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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Social Influences on Basketball

I just finished reading Jonah Berger's Invisible Influences and share some observations about coaching girls' basketball. Certainly, these aren't all-inclusive or unbiased.

Although making the team has always mattered, standing out doesn't always carry the same weight. In a basketball classic, In These Girls Hope is a Muscle, the stars resolve a contentious rivalry along the way to success. They realize the best way forward to team achievement is collaboration. I've witnessed bitter rivalry that had limited impact upon team success. And when I asked a team whether they wanted a special jersey to recognize the practice player of the week, the girls were indifferent. They didn't want to be seen as 'different'.

Coaching can help keep egos grounded. Dean Smith publicly praised role players (similar but distinct) who received less media attention. He noted that the stars would always get their due. Reminding 'star' players to deflect credit to the team and their teammates can help maintain unity. Sometimes the collective appeal to the "working class" mentality against perceived "affluent" competitors drives an edge.

Younger players can benefit when they adopt the work ethic of veteran leaders (mimicry). But they can struggle when trying to displace 'stars'. This sometimes manifests (differentiation) as "hunting shots or drives", taking ill-advised or low percentage shots, or gambling on defense trying to make spectacular plays instead of solid ones.

I have two sets of twins on my current team. Sibling rivalry stimulates competition. But I consciously avoid having the twins mutually compete. Spreading that competition around enhances the collective fight in the team. In fact, before games, I borrowed the line from Kingsman, "are we going to stand around all day or are we going to fight?" 

The Move to Opportunity relocation program improved family health, reduced crime, advanced education, and increased career earnings. When we challenge players to compete against better competition, we demand they seek a higher standard of mastery. 

Even when we're struggling, we can reframe the contest to motivate better. "Win this half" or "win this quarter" might be a more coherent, attainable, and realistic goal than winning a game from a massive deficit.

Chuck Daly had a saying, "I'm a salesman." As coaches, we can get more by knowing our product and our players. Understanding the science of influence can help improve both individual and team performance. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


Nothing is more central to each of us than our identity. Who am I? Define yourself. Are you a parent, a construction worker, a biker, a reader, or a complex entity defying description? In "Invisible Influences" Jonah Berger examines what makes us similar and dissimilar to others. Do we choose our clothing, car, accessories, and style to convey a message about our identity?

And are we more or less likely to embrace or reject people, ideas, and messages based on group influences? For example, we all know J.K. Rowling wrote the immensely popular Harry Potter series. She also wrote a neglected crime novel, "Cuckoo's Calling", under the alias Robert Galbraith, selling 1500 copies. After she was revealed as the author, sales skyrocketed.

Successful teams similarly build an identity, "this is who we are and this is who we are not." But we have to work both to establish and maintain that identity. We are vulnerable to human frailty, the emergence of selfishness and ego.

Within our teams we need to develop both leadership and followership. And we need to correct behaviors compromising our identity and sometimes purge organizations of individual non believers.

What message do we send with our play? Do we exude effort, toughness, team spirit, and tenacity or indifference, selfishness, or aloofness? Do people fear playing against us or unwillingness to play beside us? Our identity impacts TEAM identity.

We should recognize that our actions on and off the court impact how people perceive us, our team, and our brand. How we treat others defines who we are. 

Bonus: work with a rebound partner in this timed drill. Start on one elbow with the ball. Shoot and sprint to the opposite sideline and back to the near elbow. Catch and shoot and repeat the process. Usually you can take about ten shots in a minute. Track progress in accuracy and conditioning.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Camp Driveway and a Bonus

Effective doesn't have to be expensive. Okay, you need a hoop and a ball and passion. Passion derives from the Latin 'passionem' meaning suffering. It's work. 

Here's just a partial list of what you can work on in the driveway:

Mikan Drill. As a kid, I wanted to make ten consecutively (from both sides)

Include the 'reverse' Mikan. 

One dribble jump shot. The mid-range game is dead? Don't tell that to the National Champion Villanova Wildcats or Evan Turner. 

ET with a combination move.

ET shows how to get one dribble separation. 

Work on your form. Jerry West taught taking a 'hard dribble' to launch yourself into the shot. 

West didn't become "The Logo" for nothing. 

