Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Spurs SLOB Boomerang

Not a game winner, just the way the Spurs do business...another thing of beauty...



Magnificent team play on a 'simple' SLOB out of a box set.


Ginobili's brilliance makes this play. This action evolves over 3-4 seconds. Great offense comes from "multiple actions". Each player perfectly fills a role. Beautiful. 

The Coach as Psychologist


"I'm a psychologist." Chuck Daly used to say that he was a salesman. Maybe we're both selling the same item.

Coach Calipari called his latest book, "Team First." We live in the "ME" generation. Coaches reflect on the same thing in different ways. Doc Rivers used the African proverb, "You can go faster alone, but farther together." Casey Stengel shared, "the key to being a good manager is to keep the people who hate me away from those who are undecided." The best teams have a genuine affection for each other as people first and as players and coaches second. 

I want to convince players that letters (W's and L's) mean more than numbers. It's not always easy, because normal parental influence (I call that the Prime Directive) seeks recognition and many people believe that numbers define performance. Bill Russell had a saying, "my ego depends on the success of my team." 

Energize. The coach and point guards have ownership for the energy at practice. A blind person at practice should hear the enthusiasm and a deaf one should see the intensity. We define the tempo and players learn to operate at a higher level. 

Kevin Eastman had an adage about "fighting for your culture every day." The environment I want for the operation is Teamwork, Excellence, and Accountability. "Me over we" mentality destroys all of the aforementioned. 

After teamwork-culture, we need motivation. Back in the day, that meant the Bruce Jenner protocol - exercise, rest, nutrition, supplements, and goals. Dad used to say, "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Coaches can be warm and demanding. Another Eastman comment is, "you are responsible for your paycheck." Get after it. 

Foster competition. How does a player learn to fight to "win this possession" from the opening tap to the final buzzer? It helps to have competitive players, but we can foster competition within practices. Applying and defeating pressure are central to success in most endeavors, but especially basketball. I don't have heart rate monitors like the University of Kentucky, but we did have a pair of twins. They battle the heck out of each other and it's contagious. 

Reinforce confidence. We can't let players get down. One player wasn't scoring as much as she expected, because she was relying on her perimeter shots too much. "Play the game inside to outside." That builds confidence and makes defenders tentative. 

Praise players who do the 'little things' that make a difference. Blocking out, moving without the ball, taking a charge, going to the floor, pressuring the ball, setting up cuts, getting the hockey assist and screening well might not get you on the scorebook but they'll get you on the court. Thanks is the cheapest form of compensation; let players know how much you appreciate the effort. 

Stay humble. When struggles occur, the coach has to maintain perspective but when success follows, keep players and the team grounded. 

Set high expectations. I expect attention to detail. Without the details, the mission fails. The detail extends off the court as we expect players to become better people and maintain high academic standards. Every senior on my daughters' high school team was on the honor roll. That is the de facto standard, not an outlier. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Zipper Action into Helpside Ball Screen Options



Celtics' Coach Brad Stevens acclimated quickly to the NBA game. This video (and diagrams) show simple zipper action into a pair of ball screens - the second with multiple options available. 

Ball side zipper action evolves into middle ball screen and opposite side pick and roll. With the recent Olympics, it reminds me of the pommel horse, where athletes have to migrate to each segment of the equipment. It's an innovative way to get Thomas and Johnson into a ball screen with options for perimeter shots on ball reversal. 

Scoring Off Screens (Drills)

One key to offensive production is CREATING SEPARATION. Wes Kosel, one of the most prolific 'sharers' in the basketball community, shares PTP (Pick the picker), also known as STS (screen-the-screener) actions here

But the key to great offense isn't just separation, it's FINISHING. 

Here's a staged drill we use to simulate shooting off screens. 



With young players we see gradual improvement in shooting UNTIL passive (hands up) defense is added, affecting shooter TARGETING. 



Players can also use the "Nutmeg Drill" to improve targeting. 

