Friday, October 5, 2012


I love practice - I absolutely love practice.  I love helping our players learn and understand how to most effectively use their unique gifts and talents.  Practice is the ultimate classroom for players and there is so many ways to deliver your message in this environment.  Sometimes a direct message from you to the players is enough to get the job done and sometimes we as coaches let the players figure things out on their own.  I love when players have that "Ah Haaah" moment on their own and all you have to do is point out the lesson already learned.  A great example of this happened yesterday in practice.  The following is a transcript of exactly what happened:

We are doing a 5 x 0 drill.  One of our post players is running hard down the middle of the floor "main street" and seals the coach holding a pad to receive a "paint / post catch." While that is going on our other "BIG" is settling into the top of the key area, "trail spot."  The post player gets the ball locates middle as she is taught while the trail big stays at the top of the key.  The post player then begins to go to a drop step to the middle as the trail big begins to dive to the opposite block.  The post player then stops.  The trail big then stops.  The post player goes to some uncertain weak unaggressive shot while the trail big stands in the paint.  I blow the whistle.

"Hold up," I say..... "Hold up." as I hold out my hands to signal for the ball to be passed to me.  I tuck it under my arm and begin walking back down the court.
"Let's go back..... we're alright," I say in my most calm and soothing voice.  "We have a great thing here." The players all give me a quizzical look.
"Our post player got a post catch there," I say pointing to the post area.  I turn to the post player, "Did you want to score that?"
"No," she said.  "I wanted to pass it to the trail diving."
I turned to the trail post player and asked, "Did you think your post player was going to score?"
"Yeah," she said.
"Okay - this is great!" I exclaim again being met with 16 quizzical looks.  "We now have another absolute to add to our list of things we know for certain........ Our post player and our trail person..... Those 2 players....." (I pause for dramatic effect)  "DO NOT HAVE MENTAL TELEPATHY!"
(chuckles from the team)
"They don't!" I say.  "And know we all now know that!" "So we are gonna have to TALK," I say once again very calmly, a Louisiana drawl making a slight appearance in my delivery.
"Me and the guy who drives the ice cream truck in my neighborhood, we may have mental telepathy because he always seems to show up when I am in need of a little treat!" I exclaim in a rising tone to laughter from the team, the quizzical looks now turning to looks of understanding with that "Ah Haah" moment firmly established on their faces.  
"But we now know you two players do not!" 
"Let's GO!" I yell as I throw the ball back up off the rim to start the drill, and the players emphatically and enthusiastically talk to each other while racing down the floor intent on using their new found knowledge for the rest of practice and hopefully the rest of the season.

The message behind this story..... I have yet to meet players who have mental telepathy.  Get your team to talk....... Get your employees to talk........ It absolutely takes guessing and misunderstanding out of the equation and gives your organization the best chance to always stay on the same page!


Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Ok - school has started - the fanfare is over, and while much of the country spends time focusing on the  window dressing of their program, here is your chance to ensure your program of a couple extra wins this upcoming season by focusing on some small but critically important details with your on the court teachings.  These details are often overlooked or decided against in developing players for this simple reasoning.......
  • This is beginner level teaching and won't hold the players interest and attention.  
  • It is much more fun to dive right into the offense or defense and play games than instruct players on how to do specific little things. 
Learning to do specific little things correctly, leads to becoming a better individual player.  If you have 5 individuals on the court who have each become better individual players, your team dramatically becomes better.  This is one of my favorite quotes relating to this idea:
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”
Friedrich Nietzsche  (1844-1900)  

Thanks to Eddie Murphy in the movie Coming to America I learned about the wisdom of Nietzche! (Thanks to Eddie Murphy I learned a lot of other things in the '80's but that is a topic for another time!)  Keeping this philosophy in mind let's take Nietzsche's advice and teach our players to first learn to stand.  We will do that by taking a closer look at shooting the basketball - and exactly what makes a good shooter.

