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PLAYING STYLE

Hello Everyone!!!

Every-once-in-while a team out of no where beats a much more talented team. How does this happen?

Here’s an Interesting Story you may remember from last year:

After the Oklahoma City Thunder suffered a surprising loss to Real Madrid and narrow victory over FC Barcelona during exhibition play, even Russell Westbrook is convinced that NBA style offenses aren’t nearly as difficult to defend.

The Thunder allowed 142 points in their preseason opener against Real Madrid and narrowly escaped with a 92-89 win over Barcelona. Thunder coach Billy Donovan believes his team was better prepared in the second game for the off-ball movement European teams use.

Here’s a quote that may surprise you from RUSSELL WESTBROOK…
 

"I think one thing people don't realize is guarding teams in Europe. Their offenses are 10 times better than NBA offense just because they move around a lot. A lot of movement and not as much talent; so they have to do different things to be able to score the basketball."
                              

Westbrook is right.  While there is certainly a level of talent in European basketball, (we see European players throughout the NBA) the overall talent level in the US is second to none.

That being said…

Why wouldn’t you stick with what works when it comes to coaching your players?

We know American teams traditionally dominate International Tournaments like the Olympic Games. Right?   

So, why would you NOT simply mimic these stars found right here in our back yard?
There’s a MAJOR difference between the NBA stars and the athletes we work with day in and day out…isn’t there? Raw, crazy, freakish athleticism…

Of course, if your team is loaded with some of the greatest athletes ever to play the game…you can simply play without fundamentals and skills and just use your athleticism!  

Unfortunately, great talent can mask poor execution. Mistakes made by extremely gifted players can be covered up by speed and athleticism.

The great equalizer is execution.  Execution gleaned from teams FORCED to do things differently.  Things like passing more, moving more, and making perimeter shots!  We are not as athletic as other teams and players therefor we can't just get to the rim whenever we want, we must execute and attack in different ways, more off the pass, the screen and player and ball movement!!!

For decades, European teams have been studying how to gain an edge on their faster and more athletic opponents. We here at Connecticut Elite must think the same way!  So, if you get a chance to watch European teams or teams from lesser talented conferences like the IVY leagues and Patriot leagues, do so.  STUDY THE GAME THAT BEST SUITS YOUR SKILL SETS!  WATCH PLAYERS THAT RESEMBLE YOUR STYLE!!

REMEMBER:  Failing doesn’t make you a failure. Failing makes you a competitor. Every competitor fails. If you lay it on the line, you will come up short at times. Failure is a part of competing, and embracing that fact is an important component of toughness. Tough people fail, but tough people are not failures. The only failures are those who give up, or give in!!!!

WE NEED TO WORK THE RIGHT WAY AND THAT WORK STARTS TODAY!!!!  

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MY COACH HATES ME!!!

“My Coach Hates Me”

Sitting on the bench is tough.  It is tough for kids, tough for parents.  The easy way to handle it is to shift the blame to the person in charge.  The unhappy athlete will surely have the opportunity to do that, but they are passing up a real opportunity for growth.  They will miss out on lessons that will serve them well later when things get more important.  I have some advice for the athlete who is not happy with their playing time, as well as their parents.

As a basketball player, no one ever confused me with being ultra-talented.  I had average physical gifts, at best: below average athleticism, well below average speed,  I was tall but not very strong.  Somehow, I was in the starting lineup at the end of every season and/or played a lot of minutes!  I think I have a perspective that might be valuable as someone who coached many years at the high school and collegiate level.

Here is a “how to” for working your way into the starting lineup, or at least more playing time.  I can’t promise you that it will work, but I can promise you it is your best plan to follow.  So, if you are an athlete not satisfied with your role on the team, or you have a young athlete in your life not happy with their playing time, consider the following advice:

1.  BE THE HARDEST WORKER ON THE TEAM:  If you are not willing to do this, you really shouldn’t waste any more time reading this.   You either need to become the hardest worker,  accept your current role on the team,  or quit.  If you don’t, you lose all your right to complain.   In my role as a teacher, I’ve talked to several young athletes who were unhappy about their playing time.  I first ask them if they are the hardest worker on the team.  Many times I get answers like: “Well….I work as hard as everyone else. ”

Nope….not good enough.

Being the hardest worker means being the first one to practice every day.  You send your coaches a positive message about how important the team is to you when you do this.  It means working your hardest during every single drill during every practice and every work out.  It means being the hardest worker at any team relate event.  Team fundraiser? Be the hardest worker at it.  Study Hall? Be the hardest worker at it.  Field prep/clean up day? Be the hardest worker at it.  When your name pops into your coaches head, you don’t want it to be “just like everyone else.” You want to emerge as special.  You want to be the first name that the coach thinks of when they are looking for a substitute or a lineup change.


2.  BE THE MOST COACHABLE  PLAYER ON THE TEAM:  Coaches got into the long hours, little pay, and headaches of coaching because they like instructing athletes.  They love the feeling of satisfaction that is gained by teaching someone, watching them try, implement, and achieve.  Coaches are going to be drawn to those players who they really feel are trying to take their advice.  When a coach gives you instruction and you don’t even try to do what they say, they are going to take that as a personal affront, and probably not like you very much.  Not accepting their coaching is viewed by them as disrespectful, because in their eyes they are only trying to help you succeed.  Also, they are going to spend their practice time instructing someone who they feel is listening.  When it comes time to give a player an opportunity in the game, they are much more likely to give it to the player who has proven to be coachable, period.