Work on your free throws. Take 3 (how often do you take more than 3 at a time?) then sprint to the house, street, or halfcourt (if you're at the park) and recover the ball and shoot three more.

Paint 50. I used to stand near the basket, flip the ball over my head, then sprint to catch on the bounce, turn and fire (in the paint). Make 50. 

Emergency shots. Near the end of my 'workout', I'd take about twenty fallaways, step backs, and double pump jump shots that I'd call "emergency shots". I'm sure my coach would have a more colorful, "$hit $hots" moniker. 

My point is that Camp Driveway doesn't cost a lot and makes players. "Repetitions make reputations." 

Bonus: Double Diagonal 

Horns-like action into multiple scoring options. 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Problem Solving

- Ayn Rand

How badly do we want success? Finding solutions lies at the core of most jobs. The types of problems vary as well as the pathways to solutions - education and training, connecting and communication, negotiation, and so forth.

Education implies knowledge acquisition and sharing to change behaviors. For example, to solve a littering problem in Texas, leaders rolled out a campaign "Don't Mess with Texas" to discourage littering as being unmanly. 

Training means discipline or project specific practice. Benjamin Franklin opted out of the "family business" (candle making) to join his brother's printing business because he wanted exposure to information. He would cut up essays and reformulate them to improve his writing. 

Personnel are often critical to mission success. In Jim Collins' Good to Great, he emphasizes the importance of having the right people on the bus and getting the wrong people off the bus. About 10,000 candidates begin the journey to become a Navy SEAL each year. Almost 20 percent fail the "Psych Test", and because 98 percent of those failing will not graduate, failing means elimination. Of the 1200 applicants who make the cut for training, only about 20 percent complete initial training, meaning only about 250 new SEALs emerge from 10,000 applicants. An additional two years of enhanced training are needed before operational deployment. 

Strategy is only one component for success. For example, within investing, win rate (percentage of winning trades) is less important than money management. Small losses and higher gains per winning trade are pivotal for long-term survival. 

Operations implies how we do business day-to-day. A small edge, ruthlessly applied, can lead to enormous success. That is the foundation of the gambling industry. By implementing the small advantage repeatedly, casinos make fortunes. Conversely, within some state lottery games, the 'edge' is beyond ginormous, as less than half of the dollars wagered are returned to 'winners'. 

We need to appreciate barriers, efficacy, susceptibility, and sustainability to positive results. Barriers can vary enormously, from cognitive biases (anchoring, framing, overconfidence, attribution - blaming outside factors) to compliance (e.g. patients taking their medication). We need to know the likely efficacy of our program or strategy, our susceptibility to problems (e.g. academic ineligibility, behavioral problems in our programs), and the sustainable competitive advantage. In First You Win the Locker Room, Mike Smith and Jon Gordon discuss the rise and fall of the Atlanta Falcons, because they failed to 'stick with the program'. 

Most people want to succeed. Sure, a few will rise because of 'dumb luck', the lottery winner approach. But most often success follows great process in analyzing problems to find durable solutions, with mastery the result of relentless preparation, practice, feedback, and refinement. That's why mastery is relatively scarce and highly valued. 

Bonus: Zipper Floppy 

Elite Coaches Use What Works

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few” 
― Shunryu SuzukiZen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice

Use what works. Many of us have seen a lot of coaches in action. The best combine knowledge, communication, teaching, psychology, and motivation. For example, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (an inspiration for Phil Jackson), Shunryu Suzuki writes, "The best horse will run slow and fast, right and left, at the driver's will, before it sees the shadow of the whip...the fourth will run after the pain penetrates to the marrow of its bones." But he adds, "in your very imperfections you will find the basis for your firm, way-seeking mind." The implication is that we need both effort and time to overcome our weaknesses.

There's only so much you can do. At the end of the day, execution reflects PEOPLE, STRATEGY, and OPERATIONS. When you have the right people, it's technique over tactics

Can we categorize elite coaches? Realistically, nobody is a 'pure version' as each overlaps elements into a unique recipe. 

The Patriarchs (Red Auerbach, Gregg Popovich, Jack Clark)

The Philosophers/The Zen Master (Phil Jackson, Pete Carril) 

The Generals (Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Tom Izzo, Bill Belichick, Nick Saban)

The Professors (John Wooden, Pete Newell, Dean Smith, Brad Stevens) 

Bad Guys (?)

