transition defense is the 'my mind' mindset."


The following are a few concepts of Pack Line defense from Chris Mack of Xavier.

Pack Line defense helps give you a “system” to play defense.

1) Gives players answers and accountability
Certain things players can/can’t do do
They are given specific rules ex. “You can’t play behind the post” vs “Play hard”

2) Simplifies Scouting
Their coaches watch a ton of film but do not give it all to the
players. Instead they play certain actions in very specific ways and practice these
every day.

Example:  Practice defending staggered screens so when they play a team they already know how they will defend this and get better at it through out the year.

3) Creates a culture your players can believe in.
Varsity players “pass” down the defense by teaching your younger players without a lot of involvement from coaches.

GOLDEN RULE: When your man does not have the ball YOU MUST HAVE 2 FEET IN THE PACK LINE.

Exceptions: If your man is cutting you must chase the cutter.

1) On the Ball: Have extreme ball pressure -- do not get beat to the outside NEVER GIVE UP BASELINE
Keep your butt to the basket
Don’t get beat baseline
If your man goes towards the middle do not get beat through the elbow, they can’t attack you on a straight line.

2) You must have two feet inside the pack line when your man does not have the ball and you are trying to form triangles

Defining Your Team
1. How do you close out?
2. Close out with two high hands to discourage rhythm shots
3. Play in then out

KEY: Your positioning is your help

Discourage shots, play the drive, call shot when the shot goes up.

Monday, September 19, 2016


We've been spending some time looking at our defensive approach and part of that review has been looking at other defensive systems such as Pack Line.  Here are some notes from Mike Neighbors, head coach at the University of Washington.  These are just a few of the notes I took from Mike while he was at Xavier.

When your man has the ball on the perimeter:
1. You were there on the catch.

2. You were the to take away the quick shot or quick pass

3. You were close enough to pressure without getting beat off the bounce.
     a. Don't get beat to the outside
     b. Don't get beat in a straight line

When your player does not have the ball on the perimeter:
1. You are about half way between the ball and your player

2. You are a step off the line that would connect the ball to your man

3. You are actively able to see both ball and man

Ball being passed to their player:
1. Move on the air time of the pass

2. Start with sprint and end with chops

3. High hands to active hands

Ball being passed but NOT their player:
1. Move on air time of the pass

2. Sprint to gap.

Teaching Points
1. Players must begin in proper position

2. Players must be vocal in communication of their responsibilities

"Ball" = this means I have the ball

"Gap" = this call means my player does not have the ball but I am in your dribble gap

"Help" = this call means my player does not have the ball but is on the opposite half of the court than the ball is.


I often have people ask me about my mentor Coach Dale Brown, whom I had the privilege of working for 13 years.  Coach has a reputation of getting things done -- massively getting things done. Little projects and big projects. He often seemed to be juggling a multitude of tasks as the same time and always completing them.

When people ask me what "management tool" did he use I always chuckle.  Was it a Franklin-Covey Planner?  Did he use Day-Timer?  What was his system?

Well, here it is:

He always had a yellow legal pad with him.  He would unpack it from his briefcase in the morning and take it with him in the evening when he left.  On it he would write things down that he had to do -- and then he would do them.

I know it sounds simple -- but that's what made it great.  As he completed a task, he would cross it out.  When he was done with a page he'd tear it out.  And repeat.

It's like the story I read this weekend from "Legacy" written by James Kerr:

There's a old story about J. P. Morgan, the banker and philanthropist, who was shown an envelope containing a 'guaranteed formula for success.' He agreed that if he liked the advice written inside he would pay $25,000 for its contents.

Morgan open the envelope, nodded, and paid.

The advice?

1. Every morning write a list of things that need to be done that day.

2. Do them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


We are very excited today to announce the dates of Gary Blair's 4th Annual Aggie Coaching Academy.  Our first three have averaged over 120 coaches.  We are also incredibly excited to announce Jim Jabir, former head coach of the University of Dayton, as our guest speaker.  I had the privilege of hearing Coach Jabir speak at a PGC/Glazier clinic a few years ago and he is outstanding.

Coach Jabir is a two-time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year transformed the Dayton program, taking the Flyers from 3-25 in his first season to their highest national ranking at No. 11 in both the AP and USA Today Coaches Polls in 2013. In his last six seasons UD has accrued a 162-60 overall record (.730 winning percentage) and posted a 81-23 record (.779 winning percentage) in Atlantic 10 games.