Action Adds Clarity

Define yourself. What is your character, your work ethic, your ability to persist in the face of adversity?

Are you going to "give in and give up or get in and get up?" When you set your sights on a goal, how determined are you to acquire the knowledge and work the process to succeed? 


This article on Arnold Schwarzenegger's career illustrates his success through belief in himself, followed by taking the actions needed for achievement. It's not a referendum on perfection, as we realize that Schwarzenegger, like all of us, had flaws. But it demonstrates how "the magic is in the work." 

In my "Commonplace Book" of wisdom not knowledge, I added "the best dividends on the labor invested have invariably come from seeking more knowledge rather than more power" from David McCullough's "The Wright Brothers". The caveat follows that action adds clarity. 


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Defensive Communication

Augustana assistant Wes Kosel put me onto this article about defensive communication

Here are key excerpts:

1. Preparation
Don't confuse bad grammar with absence of wisdom. “I done watched three times as much film [as him],” Allen explains.

2. Timeliness 
“Communicate early. That’s one key that I think basketball is losing.Knowing where your help is, and knowing what’s happening, really helps.” - Paul Gasol

3. Understanding
Communication reflects understanding. But everyone must be on the same page. 

4. Experience
It won't happen immediately...but if you don't practice, then it won't happen at all.


KG is saying, "I don't need help." When a guard digs or doubles, they may expose a perimeter pass. 

5. Pressure
Ball pressure reduces options during shot clock games and disallows players and teams from getting into their offense. The challenge is to pressure the ball without exposing penetration. Both the applier and the receiver are forced from their comfort zone. 

6. Intimidation
Communication intimidates. 



Book It

Ryan Holiday shares thoughts on your "Commonplace Book."

What we see is less important than what we learn and incorporate.

"the commonplace book is a thread that runs through all those ideas. It what ties those efforts together and makes you better at each one of them. I was introduced and taught a certain version of this system Robert Greene and now I am passing along the lessons because they’ve helped me so much."

Coach Don Meyer used to keep three notebooks...one on basketball learning, one on general learning, and one of appreciation for his wife. He would give her that book every year. 


George Raveling Podcast Highlights


Coach George Raveling is Director of Nike International basketball and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. He is a basketball and civil rights thought leader. You may not have time to listen to the full podcast

Coach Raveling stood next to Martin Luther King (August 28, 1963) during his "I have a dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial. 

The podcast emphasizes the role of mentorship, human potential, and personal growth. 

"Reading with Rav" has been his program to encourage reading which is a core value for him.

"The two most important commodities in the world are information and money."

"I can continue to educate myself (at 79)...and take myself from where I am to where I should be." 

Information availability marginalizes excuses about poor schools or poor teachers. He believes that launching reading skills depends on giving people books reflecting their interest...

"Back in the days of slavery plantation owners hid their money in books..." because they didn't think slaves would read. 

Reading stimulates 'critical analytical thinking'...

"If it is to be, it is up to me..."

"Create a community (within the universal community)...to control my destiny." This involves your associates, what you listen to and what you watch. This includes your diet, travel, and activity. 

"I'm more interested in being contented than in being happy." 

"There is no finish line..." (Nike)

"The minute you think you've won, you're starting to lose." - Phil Knight 

"I'm perfectly capable of validating myself..." don't allow someone else to try to remake you into what you are not. 

He lost his father at age 9 (death) and mother at age 13 (institutionalized for mental illness) and lived with his grandmother. 

He had a variety of jobs at a Catholic boarding school, ranging from cleaning out chicken coops, baling hay, worked in the bakery, and more.  He did basic training at Fort Knox, KY for which he felt prepared by his school experience. He has always focused on absorbing life lessons. 

"Athletics were the vehicle that transported me along in life." He was the second leading scorer in high school in Pennsylvania. He was recruited and offered by Jack Ramsay (St. Joe's) and he explained that he didn't even know what a scholarship was. He said his grandmother couldn't understand why anyone would educate him to play basketball. 