Examining coaches on the list above, we see that different coaching and personality styles succeed. But we learn more from the commonalities than the differences - knowledge, teaching, connection, preparation, attention to detail. As I reminded players who practiced yesterday, "the magic is in the work." 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Random Thoughts

I don't know everything about anything. And like most coaches, I've heard that I know and taught nothing. Yogi Berra said, "sometimes you can see a lot by just looking." Here are some observations I have about good coaching. 

"Do more of what works and less of what doesn't."

What we think they know and what they know can be oceans apart. 

Best is often when you cannot reduce a concept any further. You may not be able to defend the pick-and-roll one way. But you won't be able to defend it eight ways. 

Resist the temptation to complicate matters unnecessarily. 

Safeguard a positive culture. 

"Leverage your strengths."

"The more aggressive team will generally succeed."

"How will you wear down and wear out your opposition?" 

"No great player is a bad teammate." 

Don't be a jerk. Give respect to get respect. Fairness matters. 

Positive Teaching and a Bonus for Teachers

Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champion belongs on every coach's bookshelf. Here's a sample from the chapter Building Character and Trust:

"Your purpose may be to correct, praise, inquire, or instruct. You may be referencing previous conversations, explicitly or implicitly. You may be preparing for future conversations. You may be seeking to change his perception of himself, of you, of schoolwork, of education, of his peers, of certain values, of who he can be. You may be attempting to do this with humor, warmth, sternness, subtlety, or bluntness.

Are you changing lives? Are you respected? Is it worth it? Should you just get your real estate license?"

He densely packs concepts and strategies while using specifics. For example, emphasizing POSITIVE FRAMING:

"Make corrections consistently and positively. Narrate the world you want your students to see even while you are relentlessly improving it." 

For example, we might say, "focus on the drill, Marcia" not "stop looking at the boys at the other end of the gym." 

When we change attitudes, behaviors, and habits, we change lives. We help students develop values and goals. We scaffold relationships and memories. 

Bonus: Weave into backscreen pick-and-pop

Friday, June 24, 2016

Ball Screen Setups

Screen-and-roll action is a staple of current elite basketball fashion. Whether run out of special situations (e.g. BOB and SLOB), Horns, simple Spread pick-and-roll, offensive players need to run it and defenders stop it. 

Effective offensive basketball demands spacing and creating separation. FastModel sports delivers an insightful argument on creating separation with a multitude of techniques from multiple angles in multiple situations. Click through to read the article. 

I'll highlight one technique they discuss, UCLA action into wing screen-and-roll. 

The more effectively that the screener can get separation, the more the defense gets thrust into 'scramble' mode and away from their desired coverage and protection. 

Message Therapy

"Never be a child's last coach." Never. Not everyone will love basketball, but nobody should hate it because of us. 

Coaching Toolbox shares valuable information about the message. We share the little sisters - aspiRATION and inspiRATION and players must provide the big ones...prepaRATION and perspiRATION. 

I'm not against yelling. I share an old message. We heard long ago was, "If the coach isn't yelling at you, then he stopped caring...because he saw no hope." But that was then. "Shout praise and whisper criticism."

About 1170 BC the Greeks overwhelmed the Trojans by leaving a massive wooden horse outside Troy. But under the cloak of darkness, inside the walled city, elite Greek soldiers emerged, disabled the sentries, and opened the gates to their compatriots who had returned that night by sea. We need our own "Trojan Horse" messaging while communicating with youngsters. Connecting with compassion, shared goals and values and belief..."I believe in you" will always matter. 

Our players do listen and we never know what they will pick up on. 

"They will talk about what you said at halftime of a game 10 years ago, and you will not even recall saying what they tell you that you said.The other issue with that is the difference between your intended message, the actual message, and the received message. These three messages can end up being quite different from each other. I might know what I am trying to say. However, my words may come out different than the way I am thinking it."

Once I had scolded the team for lackluster effort and allowing the opponent to push them around. About six months later, a player said, "that really got to me when you said, "you cannot live your life like that...low effort and accepting what comes your way." If we want to make a difference, then we need to stay "on message," every day. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What Makes You Unique as a Coach? Show Them.

