Total Pageviews

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Positive Messaging

Self-talk matters but many of us respond best to external opinions. Words exert tremendous power. They can move us to joy or tears. 

Be warm and demanding. Coach John Wooden criticized with "sandwich technique", administering correction between positive elements. Coach Del Harris described "levels of communication" from conversational, teaching, correction, disciplinary, and "go nuts" for extreme measures. 

What messages can we send? Here are some possibilities:

Reassurance: "We are here to put you in the best position to succeed." 

Validation: "You add value to the team." 

Redirection: "Engage. Positive play." ("Next play", "Be in the moment")

Energy: "Everything is energy." 

Encouragement: "You will get opportunity, but it may not come when you think it should come." 

Persistence: "There is no try." 

Confidence: The most powerful words a coach and mentor can share, "I believe in you." 

Organizational Greatness

Don Yaeger's book Great Teams distills the many dimensions of great teams with excellent examples of athletic and corporate achievement. 

In his discussion of 'efficiency', he illustrates some helpful points. 

Corporate culture and leadership ultimately are defined by people. I'll use the acronym REPS here. 

R = recruitment...get the best people available for the task
E = engagement...keep them focused on the "main thing"
P = isn't enough...great process into consistent results
S = want organizational stability (retention), along with the ability to develop leadership among key performers

Conflict and adversity inevitably arise among high performers. Consider the internal battles between Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant. How that conflict resolves greatly determines both the success and the perception of your organization. 

Competition - people use position or the 'loudest voice' to get their way
Accommodation - go along to get along
Avoidance - of both people and issues
Compromise - finding middle ground
Collaboration - working together purposefully to find best practices and solutions

Yaeger uses some great examples such as the Team 48 (auto racing) CEO bringing together driver Jimmie Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus over "milk and cookies" to resolve their behaving like children. He described the 1985 Bears making the "Super Bowl Shuffle" video as a distraction to the war between Head Coach Mike Ditka and defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan. 

As Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great, you need to get the right people on the bus in the right seats and the wrong people off the bus. 

Here's an example of poor leadership. When I was in the Navy, we had a physician (nonclinical specialty) who wanted to retrain as an Internal Medicine physician (resident). The resident had neither a strong fund of clinical knowledge nor effective personality to supervise other trainees (interns, students). But as a show of 'leadership', the resident insisted on being called "Commander". Demanding use of title to camouflage inadequacies of a lack of fundamental and interpersonal skills only worsened the situation. 

Bottom line? Great culture occurs by design not accident. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Eddie Mabo Day

How did Eddie Mabo Day bring the Spurs closer together? 

Effective coaching improves the unity and performance of the group. Communication, collaboration, and respect of the individual matters in achieving those imperatives. 

Eddie Mabo Day (June 3rd) in Australia celebrates the recognition and granting of land rights to indigenous peoples. At one time, indigenous Australians were legally dispossessed of those rights. 

In the midst of preparing to meet the Miami Heat in the NBA playoffs, Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich asked his team to help Patty Mills, an Indigenous Australian, celebrate Eddie Mabo Day. Popovich paid respect to Mills' customs and beliefs, sharing this important Australian holiday with his teammates. 

In addition to teaching techniques and developing tactics, we choose how to shape the lives of those around us. Whether we recognize it or not, we promote camaraderie and culture of those around us. 

The Spurs culture, which has a profoundly international flavor, relies on the primacy of the team and mutual respect. Coach Popovich, with his background as a college educator and Air Force intelligence officer, believes that players should understand more than what transpires between the lines. 

Team building takes a high priority for the Spurs. "That way of sharing the ball carries on." 

Even in this simple Spurs' drill, players must work together to score most efficiently. We have four groups competing simultaneously at three baskets to 15 makes. We usually play four rounds as a 'set'. The losers get one suicide, not for punishment, but to recognize that winning matters. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Zone Offense Against 2-3 Zones

This post is really designed to give 'visual learners' specific looks.  In general, I like the mnemonic "DR FLAPS"...ultimately it's about reading the defense to find openings AND making shots. 