He practiced every day not without a specific goal other than improvement. As a student, he had no idea about college or scholarships. But athletics took him off campus to see the world. "Somewhere...the Hand of God was pushing me along." 

The nuns kept him after school (senior year) for extra teaching (Latin, word derivatives) so that he would be prepared for college (Villanova). He said that during his senior year, Sister Emmanuel never said anything positive to him. Ultimately she said, "do you think there was a method to my madness?" 

He was making more money in management training (Sunoco) than he was offered ($7500) to play basketball for the Warriors. He reentered basketball as an assistant coach at Villanova (first African-American assistant). 

He discusses how he was asked to volunteer for security work during the March on Washington. All speeches were supposed to be limited to five minutes. He was on the podium the whole day. He noted that Dr. King (final speaker) abandoned his prepared text along the way leading into "the Dream". He was the only speaked allowed to continue more than five minutes. Raveling receives the written speech from Dr. King at this time...the 'value' of the copy is estimated at up to 25 million dollars...it is in a safety deposit box. He has refused to sell it.  

At the reception after the speech, President Kennedy told Dr. King that he loved the "I have a dream" speech which was how the speech is remembered.

As he aged, he understood his life in a broader context. He realized that it would be difficult to gain respect as a black man but could earn respect for his intellect. "We have to figure out what our role is and we have to play it."

"It is a moral responsibility to speak out against injustice and inequality." Discrimination is more complex now and far broader than pigment-based.

"I see myself as a Servant Leader...it is no longer about me; it is about them." At the same time, he sees the reality and the need to evolve with technology and information. "I transfer from old thinking to new thinking." 

"I hang around with young people...the young people are my mentors." Young people define the future...he wants to stay relevant. 

"What is it that I don't know that I need to know to become relevant and competitive?" 

At 1:15 he gets more into coaching. 

What makes a great coach is consistently getting the athlete to operate at peak efficiency and to motivate them. The trust of parents translates to a huge responsibility. A parent told him, "I don't want no foolishness from you," meaning she wanted continuation and expansion of values. 

"The most important game to win is the game of life." 

Athletics teaches life lessons - winning and losing, listening, decision-making, inclusiveness, leadership. 

"One and done" emphasizes materialism not education, character, and values. 

"Voices that you listen to determine the choices you make." Which voices do you hear? 

"There's far too much emphasis on the physical and too little on the mental...and it starts on the basketball court." 

There is not enough emphasis on the mental part of the game. 

In analyzing an athlete he looks for potential - are they coachable, teachable, passionate, and what is their position relative to their ceiling?

"At the end of the day, the game...comes down to putting the ball in the basket...and stopping it." 























Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fast Five: Turnoffs for Coaches

Most of us are blessed to have committed, coachable, disciplined, team-oriented players. But from time-to-time we encounter players who need more guidance, more structure, and more maturity. 

As coaches, what frustrates you, embarrasses you, annoys you, or brings you to the edge? I'm not talking pet peeves (e.g. traveling on the perimeter). 

If you don't care, it's unfair to your teammates. You are accountable to the team. When you don't know your assignment or the plays, it speaks volumes. 

The best way to get respect is to give it. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. When you disrespect your parents, your teammates, or your coaches, why would you expect anyone to respect you? 

It is not about you. Get over yourself. The team matters. Teammates matter. Coach Wooden remarked, "Happiness begins when selfishness ends." 

Maybe great players can get away with bad body language. We can't. The majority of communication is non-verbal. Lead. Act like a champion. 

If you intend to stand around on the court, then expect to sit next to me during the game. "Lack of effort means lack of minutes."

Geno Knows Xs and Os

Coach Nick at BBallBreakdown has generously shared some USA Basketball concepts and I'm adding some diagrams to reinforce clarity. Coach Geno Auriemma gets underrated for his game understanding and concept implementation. 