Whatever the coach tells you, own it.  Don’t become a “yabut.”  These are the players who always have an excuse, or some reason they can’t do what the coach is asking.  “Yabut…my club coach says to do this.”  “Yabut…..I dropped it because it was a bad pass”, “Yabut….I’ve always done it this way.”  When your coach instructs you: look them right in the eye, keep your mouth shut, accept the coaching, and then try your best to do what they are telling you.  If you really have a problem or disagreement with what they are telling you to do, ask them for an appointment to talk about it.  Hang out after practice and something like, “Hey coach, can I schedule a 10-15 time with you where we can talk about some things?”  Take some time to practice how you are going to phrase it so it does not appear you are questioning the coach’s intelligence or methods. Coaches have most likely invested decades of their lives thinking about their craft, smart players are careful about how they make suggestions.   “Hey coach, I know you have been asking me to do it this way, and I know your way is best for most players. I feel like this way is best for me, and here is why.  I was wondering if you would be willing to let me try doing it my way for a while and giving me an opportunity to prove that I can help the team be successful that way.”  Try to keep your language about the team, and minimize the use of the word “I.”  It may or may not work, but your coach will gain respect for you because of the way you handle it.

3. KNOW THE GAME BETTER THAN ANYONE ON THE TEAM:  Coaches love smart players and smart teams.  Become a sponge for all the information you can.  When the coach talks, make sure you are up in front, paying attention to everything that they say.  When they are giving instruction to another player, get right up close and pretend they are talking to you.  Chances are that you could benefit from whatever they are telling the other player.  Watch the professional and college games on t.v. when you can.  Talk the game with your teammates and others who know it.  Read books and watch videos.  When a coach sees a player who doesn’t know much about the game they are trying to play, they think to themselves, “How important is this to them?  Not enough to learn!”  Conversely, when they have a player that knows the game really well, it sends a message that you love the game and it is important to you.  Coaches want to coach people who share a level of love and importance of the game and the team with them.

This also goes to signs, plays, formations, etc.  As a coach nothing is more frustrating than a player who doesn’t know them.  It sends a message to the coach that this is not really important to you.  Your opportunities in a game might be hard to come by, so you really need to capitalize when you get a chance.  If you don’t know the plays, and can’t get to the right spot and do the right things, you have just taken your opportunity and gone backwards.   This might require practicing with a teammate or family member on your spare time, or having a family member go over them with you at night.   If playing more is really important to you, you will find the time.

4.  STOP TAKING THINGS PERSONAL AND QUIT WORRYING ABOUT JUSTICE:

I’ve talked to hundreds of coaches over the years.  They all have one thing in common: they want to win.  When they think you provide the team with the best opportunity to win, you will play more.  Sometimes they don’t exactly love everyone they put in the lineup…..but they play the people who will help them win.   If they seem to criticize you a lot, take that as a good sign that they still care and think you have the potential to get better.  Don’t be scared by the sounds of a coach pushing you, be scared when they don’t.  Silence means they have given up on helping you to get better, and moved on to other players.

Stop telling people that you are not playing because “the coach hates me.”  It is most likely not true, and if it is true, YOU be the one to change that.  Besides, you lose credibility with anyone who really knows sports as soon as you utter those words.

Stop worrying about justice, and don’t say things like, “well, that other player makes the same mistakes or does the same things I did. I got yelled out or taken out of the game, they didn’t.”  That is a waste of time.  The coach may or may not be even aware they are doing this, or they may have reasons that you are not aware of for handling players differently.  Every minute you spend worrying or complaining about this is a waste of the time and energy that could be focused on getting better. Sometimes, coaches make mistakes and play the wrong people.  If you are patient, and continue to work hard, they will likely figure it out.  Don’t automatically assume the coach is making a mistake on purpose.  Like every other walk of life, coaches aren’t perfect.   Maybe, just maybe you are right and the treatment is not totally level.  Get over it, life isn’t always fair.

5.  IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE SUCCESS OF THE TEAM:

Visualize this scenario that is played out all over the country many times a day.   A team just got a big win.  Almost everyone on the team is happy and excited.  Players smile and high five each other jubilantly.  One player didn’t get to play as much as they liked, so rather than celebrating and being joyful with the team, they pout.  What message does this send to the coach and teammates?   Selfish, not a team player.  Not the type of person that the coach should be making an extra effort to provide opportunities for.  Same thing goes for feeling sorry for yourself or bitter during the game.  Be positive and enthusiastic in supporting your teammates in games and in practice.  Coaches love that.

Is personal disappointment okay? Definitely, but in private.  Find a way to at least mask your feelings for long enough to enjoy hard earned victories by the team.  If you feel the need to let negative emotions out, do it in in private after you get home.  Sometimes, acting is a part of life.

6.  FIND A NICHE THAT ALLOWS YOU TO CONTRIBUTE:

Playing  multiple positions will create more opportunities.  Sometimes you might just have the bad luck of playing the same position as a very talented player.  Talk privately at an appropriate time with the coach about the possibility of you practicing at another position that would allow you a better chance to increase your playing time.  Phrase it the right way like: “Hey coach, I  was wondering if you could take a look at me at this other position. I really think I could help the team be more successful If I had a chance to try that position.”  Coaches will like this, feeling that you are trying to be proactive and help the team.

There are important skills in every sport that coaches love, but not everyone can do well.  In baseball, examples might be bunting or base running.  In football it might be something you can find a way to do well on special teams, or in a special package.  In soccer it might be throw ins, free kicks or corner kicks.  In basketball it might mean becoming the best free throw shooter, so your coach feels confident putting you in at the end of the game when free throws will be very important in sealing the win.  Find something you can do well that your team needs done.  Doing it successfully makes it more likely that you will get further opportunity.

7.  TREAT EACH PRACTICE LIKE A BIG GAME:
Because for you, it is.  Practice is the opportunity to show the coaches what you can do.  If you are not currently getting much playing time, it might be your only opportunity.  Show up for each practice the most focused person out there, and be ready to prove what you are capable of.   The goal of each practice should be to put doubt in that coaches mind that they are making the right decisions regarding you.

8.  FIND OUT WHAT THE COACH LIKES, AND DO IT:
Coaches play favorites.  So do bosses, so do teachers.  That is a fact of life, accept it and learn how to work it to your advantage.   Who do they usually favorite? Low maintenance hard workers who hustle, are coachable, and care about winning like they do.  Individual coaches have other specific things they really like as well.  Most basketball coaches love a player who is willing to take a charge, block out, set a hard pick, and scraps for loose balls.   Find out the things your coach really appreciates, and do them.  When you get a job, the boss is not going to change the company or their leadership style to fit your needs, it is up to you to adjust.  The same is true for sports.  

