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!"