The first concept you see in the video is Auriemma practicing the team against men. "Make practice hard so that games are easier." 

"Zipper Fist"...zipper cut into high ball screen. You can see how you could run this as a SLOB with equal facility. We've discussed how tough it can be to defend DHO into a high ball screen and this "multiple actions" concept applies. He shows multiple options including getting ball side postup action if that fits your personnel. 

Coach calls this "High Post Split". By running the offense middle, there is no "help" side and extending the offense clears the basket area. You see down screen action on one side and flare on the other. There are lots of possibilities including isolating the 5. Elegant!

Coach calls this "Pistol" but I prefer the more descriptive DHO Ball screen. The dribble handoff creates the nightmarish situation of a Taurasi or Augustus middle PnR with bigs like Griner, Charles, or Fowles. When help comes, they have the pitch to shooters. Remember, Auriemma is looking to score a third in transition, a third on 3s, and a third from other sets. 

Who doesn't like horns? Coach Nick shares another way to get separation into a DHO after a pindown. In addition to freeing up a deadly shooter, you get the DHO into roll opportunity or a switch into an unholy mismatch. 

Horns morphs into 1-4 with "Blind Pig" action. Sometimes they continue this into a weak side 'stagger' as 2 goes to the block, screens, and goes through, setting up a 3/5 PnR

Coach then fires up some Triangle Offense, going through the main options, including "Pinch Post" (Option 2), and the weak side flash. 

Anybody who thinks that Geno couldn't coach in the NBA ("He coaches girls") just doesn't know the game. 






Thursday, August 25, 2016

Achieving Your Goals

"The magic is in the work." 

All of us want to achieve something. But individually and collectively, to achieve we need to define goals, a process to achieve them, intermediate goals en route, and metrics to assess progress. 

Upon reflection, how many of us have clarity on that process? E.M. Goldratt writes in "The Goal", "I have come to the conclusion that productivity is the act of bringing a company closer to its goal. Every action that brings a company closer to its goal is productive. Every action that does not bring a company closer to its goal is not productive."

As we examine our programs, we can ask which actions are bringing us closer (to our goals) and which are not? Have I/we embarked upon a lifetime journey of learning and growth or something less? Are players energized and working on their knowledge and skills or are they working on soccer and softball? 

Goldratt continues, "I would want to see increases in net profit and return on investment and cash flow—all three of them. And I would want to see all three of them increase all the time." How does that translate to your program?

I'll argue that net profit isn't "wins and losses" but program-wide cultivating excellence. Return on investment might represent playing quality basketball.  And cash flow ultimately is the value added for the people associated with the program. When we have great process, truly inspired process, then growing excellence adds value and resulting quality play. 

Each of us helps define OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH. That can be directly basketball-related (reading, film study, athletic training, off-season workouts) or indirectly (e.g. community building-e.g. community service). 

We need DELIBERATE PRACTICE. John Wooden remarked, "never confuse activity with achievement." Attendance only partially solves problems. The quality of every repetition bears on the value added. Practicing a skill wrong only reinforces poor technique. For instance, driving right to left with your right hand exposes the ball, likely leading to a turnover. We cannot accept that in practice. 



Are we LASER FOCUSED. What is our ONE GOAL, the French 'raison d'etre'? We can emphasize it with different words, "The main thing is the main thing", "One band, one sound", "do your job", "accomplish the mission", or the Japanese "Kaizen". 

Basketball is about people.Jackie Robinson noted, "A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives." David Cottrell preaches it another way, "people don't quit jobs; they quit people." How do we treat our people? 

The one person disallowed from lack of energy, commitment, and focus is the program director. We set the tone, lead and inspire the troops. If we establish a priority on personal and collective improvement, exponential growth is possible. Impossible becomes "I'm possible." Impossible is nothing becomes "I'm possible in everything." Who are we inspiring today?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

BOB 1-4 Low Series

We can create intriguing inbounds plays if we have the personnel to execute. I'll call this the 1-4 "Low" series. We are athletic but small and we're going to have to execute (play better basketball) to be competitive. 

