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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Coaching Basketball: The Silver Rule, We're Doing It Wrong

How do we treat others? Nassim Taleb writes in Skin in the Game, "The more robust Silver Rule says Do not treat others the way you would not like them to treat you. More robust? How? Why is the Silver Rule more robust? First, it tells you to mind your own business and not decide what is “good” for others. We know with much more clarity what is bad than what is good. The Silver Rule can be seen as the Negative Golden Rule." 

We vilify officials who scream at coaches, but expect that coaches can excoriate referees. 

Some coaches use defenders as human machetes, working on the theory, "they can't call everything, especially against us." Do you really believe that continual hacking is the way to play the game? 

Players are not punching bags. Do we still do "hamburger drills?" Most of football has eliminated the Oklahoma Drill and Bull in the Ring. 

Do we verbally assault players, call them worthless, challenge their manhood, or curse them because they don't perform to our flawed expectations? Do we use the bully pulpit or are we just bullies? 

Vince Lombardi preached, "Winning isn't everything, it is the only thing." Coach Lombardi didn't coach "biddy ball" or middle schoolers. Do we need our team ranked in some mythical poll of ten-year olds? We have medication for that. Ego is the enemy.

Keep a list of questions available.

Humane coaching doesn't mean coaching soft. Operate at a high tempo. Teach. Set the bar high. Make players accountable. Praise the praiseworthy. Inspire.  

We lost to the top team in our league last season. The girls said that the opposing parents told them they competed the hardest of any team they faced. That's gold. 

Lagniappe: VDE. Vision, decision, execution. Didn't get to see Larry Bird play? 

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Basketball: Foul Prevention (and Triple Lagniappe)

"The most important six inches of the body is between the ears." Benching with foul trouble frustrates coaches, players, friends, and families. Good teams do not habitually commit bad fouls. Stop doing what mustn't be done. 

"We get what we accept." Defensive core values include: NO EASY BASKETS - layups, put backs, transition, mismatches, and free throws. From a points-per-possession analysis, free throws are among the leaders. Even sixty percent shooting (1.2 points/possession) equals forty percent three point shooting...and it gets opponents into foul trouble. 

What can we control to change our foul fortunes? Let's review tactics and strategy. 


Limit mistakes. Many are avoidable. Pressure the ball without fouling. If you can't reach out and touch someone, you're too far from the ball. Use hand discipline to avoid reaching in. 

"It looks like a foul." If it looks like a foul (wild chopping movements), then it probably gets called, even without contact. 

Defend with your head, your heart, and your feet. To make the ballhandler uncomfortable, insert yourself into their space...which feels unnatural. 

"Show your hands" but don't be a SNOWMAN (hands out, feet still) who doesn't challenge ballhandlers. We condemn "snowman defense." 

Avoid 'stupid fouls' reaching in, pushing, and retaliation fouls. You've just turned the ball over or taken a forced shot, so you DOUBLE DOWN with a foolish foul (you see it every game at every level). 

Foul for profit. Kevin Sivils emphasizes to commit fouls when they help. We may need to stop the clock strategically, for substitution, or get opponents into the penalty.  

Maintain verticality. Keep your "elbows behind the ears." 

Establish "legal guarding position." 

"Be stone walls not the Rolling Stones." You've Got to Be There. 


Do you sit the player with early fouls? There's no easy answer. Coaches expect intelligent aggressiveness. Some coaches automatically remove a player with two fouls in the first half. I think it depends on the player. But look to strategically substitute key players out to avoid the next critical foul or disqualification depending on time, score, and situation. 

Switch the player in foul trouble onto a lesser offensive threat. To keep your key player in the game, you sacrifice ideal matchups at times. 

Play zone defense. Because we've played almost exclusively man, this becomes a challenge. Players who've played in other systems have exposure to zones and we play some zone in practice to work zone offense. 

Learn to play with fouls. The best players have high basketball smarts. Those with a great 'feel' for the game often can play with fouls. 

How is the game being officiated? Officials can change, but they call games "tighter" (more fouls) and looser. When fouls are raining, do you bring your umbrella or get soaked? 

Last season about eighty percent of our games were within two possessions. Fouling and making free throws decides these contests. Don't blame the officials. Play smart every possession. 