Dribble into gaps
Reverse the ball (we're getting better at skip passes)
FLAsh into open areas
Postup (not ideal for my group lacking height)

As I reminded our team yesterday, transition is the ultimate zone buster. Zones can sometimes struggle on the defensive boards. And you choose what part of the zone to attack.

In these diagrams, I've deemphasized attack through 5 in the middle. That's a 'tried and true' approach for some with an 'inside-outside' ball movement flair. 

Where 4 and 5 line up behind the defense, that initially makes them invisible and facilitates 'flashes' to open areas (read). 

Generally, offense is not run well from the corner. This can be an exception as the cutter goes through pressuring X5 and opening up a rolling 5 for a mid-range shot. 

Drill (3 on 3) to open the top of the zone. 

Another way to do it. 

Nobody likes to get screened. Here's yet another way to screen both the top defenders.

Coach Izzo's "X" screens both top defenders using diagonal screening. 

Coach Izzo likes to screen the middle with "Fist Down" 

Combining screens with 'overload' action reliably opens up the short corner.

There's no secret to zone offense. Both player and ball movement are critical. Distort the zone with shot fakes (causes north-south reaction) and ball fakes (east-west movement). Players are taught to move on the pass, so "fake a pass to make a pass". 

Sunday, November 27, 2016


There's the Carol Dweck academic-oriented and the day-to-day "this is how we're getting after it" mindset. 

In a conversation with our team yesterday, I told them there are two KEY POINTS to playing: 1) make your OPPONENT UNCOMFORTABLE and 2) find a way to WEAR THEM DOWN. 

Make your opponent uncomfortable

The aggressor doesn't always win, but it feels better. The aggressor applies BALL PRESSURE. The aggressor COMMUNICATES, HELPS and RECOVERS. The tough player goes TO THE FLOOR first. She ATTACKS the offensive player. She TAKES A CHARGE. 

The aggressor ANCIPATES and is QUICK to the offensive boards. She finds the BASKET CUTS and HEAD TURNERS. 

Wear the opponent down

You wear an opponent down by playing "your way" not "their way". If we had tall, physical girls, we'd play very differently. Before each game, I ask the girls, "how do we play?" They answer, "WE PLAY FAST." That's our DNA. Sometimes it's ugly and yes, it looks like hockey as there's a new rotation every 90-120 seconds. Every possession should reflect RELENTLESS play. 

I'm going to ask my player on IR to track ball pressure today. If you're in the open court, we want you to be able to 'reach out and touch the ball'. 

What is relentless? Here's an excerpt of a summary of Tim S. Grover's Relentless

We're a long way from being close to achieving that identity. Whether as a team or an individual, if you want to be exceptional, you have to put forth exceptional effort every day. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016


We are all vulnerable to "blindspots"...moth to the flame moments that summon failure. We experience blindspots when we walk into danger or ignore opportunity. 

"Do more of what's working and less of what isn't." Sticking to this idea means honest self-assessment (objectivity) and willingness to change. 

In the investing world, it means "ride your winners" and "blow out your losers." It means avoiding "style drift" and demanding a "performance-focused, feedback rich" culture. In basketball, blindspots often precede turnovers and forced shots, but also miss hockey passes and basket cuts that yield easy shots. 

"Hockey pass" is the pass that leads to the assist.

Simple is hard. I see coaches who degrade the player experience by running set plays every possession and run half a dozen mediocre defenses instead of a few solid ones. Pete Newell commented that coaches who try to "reproduce the system they played usually end up with a poor copy of the original." 

Blindspots occur because of emotion, inexperience, misplacing personal and organizational values among other conflicts. Under stress, we make perceptual errors that can lead to overreaction or underreaction. Matthew Syed discusses ego and other sources of blindspots in his book, Black Box Thinking. For example, he discusses a case where an anesthesiologist thinks the patient is experiencing a latex (glove) allergy and requests the surgeon change gloves. The surgeon will not relent until the Anesthesiologist threatens to call the President of administration. 

Papa John's slogan is "better ingredients, better pizza." If we want better play, we need better ingredients. If we can't recruit them (I can't), then we need to improve their skills, motivation, and teamwork. That means dissecting each segment of our process and asking whether it's working. 