We have some grit and some smarts and compete. 

Excellent action from our 5 is a key. The inbounder is always a threat. 

The inbounder is a threat as a screener as well. Players need to remember that the screener is the second cutter. 

We can also set up a midrange shot off the staggered screen, get an iso for 5, or have the 5/3 work weakside after the pass. 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ballscreens and Doubles: Triangle Protections

Young players DO NOT "get it." Young players DO NOT "get it." Even accounting for ADD/ADHD (which are real), young players need constant checks on understanding with repetition, feedback, correction, and more repetition and feedback. 

What you and I know doesn't matter; only what THEY 'get'. I cut my teeth as a defensive player, but we have to work 80 percent of our time on offense as younger players don't have the scoring or shooting skills early on. 

I'm sharing concepts from Lawrence Frank. I know my players DO NOT get it, yet...not even close. We don't communicate anywhere close to enough and we're mostly afraid to get beaten defending on the ball. 

Frank emphasizes positioning, reaction, and communication...with triangle protection away from the ball. Obviously, the NBA (with a shot clock) is a screen-and-roll league. 


"Know the coverage; trust the protection."

This mandates NO MIDDLE stance. Most bigs are not huge perimeter threats early on. 

We don't see so much FLOPPY-like action. We have to deny as much as possible scoring in the paint. Most people teach "lock and trail" technique on the ball side and go under the screens on the help side (will always be 'weak side' to me). 

High ballscreens will be an issue at all levels. His concept of the ball "pulling" makes sense. 

Doubling the post means opening up other areas. Decide whether you'll allow the ball back out to the entry...or understand the helpside perimeter diagonal pass is available. 


Saturday, August 20, 2016

UCONN Actions Versus Maryland (BOBs and Defeating the 1-3-1)

UCONN finds a way...with top players, excellent coaching, and disciplined execution. Here are a few actions excerpted from UCONN-MD. 





I call this "Triangle Boomerang". Yes, it helps to have a great finisher. 2 gets screen-the-screener action and Stewart-Tuck-Stewart Boomerang pass ensues. 

UCONN  sets up 2 (Nurse) to come off a screen, Tuck cuts through (wide open) and the 3 finds someone to screen. 


UCONN is willing to run their "man" stuff against zone. Stewart (5) cuts to the block and Nurse (2) enters to Tuck (4). Stewart and Tuck play high-low with another great seal. 

You can make the argument that UCONN and women's basketball plays the most fundamentally sound game in the world. Yes, it won't be as easy without three of the top players in the country next season. 

Breaking Down UCONN - ND: Learn from Excellence

Youtube shares many outstanding contests and we can break down highlights to teach players the 'why' behind actions. As a young player, I didn't have the same access but there's no excuse now. 



1:03 Don't save the ball under your own basket. ND gives away a deuce to UCONN. 
1:26 Steal, scoop, and score by Jefferson. Attack mentality!
1:34 Analytics? The power of the mid-range game. 
1:47 Kia Nurse shows the value of the pull-up for her mid-range jumper. 
2:00 ND playing 2-3 zone but with Stewart's outside threat, Tuck gets iso'd with the defender playing behind. Ruh roh. 
2:11 UCONN in 1-3-1 counter to the zone. They find the post but note Jefferson's relocation and ball reversal into an open corner 3. 
2:25 UCONN wants to score 1/3 in transition, 1/3 on 3s, 1/3 on sets. Transition leads to offensive rebound scoring. 
3:01 ND switches to 3-2 (1-2-2 for some) zone. The 'hole' is in the middle and the corners are vulnerable. Samuelsson makes ND pay. 
3:32 ND in man. UCONN goes to a two guard front. Stewart cuts to the post. Two. No dribbles. 
3:56 Dr. FLAPS. Against the zone you can Dribble into gaps, Reverse the ball, FLash into opening, Post-up, and Screen. 