Lagniappe: "Fight for your tribe; fight for the family born to you. Fight for the brothers you find." 

Lagniappe 2: "Fall in love with easy." Short and midrange shots count, too. 
Lagniappe 3: Replay BOB (NASA?, the Earth Orbiter) via @BBallImmersion (Chris Oliver)

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Basketball: Ask Yourself, Would It Help?

Someone asked the Dali Lama about wisdom. He explained that he has tremendous access to intelligent people and he listens

In Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks gets a brilliant answer from his client, "would it help?"


We source a universe of content (in books, lectures, and on the Internet), but how do we find and reassemble it? What helps? 

Read every day to access wisdom and perspective. Nassim Taleb writes in Skin in the Game, "Thou shalt not become antifragile at the expense of others. Simply, asymmetry in risk bearing leads to imbalances and, potentially, to systemic ruin." In his book, Michael Lombardi discusses the problem of playing for Jon Gruden. When you win, he's the genius. When you lose, Gruden blames the talent. Read and extract big ideas. 

Last night we had tryouts, blending a limited amount of fundamental assessment with a larger dose of 3-on-3, 4-on-4, and 5-on-5 play, prioritizing seeing players competing and demonstrating individual and team play. Included in that are sessions without dribbling and with limited and unlimited dribbling. 

Why have only one tryout session? Return to the pivotal question, "would it help?" Would more time reveal the size, athleticism, skill, and toughness of those assembled? I think not. 

If your free throw shots are missing a foot wide or jump shots smacking off the top of the window, "would it help?" On another day, if you have lesser developed footwork and maneuvering speed, "would it help?" 

Be detail oriented. Thomas Keller operates Michelin 3-star restaurants on both coasts. He meticulously measures ingredients and combines them with exacting precision. He writes his recipes in grams and is exacting in food handling, timing, and space management in his kitchen. 

Here chef Keller is cooking a lobster broth, a sautee of lobster carcass in olive oil, with added chopped tomato, sweet carrots, and tarragon in water. He strains this initial composition through a coarse strainer (left) and then a fine strainer (chinois), before reducing. The reduced mixture adds cream for his creamy orzo upon which his poached lobster in beurre monte is plated with a Parmesian tuile. 

The point? We begin with "raw ingredients" to combine and refine. Some players define themselves as the heart of the dish. Others add distinct and complementary flavors. Having good components is necessary but not sufficient for success. Cooking a dish a few times is necessary but not sufficient for restaurant quality food. With purpose, precision, and experience we have a chance to make great meals, but everyone must play her part. 

Lagniappe: Collin Castellaw with tips on fixing your chicken wing (flared elbow). This is a big issue for some players. Take a video and experiment with foot position, hand position, and review your shot line. Thanks, Coach Castellaw. 

Monday, October 28, 2019

The Blame Game Is Too Easily Played

Bruce Lee shows us the only "Right way" to point fingers. "There is no opponent." 

We fail. Do we fail graciously and accountably or do we play the blame game

In Above the Line, Urban Meyer writes, "It isn’t hard to find people who are caught up in Below the Line behavior. All you need to do is look for those whose first reaction is to blame (others), complain (about circumstances), and defend (yourself) or BCD." (We all do sometimes.) 

Hans Rosling informs the Blame Instinct in Factfulness (Brilliant summary HERE). "The blame instinct is the instinct to find a clear, simple reason for why something bad has happened." We allow transition baskets; blame the players. What priority did I place on transition defense? Who is assigned to be back? How many do we send to the glass? How much did we practice transition defense? Are we tracking progress and adjusting to data? 

He adds, "This instinct to find a guilty party derails our ability to develop a true, fact-based understanding of the world...blocks our learning because once we have decided whom to punch in the face we may stop looking for explanations elsewhere." 

Let's shift gears to baseball and pace of play. Who should we blame? Oh, it's Tony LaRussa with a parade of pitching changes. Or Joe Maddon, who shifts players around the field. Or Bill James and Michael Lewis with Moneyball, glorifying the Greek god of Walks and rising pitch counts. Or catchers visits to the mound. Batters stepping out. Pitchers wandering around the mound. Or television advertising, with interminable breaks. We oversimplify to find a bad guy, a bad business, unfair reporting (all sides claim unfairness), or foreigners. Whatever happened to "you can't walk off the island?" 