First of all - understand something - no shooters have the exact same form and shot technique.  There are countless ways to put the ball in the basket and no one particular way is better than another.  The KEY, especially when working with college and professional athletes is developing a simple and consistent shot that can easily be maintained and "tweaked" when necessary.  Rarely is there a situation when you completely need to rebuild a student-athletes shot.  Far too often that is the mistake coaches and players make.  Telling a player they need to "completely fix" something usually leads to frustration and confusion on their part.  Remember these players have been highly recruited and to tell them something needs to be "completely redone" would be hard for anyone to hear.  Instead, it is important for the coach to really spend time watching the player, studying their form and rhythm and really trying to identify ways to bring consistency to the shot.  Some things that are really important to focus on include:
  • Feet - The ball goes where the toes are pointed.  Watch the players feet and see which direction they face, and do they face the same way every time.
  • Feet - Where do they take off and where do they land?  
  • Hand Position - What part of their shooting hand is touching the ball? Is it on the fingertips? Is the Thumb nice and soft?
  • Off Hand Involved - Is the off hand manipulating the shot?
  • Balance - When the ball is released, what is the position of the body? Did they shoot "up and out of the phone booth?"
  • Finish - Are they "Enjoying their shot?" Is their "Hand in the Cookie Jar?"
The ability to instantly use video to help in  your teaching really can help drive home the point you are trying to make with your players.  To provide solid visual evidence to support your teaching can really help add credibility to your teaching.  Film the players shooting the basketball, then spend time analyzing it with them.  Perfect their shot on video - then compare it with game film of them shooting.  The closer they match, the more successful and consistent shooter the player will become.

I still use these simple guidelines every time I am on the court doing skill work whether I am working with an incoming freshman, or WNBA players.  Incorporate these simple ideals into your teaching early in the season to ensure by March your team will be dancing in postseason play and you will all be - "ENJOYING YOUR SHOT"

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Last week we talked about team expectations, and the importance of understanding each persons "role" in the organization.  While most would agree that defining and accepting roles is a critical part to the success of any organization, it isn't as easy as just telling someone their role and leaving it at that.  I thought it would be great to share with you the four key points to helping your team, coaches and anyone else in your program understand and accept the roles you are asking them to fulfill.

  1. DEFINE THE ROLE - How many times is this important part overlooked?  Either it isn't clearly explained, changes without notice, or isn't even explained in the beginning! I can't tell you the number of times I will hear from coaches who are frustrated with their players and the constant word tracks are - "They just don't get it!" / "They should know it needs to be done that way!" or "We knew to do that - why don't they?"  NEVER ASSUME - and even if the role was defined 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year ago - it is important to always remind them of their defined role, and the importance they play in your teams success.
  2. UNDERSTAND THE ROLE - Most often this is where all communication breaks off.  In the "old days" when we were playing, we were told what to do and never even thought to question our coach.  The idea that a player would "run through a brick wall" without ever questioning it is now the exception in athletics, not the norm.  Because of this, it is important you really spend time with the player and help them understand exactly what you are asking of them.  As always, be as specific as possible!  That way if anything happens done the road, it is very easy to refer back to your discussions with the player and remind them of the specific examples that hopefully were given to help them understand their role.
  3. ACCEPT THE ROLE - Another huge component that is so often overlooked.  Someone may have had their role defined, and they clearly understand their role - but if they don't truly accept the role they will NEVER complete the next part which is to fulfill the role.  Simply put - if you heart isn't truly in something, it's pretty hard to really put maximum EFFORT, ENERGY, and ENTHUSIASM into whatever you are supposed to be doing.  The challenge for you as a coach or leader of a program is to find the right way to get each player to whole-heartedly accept the role they are given and understand the organizations success is directly related to them performing their role.
  4. FULFILL THE ROLE - Once the first three points have been accomplished, this becomes the easiest and most rewarding part of the equation.  This is where the action takes place.  Remember the specific examples you gave earlier?  In this phase you can now circle back to those examples to see how the individual is handling the role given to them.  Measurable goals also work well here to really check to see if the role has been understood and accepted.  Always remember - without clear definition, understanding, and acceptance a role will NEVER be completely fulfilled to the best of their abilities.  And at the end of the day........isn't that what coaching is all about?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


In my last post, we spent some time talking about your preparation for the upcoming season.  Now we can begin to discuss expectations for your team.  There is no better time of the year to clearly set expectations for your team than at the very beginning.  Remember......everyone is 0-0 on the season and everyone has aspirations of having a "special season."  What are the key points you need to instill in August and September to ensure success in March?