9.  HANDLE YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND CONCERNS:

If you have a problem or a question about playing time, whether or not you are starting, or anything else, ask the coach to schedule a meeting to talk about it.  Make it away from practice or games in both time and space.  If the coach is a teacher at your school, ask if you can come talk to them on lunch or some time like it.  Rehearse and practice what you are going to say.  Let the coach know that you respect them and their philosophies, and you just want to clarify what you can be doing to improve your situation.   Don’t attack the coach, don’t whine.  If you do it right, the coach will respect you more for handling the situation the correct way.  You may not get the answers you are looking for, but you will have a clearer understanding of the things you need to do.

Your parents may want to do this for you.  They love you and they want you to be happy more than anything.  If they feel you are getting an unfair deal, they want to protect you.  Talk them out of this, as it usually doesn’t work and often makes things worse.  Tell them, “I know you are looking out for me, and I really appreciate that, but I need to handle this myself.  It will be excellent practice that will help me greatly in the future.”  If you feel strongly that the meeting with the coach doesn’t go well, only then should you consider a meeting with your coach and parents.  You should attend that meeting, and do most of the talking for yourself.  If your parents have to handle everything for you, this will not go far in earning the respect of your coach.  In fact, it will probably have the opposite effects of what the meeting was hoping to achieve.

WHAT IF THIS DOESN’T WORK?

This may or may not work.  It is still the best plan to follow.  If you failed to notice, nothing I mentioned above requires great physical talents or gifts. Everyone is capable of all of it.  If your playing time situation doesn’t improve, you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you handled things the right way.  Keep your positive attitude, and be a strong teammate for the rest of the season. Don’t quit the team, don’t become a cancer.  The season is really not that long. You can make it.  Let us just say you are right and the coach was wrong, you just proved to yourself that you can handle adversity. You will always be able to draw from that experience during future tough times.  Don’t quit. Fairly or unfairly, if you quit once you are going to get labeled a quitter, and that will be a tough label to shake.   If it is really important to you to play more the next year, dedicate yourself in the off season to that goal.  The off seasons are when you will have the most opportunity to gain on the people you are competing with. If you are going to play for the same coach next season, set up a meeting with them right away to talk about what you need to do to improve your standing in the program.

If it doesn’t work out in the short term for this particular season or sport, understand that the actions I described above will help you in nearly every area of life further on up the road.   Youth sports are all really just practice for the big games of life  that will be played later in the schedule.   Whether you choose to handle adversity in the right way or the wrong way, you will be on the path to creating habits and defining your character for years to come.

 

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THE ONE GREAT QUALITY GREAT TEAMMATES HAVE IN COMMON!!!

October 22, 2015

“Coach, can I talk to you?”

“Sure,” I said. “What’s on your mind today Michael?”

“Well, I just want to know what I can do so I get to start more games and get more playing time. I don’t think I am showing my best, and my parents tell me I am not going to get noticed by the college scouts unless something changes.”

Well Michael,” I said, “there is something that all coaches are looking for from the players they recruit. In fact, it is exactly what I am looking for from you as well. If you approach every practice, every workout session, and every match with this one thing, I think you will see a huge improvement in your play, regardless of where you play. Interested?”

“Of course, coach. What is it?”

I waited a moment before I answered to make sure he was listening.

You have to stop asking what you can get, and start asking what you can give.”

Michael furrowed his brow as he tried to process what I told him!

The great ones know that to be more they must become more, and to become more they must serve others.”

“So, you are saying that instead of asking what I can get from the team, I should be asking what I can give to the team?”

I wanted to leap out of my chair and hug him.

Michael got it. It’s not about him. It’s not about me. It’s about service. The tool that would eventually earn him more playing time and increase his chances of playing in college serving others by focusing upon what he could give, instead of what he could get.

Dr Jerry Lynch is the winner of 34 NCAA titles and one NBA World Championship as a sport psychologist and consultant. He calls this paradigm-shifting question the most effective question an athlete can ask, and an attitude that every coach must try and instill in his or her team.

We live in a world these days where self-centeredness and a ‘what’s in it for me” attitude of entitlement is far too prevalent. In the age of the selfie, Instagram, Facebook and a million other ways to say “look at me,” the concept of teamwork and the importance of service to others has gotten lost in the shuffle.

This is very sad, because service to others is the exact thing that athletes need to not only become elite performers, but the type of athlete that coaches look for, celebrate, and fight over at the next level. Do you want to stand out from the crowd?

Start by serving everyone in that crowd.

Far too many athletes bring the attitude of “what do I get” to practice and games. They want to know how they can:

  • Get to start
  • Get more playing time
  • Get to play my favorite position
  • Get to score all the points
  • Get to work hard when I want to
  • Get to show up (physically and mentally) when I feel like it
  • Get to give less than my best because I am an upperclassman
  • Get attention as the star player

Sadly, this is the path to short-term satisfaction, at the expense of long-term development and high-level performance. This attitude does not promote success; it inhibits growth on and off the field, the court, and the ice.

If you want your athletes to perform at their very best, whether you are a parent or coach, then you must get them the right question.

What can I give?

Athletes who ask themselves what they can give bring “I can give/I can do” attitudes and actions to the table for their teams. The can actually “get” everything they are looking for simply by starting with the following service oriented ideas:

  • I can give my best effort in practice and games
  • I can give my team a positive attitude no matter what the circumstances
  • I can give my team a boost no matter how many minutes I play
  • I can give my team a better chance to win no matter what position I play
  • I can do the dirty work so my teammate can get the glory
  • I can sacrifice my personal ambitions for the better of the group
  • I can lead by example
  • I can be an example of our core values in action

As a coach, I used to think that the most important thing was to have my best players be my hardest workers. But now I realize that isn’t enough. Being a hard worker can still be a selfish pursuit.