Or global CO2 emissions. How do China and India feel entitled to pollute the world? 

The richest countries are the biggest polluters. "Canada's per capita CO2 emissions are still twice as high as China's and eight times as high as India's."

What about basketball? What's the problem? 
  • Greedy owners
  • Greedy players
  • Greedy agents
  • Greedy NCAA
  • Systemic corruption in recruiting
  • Inexperienced coaches
  • Unscrupulous coaches
  • AAU and club teams
  • Shoe companies
  • Misplaced priorities in youth basketball (Winning uber alles)
  • Parents (not our parents)
  • Zone defense 
  • Selfishness
  • Bad shot selection 
  • Analytics 
  • Tights and earrings (on boys)
  • Charles Barkley (just kidding)  
I'm sure that we can add more, but that doesn't make our list complete OR correct. 

Rosling adds "Resist blaming any one individual or group of individuals for anything. Because the problem is that:
when we identify the bad guy, we are done thinking." 

Stay open to finding better solutions. 

Lagniappe: (excerpt from Factfulness)

Do you know why I’m obsessed with the numbers for the child mortality rate? It’s not only that I care about children. This measure takes the temperature of a whole society. Like a huge thermometer. Because children are very fragile. There are so many things that can kill them. When only 14 children die out of 1,000 in Malaysia, this means that the other 986 survive. Their parents and their society manage to protect them from all the dangers that could have killed them: germs, starvation, violence, and so on. So this number 14 tells us that most families in Malaysia have enough food, their sewage systems don’t leak into their drinking water, they have good access to primary health care, and mothers can read and write. It doesn’t just tell us about the health of children. It measures the quality of the whole society." (The US infant mortality rate is 5.8 per 1000 live births. Compared with other OECD countries, the U.S. ranks No. 33 out of 36 countries (Figure 62). Iceland is ranked No. 1 and has the lowest rate with 0.7 deaths per 1,000 live births.)

Lagniappe 2: Justified praise for Trae Young
"A thing of beauty is a joy to behold." 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Big R (Urban Meyer Mental Model)

Urban Meyer's Above the Line shares many teaching points. We all want big outcomes. Use Meyer's equation: 

E + R = O 

EVENTS plus RESPONSES equals OUTCOMES. In the big games, the big moments, generate big responses.

We've seen similar approaches. 

  • Press Pause – gives you time to think, gets you off autopilot, avoid doing something foolish or harmful, focus on acting with purpose "1. CLEAR THE CLUTTER"
  • Get Your Mind Right – What you focus on, how you talk to yourself, productive vs negative mindset, Irritated Mindset or Survival Mindset (both below the line) vs. Purpose mindset (above the line) 2. HAVE A WELL-DEFINED PLAN - research, refine, and write it out
  • Step Up – Understand the situation, understand what is required of you and respond above the line 
  • Adjust & Adapt – Consider current path of your R Factor habits. Where are they taking you? Where do you want to go? Adjust. 
  • Make a Difference – take complete ownership of the experience you give others and your contribution to the team’s culture 
  • Build Skill – Elite performers build skill above their talents. 

Talent is a gift, greatness is a choice

3. GET THE GREATNESS BUY-IN FROM MORE PLAYERS. Model high performance. Ask for greatness. 

Does it remind you of another mental model recently shared? Colonel Boyd's OODA Loop

The first steps are mental - stop, think, understand. How many of our players have a written plan with specific steps toward improvement? What are my strengths and weaknesses, and how specifically am I addressing them? 

The secondary steps engage action - adjust and practice to build skill to make a difference.

Find at least three solutions every day to get Bigger Responses. 
Lagniappe: Always build the mental game...pregame Mental Hacks
  • Have a set routine
  • Give yourself time for the unexpected
  • Know your responsibilities
  • Stay calm in the pregame talk
  • Encourage team visualization 
Lagniappe 2: Find more resources. Apps

Lagniappe 3: Character. 

Bring our best self to the court every day. 

Fluff. Tacko Fall gets a custom coat from Canada Goose. He should smile. That's a several thousand dollar parka...

Saturday, October 26, 2019

All Players Are Not Equal. Is a Coaching "Theory of Justice" Possible?

"A lot of coaches aren't fair, but I am." Do you ever have cognitive dissonance about fairness? Fairness is in the eye of the beholder. 