  • BE A PART OF SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF (SELFLESSNESS) - Probably the most important concept to convey anytime you are working with any number of people.  30 years ago, this was understood and one of the main reasons one joined a team.  That mentality drastically changed with the popularity of SportsCenter, and the idea that self-promoting is important in team sports.  Whenever you can get team members to truly understand this concept, you are well on your way to reaping the benefits.
  • ENERGY, EFFORT, ENTHUSIASM ALL DAY, EVERY DAY - This has been a mantra for me since 1999 and it is still as valid and applicable today when setting the tone for your team. They MUST give EFFORT, ENERGY, and ENTHUSIASM in everything that they do in order for them to individually reach their potential and for your team to ultimately reach it's potential.  The beauty of EFFORT, ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM is they are 3 things individuals can directly control.  There are so many other outside influences at play every time we compete - isn't it nice to be able to really focus on the things WE can control?
  • RESPECT EVERYONES UNIQUE GIFTS AND TALENTS -  I spent some time talking about this in my last post.  It does no good to discover and develop you and your team's gifts and talents, if they aren't respected.  You must spend as much time cultivating this expectation in your program, as you do anything else.  As coaches, we constantly talk about the short comings of our student-athletes, don't forget about their uniqueness to your program and try to focus on that.
  • UNDERSTAND AND EMBRACE ROLE DEFINITION AND RECOGNITION -  Nobody does exactly the same job - nor should they!! You have a head coach, possibly an associate head coach and assistant coaches.  Each has a unique job description and should be constantly reminded of how different and important their role is in your program.  The same holds true with your players.  Some roles naturally appear, and some need constant attention to develop - but at the end of the day if you have players or staff members feeling like they are carbon copies of each other - you have a serious problem and are more than likely in for a long season.
Four simple statements to guide you and your team as you begin this incredible and exciting journey towards your ultimate goal.  These can't just be touched upon in your pre-season meeting then brushed aside never to be revisited.  Make them a constant theme to your season.  Revisit them often and you and your team will be in a great position to........"ENJOY YOUR SHOT!"

Friday, August 17, 2012


With the arrival of August, coaches all over the country are starting to gear up for the start of school, and the start of their season.  Before you know it, student-athletes will be back and you will be in the middle of pre-season workouts.  Before you hit the court, one of the pre-requisites is the team meeting that occurs usually on the first day of classes.  Much time and energy is put into exactly what message to convey to set the tone for the entire season.  And while there is no doubt that is important, before you come up with a list of things you want your team accountable for, it is important to sit down and have a meeting with yourself before the craziness of the season takes over.


  • FIND YOURSELF - Easily the most important, yet probably the most difficult.  Who you are and what your values are play a critical role in understanding your team.  We talked a lot about "Knowing who you are" in my previous post.  When you have a good understanding of that, you have a better ability to convey your message to your team.  As anyone knows, it is so much easier to sell your "vision" or "product" when it is something you passionately believe in yourself.  And players, kids, consumers, everybody can see right through you unless you really believe in what you are saying. 
  • DISCOVER YOUR AND YOUR TEAM'S UNIQUE GIFTS AND TALENTS AND DEVELOP THEM - Everyone is good at something, and everyone has something specific to them that I consider exceptional.  So your job as a coach is to find a way to organize and arrange your team, staff and support staff to help accentuate everyone's unique gifts and talents.  Imagine an organization where everyone feels they are important and everyone has something special and unique that enhances the team.  
  • GIVE YOUR GIFT AWAY - Seems simple enough, but far too often this step never happens.  And it needs to happen at all levels in your organization.  Your team manager has a gift that needs to be shared with others.  Same as your walk-on, your role player, your starter, your All-Conference player, your All-American, your support staff, your coaching staff, and lastly and most importantly YOU!  It is up to you to facilitate that in your organization.  Somehow you must find a way to incorporate that mentality in every person associated with your organization.  There is no "right way" to do that.  Each will definitely be unique to each program, each situation, each year.   

Challenge yourself to follow these principles this fall as you prepare for your first meeting.  Hopefully you will see dramatic results throughout your whole program, and you will learn something about yourself in the process.


Thursday, August 9, 2012


One of my favorite sayings.  Over the years, I have probably said this phrase hundreds of times.  It was even the saying on my license plate holder thanks to a thoughtful Xmas gift from a former player!  It works on the simplest level, and in the most in depth situations.  There is nothing better than watching a player or a team embrace this saying and really understand "who and what they are."

As a player:  What do you do well?  What are your weaknesses?  What are the things that you best bring to the table to help your team?  It is so important to be honest when you answer these questions.  As you read this you instantly see this applies in the workplace, and everyday life as well as on the basketball court.  If you are a great shooter, why would you always try to drive to the paint to try to score?  If you are a great people person, it does you no good to sit behind a computer all day and never communicate.  You need to really sit down and understand what your strengths are.  Now with that being said - it is still critically important to continue to work on weaknesses you may also identify.  YOU MUST however never allow the development of those weaknesses to interfere with the good of the team!

EXAMPLE:  Several years ago there was an all-american player who was well on her way to an amazing college career.  She was a starter and leader on her team and on of the most feared shooters in the country.  For whatever reason, she (or her coach) made the decision to try to turn her into a driver and a playmaker.  What happened was astonishing.  Her overall FG percentage dropped almost 14% and her 3-pt percentage dropped 10%.  Oh - and by the way her turnovers increased by 50% as well!