"Imagination leads to innovation leading to differentiation." - Bill Russell

You hear a player say, "I'd run through a wall for that guy." I want players to find solutions to get over the wall or around the wall. 

Brett Steenbarger writes about differentiating yourself. What coaches inspired you, challenged you, made you feel wanted? They probably didn't do it by making you feel a lazy, unimportant slacker. 

The operative word is FEEL. You can be the twelfth player on a team and be vital or a disrespected contributor. But your attitude, choices (work, preparation, support of teammates), and effort define. 

Here are critical excerpts:

" uniqueness is expressed in two ways: by looking at new and different information and by assembling information in new and different ways. "

For example, when I kept statistics measuring effective screens, forced turnovers, charges taken, held balls (pro and con), shooting percentage (+3 to -3 per shot)...players who 'scored more' didn't always have as positive a contribution (missed shots matter) and 'non-scorers' often had bigger contributions. Total contribution (scoreboard) meant more than your numbers (score book). 

" If you can't look at new possibilities and keep innovating, however, the successful  invention will never follow." 

I'm never going to be the 'best' coach...but that doesn't prevent me from being a better coach. 

If I were a rational, prospective investor looking to back emerging talent, what could you show me that would convince me that you're truly doing something that is 
different and promising?

Yes, excellence will not always be recognized in its time. But normally, high performance and the ability to take players where they cannot go by themselves is the players. Which master do we serve? 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Fast Five: Free Shooting? There is no Free Anything.

"Experience is the best teacher, but sometimes the tuition is high." 

There's a saying about shooting being the most important and the worst taught skill. Sometimes it's helpful to think about why something doesn't work in order to explain how to make it work better. 

"The quickest path to shooting better is to take better shots." Being open doesn't mean having a good shot. Being open in your range, in rhythm, without a teammate with a better shot, and taking a situationally-appropriate shot is necessary. I believe that it was Pete Carril who penned, "non-shooters are always open." And Bob Knight reminds, "just because I want you on the floor doesn't mean I want you to shoot." 

"Everyone shoots better with uncontested shots than contested shots." Repeating a lie doesn't make it true. 

It's usually true, but shows it's not always true. 

"The same distance is not the same shot." NBA data shows a higher percentage of corner 3s made than 2 point shots made from the same distance. Coaches struggle to get players NOT to leave the corner 3 open. 

Note that defenders tend to be FARTHER from the shooter on corner 3s. 

Bobby Knight says, I hate casual shooting. EVERY shot must be preceded by working to get open and catch and shoot under game like conditions.” 

Arik Shivek 3 lines, 3 shots drill...layup, jumper, drive. Encourages pass and cut mentality and works closeout and passing skills to a degree. 

Change it up. "Star drill" with rebounder. 

Shooter sprints to corner, then goes to opposite wing, wing, opposite corner then top. Second rotation takes one dribble right into a shot. Third rotation one dribble left into a shot. Ideally, limit the time for each player (e.g. one minute and track makes). Having a rebounder adds to the drill. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Better Teaching

Our first priority as coaches is teaching. Teaching at a high level demands communication, connection, subject knowledge, teaching skills, and active listening by students. 

Most coaches have a working knowledge of basketball fundamentals, team offense and defense, special situations, and tactics. Every effective coach has the capacity to communicate on multiple levels and to connect with players. But far fewer focus on enhancing teaching skills. 

Doug Lemov and his colleagues have devoted their career to growing teaching skills with works like Teach Like a Champion and Practice Perfect. Share some concepts from the former with your players. 

For example, he discusses how one teacher (see John Wooden on tying shoes) reviews distributing papers on the first day. By reducing this 'transition time', the teacher frees up more hours for teaching. Having a rigid practice schedule without wasting time between evolutions makes practice run at a higher tempo, achieving more repetitions. 

Right is right. When we accept an action that is incorrect or partially correct, we encourage poor technique. Coming off a screen demands WAITING, setting up the cut, and exploding out of the cut (change of pace and direction). Building proper habits must apply full time. 

Minimize transaction costs. Teach and correct in 'sound bytes'. Players don't need long-winded soliloquys. "The ball is gold." "Value the ball." "Share the ball with our team." 