Alexander Wolff asked, "Why does women's basketball have so many coaching abuse problems?" He explained, a "survey of almost 20,000 college athletes reported that only 39% of women’s basketball players “strongly agreed” that “my head coach can be trusted..." and players felt like crabs in a bucket, a metaphor for pulling down others who are trying to hoist themselves up."

It appears "there's a there there." 

John Rawls wrote Theory of Justice incorporating ideas from many schools of thought. Important concepts included: 
  • Everyone is an individual and, as such, there is no individual who more or less valuable than another.
  • Discrimination is unethical. 
  • We must all have the same rights.
  • are located behind a veil of ignorance so that they know nothing of what will be their place in society
  • “each person must have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic liberty for all, consistent with a single system for all.”
  • the inequalities (economic and social) are justified only if: attached to positions, jobs available to all under conditions of equal opportunity
  • "A just society is not egalitarian but it is an equitable society where the position giving the greatest benefits are available to all"
  • "The Rawlsian ideal is a democratic ideal."
The "veil of ignorance" postulates a level playing field for all competitors as each would accept their 'starting position.' Obviously, society doesn't meet that standard, with some born with a silver spoon and others with no spoon at all. 

A reasonable question is what "blind justice" concepts could belong in team sports? Where would they apply? 

Tryouts and team selection. When we throw players into Anson Dorrance's competitive cauldron, some will rise and others ground down. We choose the 'eye test' (I know it when I see it), analytics, or a combination. Yet, we know that "bonus babies" and "scholarship players" will get more and better opportunities to succeed. And there's nepotism that allows sons and daughters of the renowned to get favored treatment. On the other hand, there's Parcellian reality, "Coaches are the most selfish people I know. They put players on the field who make them look good." 

Practice. Do some players get lost in the numbers game with few reps, little individual attention or coaching, and constantly play with less skilled players? It's hard to stand out when you're always playing with lesser lights. Have you seen players buried or ever been personally buried? Let players know what they can work on and how they can contribute to the team. 

Roles. Kevin Eastman has said that you won't find any "jerks" in the 9-12 NBA roster spots. It's easier to shed the "high maintenance" problem children. And you can't have a 'critical mass' (two) of jerks who conspire to bring the team down. We have a responsibility to define roles and put players in a position to succeed. Bobby Knight famously said, "just because I want you on the floor doesn't mean I want you to shoot." 

Playing time. Playing time is the "mother's milk" of basketball. Starve the player of playing time and the results are almost inevitable. 

One love feeds the fire
One heart burns desire
I wonder, who's cryin' now
Two hearts born to run Who'll be the lonely one
I wonder, who's cryin' now

Recognition. Players with big minutes and big roles will get theirs. Exceptional coaches like Dean Smith remembered to water the flowers, deflecting praise to role players who fostered team success. Everyone needs to feel valued. And teach players in the limelight to share the spotlight with teammates. Praise reflected upon teammates shines even brighter on the source. 

In addition to adding value, we have a responsibility to make players feel valued. Everyone deserves communication, respect, and recognition, even if they can't all get the minutes, roles, and recognition they crave. 

Lagniappe: Three-on-three flow with John Leonzo

Friday, October 25, 2019

Coaching Basketball - Strategy in Context

Tryouts are next week, so let's focus on the 'big picture'. Coaching education comes from many different domains. Discover gems where you can, like MasterClass professor points. 

Chess champion Garry Kasparov says, "Tactics is knowing what do when there's something to do; strategy is knowing what to do when there's nothing to do." Kasparov says tactics "disturb the balance of a position." He asks how one makes their opponent uncomfortable, while playing the game that fits your personality. But he cautions us to be brutally honest about our mistakes and their origins. 

What are our goals? I have no idea what our middle school travel record was over fifty years ago when I played. Our goal was to improve every day. I recall Coach throwing a volleyball at us in practice if we lost sight of the ball. It wasn't cruel or unusual, but it was a different era. 

Find balance. Setting expectations about record or winning a championship don't belong on our radar. If we win a lot of games and players are miserable because of envy, roles, or minutes, success escaped us. And if we play bad, undisciplined, or selfish basketball and players are happy, that's failure, too. 