Aristotle's "Golden Mean" meant avoiding the blindspots of extremes

John Calipari's "Personal Board of Directors" diminishes the chance of poor decisions, as he gets input from valued advisors. 

Atul Gawande, a Boston surgeon, retained a senior surgeon to watch him operate, seeking input on his technique and possible weaknesses. We can use "inside stars" and "outside stars" to work on improvement. These resources can help us answer questions about "what if" or "have you thought about" other alternatives. 

"Groupthink" often produces inferior decisions as expert input or experience is subjugated to group influence. We need to recognize that groups can experience blindspots, just as individuals do. 

The first response to blindspots is a willingness to accept their existence and our susceptibility to them. We all have blindspots; we choose whether and how to address them. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Coale Country

At the 'What Drives Winning' conference, Sherri Coale shares how she connects and learns from her players. 

Her process invites authenticity and follow-through. 

She uses post-game written comments with feedback, asks upperclassmen to give written advice to freshmen, and finds out "what players really fear". 

She notes the importance of "shared ownership of goals." 

A player said that the hardest day of practice all year was the day they worked on communication. 

Validation as Process

Do you have this player in your program? 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Herb Welling Thanksgiving Blobs

As requested by John Irving

Inbounds stagger 
 3 Boomerang - 3 around...then 
3 gets ball back off the double screen

 Diagonal screen after 5 empties
54 Curl lob.

Anson Dorrance and Leadership Styles

In Great Teams Don Yaeger discusses the major components including great Purpose, Leadership, Efficiency, and Direction

He describes five major categories of leaders and gives some examples:

Command and Control (Autocratic) - General Patton, Bob Knight
Relational - Anson Dorrance
Expert - Phil Jackson
Charismatic - President John Kennedy
Synergistic (Balanced) - John Wooden

He recognizes that these categories are not mutually exclusive. But within the "Relational" category he lists legendary North Carolina soccer coach Anson Dorrance. I thought this could be an opportunity to explore both the Relational style and Dorrance. 

What characteristics belong to a relational leader? She must be a good listener, learning the hopes and dreams of team members. Listening alone isn't enough. Communicators teach and give correction and criticism without making it personal. "Be warm and demanding." 

Player's coaches inspire trust to elicit buy-in. Establishing trust demands honesty and fairness. "You can't fool children, dogs, and basketball players." They know how to engage and energize team members...they push the psychological buttons that help players grow and teams become more than the sum of their parts. 

Relational coaches own the 'living room'. This helps them excel at recruiting potential targets. They establish relationships that transcend the playing field and can last a lifetime. 

The vulnerability of relational leadership is the potential for teams to take advantage of their good nature. In professional sports, we often see a cycling between relational and "task-oriented" leaders. The "player's coach" gets replaced by the "hard guy." 

Anson Dorrance

What's his resume' highlight? This says enough: "Dorrance's UNC teams have won 22 NCAA Women's Soccer Championships." You might say that John Wooden is the Anson Dorrance of NCAA Men's Basketball. 

What does he say? 

The vision of a champion is someone who is bent over, drenched in sweat, at the point of exhaustion when no one else is watching.

At UNC, we talk about transcending ordinary effort.  Ordinary effort is when you’re comfortable.

One of the crucial aspects when we play with defensive presence is getting "stuck in," a common British expression for an aggressive player who gets in tackles, or sticks her face in where the ball is going, risking taking a knock or getting whacked.

Being liked is not as lasting as being respected. You don't want to gain friendship just by being passive, or giving in to try not to offend anyone.

A lot of female players know what to do on the field, but they hesitate to say anything to others, like, "Hey, back off," "pull back," or "get wide." So they stand there and watch disaster take place, just because they are reluctant to hear their own voice.

Dorrance empowers players to be their individual and their collective best. He stresses conditioning and competition. He insists that players leave their comfort zone and find solutions to the inevitable adversity of sport. 

"You play for each other..."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Maybe a few of our players will SEE it better after they've SEEN it.

If you want the 1 to score off the UCLA cut, he has to cut HARD (harder than this). But the initial action sets up a myriad of possibilities depending on your players' skill sets. 

If you have a dominant post,then you play differently than if your post functions more as a screener or a passer. And if you get 'generational players' like Bill Walton, then you can do anything with the actions. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Team Ethos

Your ethos is how you live...your character, your soul, 'who you are'. 