No, the most important thing as a coach is to have a team that all ask “what can I give,” especially when it come to your captains, your upperclassmen, and your most talented athletes. You must teach them that the selfish attitude may once in a while lead to success, but the selfless attitude leads to excellence, celebrates the success of others, and makes you the type of athlete that EVERY COACH wants on his or her team.

The most successful sports team in the professional era is not the NY Yankees, or the Boston Celtics, or Real Madrid, but a team from a far less known sport. It is the New Zealand All Blacks in rugby, who have an astonishing 86% winning percentage and numerous championships to their name.

One of the ALL BLACKS core values that epitomizes the selfless attitude is called “Sweep the Shed.”

You see the goal of every All Blacks player is to leave the national team shirt in a better place than when he got it. His goal is to contribute to the legacy by doing his part to grow the game and keep the team progressing every single day.

In order to do so, the players realize that you must remain humble, and that no one is too big or too famous to do the little things required each and every day to get better. You must eat right. You must sleep well. You must take care of yourself on and off the field. You must train hard. You must sacrifice your own goals for the greater good and a higher purpose.

You must sweep the shed.

After each match, played in front of 60,000 plus fans, in front of millions on TV, after the camera crews have left, and the coaches are done speaking, when the eyes of the world have turned elsewhere, there is still a locker room to be cleaned.

By the players!

That’s right, after each and every game the All Blacks leading players take turns sweeping the locker room of every last piece of grass, tape, and mud. “Sweeping the sheds. Doing it properly. So no one else has to. Because no one looks after the All Blacks. The All Blacks look after themselves.”

They leave the locker room in a better place than they got it. They leave the shirt in a better place than they got it. They are not there to get. They are there to give.

If you are a coach, recognize that by intentionally creating a culture where players seek to give instead if get, you will have a team that not only develops excellence on and off the field but is a team that is much more enjoyable to coach. Create a culture that rewards the 95% who are willing to give, and weeds out the 5% who are trying to get. When you do, the “getters” will stick out like a player who is vomiting: he feels better and everyone else feels sick. Eventually, he will get on board, or be thrown off the ship.

Parents, teach your children to be teammates who give. It will not only serve them well in athletics; it will serve them well in life.

For as former NY Yankee great Don Mattingly so eloquently stated:

“Then at one point in my career, something wonderful happened. I don’t know why or how . . . but I came to understand what “team” meant. It meant that although I didn’t get a hit or make a great defensive play, I could impact the team in an incredible and consistent way. I learned I could impact the team in an incredible and consistent way. I learned I could impact my team by caring first and foremost about the team’s success and not my own. I don’t mean by rooting for us like a typical fan. Fans are fickle. I mean CARE, really care about the team . . . about “US.”

Mattingly continued: “I became less selfish, less lazy, less sensitive to negative comments. When I gave up me, I became more. I became a captain, a leader, a better person and I came to understand that life is a team game. And you know what? I’ve found most people aren’t team players. They don’t realize that life is the only game in town. Someone should tell them. It has made all the difference in the world to me.”

Encourage, no implore your players and coaches to take Don Mattingly’s advice, to take the All Blacks advice. Come to practice and games prepared to compete, and to be a “giver” and not a “getter.”

You will stand out.

You will be a difference maker.

And you will get everything you want by giving full of yourself, and helping everyone else get what they want.

It changes everything.

 

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KOBE BRYANT

June 15, 2015

HERE IS A GREAT ARTICLE BY KOBE BRYANT!! I COULD NOT AGREE MORE WITH WHAT HE SAYS!  IT IS A MUST READ!!!

http://m.espn.go.com/nba/story?storyId=12114523&city=dallas

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THE HABITS OF SUCCESS!!

June 4, 2015

THE IMPORTANCE OF GREAT HABITS

When it comes to having success (both on and off the court), I believe that the number one determining factor in this process is our habits. Due to the fact that in basketball there is always a winner and a loser, let’s all agree that our habits will always fall into either one of two categories: good habits or bad habits. There are no exceptions!

If we are honest in our assessment of winners, they are usually characterized by good habits while the opposite is also true. As we begin to examine and evaluate our habits, acknowledging this is very important because there is not one thing that we do (both individually and as a team) that does not have a direct influence and correlation on winning and losing. Due to the fact that we all want to win, we should all have a heightened awareness of our habits!

 

THE DAILY COMMITMENT

Now that we are on the same page, let’s proceed. In my years of COACHING BASKETBALL, I have yet to meet a player that does not want to win and get better and it seems most even have greater aspirations of playing basketball professionally. The common struggle at any level is to prepare and work everyday, with the understanding that each and every thing we do will have a direct effect on the results and outcomes in this game.

The tendency is to think that a game or championship is won or lost, or a scholarship or contract is gained or missed out on directly as a result of one specific moment in time. I am not saying that performance in the moment is not required. However, what I am saying is that what happens in the moment of truth when the result is of utmost importance all comes back to the daily habits we have chosen to embrace.

If we are chasing success in this game and in life and wish to accomplish the goals we have set, here are a few general thoughts and observations when it comes to our habits.

 

10 HABITS OF SUCCESS

  1. Get better every day! Work hard. Study hard. Play hard. Do not look around at others, but instead hold yourself to a higher standard when it comes to your work ethic.
  2. Come up with a personal daily routine! Take it seriously. Stick to it no matter what. Embrace the “Theory of Two”: Two minutes to show a skill. Two weeks to get comfortable with it. Two months working at it every single day to execute it.
  3. When you start something, take pride in finishing it: an assignment, a workout, a drill, etc.
  4. Be early. Stay late. Get the job done.
  5. Talk. Communicate at all times. Quiet teams are selfish teams.
  6. Be a great teammate. Be selfless. Consume yourself with serving others.
  7. Know, embrace and take pride in your role.
  8. Always say thank you.
  9. If you do not know something, never hesitate to ask.
  10. Take care of your mind, body and soul at all times.