Make memories in context of teaching. Was it worthwhile for the players and the families to sacrifice their time, money, energy, and emotion as part of "the experience?" Did players develop friendships, life skills, and maybe networking for the future? Did they learn to see the game better and respect it? Did players learn to be better people, better teammates, and better players? That's all part of strategic program thinking. 

"Visualize the game" is how Steph Curry approaches preparation. Controlling emotions involves trial and error to remain under control. Mastery of high standards disempowers opponents. 

Poker champion Daniel Negreanu says understanding your hand (strength) comes first, followed by hypothesizing the hands of competitors. He reminds us not to focus on results. "Don't let emotion drive your decisions...emotion gets in the way of logic." He adds, "you're going to make mistakes but there's no reason that you can't correct them." (If you keep suited 2,6 twice consecutively and fill the straight on the flop, that doesn't make it a viable long-term strategy). 

Serena Williams keeps a "match book" of notes that are priorities and suggestions to herself to refer to during a match. As coaches, we have our playbook and situational reminders. 

Political strategist Karl Rove says, "I like to be on the offense." Have a plan about what you hope to accomplish while being prepared for adjustments. 

Poker star Phil Ivey notes, "what is in your control is what you have in front of you, the hands you play, being emotionally level, doing your best, staying present, putting your best foot forward."

Lagniappe: Chris Oliver teaches that attacking the early help can be profitable.
Lagniappe 2: Diagonal STS BOB via Xavier 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Mental Models: Circle of Competence

Study the diagram. We're never as smart as we think we are. Our circle of competence (CoC) is what we understand. Pop psychology sometimes calls working within it "staying in our lane." 

What does it say to you?  Enormous gaps lie between our knowledge, our understanding, and domain reality. 

Step away from basketball for a minute to Moby Dick. "Call me Ishmael." Maybe we remember the author, the main characters, the central plot, and the metaphor of self-destruction. I wouldn't want to have to lead a discussion about the book and end up looking like Billy Madison

How do we expand our circle of competence? 
  • Improve our online learning techniques (e.g. Coursera class on learning, e.g. Pomodoro)
  • Use the Feynman technique (name, define, research, simplify)
  • Teach the subject 
  • Read and self-test 
  • Find mentors 
  • Watch video
  • Attend live, virtual, or online coaching clinics. 
  • Practice, practice, practice. 
  • Carve out protected thinking time. 

Circle of competence is dynamic. Many fields explode knowledge...think about cancer treatment. Surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy (antimetabolites), antiangiogenesis drugs (inhibit blood supply), hormonal manipulation, growth factor inhibitors, the endocannabinoid system (medical marijuana), and more. Even as an individual learns more, the field grows exponentially. 

Practically, ideas flow from experience, memory, and imagination. Ask what went wrong and how can we coach better, decide better? 

John Calipari discusses use of Personal Board of Directors to expand input with life decision. And Annie Dukes uses Decision Groups to study decision-making in her field of poker, sharing this in Thinking in Bets

Developing our Circle of Competence is a lifelong challenge. We improve or fall back; we never stay the same. 

Lagniappe: Superior execution can overcome tight defense. Chris Oliver shares a SLOB stagger into screen-the-screener action. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Teamwork, "You Deserve to Be There - Act Like It"

Keywords - leadership, feedback, teamwork, MasterClass, creativity

MasterClass instructors share their thoughts on leadership. Find something to adopt, to add to your toolbox. 

"You are nothing without a good team." - Anna Wintour

"You want somebody who is not going to be too dogmatic...yet with a strong voice." 
"You need constructive criticism...a canary in the coal mine." - Will Wright 

"People lose a lot of work because they're not good with people...I don't want to hire a room killer." - Judd Apatow

"Or worse, they start to think you don't have anything to say. You deserve to be there - act like it." - Shonda Rhimes 

"He has leapfrogged other people at the company because of his personal're just putting yourself in a position to learn." - Howard Schultz

"Bring stuff to the party...the idea of collaboration is participation." - Marc Jacobs

"Be the first one there and the last one to leave." - Shonda Rhimes

"Trust is one of the most important elements...listen to what they have to say...try to find another way of looking at it. Have an open mind. Welcome new ideas." - Herbie Hancock