The How and the Why. "POST IT -- If the objective is so important, then you should post it."

For example, core defensive philosophy might include - ball pressure, deny the paint, help and recover, challenge all shots without fouling, and defensive rebound. Sum it up as "one bad shot" or "hard 2s". They need to know the emphasis and priority, the techniques we want, and be able to hear feedback and make corrections. Writing it down makes it real. 

Name the steps. If you have a post defense method, you might say "position battle", "foot fight" and "hand war." Kevin Eastman uses a real estate analogy - homeowner (in the paint), renter (low post), and homeless (outside the post area). 

We decide how hard we work, how much we share, and ultimately how much value we add to players. Mastery starts with commitment to better teaching. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Something Borrowed: SLOB Final Moments

"Good artists borrow; great artists steal." - Picasso

The above was stolen from the Austin Basketball Coaches group. I've added diagrams and continuity if more time remains. 

Classic screen-the-screener action to set up ball side shot. 

If more time exist, the initial diagonal screen can set up entry to 3, leading to back cut for 4 or rescreen for 2 from 5. 

On Humility

Athletes enjoy celebrating success at the highest level of sport. After all, it's a game. 

Of course, sports regularly deal doses out humility. 

                                            Humility isn't the first emotion conjured by basketball. More often we see chest thumping bravado in a player who delivers a thundering dunk or otherworldly blocked shot. We recognize that successful athletes need confidence and positive self-talk. Does humility have any value for the contemporary athlete? 

We recently celebrated the life and mourned the passing of Muhammad Ali. Hubris, not humility, was central to Ali's playbook. Ali's reputation went untarnished by his immodesty. 

Because virtually all athletes experience defeat, humility can help athletes cope with defeat and disappointment. If your ego depends entirely on winning, loss can exact a terrible toll. Humility can help keep both success and failure in perspective. As coaches, we can teach our athletes to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. 

Humility may help facilitate accountability. The humble athlete is also less likely to encourage envy and selfishness among teammates. We can teach athletes who interact with the media to deflect credit to the team and to other teammates. 

Don Meyer and his disciples preached core values of passion, unity, servant leadership, thankfulness, and humility. Coach Dick Bennett handed out laminated sheets with these core values. 

                                               Values like humility provide a 'fall back' position when things don't go as well as desired. 

It's not incongruous to develop both confidence and humility in our players. "Confidence comes from proven success" says Bill Parcells. Players with solid work habits and preparation can confidently take ownership of results - positive or negative. 

I think that Tim McGraw has it right. Humble players are viewed more favorably by teammates and the public. 

The Harvard Business Review discusses developing humility in leaders. Many transfer to athletics. "Humility is not hospitality, courtesy, or a kind and friendly demeanor. Humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive. Perhaps more surprising, it does not entail shunning publicity." 

  • Know what you don’t know. 
  • Resist falling for your own publicity. 
  • Never underestimate the competition. 
  • Embrace and promote a spirit of service. 
  • Listen, even (no, especially) to the weird ideas.
  • Be passionately curious.

I believe that humility implies willing acceptance of our own ignorance and fallibility and can encourage us to learn more, do more, and become more. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Event Response

Coach Starkey shares some gems from Urban Meyer. I'm conflicted about Meyer, who has achieved great success at OSU but also owns bad history from his Florida program. 

But we can celebrate parts of his process. 


This is a slide screaming "Process". Response embeds learning, planning, preparation, practice, decision-making, and execution. 

We can look inside the subtexts of Meyer's R's: 

1) What does my team need now? (Applies equally to players and coaches)

2) What is my attitude and self-talk? Am I preaching success or defeat? 

3) How can I exceed the challenge? 

4) What habits can I improve (practice, time management, study)?

5) If we are to be 'special', why? 

6) Am I willing to pay the price for greatness? 

We regularly hear people talk about their passion about something. What do they mean? Is it lip service or does it radiate through their being. If someone could track our schedule, our habits (study, nutrition, exercise, decision-making process, execution of our job, time management) what would they take away? What do we care about? How do we demonstrate that? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Talent Isn't Everything

Fast Five: A Better Narrative

We all write a narrative. In, On Writing, Stephen King advises doing so with the best plot, characters, and dialogue available. Creativity requires more than inspiration. Capturing readers' imagination requires work. 