 

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF THE OFF SEASON

The best thing about the summer and the off-season in general is that we are allotted more time to focus on our individual habits. Take a minute to evaluate what you do on a daily basis as it relates to your personal goals and aspirations. Keep in mind that participation and just “showing up” guarantees absolutely nothing.

For example, if you say you want to become a better shooter, but haven’t developed a daily plan on how to get there and aren't consistently in the gym doing basketball shooting drills and getting hundreds of reps every day on your own or with a teammate or coach, guess what, it’s mostly likely not going to happen for you.

On the other hand, if you dedicate yourself to getting up a 1,000 shots (of all types) a day at a game-like pace while charting makes and misses, I think it would be safe to say that you will most likely see improvement in your shooting percentages next season. Take this simple example and apply it to other scenarios just like it and the end result will be the same.

 

CONCLUSION

When it comes to success there is no secret formula, no magic pill, or any special step-by-step program. What it boils down to is this: our habits will determine whether or not we even have a chance to win that game or get that scholarship or contract. By doing the right things and taking positive steps towards improvement every day, we give ourselves a chance for our dreams to come true. After all, we are only as good as our habits!

 

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BASKETBALL 101

February 10, 2015

You know that old phrase “the kids today?”  Well, it basically applies to anything, and perhaps basketball, like many sports, is a great example. 

The kids today…can’t shoot, can’t dribble (legally,) can’t catch, can’t see or find the open man, can’t pass well, can’t “help” defend, can’t box out, can’t improvise, can’t keep a cool head. And here’s why: The Quest to Win!  It’s killing USA basketball.  Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) the athleticism has been able to sustain a relative growth, and fend off deserved criticism. It is MY opinion that something will give out. How that will manifest…hard to say, but something.

Youth coaches, often volunteers, have started a ripple effect that they cannot begin to settle. The days of professional coaches, gym teachers that coach, and Dads that coach beyond their own kids are largely gone. This quest for winning at the youth level was predictable. Generally a volunteer’s pattern of thinking is that they must win games!  Of course the opposite is true as well, as some coaches only care that the kids are having FUN, with no regard for hard work, or for that matter, winning. These shouldn’t be the only options….there are many in betweens. In their defense, it often can start with one bad apple. The most noble of volunteer coaches, reared in the fundamentals of not only the game but also the mind of the young, will imminently face a coach with neither. They will lose, and lose badly, and suddenly the switch. “We’ll beat that team next time for sure.” And out goes the baby with the bath water. Schemes go in, mighty presses, 3-2 trapping zones that Dad read about in Mikan’s book, (relax, there is no book) crafty side-out plays and airing out the ball. Ninety minutes, five days a week isn’t enough, and faster than LEBRON JAMES can touch the rim, kids are standing around.
 

Basketball, as with most things of learning, is progressive. Start here, build, build, build, peak, win. Winning simply cannot be listed first…therefore teaching and expecting young boys and girls to execute for example, a 1-3-1 defense or offense is not only unrealistic, but ridiculous. If kids can’t dribble flawlessly with their head up, how can they beat a trapping defense?  If they can’t shoot a ball into hay from the loft, how can they beat a zone? And if they can’t cover their own man, how can they be expected to even notice, much less help defend another?
 

If you haven’t got the hint yet, you won’t. If what we’re saying isn’t already blinking in your mind, it won’t. If you have, and it is, we’re going places. And we’re going to organize it with you right now.  And good news…it’s a short ride.
 

No. 1.
Get them in shape. Kids run around less than ever, and it’s getting worse. Run them, rest them, run them. Repeat. In other words, run them to warm up, teach them something, run them in the middle, teach them something, run them, drill them, run them, run them, run them. Running athletes should not be at the end of practice only, or perceived as punishment in any way. It should be part of the day, and as the season goes on, you have to balance the art of adding more, while keeping the legs fresh. But remember we’re not talking about running out of gas during the playoffs…these are kids…get them in shape. And the kids WILL buy-in if you teach them why. Tell them, when the other kids are tired, you simply will be not. When your opponent is pacing themselves, you will be not. You will see the tire in you opponent’s eyes, because you’ve had that feeling before… months ago. Here’s the deal: There simply is no down side. When you have lesser skilled players, their lungs can keep it close; when you have great players, you will run to a lead. A substantial lead subsequently gets your lesser players on the floor more often and everyone wins as a result. We never said we didn’t like winning too. Get them in shape. Two quick additional thoughts…the better shape your players are in, the better chance for less injury. With that said, teach them about injuries, and that pain happens sometimes. Teach them that getting bumped and bruised is part of sports and being tough enough to stick with it.
 

No. 2
NO zone until 16. You are simply wasting your time. Forget about it. And here’s why: You do NOT HAVE time.  90 minutes a day is not enough. NOT that they can’t learn it…but that they can’t DO it. They don’t know the game yet…and this is EXTREMELY boring for kids. Too much standing around when you’re teaching this stuff to youngsters. See above…the kids today! Your practices should be on shooting, running, passing, running, catching (often overlooked) running, covering, running, boxing-out, running, moving without, running, seeing the ball, running. And the occasional fundamental set, (see below) and more running. Zone is ruining youth basketball skills. Use your time more wisely. Practice at the youth level should NEVER be wasted on zone defense, or offense. Just fundamentals. (and running of course) Look, we know what a good defense a zone can be, especially against kids that can’t shoot well-enough to make a team regret it, but if you’re reading this (still)…you’re here for different reasons…development of players.
 

No. 3 *
No Exact-Offense & No-Exact Plays until 15 or maybe even 16.  Again, you do NOT have time. They can’t shoot, dribble, etc. etc. Remember? Once again, it’s not that they can’t learn a play or two, it’s that your practices should not be wasted on anything other than fundamentals. 
 