"You have to ultimately be the last word. Mine the creative brainpower. You put them all in a pressure cooker. I love that collaboration." - Ron Howard

"There's clarity...has ownership of that plan...we knew whom would play well in the sandbox. Don't be leaking and stabbing each other." - Karl Rove and David Axelrod

Find "...a state of equilibrium...the crew would do an hour of practice (yoga)...put the ego out of the door...a great sense of calm...of harmony." - Mira Nair

"Your taste is what's ultimately going to guide the production...but others need to be invested...when talented people know that you're willing to say yes to their suggestions, they're more accepting of hearing no." - Ron Howard

Lagniappe: We're wired to think a certain way, but we can change. Losses bring more pain than wins bring gain (loss aversion). How we frame propositions impacts how others view facts and us. Positive coaching...

Lagniappe 2: "Timing is everything." 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

More on Tryouts, We Are Always Being Judged

Be enthusiastic. With a new group, I ask the girls to sit on the baseline. "I need a volunteer." I expect someone to be UP, shot out of a cannon, when they hear the first syllable of volunteer. Do you want the job or do you need the job

Listen. Following directions demands attention. Failing to pay attention and know your assignment lets down your teammates, loses games, loses championships. We have all seen unawareness beat teams. 

Prepare. The tryout starts long before you walk in the door with your picture, your number, or your resume. You're not competing for the track team, but you have to be in shape. Prepare every day to become tomorrow's better version

"It's always showtime." My daughter said she walked 'tall' into a gym, head up, letting everyone know the best player in the gym arrived. She didn't say that she was the best, but that was her intent. Habits start early. 

She 'anticipated' the studies of Amy Cuddy about body language and success. 

"Presence is real."
Whether you're trying out for a travel team or Broadway, have a strategy. Be intentional. Have a plan to present yourself. 

Be professional. What does that mean for a thirteen year-old? 
  • Be early, be fired up and ready to go when the bell rings.** 
  • Be polite. "Yes, Coach" or "I'm not sure what that means, Coach." 
  • Connect. Make eye contact. Have a firm handshake. 
**I understand, young teens depend on someone else's transportation. 

Play the long game. Today's audition could land you 'the big job' later. A sixth-grader who tried out in 2010, now studies in her third year at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. She carried the laminated Wooden Pyramid of Success in her gym bag every day.

"Look for the victory." Find something positive. You took the warmup lap and didn't cut a corner. Small victory. You boxed out the bigger player. Another small win. As Coach Wooden remarked, "little things make big things happen." 

Lagniappe: Focus on footwork.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Coaches' Word Associations: You Know It When You Hear It

We all play the 'word association' game. We link people and ideas, concepts, or words. George Washington might associate with President, cherry tree, wooden teeth, or a dollar bill . My coaching associations won't be yours, nor should they. 

A father asked his son whether he had turned over the outhouse. The son told him that he hadn't. The father persisted. The son remained steadfast. Finally the father said, "George Washington admitted chopping down the cherry tree." The son relented, "Okay, I turned over the outhouse." The father answered, "Well, George Washington's father wasn't sitting in the cherry tree." 

John Wooden - The Pyramid of Success

Pete Newell - "Get more and better shots than our opponent."

Bobby Knight - "Basketball is a game of mistakes."

Red Auerbach - "the players that play best together"
  Bill Russell - "My ego depended on the success of my team."

Phil Jackson - "Basketball is sharing."

Nick Saban - "Are you spending your time or investing it?"

Dean Smith - "the only man who held Michael Jordan under 20 ppg" 

Brad Stevens - "The game honors toughness."

Yoda - "Do or do not. There is no try." 

Gregg Popovich - "Get over yourself." 

Steve Kerr - mentors, mindset, culture

Bo Schembechler - "Get the wrong guy and he beats you every day."

Geno Auriemma - Life leaves scars. 

John Calipari - "Players First"

Doc Rivers - "Ubuntu." 

Pete Carril - "The quality of passing leads to the quality of the shot." 

Chuck Daly - "Every NBA player wants 48 - 48 minutes, 48 shots, 48 million." 

Mike Krzyzewski - "DR FLaPS" - dribble into gaps, reverse the ball, flash to open spaces, postup, screening (attacking zone defense)

Kevin Eastman - "Eyes make layups. Feet make jumpshots." 