Tuck screens, Jefferson penetrates and x4 is in "no man's land" with Samuelsson for an open 3 or Nurse for a bunny. Deuce. 
4:03 ND in zone. Jefferson spots an opening and penetrate and dish action ensues. 
5:36 Sometimes it's great individual effort into 'multiple actions'. Nurse takes the dribble away from the baseline and Tuck gets a great seal into the post. 
5:47 Versus 3-2. More ball movement and seal by Stewart with Samuelsson dropping a dime.
6:10 Tuck goes "McHale". 
8:14 ND man. Tuck sets backscreen and clears cutter through. Stewart fakes a wing screen (slips) and gets rewarded for two. The slightest hesitation by the defender is fatal. 

The UCONN women show sophisticated basketball knowledge, decision-making, and actions en route to another National Championship. Those who dismiss the women's game have totally missed the point. 

Cross Training: Life and Sport

Steve Burns shares a tweet:


None are about talent. All are about commitment, discipline, effort, persistence, and process. 

Media Savvy: Performance and Perception

"You are what your record says you are." - Bill Parcells

It's not that simple. We live in an age of instant information. As a result, we see success and failure condensed by traditional and social media. Ripples of performance and perception spread at light speed. 

"Consider the source." Jim Bouton's Ball Four put "consider the source" on the map if not household words. Is the critic Johnny Jackwagon or Walter Winchell? Did you get flamed by Porky Pig or some contemporary Calvin Coolidge? 

"Don't whine, don't complain, don't make excuses." John Wooden carried these words of wisdom from his father. Criticism of objectively poor performance is expected. Criticism of perceived lack of effort or lack of interest hits harder. The worst indictments of players and coaches include words like "soft", "lazy", or "indifferent." 

"Workmanlike." Desired perception pronouncements include "tough", "prepared", "motivated", "committed", "disciplined", and "intense." None of the former reference skill. We know effort when we see it. 

"Media-friendly." The Boston Red Sox had a garrulous left fielder, Mike "Gator" Greenwell, popular with fans but especially with quote-hungry sportswriters. 



His first four seasons he had a total WAR (wins above replacement) of 17.3 During his final six seasons his total WAR was 7.8. He had a negative defensive WAR for his career. Greenwell understood his value as a player but especially as a communicator. He prolonged the back nine of his career with media relationships. 

"Spin Cycle." Good coaches don't have to embellish, manage expectations, or throw players under the bus. 


Great coaches sometimes tell you nothing. 

I get annoyed when coaches constantly diminish their team. "It's a rebuilding year", "we have a tough schedule", "we're inexperienced", or "we don't have a lot of talent." Our job is to get the most from our players not be apologistas. 

"Truth." Kevin Eastman says that you have to be able to "live the truth, tell the truth, and take (handle) the truth." You know the maxim that "you can't fool children, dogs, and basketball players." Or more visually, "don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." Be honest without hurting. 

Players may not appreciate the power of words. 



Authenticity defines you. Words matter. Words herald the sounds of trumpets and the guns of war. Words heal and scar. Performance AND perception count. 

Friday, August 19, 2016

Fast Five: More Basketball Toughness Needed

My coach had a saying, "I'm pleased but I'm not satisfied." I can't quite say that I'm pleased. Although the girls lost only one game this summer, never confuse winning with excellence or a tough schedule. 

The games are over but the after-action review never ends. We can benefit from more toughness...regardless of the record or the score. 

1. "Play the game, not the scoreboard." Our girls need to hold themselves to a higher standard of concentration and intensity. Every possession matters on both ends.

                                               

2. "Take a charge." Shaka demonstrates. 

3. "Don't bail." When going hard to the basket, players need to embrace the contact. Finish and get the three point play or get fouled. 


                                                                                                                                                                                         4. "Don't GATOR the rebounds." Some players have "alligator arms" on rebounds as they shy away from physical play.