While we may believe in excellence for excellence sake, both players and coaches usually have other agendas - winning a championship, recognition, a scholarship, a bigger contract. First, we need their attention. I (imperfectly) make it a practice to greet every player by name in the first few minutes of practice. Each player needs recognition that they matter. 

Periodically, that may expose us to lampooning...but it also means that we brought impactful character and dialogue. 

King's book addresses improving your writing. Two excellent books share tips on improving the content of your stories. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath discusses key elements of storytelling. Effective stories are simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, and emotional. They use the acronym SUCCESS as a construct. President Kennedy's appeal to land a man on the moon within the decade of the 1960s was such a story. Writers craft great sport stories like McFarland using those tools. Contagious by Jonah Berger shares techniques encouraging 'virality'. He suggests the acronym STEPPS - social media, trigger, emotional, public, proven value, and story

We can all think of great basketball stories - Hoosiers and Milan, Indiana, Texas Western defeating Kentucky, Villanova's incredible shooting beating Georgetown, Princeton upsetting UCLA and more. Most of us share personal stories of how our teams overcame or overachieved or suffered heartbreak via bad luck, poor decisions, or flawed execution. 

Help players write a better narrative through better communication, better stories, and conscious use of effective storytelling. 

On Writing
Made to Stick

Proving Shooting Program? Redickulous Numbers from J.J. Redick

J.J. Redick was one of college basketball's elite shooters and has transformed himself into a productive NBA shooter as well.

In 2014-2015 he even had one of those dream "180 Shooting" seasons with two point percentage over fifty percent, three pointers over forty, and free throws above ninety. 

Preparation, discussed here at Coaching Clipboard

Here are a few excerpts:

You can summarize his program at 342 makes.

Every Sunday afternoon in the offseason is the same for J.J. Redick. The third-year Clipper shuttles across the perimeter at full speed, mandating himself to make 140 spot-up two-pointers and 140 spot-up three-pointers. Specifically, he must make 20 shots at seven different spots on the court, one after the other. Next, imagining a hand in his face, he must make 42 pull-up jumpers off the dribble: 21 to the right, 21 to the left. Draining 20 free throws, the drill stretches to 342 total makes.

Playing limited minutes as a rookie in 2006-07 and over the next few seasons, Redick devoted himself to improving his weaknesses. (Some viewed Redick as too slow and not athletic 'enough' for the NBA).

Redick committed to a strict summer plan that monitored each hour of the day on a spreadsheet: when he worked out, when he attended summer school, when he ate and when he slept. Practically living in the gym, he shed 20 pounds. (Darren Hardy, author of The Compound Effect emphasizes the improvement available from tracking.)

As Celtics coach Brad Stevens would say, "The magic is in the work." 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

More on Deliberate Practice

Dr. Brett Steenbarger's "Daily Trading Coach" shares transformative process ideas. How to get better at getting better. Just substitute practice for trading...

Here's an excerpt: 

Each day this week your trading practice journal should include a specific goal for work that particular trading practice session, concrete actions that you will take to achieve that goal, and a self- evaluation at the end of trading to gauge your success in reaching that goal. The goal should be a trading practice process that you wish to improve (i.e., some- thing you have control over). For example, your goal might be to increase your trading practice incrementally. 

At the end of the day, you will give yourself a report card based solely on how well you achieved the goals you set for the day. These report cards can be displayed beside your monitor to reinforce your performance and progress. If you fail to achieve a good grade, improvement on that activity becomes your goal for the next day. If you receive a fine report card, you generate fresh goals for the next session. The idea is to never trade practice without consciously working on some aspect of your trading practice

For example, at our practice today, several areas I want to focus on include:

1) scramble defense with both coverage and protection
2) transition defense with communication
3) typical shots against zone defense
4) ongoing emphasis on quicker shot release 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Highlights from Bill Walsh "The Problem Solver"

Metacognition is "learning about learning." Here are highlights from a chapter in The Score Takes Care or Itself about Bill Walsh, entitled "The Problem Solver". Great 'reads' share insight on great process. 