Here's the Navy SEAL ethos, which is quite distinct from civilian engagement. But elements of the ethos apply to how we play.

Here are applicable components: 

"Uncompromising integrity is my standard."

"We expect to lead and be lead."

"I persevere and thrive on adversity...I am never out of the fight." 

"We demand discipline."

"My training is never complete." 

From a practical standpoint, I teach players that "how you play is how you live." The life well-lived matters to those whom your life touches. If you live 'randomly' you can't possibly expect to have the impact as when you live with purpose and preparation. 

The four most important words that I can share with another person is "I believe in you." That might mean helping someone to lose weight or stop smoking, to be more engaged with their family or their job, or be your best by playing harder, smarter, and more selflessly. 

One of my daughters' coaches, Shawanda Brown, also had a saying, "that is not how we play." Her message was simple and direct and invariably connected with the team. 

Our job is to deliver the message the players need, not what they want to hear. This season we are going to face more adversity, playing at a higher level and without one of our top players (injury). The opposite of fear is recklessness, not courage. We need to find balance using the resources we have. 

Monday, November 21, 2016


In a world that loves chocolate ice cream, becoming relevant with vanilla creates challenges. But add chocolate chips, raspberry, or coffee flavoring, and you matter.

Organizations, whether sports teams or businesses, seek to develop a sustainable competitive advantage. They need a "why" (overarching purpose) and a platform and process of leadership and execution. What intermediate steps help create the desired "end state"?

Superior Perspective. The 'ice cream' example gets extended into a variety of ice cream products, different flavors and iterations. "Gelato" has moved from Italy to the mainstream of the warehouse store shelves. "Positionless basketball" and "3 and D" get more traction daily. Ideas have to move to insights and action. At the end of the classic movie, "The Pistol", coach Maravich envisions the evolution of basketball to transition and entertainment. Last season, 7-footers took more three point shots than all 7-footers had taken in the prior thirteen seasons...combined. The 'stretch four' isn't an opportunity, it's an obligation in today's game.

Step back and think about our organization and process.

Superior Relationships. How we add value is the crux of our daily task. In the NBA, it's transforming an eight million dollar player into a twenty-million dollar player. It's helping to reinvent players. Evan Turner quintupled his salary with the help of Brad Stevens. But we have to add value to get the buy-in required to become transformational with players and teams. We have to ask about players' hopes and dreams and help them "know what they don't know". But we also must "know what we know", teach it effectively, and share it freely and abundantly. We need to be visible, provide both instruction and feedback, and extend our roles as moralists, jurists (playing time), and philosophers.

As players get value, they provide "high value reciprocity" by improving individual and team play. Paraphrasing Papa John, "Better ingredients, better play."

Superior Impact. In business, effective execution drives sales, profits, and earnings. In basketball, quality shows up as more consistent possessions, and improved metrics such as shooting percentage differential, fewer turnovers, better rebounding differential, and free throw appearances. But that is secondary to developing more disciplined, mature, self-motivated, humble, and grateful players.

Do players enjoy the experience and become better on and off the court? Are they spending their time or investing it? Do they share the ball and work to help each other every day at practice? Are they becoming better leaders in their community?

There's nothing wrong with chocolate ice cream. But I enjoy transforming vanilla into a myriad of flavors.

*Some concepts borrowed from Matter: Move Beyond the Competition, Create More Value, and Become the Obvious Choice by Peter Sheahan and Julie Williamson, Ph.D.

Motion Offense and "Learning to Play"

Sticking point 1. "Basketball is a game of cutting and passing." 

Sticking point 2. "Movement kills defense."

Sticking point 3. "You define how hard you are to play against." As a young player, we had a scrimmage against a team known for having an excellent point guard. At one point during the scrimmage, he threw a punch at me because he didn't like being guarded tightly. Or maybe he just didn't like me...

FastModel shares a great introduction to motion offense. Here are some excerpts but the article is worth reading. 

Chuck Daly's core: "Spacing is offense and offense is spacing."