Jabir’s Career Highlights
     Winningest coach in Dayton history
     ◄10 20-win seasons
     ◄6 Conference Championships
     ◄8 NCAA appearances
     ◄Elite Eight in 2014-15

COST: $45

     ◄Academy Sessions
     ◄Aggie Playbook DVD
     ◄Academy Playbook DVD includes: Scouting, Motivation, Philosophy,
        Conditioning, Playbook (Offense, Defense, Special Situations) and Practice Planning

Click HERE for a complete Academy flier

For more information call 979-862-3218
Or Register at: http://tinyurl.com/z3kdggl

Clinic Schedule includes practices and lecture sessions.

12:30 PM   Registration
  2:00 PM   Aggie Basketball Philosophy (Gary Blair)
  2:30 PM   Aggie Basketball Practice
  4:45 PM   Dinner (On Your Own)
  6:00 PM   Jim Jabir
  7:00 PM   Lessons Learned (Bob Starkey)

  8:00 AM   Breakfast (Provided)
  9:00 AM   Aggie Point Guard Play  (Amy Wright)
  9:45 AM   Aggie Wing Play (Kelly Bond-White)
10:30 AM   Transition/Man Offense (Gary Blair)
11:30 AM   Guest Speaker (TBA)
12:15 PM   Lunch (Provided)
  1:00 PM   Aggie Defense (Bob Starkey)

  2:30 PM   Q & A with Aggie Staff

Monday, September 12, 2016


There are so many outstanding books written on Coach John Wooden but one of my favorites is by one of his former players, Swen Nater titled "You Haven't Taught Until They Have Learned."

Early in his career, he had the opportunity to observe a football practice at the University of Notre Dame when the legendary Frank Leahy was head coach. “I thought my basketball practices were well-organized and efficient. After observing Coach Leahy’s practice, I realized more work was needed. There was not one minute wasted. Even the transitions from drill to drill were done with no wasted second. Players seemed to enjoy the work and everyone worked hard for the entire two hours. I was impressed and after meeting with Frank Leahy for answers to questions I had, I immediately applied what I had learned to my own situation.”

Fundamentals Before Creativity
Webster defines “fundamental” as “being an essential part of, a foundation or basis.” The fundamentals of basketball are the essential skills that make up the game.

Coach wooden believes the teaching of fundamentals, until they are all executed quickly, properly, and without conscious thought, is prerequisite to playing the game.

“Drill” can have a negative connotation among coaches and classroom teachers. It is sometimes associated with mindless, boring repetition in which there is no opportunity for students to learn concepts or exercise initiative or imagination.

“Drilling created a foundation,” he likes to say, “on which individual initiative and imagination can flourish.

Use Variety
One of the many enjoyable things I remember about UCLA practice sessions was the variety. Although the general skeleton of practice lessons were the same (fundamentals, break-down drills, and then whole-team activities), there were lots of surprises that kept things interesting and fun.

“I must know as the season progressed how they (drills) were going to change,”  he said, “and then devise new ones to prevent monotony, although there would be some drills we must do every single day of the year.”

Teaching New Material
When creating the daily lesson plan, Coach Wooden was careful to install new material in the first half of practice, not the second. There were two reasons for this: our minds were fresh and not yet worn down by two hours of high-intensity activities, and he could devise activities, during the second half of practice, for the application of the new material.

Quick Transitions
During Coach Wooden’s practice sessions, one witnessed lightning-quick transitions from activity to activity. Players sprinted to the next area and took pride in being the first to being the next activity.

Increasing Complexity
For Coach Wooden, there was nothing more important than the fundamentals of the game. For example, initially shooting and dribbling forms were isolated. Then, Coach taught another type of dribbling technique and combined it so that a shot was taken after the dribble.

Coach Wooden’s philosophy is for players and students to improve a little every day and make perfection a goal. His method for improving conditioning included one painful demand-each player, when reaching the point of exhaustion, was to push himself beyond. When this is done every day, top condition will be attained over time.

End on a Positive Note
I remember many enjoyable endings to the UCLA practice sessions. Coach Wooden always has something interesting, challenging or fun planned for the last five minutes. I didn’t realize it at the time, but levity always helped bring me back the next day, filled with anticipation.