1) He could identify and solve problems

2) He addressed unity by empowering those with the program and eliminating dissenters.

3) He lived preparation and mastery of details

4) He had coaches practice coaching on each other..."all the knowledge in the world meant little if you couldn't communicate."

5) He taught thinking. "He encouraged us to give speeches to local groups...knowing it would make us think harder about what we were saying and how we were saying it." 

6) He lived and taught improvement

7) He conducted practice at a high tempo...with extraordinary demands for precision in execution. No sloppiness.

8) He earned trust. "Bill's gift for teaching created belief in him, conviction in us." 

Motion Donuts

With an undersized team, I want movement via screens with actions to the basket. Musing over options out of a two player front: 

1 passes and cuts off the back screen with 5 the 'second cutter'. One of our core principles is "the screener is the second cutter." 1 and 5 both finish cuts into screens. 

2 might get a look off the first but continues into a staggered screen with 5 that should get 3 open. 

If still nothing, 4 can dribble at 1 for a dribble handoff/dribble pitch pick-and-roll. 

Why donuts? Everyone likes donuts. 

Our Habits Define Us

We make our habits and our habits make us. Choose elements from this presentation to improve your situation. 

For example:

1) The 15 (or even 5) minute room rescue (declutter) - I'm surrounded by books
2) Positive mental imaging 
3) Get help (I still need to work on my PBOD - Personal Board of Directors) 
4) Be a tracker (time, finances)
5) "Stick to what works" 

Core Philosophy: Emphasis and Priorities

We educate players. Education changes behavior. Effective education brings clarity - message, emphasis, and priorities. We can deliver our message sotto voce to good listeners.

My coach's priority was "the ball is gold." Get the ball and do not give it away. Good things happen with possession. Timeless message.

Today I expect our first full summer workout. Certain basketball lessons resonate:

"Listening is a skill." We learn by listening not speaking. 

"Basketball is sharing." - Phil Jackson  The best players make the team and their teammates better. Be 'over yourself.' 

"This is who we are and this is how we play." When you played a John Thompson, Nolan Richardson, or Jerry Tarkanian team, there wasn't any mystery about what you were going to get. Knowing leads to doing. 

"Basketball is a game meant to be played fast." - John Wooden  We have no choice. We lack the artillery or the infantry to win those styles. We are the cavalry. 

"You succeed by finding a way to wear down the other team." Successful teams can play different styles but the key is doing well what you do a lot. 

"Be performance-focused and feedback-rich." Create process expectations and let the results take care of themselves. When we work hard and consistently at doing what is necessary to do well, we can live with the results. 

1:15 paraphrased "Nobody ever won a war by dying for his country...he won it by making the other...die for his country." "Americans love a winner...Americans play to win..."        

"Basketball is a game of mistakes." - Bob Knight   Teams that succeed the most excel at efficiency at both ends. Pete Newell said it another way, "get more and better quality shots than your opponent." Minimize mistakes. 

"You don't play for the city, the school, your class, your family, or me. You play for each other." Shared accountability for teammates is a high priority. Teams that care most about each other and for each other are always winners. 

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Ten Cardinal Rules: Different Disciplines, Shared Principles

Excellence overlaps among most fields. Dr. Ari Kiev wrote "Trading to Win" and lists Ten Cardinal Rules. Ask yourself what we must do to fulfill the rules. 

I will summarize the essence of each. 

1. Perform well under pressure. (Pressure degrades performance.) 

2. Think independently and unconventionally. Conventional approaches yield ordinary results. 

3. Control emotions and maintain objectivity. 

4. Don't rely on hope (act). "The magic is in the work." 

5. Work on continuous improvement. This demands coaching. Practice excellence for the sake of excellence. 

6. Modify your normal responses (if it ain't working, change). 

7. Some problems occur because of our own failed behaviors. (Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior.) Do more of what works and less of what doesn't. 

8. Focus on solutions not problems. Ego and independence can stand in the way of finding solutions. 

9. The complexity of competition and your personality must be accounted for in pursuit of mastery. Blend authenticity and simplicity when possible. 

10.Develop the right attitudes, habits, and beliefs necessary to succeed. "In order to play at a maximum level, you have to let go of your ego and your need to have things your way."