Moving without the ball (cutting) adds value for both yourself and your teammate. It implies purpose, reading defense and individual defenders, setting up your cut, and understanding change of pace and direction. The article makes a great point, cutting changes the spacing and players need to react. 

This is from another FastModel post...but illustrates 'zones' which have to be filled or vacated with passing and cutting. 

But another part of cutting is the time and space element. You have to time your cut to the awareness and vision of the ballhandler. If she can't see you, your cut won't create opportunity. Cutting to an occupied post is counter-productive. 

Coach Randy Sherman continues the discussion of motion offense here

A big part of 'motion' is players' understanding of creating personal separation by different types of cutting or a teammate's separation by screening. I don't know whether defenses' response to motion (an abundance of zone defenses) is acknowledgement of its effectiveness. 

Teaching players to play with time and space limits is a priority. We learned that on the playground but that's not an option. 

Practically, we 'play' 3 on 3 with the CONSTRAINT of staying on one side of the split. I want 5s to line up one step outside the lane to give them initial cutting options in both directions. If 1 has a drive, 5 has to "empty" / relocate to where she can catch and score. Initially entry to 5 from the top to low is discouraged as one of the "most stolen" passes. 

5 can cut to the high post setting up 1-5-3 "blind pig" action. If wing entry occurs with 5 cutting to the high post, 1 has to read "drive" for 3 or has "UCLA" cut options following which she would have to 'bury' to the corner. Alternatively, with 5 at the high post, she can ball screen 3 or slip the ball screen depending on the defensive read. 

If she goes to the corner, then the following arises: 

3 can drive or 3/5 have the "two-man game" options. We don't have dominant post players, so sliding to the block for a postup isn't realistically a great option for us. 5 can ball screen for 3 (we have 3 left-handed 3's) or a pass to 5 for a give-and-go is a good option. If that happens (without the pass), 1 has to replace 3 and 3 goes to the corner. 5 can then drive or pass back out and reset the action. I haven't taught "Triangle" offense as a system, but those options evolve. 

We're still at the stage where the longer we play without generating an open shot, drive, or basket cut...a turnover is more likely than a score. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Shooting Drills

In response to a request for some of the shooting drills, off we go. 

UCONN...Coach Auriemma had managers track shots four minutes. The team made over 170 shots...
 From Matt Regan at Bishop Guerin in New Hampshire. I call it hexagon. 

Another Regan drill. Running and shooting combined. Track shots made in whatever time frame you choose. 

I call this the Star Drill...shots from the baseline, wings, and top. 

30 buckets. Shooters and rebounders. Make a shot and rotate to another spot. Adjust the distance appropriate to age. We switch at 3 minutes. 

Spurs Shooting (Etorre Messina) 

Great Teams

Don Yeager wrote Great Teams to examine factors common to great teams. 

The Soundview Executive Business Summary notes, "truly amazing organizations don’t stay at the top of their marketplaces without building a team-first culture."

Common elements: 

Purpose - The "Why" of Simon Sinek...incorporates "main thing" thinking
Leadership - stays fresh and creative (subtypes below)
...Command (autocratic)
...Relational (people first)
...Expert (extreme competence dimension...they reference Phil Jackson)
...Synergistic/Balanced (I'd include Dean Smith here)

Great teams have great culture, depth, and a road map (think Nick Saban's "Process"). The road map should be clear, specific, and written. The best leaders create trust and respect within the culture.

Synergy - sum is greater than the parts

Great teams collaborate to overcome differences, have strong mentoring (think Kevin Garnett), flexibility to manage change, and productive meetings with focused agenda, engagement of members' emotions, and review. 

Trust - uniting motivation (Celtics had Ubuntu) and shared competence. 

Great teams using scouting, unique perception of value (Mike Trout was the 25th choice in the first round of MLB draft, Mookie Betts was drafted in the fifth that point the Tampa Bay Rays had drafted 14 players ahead of him). At Pulaski Academy, Coach Kevin Kelley studied punting and NEVER punts. His teams have won five state championships. 

Great teams win 'critical situations' and speak a unique language. Management catches "employees in the act of doing something right." And they are not spoiled by success, what Pat Riley has called, "the Disease of Me." 

"For a Great Team, repeat success is often a byproduct of a high-performing culture." The sum of great culture and great process will not always be championships but championship behavior.