Now there is no telling if this was a conscious effort by the player to do more, or the coach - either way, it definitely had a negative effect on her team.

I get sentimental thinking about former players I have coached.  I really give them credit for understanding and embracing this mantra.  There is no way we could have experienced the success we have over the years, if players didn't understand this concept.  It also really makes team building that much easier since each player already has knowledge of who and what they are.

NOW COACHES - don't think you get off that easy.....before you can command a player to understand and embrace this concept, you must first take a long look in the mirror and determine what you are.  Sometimes it is tough to be impartial, so I suggest you ask some friends and people you trust in the business to give honest feedback on what you are known for.  So often a coach may think they are known as a great recruiter, or great skill development person, only to find that they are known for something completely different.  Find that which you are known for - and embrace it and help it blossom.  In your spare time, work on your shortcomings - it will only make you a better coach in the future.

And being a better coach will only open more doors for you - and when those doors open.... "Enjoy Your Shot!"

Sunday, July 29, 2012


I love word tracks.  Catchy sayings that help you remember things.  In all my years of working I have relied on word tracks.

In Sales: (Empathy-Overcome-Benefit-Close)
In Teaching: (Life Happens in Small Groups)
In Coaching: (Enjoy Your Shot)

Now there are certainly more than just those few examples, but you get the idea.  Over time you are going to be exposed to many coaching word tracks I use everyday in teaching the game.  Any number of them could have been used for the title of this blog - however after much thought and retrospection, I decided on the 3 simple words - "Enjoy Your Shot."  The rational behind this phrase is very works on so many important levels, and can be applied in so many different situations in life.

1) In Basketball: Where the phrase began - whether instructing grade school players or the elite college athlete, this phrase is a constant mainstay in my skill instruction.  I firmly believe balance is so important in shooting and it is critical to have great form, posture and balance after the ball releases your hand.  It is a thing of beauty when a player has shot the ball, and is standing there erect, perfectly balanced, holding their follow through, watching the ball pass through the hoop.  The example I have used for years in Michael Jordan - when he hit the game winning shot to beat the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals in 1998.

Click here to see the shot!! (With apologies to Karl Malone, John Stockton and Utah Jazz fans)

What a thing of beauty.  To have an NBA Championship on the line, and to have the poise, and confidence in that shot, in that moment - there was no doubt the ball was going to find the basket.  "Enjoy Your Shot" every time you shoot the ball.  Every shot, every game, every day - the more you get commit to enjoying your shot, the more you are going to enjoy this game.  We will definitely get into more details about shooting the basketball - so stay tuned!!!

2) In Your Daily Life: Thanks to Robin Williams in 1989, which coincidentally was the year I graduated from Great Falls High School, the latin phrase "carpe diem" (seize the day) became a rallying cry all over the united states as people attempted to "live in the moment" with everything they did. Click here to see what he did!!  "Enjoy Your Shot" conveys a very similar meaning when applied away from the basketball court. Whatever you are doing in your day to day life - inevitably great opportunities come up.  Career changing, Life changing opportunities.  Far too often we shy away from these opportunities because they mean change to the way we live our life.  We are so comfortable in our own little existence, yet we long for  a better existence.  When those potential career / life changing moments present themselves to you - relax - open your mind to the possibility presented and "Enjoy Your Shot!"

3) On your 21st birthday, or any appropriate time thereafter:  (I will let you have fun thinking of your own examples.  I certainly don't need to bore you with my stories!)

So we shall begin this journey together today - and we will see where this takes us.  I have been so fortunate to learn from so many great minds, and I have been compiling notebooks upon notebooks of information that I have used to develop some very talented players.  It is my goal to share as much as I can with you, and hopefully learn from you as well.  I had the chance to speak at "A STEP UP" in Dallas this spring and it was such a powerful experience.  I went their to share a story and learned so much instead.  It was from that experience that the decision was made to try my hand at blogging so a big thank you to Felicia Hall-Allen and Johnny Allen for their belief in me!  I hope this journey is long lasting; filled with many laughs, stories and learning experiences and at the end of it all - we will all have been put in the position to "ENJOY OUR SHOT!"

Saturday, July 28, 2012


It's finally time.......... I have been asked for years about starting a blog and sharing some thoughts, ideas, and experiences from my career in coaching.  I have been so fortunate to learn from some amazing individuals and I have always been so grateful for them taking the time to share their knowledge with me.  Hopefully what is to come will be found beneficial and enlightening to you, and maybe a bit entertaining as well.  Thanks to all who encouraged this endeavor.....................I hope you all ENJOY YOUR SHOT!!!