*So…with that said…let’s talk “sets.”  Rather than spending valuable time on specific plays for kids to memorize (and forget under pressure) and that other teams can eventually decode in a game…teach your players the foundation of plays, known as sets. Instead of a point guard calling out: ONE, or BLUE, or TITAN, which denotes an exact and hopefully memorized play, teach them to call out a particular set, which denotes are particular TYPE of play, such as the following:

 Picks, 

Give&Goes, 

Back-Doors, 

SlipPicks, 

Clear-Outs. 

These are all self-explanatory for the most part. What is basically happening is you’re teaching the kids to learn how to “create” without memorizing anything more than the names you give the “Set.” 
 

For example, when a coach or point yells (whatever you call) PICKS, the kids will take turns running pick & rolls and back picks for each other…constantly and without end, for that possession. You can set primary pickers based on skills. Other kids will be primarily receivers for these picks. Likewise, for Give & Goes…or basically the foundation of pass & cut. Off the ball players will continue to move without it. Get the picture? SlipPicks…simply teach the kids to approach a teammate as if to set a pick and “slip it” by cutting instead. Teach them this stuff and then let them go…if there standing around too much, you’re spending too much time on it.
 

If the kids learn these basic premises, they are naturally set up to learn offensive plays. The irony is, they will have already learned the basic tenants of various offenses…and may very well NOT need anything more, other than a handful of exact-plays for out of bounds or time critical moments. That will come later.

A last note as we approach the end of THIS LESSON: Inspire your kids. Get in their heads. Sit with them…talk to them. Ask them to trust you. Build LOVE “in” the team, for the game and each other. Remind them how lucky they are and that other kids would love to be here. Pair them up specifically so different kids will work with different kids. Don’t let them just stay with their buddies. Make them find out about each other, their families, their favorites, their fears. Really do this…it builds a team that knows each other and will do more for their teammates than themselves. Remind them: 
 

-Never to yell at each other EVER. It breaks a team down. 
-That they ALL have made and will make mistakes. 
-Instead of yelling at your teammate, cover for them, go that extra mile. 
-They’re going to need that teammate when they make a big mistake and they will!

 

Encourage your players to encourage each other. Scolding is your job, NEVER theirs. Tell them to thank their parents for getting them there, for paying costs involved, watching their games. Give them homework like watching a game on Television, ask for three good plays they saw, a favorite player & why, a rule they saw enforced. And finally, teach them about Goals…something to shoot for, this week, this season, this summer, next season, beyond…and then check in with their goals from time to time.
 

You want them to Win? This is the road to take…and the scenery is like no other. The winning may not be every trophy and plaque, and it may not be this year, but it will come and it will be pure Gold.
 

FUNdamental’s for Youth Basketball: (everything else can wait)

• Shooting• Dribbling (both hands, head UP!)
• Passing AND Catching
• Faking (too often overlooked)
• Rebounding & Boxing Out
• Defense (man, eye on the ball, help)
• Moving at all times (with and without the ball)
• Cutting (to get open, to the basket)
• Picking & Rolling (properly)
• Give & Go
• Slip Cuts (2nd year)
• Clock and Time Awareness

DO NOT LET YOUR KIDS BE COACHED BY PEOPLE THAT HAVE NOT PLAYED THE GAME, STUDIED THE GAME OR JUST GRADUATED COLLEGE!!!  HAVE THEM BE COACHED BY PEOPLE THAT HAVE "BEEN THERE"!  WHO YOU DECIDE TO HAVE YOUR CHILD COACHED BY, IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISIONS YOU WILL EVER MAKE AND WILL INFLUENCE YOUR CHILD'S LIFE FOREVER!

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ACCOUNTABILITY!!

February 10, 2015

Hello again EVERYONE!

 

It’s no secret the best teams in the world, in athletics or business, have a culture of accountability.  For numerous reasons you could argue that accountability is the most important ingredient for a team’s success.

One of the best sayings I’ve heard derived from a discussion between ESPN’s Jay Bilas and NASA leading engineer Daryl Woods.  Bilas was curious as to how Woods was able to get a group of some of the most successful scientists and engineers to work together for one common goal.  Woods summed it up by saying, “Responsible to the element, accountable to the mission.”

That saying packs a strong punch and couldn’t be truer because of how it perfectly depicts what every team must do to meet their goal.  In Basketball it quickly becomes obvious when a team has accountability intertwined into their program’s culture.

Willing to Compete

To the naked eye, how do you know if a team has accountability?  First, watch how a team competes.  It’s a powerful thing.  Competing on every possession of every game demonstrates a winner’s identity.  This doesn’t happen overnight.  Developing a team that competes on every possession can take years and extends beyond the basketball court.  The teams that have IT though, often have a long list of other similarities.

Handling Adversity

Second, watch how the team responds to adversity over the course of a game and season.  Being able to respond to adversity as a team starts with trust.  Players must develop trust amongst their teammates, with their coaches and with those that have an impact on the basketball program.  Players trust that they can compete, make mistakes, and grow with the help of the people around them.

This type of trust within a program fuels confidence.  Have you noticed after a little adversity, accountable players don’t waste time saying “my bad” or show any negative body language?  They move onto the next play because they are confident they’ll make up for the mistake, or better, a teammate will help them.

Team Growth

Next watch how the team grows throughout the season.  Teams must fall in love with the process at hand and know with continued hard work and experience they’ll fulfill their potential.  Each member of the team “picks up the pennies”.  Time after time, doing the small things equals big things.

Teams that are accountable make the extra pass, rotate to the next man defensively, dive for a loose ball.  It’s always five guys working together in a pack to make a mission.  They learn as a unit there are no shortcuts to success.  Thus, they never stop working and they never stop trusting and enjoying the process.

It doesn’t matter who the opponent is.  There is one goal in mind.  Win and win big while having fun!  Accountable teams can feel fear, they can sense a wounded opponent, and they know when it’s their time to strike and make a big push!  To opponents, it always seems like luck is on their side.