Here's a link to a terrific podcast. It is full of great anecdotes. 

"The great teams can feel it...have that connection to their flows throughout the organization."

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Notes from Leadership Branding

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

In this HBR article, Smallwood and Ulrich examine innovative versus 'cookie cutter' corporate leadership. Do our programs develop leadership or just occasionally reveal it? 


GE - decisive, competent team leader, confident expert
JNJ - product development and differentiation, consumer trust, quality, and safety
Bon Secours - blend business, compassion and caring

"Leadership brand is a reputation for developing exceptional managers with a distinct set of talents that are uniquely geared to fulfill customers’ and investors’ expectations."


1. Fundamental competence
2. Internalize high expectations
3. Evaluation from customer perspective
4. Investment in leadership development (implies time and resources)
5. Track performance

Default situation (The Fault Situation?):

It's about the individual. Tendency to develop 'celebrity leaders'. 
That fails to promote the long-term, sustainable institutional well-being. 

Leadership code (Skill set):

Master strategy.
Learn execution. 
Communicate within the organization. 

Tendency to overemphasize either individual qualities (player skills) or execution (team play) at the expense of the other. 

Corporate (Team) Identity: 

Teva: cultural sensitivity, integrity, product fulfillment, consistency
(Basketball: "This is who we are and this is what we do.")
For Nick Saban and Alabama, that would be "The Process". Urban Meyer has "Above the Line." 

Measuring Leadership Performance Relative to Branding

Did leadership meet customer's expectations? 
Our customers are players, families, fans. 

The authors question, (1) Is this the mission you want us to be known for? (2) What do we have to do to demonstrate that we live up to this mission better than our competitors do? 

Customers and Investors Teach

"The most powerful way to develop leaders who have a customer lens is to give them job assignments that demand it."

In medicine, there is a saying - "See one, do one, teach one." Neurobiologically, this reflects the presence of "Mirror Neurons" that help us mimic and develop skills. On the court, players have to learn to 'coach each other up', encouraging and correcting without being demeaning. 

Track Long-term Results

When one manager or a group of managers leave, what is the organizational impact? Does the organization have managerial "bench strength" because of the leadership development process? The authors found that companies with strong leadership tended to have higher price/earnings multiples (valuations/analagous to winning). 

Within our athletic organizations, effective and compassionate leadership helps organizational mindset, personal growth, and both recruitment and retention. Reflect on the strong and challenged teams that you see and why and we find some of the principles embodied above. 

Favorite Horns Actions

"Horns" offers spacing, versatility, options for movement on both sides of the floor, and initially no 'natural' help side. This post is ideal to introduce younger players to simple horns actions.

Simple slice.  

 411 Backscreen rescreen.

Horns into Flex


Stagger with PnRoll option. Excellent initial "blind pig" look from a 1-4 high. 

3 at the entry. Stagger with options. You can run it with backscreens for the one or a backscreen from 5 and a slip from the 1. 

Double down screens. 

Feeling adventurous? You can reposition Horns into Triangle and run conventional actions or have your team freelance from here. Help side off-ball screens and ball side cutting, screening, scissors, and give-and-go. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Ten Immutable Truths About Coaching

"We are all a little less secure in our moral certitude."

I call parents' overarching concern with their child before team welfare the "Prime Directive" in coaching. It's not a morality play; it's DNA talking. Addressing 'truths' with open communication is part of our job. 

1. "The main thing is the main thing." What is your "main thing"? Is our coaching philosophy and brand simple, clear, and shared? We play fast. "This is what we do," to paraphrase Manu Ginobli's response to Gregg Popovich's question about his fancy passing. 

2. What is our workplace culture? We've all seen unified and dysfunctional teams. When our team looks in the mirror, what do they see? Culture is no accident.

3. "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." What and how we practice defines how we play. Make each practice activity translate into meaningful play. 

4. "The magic is in the work." Whatever our limited practice time, make the most of it. We choose whether to invest our time or spend it. Practice at the highest tempo possible. 

5. "A good idea can come from anywhere." Nick U'Ren, a 28 year-old video assistant suggested to Coach Steve Kerr that substituting Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bogut might be a difference maker for the Cavs. Kerr and his staff adopted the idea...the rest is history. 