5. "Winners want the ball." In pressure situations, winners rise. They move without the ball and find ways to get open. Don't hide when the heat is on. 

Auriemma Playbook


These actions are drawn from 2016 UCONN versus South Florida. Ultimately it's superior execution not superior plays that define UCONN. But I also consider Geno Auriemma's creativity underrated. 

1. DHO Middle Screens


The play begins with a DHO from 1 (Jefferson) to 3 (Samuelsson) leading into an off ball screen from 4 (Tuck) with a cut to the block. Having 5 (Stewart) as your passer helps.  


Stewart gets a look to Samuelsson to 2 (Nurse) off the backscreen, or skip to Jefferson. Worst case, you have the Player of the Year, Stewart one-on-one. 

2. 1-4 High Pig Stagger


We've seen this look in the Olympics. This action starts with a hybrid "horns" to 1-4 look. The ball gets entered to Tuck (4) with the 3 (Samuelsson) looking for initial "blind pig" action. She continues off the staggered weak side screen and gets the ball into an elbow screen with Stewart (5). At other times, she has the jumper off the curl. 

3. Backscreen and Clear 


When the bigs are away from the basket, I'm always expecting them to go to the hoop. 3 reverses to 5 and gets a back screen. The ball goes back to the 4 and Stewart (5) gets the give-and-go. Simple and elegant and great having a center with wing skills. 

Coach K says "it's not about running plays", it's about making plays. But putting skilled players into positions they can succeed does facilitate success. 







Thursday, August 18, 2016

Better Version

Is Coach Soandso better than Coach Thatotherguy? Do we mean for that game, for that season, for that team, for that situation, for all time? How do you know? We often feel compelled to compare, because that is our nature. 

I believe what matters most is becoming a better version of our coaching selves. And we can only do that by working our process, including our curiosity and desire to learn more about the world we live. 

Coaching has many dimensions...relationships, communication, organization, preparation, knowledge and teaching, adjustments, and so forth. Show me a great coach with poor relationships and communication. Good luck with that. 

That isn't to say that every relationship - coach/player, coach/coaching staff, and player/player works out. Even the Dalai Lama would recognize that as an impossibility among a planet with billions of personalities. One man's meat is another's poison. 

Why do we coach? "Are we building a program or a statue," is a question I've heard. We succeed when we add value for our players and team, and when each player feels valued. "Thanks is the least expensive form of compensation." Recognizing a player as a great teammate is an underappreciated resource. 

If I tell a player, "if you want to be great, then you have to work great every day." Does that not apply equally to us? Ergo, regularly asking "how am I adding value" and "do players feel valued" become essential elements. 

Situations may arise when I can't add much value for a player. I had one player who was very athletic and fast, but had almost no grasp of basketball. I told her parents that she had some real strengths and I thought she could be an exceptional track athlete. They switched her into track. 

I don't know any sure-fire way to assure that players feel valued. Someone told me once that it's important to greet each player daily by name within the first ten minutes of practice. I've certainly had a coach who would only greet me if there were a solar eclipse. That didn't feel reassuring (or accidental). Sandwich criticism between praise and thank (when deserved) players for effort. 

If I need recognition, renown, or praise then it's really not about me or the team. And the coach's job is ultimately taking the players and the team where they can't go alone...becoming their better version. 


Fast Five: VO2Max

1. Maximal VO2 (VO2 max) serves as a measure of fitness. It allows us internal fitness comparisons for a player and between players. Is a player at their optimal fitness or are they improving (or regressing)? 

The equipment required for a high level cardiopulmonary exercise test is prohibitively expensive, but fortunately we have "quick and dirty" (back of the envelope) calculations from more available data. The test is obviously both fitness dependent but effort dependent and varies according to age and sex. 