After being down ten points with three minutes to go, the accountable team always seems to hit the shot at buzzer for the win on the road in a hostile environment.  They always seem to avoid injury.  They almost always advance deep into the NCAA tournament.  Consistently there is always the “next guy” ready to step in and keep the bus moving forward.

Great Leaders

Great leaders fuel accountable teams.  Sometimes it’s one leader, often times it’s a small collective group.  Who wants the ball at the end of the game on the biggest stage?  Who always seems to come up with the big defensive rebound at the end of the shot clock?  Who gets into their teammates faces and inspires them to play at a greater level than they’ve ever expected of themselves?  Accountable leaders do those things, and they do them all the time!  Accountable programs seem to have inspirational leaders year after year.

Look for inspirational leaders that help create a mature team.  Teams with accountability demonstrate a high level of maturity few teams have.  They never get too high or too low.  Winning and losing does not define them.  They prepare and attack the next day just like they did the day before.  They learn from their mistakes, and grow from them.  Accountable teams carry themselves like men on and off the court.  They communicate, show character, and prepare for success.  Winning teams know that with every decision they make there is an easy decision and the right decision available to them.  They always seem to pick the right one.

Preparation

When teams are accountable, they are always prepared.  They fall in love with the process, they’re hungry to compete, and mature.  Accountable teams prepare for every film session, lift, practice, and game the same exact way.  There is no rock left unturned.  They respect the game of basketball, their opponent, and most importantly, the culture and University they represent.  They do right by the players that wore the same jersey before them.

For coaches that are fortunate enough to lead accountable teams, they know game day is about the players.  They know they’ve prepared together with the team, and if they were not on the sideline to help coach the team, the team would follow the exact same preparation and execute the exact same game plan to perfection.

Accountable teams win championships and help sustain a culture that is difficult to break for opponents.  Watch how this year’s NCAA National Champion demonstrates accountability within their program.

Teams that have accountability in their program show:

  1. 1)  They compete every possession
  2. 2)  They respond to adversity
  3. 3)  They fall in love with the process
  4. 4)  They are hungry to improve everyday and never take shortcuts
  5. 5)  They pick up the pennies
  6. 6)  They are mature
  7. 7)  They choose to make the right decision instead of the easy decision
  8. 8)  They have inspirational leaders

The question is, are we willing to do the work!  

Are we TRULY ABOUT DEVELOPMENT OVER WINNING....

I KNOW MY ANSWER TO THESE QUESTIONS IS MOST DEFINITELY!!!

 

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WINNING VS DEVELOPMENT!!!

February 10, 2015

An often debated topic in youth sports is whether is is more important to develop talent or win games.

A common situation that I have experienced in my many years of being involved in youth basketball happens at the youngest ages of the game.  We will call this "The Winning Scenario."  Let's take the 11U age group as an example.  As a coach if I want to win most games, I put the player that can score the best and the best athlete on the floor at the same time.  Obviously, the best player will get the ball and score every time simply because they are a better athlete and the best athlete just dominates based on athletic ability, not skill.  This may happen ten or eleven times per game, and the team will win most of the time.

Now let's look at "The Development Scenario."  I have the same players lined up in the same positions, but instead of coaching the best player or two to just attack and score, I tell them to control the ball run an offense and PLAY DEFENSE and play with fundamentals and sit the child when he does not give maximun effort.  With this scenario my team loses most of their games.  But which scenario is best for kids?
 
The Winning Scenario:  This strategy will work for players at 9U, U9, 10U, 11U and 12U.  When they reach 13U, they will struggle because these players will not have learned how to play the game of basketball.  They will have simply learned to out athleticize and run fast, getting by on their athleticism alone.  After 13U, when they come up against teams that have learned to pass and create space, they will end up chasing the game the entire time and most often lose.

The Development Scenario:  This strategy only works if the club has created the right culture.  What this means is that the Director of Coaching and individual coaches have clearly communicated the plan for development to parents and kids.  The challenge is to get players to stay with the development scenario even when the team loses most games.  What does it take to convince parents that a coach is doing the right things and that in a few years the team will win the large majority of games--communication.

Communication is critical to implementing the Development Scenario.  First, the Director of Coaching must have the credentials that show that he or she knows what he or she is talking about.  Second, there should be some record of the development model working.  Now I understand that this is not possible in all cases which means that the Director of Coaching and individual coaches must communicate their ideas repeatedly.   Once a club decides to coach for development, coaches must not waiver and get sucked into trying to be more competitive.  It is important to stay the course and let the development model work.
 
So which approach is best for kids? Personally, I always opt for The Development Scenario, but as I mentioned in the beginning of this post, very few coaches, directors, and clubs actually stay true to this plan.  We are all naturally extremely competitive so it really is no surprise that people have trouble sticking to it. 

Can you?

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THE BEST BASKETBALL VIDEO EVER

August 17, 2014

 

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MISTAKES MADE BY RECRUITS!!!

April 3, 2014

MISTAKE #1- TARGET SCHOOLS ABOVE YOUR ATHLETIC ABILITY

STUDENT athletes and parents often believe their son or daughter is better than they actually are, and assume they will be recruited while they wait for their mailbox to fill up with scholarship offers or wait for phone calls from coaches. This is the number one mistake. You have to be proactive and market yourself the proper way. Very few athletes will ever play at the top tier programs in the country. These schools have the luxury of selecting from the top blue chip athletes and begin tracking them by their freshman year in high school.  Parents and athletes do not always know how to evaluate athletic ability accurately. Success on your team or league does not mean you are ready to be a college athlete or capable of receiving a college scholarship or even competing at the college level. Playing in camps or tournaments out of your local area is a good way to measure yourself against the larger population of athletes.  Overestimating your talent can leave you in the cold for a college career if you only target schools that are above your talent level.  Many kids make this mistake and end up transferring, a lot just get cut and never play their sport again. And that's a shame.