Avoid Altering a Plan During the Lesson
Once the practice, or lesson, started, Coach Wooden never changed it, even though he may have noticed an existing drill that needed more time or thought of a new one he should have included. The proper place for new ideas and improvements was on the back of a 3x5 index card, which he made notations on (and expected the assistants to do the same).

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Here are some great thoughts on role players from the book "Toughness" by Jay Bilas:

A great role player and a tough player must determine what he would sacrifice to win. What task is too small? What role is beneath me? Is there anything I am not willing to do for this team to win, or for this team to operate at its highest level? To be a great role player and a tough player, you have to embrace that championship teams are “we” driven and not “me” driven.

Kansas coach Bill Self also assigns players to the roles he expects them to play, but he is careful never to take away or limit their games. He encourages them in what he wants them to do, but he tries to avoid telling them what not to do. “Your role is different from your value,” he said, “and there are so many times that players have to be able to break out of their roles. A role shouldn’t be a limitation.”

Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said, “Every player has to believe his role is the most important role on the team. We cannot win without each player executing his role to the best of his ability.”

Wednesday, September 7, 2016


I got to know Don Yaeger while working for Dale Brown at LSU.  Don spent an entire year around our program and the best thing I can say about him is that he gets it.  He has a great understanding of the human element as it equates to athletics and he understands what goes into successful programs.  It's why I am always anticipating his next book.  This summer he may have topped himself with "Great Teams: 16 Things High-Performing Organizations Do Differently."

I'm going to share a few highlights from the book but if you are involved with any group that you are trying to force as a team, to help an organization achieve it's maximum potential, you're going to want to get a copy of this book!

Chapter 1
Great Teams Understand Their "Why"
"You can try to tell people why what they do matters.  You can try to show them.  But people get what it means when they can feel it."
-Mike Krzyzewski.

"Culture must be reminded everyday. The history gives us a starting point to learn from the past, produce in the present and prepare for the future."
-Kevin Eastman

Chapter 2
Great Teams Have And Develop Great Leaders
"Part of being a leader is getting to know your players."
-Anson Doorance

Chapter 3
Great Teams Allow Culture To Shape Recruiting
"Leadership gets what it emphasizes.  When the recruits arrive to campus, there's so much hype in the facilities and the winning.  But we tell them that all of the hype will not be their happiness.  Instead, their happiness will be in the coaches we surround them with and how we treat them in the locker room.  Culture will determine their happiness."
-Chris Peterson

Chapter 4
Great Teams Create And Maintain Depth
"If you don't have someone on your team that's a capable replacement, then you're going to have a hole in the picture of your puzzle."
-Jerry West

Chapter 5
Great Teams Have A Road Map
As a former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain explained during an ESPN radio interview, Saban "has a vision.  He has a plan.  And yet, I think the thing that keeps him consistent and ahead of the curve, not just football-wise, but everything within the organization -- there's a follow-up, as far as 'What can we do better? What is new out there?  What can we do, you know, to move things forward whether it is offensive, defense, special teams, recruiting, academics, training room," it doesn't matter...What he does is set the vision and then gets great people around him and lets them be creative.

Chapter 6
Great Teams Promote Camaraderie And A Sense Of Collective Direction
St. Louis Cardinals' chairman Bill DeWitt and his management team send a sixty-eight-page book to all new recruits.  The book is packed with historical relevancies, general expectations for a Cardinal player, and specific instructions tailored to that particular player's position.  The information is helpful, but it is the book itself that carries the meaning of "now you're one of us."

Chapter 7
Great Teams Manage Dysfunction, Friction, And Strong Personalities
Great teams understand the reason behind conflict and find ways to rise above it; however, conflict resolution is a skill that must be exercises to be effective.