2. From Wikipedia:

Cooper test

Kenneth H. Cooper conducted a study for the United States Air Force in the late 1960s. One of the results of this was the Cooper test in which the distance covered running in 12 minutes is measured. Based on the measured distance, an estimate of VO2 max [in mL/(kg·min)] is:[5]
where d12 is distance (in metres) covered in 12 minutes
An alternative equation is:
where d12 is distance (in miles) covered in 12 minutes
For example, a few years ago, I did a Cooper test (after training) on my treadmill, running 1.35 miles in 12 minutes, translating to 37.27 ml/(kg.min). 
3. Here are some extreme VO2 max values recorded (from topendsports.com), such as Lance Armstrong's 84. 
4. How can you improve your VO2 max? Training! Your VO2 max will improve as you add both muscle mass and train at higher intensity for higher durations. Of course, that also taxes your heart (coronary artery disease), lungs (asthma), and musculoskeletal system (arthritis). Your physician can assess your suitability for higher intensity exercise. 
5. VO2 max for basketball. Just as all players do not have the same ability, they have different aerobic capacities by position. This Serbian study showed that guards had higher VO2 max than wings or centers. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Funny Coaching Quotes




Even the most dour coaches or players occasionally share a quotable quote. Some coaches...a bit more...

Weldon Drew: "We have a bunch of great outside shooters. Unfortunately all our games are played indoors." 

Jerry Tarkanian: "In major college basketball, nine out of ten teams break the rules. The other one is in last place." 

George Raveling: "Fans never fall asleep at our games, because they're afraid they might get hit by a pass." 

Rays GM Chuck LeMar: "The only thing that keeps this organization from being recognized as one of the finest in baseball is wins and losses at the major league level."  

Abe Lemons: "There are really only two plays, Romeo and Juliet and put the darn ball in the basket." 

Bill (Spaceman) Lee: "I don't know what the big deal is about drug testing. Back in our day, we did a lot of drug testing." 

Jerry Sloan: "In my prime, I could have handled Michael Jordan. Of course he would be only twelve years old." 

Greg Popovich: "I asked them if it wasn't too much trouble, if I wasn't being too pushy, if they could execute what we were trying to do. And if it didn't make them too angry, if they also wanted to play some defense on the other end, that would be great." 

Red Auerbach: "He who believes in nobody knows that he himself is not to be trusted."

Doc Rivers: "Winning is like deodorant, when it comes up a lot of things no longer stink." 

Jerry Tarkanian: "The NCAA is so mad at Kentucky that they're going to give Cleveland State another year of probation."

Dean Smith: "If you make every game a life or death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." 


Monday, August 15, 2016

Imagination: Learning to Play 3 on 3

"Imagination is more important than information." - Einstein

All the contemporary great ones - Michael, Larry, Magic - like Einstein, can represent with one name. And if ideas are the currency of the future, creativity is the currency of today.

Although it sounds like a non sequitur, we need to show players how to create because they do not understand the symphony of player and ball movement. By no means is this an encyclopedic review. 

The "simplest" action is high ball screen with usual options as well as penetrate and pass option to 3 if x3 helps. Simple "slip" action for 5 logically comes into play. 

Horns like action on the ball side. If 1 sets the screen on the block, it's easy to envision "Flex" action with ball reversal and 5 downscreening for 1. 

Scissors action after post entry...fantastic mid-range shots if you have the shooters. 

When your 5 is more of a facilitator, she can distribute. When that's not open, it creates excellent dribble drive option for her. 

Dribble handoff into ball screens can be nightmarish to defend. 


Wing entry yields classic UCLA action that everyone uses. 

Post entry into DHO with a wrinkle. 3 gets her options and a backscreen from 1 sets up a lob for 5 or 1 might roll for a corner 3. Switches can create great mismatches. 

Most young players (and many young coaches) don't see the power of 3 on 3 actions. As Pete Newell reminded so many, the coach's job is to help players "see the game". Ball side 3 on 3 yields great scoring opportunities with fundamentally well-schooled players.