6. "The game honors toughness." Toughness is the sum of every action on the basketball court...full engagement, making plays, quality decision-making, overcoming adversity. However hard to define, you know it when you see it. 

7. Our primary job is helping players 'see the game'. "What is not learned has not been taught." We have to show players how to see the game through our eyes. 

8. The game isn't won or lost on the last play of the game. An average game might have sixty to eighty offensive and defensive possessions. Did each player and the team collectively 'lock in' to succeed on every possession? The best teams maximize the quality of their possessions. Failure to block out, challenge a shot, or help defensively on the first play of the game might determine the outcome. 

9. There's more to life than basketball. We create life in our basketball laboratories. What does society see in our creations? 

10.Differentiate yourself. Is our program different from our competition? If so, what distinguishes it? What do our customers and our competitors see? Change to be better, not just to make changes. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

What Went Well?

Practice 2 is in the can...more defensive emphasis, a lot of work on press break, and "implementation" of another 'set' with emphasis on reading the defense. One post player was absent with illness and two guards missing for the dress rehearsal of a school play...

Is three-dimension chess or teaching basketball harder? 

If we have any 'strength' it should be scoring in transition. Any competent team will severely limit that. We shot a bit better in both drills and scrimmages. We 'scrimmage' off free throws, BOBs, and SLOBs. That gives an O-D-O look with three teams of 4 (normally) and allows constant practice of 'special situations'. 

Apologies to the many professors here for whom this is like watching paint dry. The first 'challenge' is getting players to read defenses. Robots make lousy offensive players. The PGs must want to create. Sets are "lines on the paper". Players write the words. 

Defense cheats during implementation. If X5 overplays, 5 has to get the back hand up and slip to the basket. That 'normalizes' the coverage. Everything we do works to keep the lane open because we cannot succeed as "infantry". Post entry is followed by scissors action and the 5 has to read the opportunity. If she has nothing then DHO ensues with PnR opportunity and our (lefthanded) 3s getting drive or pull-up chances. 

If wing entry, then 1 buries (or can stay for balance) and there is reverse action with second cutter chance for 5. If that doesn't happen, 5 offers the side PnR. We have a few 2s who MIGHT be able to make a three now and then. 4 would roll into helpside rebounding. 

Simple is difficult. Players need to embrace their role...scorers, passers, screeners. If they want an expanded role, I remind them "become more to do more and do more to become more." 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Ode to Joy

Play the game. Bring energy. Radiate joy. Share. Love being with your teammates. Appreciate the experience. 

Protect your culture and values, "...the most important one is probably joy-he wants us having fun", Luke Walton said of the values that Kerr pushes to the team. 

How we treat each other ultimately defines who we are...not the scoreboard and especially not the scorebook. How we communicate and connect determines what our players become

Is our team a TEAM? Pete Carril observed, "How do you know if your team has camaraderie? I can tell by the way they walk off the floor at the end of practice. You can feel their happiness vibrating; you can see how they work out together." 

We started practice by having one group (working inside each three-point area) on dribble tag and the other playing 'capture' the flag. After two minutes, they switch. They have to get loose...and I want them to be 'loose'. This should be their favorite two hours of the day. It's my favorite two hours of the week (until the next practice). There's some subtlety involved. "Play is children's work" and dribble tag or 'capture the flag' signals that we're playing. 

One concept I've believed in for a long time in medicine is the "patient experience." I know that it won't be perfect but we must work to make it the best it can be. At my level (middle school), the player experience and the team experience matters...a lot. I want everyone involved to believe that it's time and money invested not spent. 

How do we make it better? At times it felt a little chaotic Monday night. The players worked hard with a high tempo, but I think we can do more with 'stations', which will also get my assistant coach more involved. 

One of my goals is to get every player at least 150 shots per practice. This is especially easier with more hoops to work at and an assistant. When you play a game, how many shots do you get? Some players might not get any. But you keep score! We keep score during a lot of the shooting drills - "4 minute shooting", "30 buckets", "Spurs Catch and Shoot", and so on. If you want to compete, bring it on at practice...with joy.