Don Meyer - "It's not who you play; it's how you play." 

Tom DeMark - "You can't do size at highs." (Don't overpay at the top.)

David Cottrell - "People don't quit jobs; they quit people." 

Lagniappe: The 'threat' of inside scoring opens outside scoring chances. 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Basketball: OODA Loops Plus Quadruple Lagniappe

What's an OODA loop and why does it matter? Coaches and players seek sustainable competitive advantage. Aerial combat informs high-stakes competition where small edges mean life or death with often unseen opponents. 

Colonel John Boyd spent his life refining OODA loops, decision-making sequences that work in combat, business, sports, and elsewhere. They apply at the macro (organizational) and micro (individual) levels. They embody the 'do more of what works and less of what doesn't' principle. 

Consider the Heimlich Maneuver. You see a struggling victim in a restaurant. "Can you talk?" No. You OBSERVE an emergency and ORIENT to upper airway obstruction. You DECIDE and ACT simultaneously applying force to increase airway pressure and dislodge the piece of meat blocking breathing. That's an OODA loop. 

Coaches face OODA loops deciding timeouts, substitutions, or tempo and tactical changes. Players make instantaneous adjustments each possession. OODA loops are everywhere. 

You OBSERVE a 2-on-1 fast break and the dribbler ORIENTS while dribbling with the inside hand, advancing while the defender reacts. The defender cheats toward the ballhandler who DECIDES and ACTS with a one-handed bounce pass for a layup. There's a process underpinning the sequence. Chris Oliver discusses it as basketball decision training. 

Basketball IQ implements what I call VDE - vision, decision, and execution. But it repacks OODA loops. 

Here are highlights from the summary of Boyd's process. 

In 1961, at age 33, he wrote “Aerial Attack Study,” which codified the best dogfighting tactics for the first time, became the “bible of air combat,”

Nation-states around the world and even terrorist organizations use the OODA Loop as part of their military strategy.

It is a learning system, a method for dealing with uncertainty, and a strategy for winning head-to-head contests and competitions.

When our circumstances change, we often fail to shift our perspective and instead continue to try to see the world as we feel it should be. (Overcome ambiguity.)

Those three principles are Gรถdel’s Proof, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (don't get hung up on terminology...we have partial information, constant change, tendency toward chaos)

These folks never stop to ask, “Maybe I need a different tool?” (We need openness.)

(Solutions may require us breaking free of conventional, cultural, experiential, and tribal thinking. Years ago a relative was not recovering after major surgery because of anorexia, weakness, and fatigue. I suggested to the family a time-limited trial of anabolic steroids (legal but unconventional). Within days the patient improved her appetite and strength, ultimately recovering and returning home.

You need to always be in Condition Yellow. Condition Yellow is best described as relaxed alert. (If we close ourselves to new information, we will make poorer decisions.) 

It is not necessarily the one with more information who will come out victorious, it is the one with better judgment, the one who is better at discerning patterns.” (This is the crux of Pete Newell's mandate of teaching players to "see the game.")

Orienting is critical. Boyd calls this process “destructive deduction.” When we do this, we analyze and pull apart our mental concepts into discrete parts. (This expands on 'chunking' the process used to act on pattern recognition, like Chess grandmasters.) 

Build a robust toolbox of mental models.

You see “man with a hammer syndrome” in businesses that stick to a tried and tested business model even though the market is moving in another direction. Kodak, as mentioned above, is a perfect example of this. So too is Blockbuster. They continued making hard-copy movie rental a primary part of their business even though more and more consumers were streaming movies via the internet.

I encourage interested readers to study the article because of its universality and depth. 

Lagniappe: it's easy to underestimate the genius of great players. Watch the video and think about OODA and changing circumstances during "orientation." 

Lagniappe 2: Difference makers...on the ball defense...great video. 

1. Proximity (on the catch, with the ball)
2. Stance "low man wins"
3. Discipline 
4. Ball-u-basket (containment)
5. Communication 

Lagniappe 3: The Phil Jackson Bulls-eye test. 

Show each player the bulls-eye and have them (privately) write their name on the target. How closely do they feel connected with their teammates? Then, coaches have individual discussions exploring the why. How can we treat each other to move more people to the center? 

Lagniappe 4: Do you have the Lion Mind or the Dog Mind?