Chapter 8
Great Teams Build A Mentoring Culture
"In the SEAL teams we figured out very, very early on that specific mentorship of connecting a senior officer to a junior officer has a tremendous value.  It's a fundamental thing that SEAL development looks at.  The minute you stop learning and stop seeking out growth opportunities, you'll begin to rot pretty quickly."
-Rorke Denver

Chapter 9
Great Teams Adjust Quickly To Leadership Transitions
"Change is almost uncomfortable and exhausting.  You are asking your organization to do something in a new way -- every day -- until it's a habit.  The 'old' habits may have taken years to form and were likely linked to rewards to it's normal for individuals and teams to reverse to what's comfortable when difficulties or confusions arise."
-Sharon Price John

Chapter 10
Great Teams Adapt And Embrace Change
"It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, but those who can best manage change."
-Charles Darwin

"The younger players see the world differently.  And it's up to you as the communicator to know who you are addressing.  Adjustment is hard, but is a lot easier if you, as a leader, are a willing learner."
-Mike Krzyzewski

Chapter 11
Great Teams Run Successful Huddles
Bill Walsh analyzed and even recorded meetings to spot potential lulls and weaknesses in their process.  He wanted to make sure his assistant coaches -- who would sometimes change from year to year -- were teaching his team in a consistent fashion.

Chapter 12
Great Teams Improve Through Scouting
"I think you have to study yourself a lot.  It's important as a quarterback to study yourself, your opponent and be sure you're doing the fundamentals and mechanics right."
-Peyton Manning

Chapter 13
Great Teams See Values Others Miss
Great teams never answer the "why" question with, "Because we've always done it this way."  Instead, they regularly evaluate each situation and seek unique opportunities for improvement.

Chapter 14
Great Teams Win In Critical Situations
Many companies mistake movement for momentum.  By paying employees to work harder, organizations also create an incentive bias when trying to motivate a strong finish.  Paying someone to do more gets movement but not always true motivation.  And teams with higher motivation will always beat teams that only get movement.

Chapter 15
Great Teams Speak A Different Language
Steve Kerr on observing Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks:  "There's no yelling and screaming...there's teaching.  It was liberating to see and had a great influence on me."

"As a leader it is so important to be precise with your language."
-Pete Carroll

Chapter 16
Great Teams Avoid The Pitfalls Of Success
The great John Wooden, whom I have mentioned several times in this book, often said, "Winning takes talent; to repeat takes character."

"How you respond to a mistake is more important than the mistake itself."
-Tim Walton

The appendix in Don's book is 33 pages long with outstanding quotes and concepts from the best in the business and this section alone is worth the cost of the books.  It includes Ganon Baker, Colonel Bernie Banks, Bobby Bowden, Bruce Bowen, Aja Brown, Dale Brown, Jim Calhoun, John Calipari, Pete Carroll, Jack Clark, Jerry Colangelo, Barry Collier, Tom Crean, Randy Cross, Commander Rorke Denver, Bill Dewitt, Jr., Billy Donovan, Anson Dorrance, Kevin Eastman, P. J. Fleck, Willie Gault, China Gorman, G. J. Hart, Sylvia Hatchell, Tom Izzo, Jimmie Johnson, Michael Jordan, Greg Kampe, Steve Kerr, Mike Krzyzewski, Jenn Lim, Archie Manning, Eli Manning, Dan Marino, Mike Martin, Misty May-Treanor, Bill McCermott, Derin McMains, Dayton Moore, Jamie Moyer, Tom Osborne, Chack Pagano, Bob Reinheimer, Jerry Rice, Russ Rose, David Ross, Nolan Ryan, Simon Sinek, Jerry Sloan, Tubby Smith, Bill Snyder, Brendan Suhr, Stan Van Gundy, Bill Walton, Jerry West, John Wooden, Steve Young.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Great stuff from Steve Brennan on timeout execution:

You have 4 time-outs a game

Don’t waste your time-out by yelling. If you Call the time-out, the kids know something is wrong

Start each one with a positive statement. Research shows that the first think and the last thing that people say are the things that people remember most

Discuss no more than 3 items during any one time-out, and that may be too many. You must give the first 15 or 20 seconds to the kids anyway. Tell them this at the first of the year. They can get their water, towels, etc.

Develop a cue word to refocus attention. Mine was “Listen.” As soon as I said that the focus of the attention was on me.

Confer with assistant coaches before talking with the team. This is big with me because when I was an assistant coach, I was not part of time-outs. Even if you know exactly what you want to do, just from a psychological standpoint, you should do something with your assistant coaches. Give them some recognition. Utilize them.

Change defenses. Use a “Sequence-stay.”

Run a set play after a time-out. Get your best player into the flow. Set up a play.

Don’t use the entire time-out if you don’t need it.

If the opponent calls the time-out, wait until the referee gets you from the huddle.

Delegate an assistant coach to keep track of time-outs.

Carry strategy on 3x5 index cards. Put your out-of-bounds on cards.