MISTAKE #2- CONTACT TOO FEW SCHOOLS

Just because you’re interested in a school does not mean they’re interested in you. If the school already has five athletes that play your position, do they need another one?  Want to stay in your state so your family and friends can watch you play? How many others think the same way? Nothing limits your options more than just focusing on a small number of schools.  The more schools that know about you, the more offers you will eventually receive. If you target a large number of schools you are more likely to have options to choose the best school for you.

MISTAKE #3- HAVE A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY

Many athletes feel confident that they are already being recruited because they’ve heard from a few coaches. This “contact” comes in the form of letters, emails, occasional phone calls and even an invitation to attend a camp so they can “get a better look at you.” Unless you are getting weekly phone calls from coaches, you are not being seriously recruited.  Parents and STUDENTathletes often see other athletes get recruited and assume the same thing will happen to them since "I am just as good as they are." Few people realize how college coaches evaluate players. The most successful high school players are not necessarily the most recruited college athletes. High School awards and statistics only tell part of the story.  College coaches recruit based on physical attributes, skill, and potential.

MISTAKE #4- WAIT UNTIL IT’S TOO LATE FOR SOMETHING TO HAPPEN

The earlier you start the process, the more success you will have. Your window of opportunity closes with every game you play.  Families start the process too late and end up making a rushed decision. Start researching schools as early as possible and make first contact with college coaches early. Just get your name in their pipeline!  Maybe you assume you will only play if someone recruits you?  STUDENTathletes underestimate their ability, and they think they would not be capable of getting a scholarship and they don't even try to obtain a scholarship. You don't have to be the best player in your league or even on your team to get recruited.  You have to try and in many cases have to ask for a scholarship. Scholarship talent is usually noticed, but not always. Don't be shy about your ability, or about calling attention to it and your aspirations.

MISTAKE #5- EXPECT SOMEONE ELSE TO GET YOU RECRUITED

Although many athletes play for a high-profile high school or a travel team, families are on their own to figure out the best way to get recruited or land a scholarship.  Do not just rely on your coaches, they have full time jobs, families and are volunteering their time to coach. Parents and STUDENTathletes often receive help and encouragement from people who know very little about the recruiting process and little about college athletics. Listen to the right people and do your own homework. Also, beware of any agendas someone else might have when giving you advice.

MISTAKE #6- NOT UNDERSTAND THE SCHOLARSHIP AND FINANCIAL AID PROCESS

As the emergence of camps, showcases and private instruction takes on a new and more important role, many families feel that they need a scholarship to justify the time and expense they have already put into athletics.  Parents and STUDENTathletes often feel anything less than an athletic scholarship to a Division I program is unacceptable.  Don't be foolish; remember you are going to college to receive a college degree and play the sport you love.  Parents and STUDENTathletes also don't realize how rare a full scholarship is.  Most scholarships issued to players are partial scholarships.  Understand that often a grant and aid package from a school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships is more lucrative than one with athletic aid.  The scholarship and financial aid process is complicated and in addition to athletic aid it involves academic aid, family need aid, leverage aid, and other types of aid.  The more you understand how the process works, the more money you can save.

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GREAT ROLE PLAYER TRAITS!!

March 12, 2014

Glue is an adhesive, and according to Webster’s Dictionary, the physics definition of adhesive is “a force that exists in the area of contact between unlike bodies and that acts to unite them.”

That’s a tad too scientific for me. Let’s just say that glue holds stuff together!

Who is the glue on your team? Who holds your team together? Who keeps your team focused? Who does all of the little things in practice and in games to make your team successful?

That person is a Glue Guy (or Glue Girl)!

How do you spot a Glue Guy? They are often seen:

• Taking charges
• Diving for loose balls
• Hitting crucial free throws
• Playing tough defense
• Setting solid screens
• Boxing out on every shot
• Cheering for their teammates

A Glue Guy doesn’t care about how many points they score or how many minutes they play. All they care about is the team winning and knowing they did everything within their role to contribute to the team’s success (regardless of how large or small that role is).

Every team needs a Glue Guy. Every team needs a player who will make all of the sacrifices necessary to hold the team together. Glue Guys are even more important during the playoffs.

If your Glue Guy is also your most talented player… I am willing to bet your team will maximize their potential.

If you want your team to make a serious run at a conference or league or state championship; I suggest you either say a sincere thank you to your team’s Glue Guy; or you become one yourself.

And for those of you who have already completed your season… Glue Guys are equally important in the off-season. After all, who else will hold your team together before the first practice of next season?

Play hard. Have fun. Enjoy the jouney.

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GREAT COACHES TRAITS!!

February 21, 2014

  1. Great coaches… promote shared ownership and internal leadership of the team. They create a ‘team’ attitude.
  2. Great coaches… have their players keep a notebook with plays, motivational quotes, and facts about the program’s history.
  3. Great coaches… are teachers of the game at their most fundamental level.  They teach basketball; they teach life lessons.
  4. Great coaches… love the game; respect the game.
  5. Great coaches… work on their craft every day. They work on the X’s & O’s, strategy as well as on leadership.
  6. Great coaches… establish roles on the team.  They clearly define these roles to everyone in the program.
  7. Great coaches… objectively analyze a player’s strengths & weaknesses and find ways to utilize their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.
  8. Great coaches… have high character.  They know they are in the business of leading by example and developing young men & women for life.
  9. Great coaches… praise the behavior they want to see repeated and discipline the behavior the want to see eliminated.
  10. Great coaches… don’t have ‘favorites.’ They care about all of their players and are objective when deciding roles and playing time.
  11. Great coaches… treat every player fairly, but not equally. They know some players ‘need’ more than others.
  12. Great coaches… get everyone on the team to accept their role and fulfill it to the best of their ability.
  13. Great coaches… are always prepared. They study film, scouting reports, and design practice plans accordingly.
  14. Great coaches… listen to their assistant coaches and to their players.  They don’t feel threatened and they welcome suggestions.
  15. Great coaches… don’t over coach. They don’t talk to hear themselves talk, they talk to make a point, to teach, and to motivate.
  16. Great coaches… coach in ‘bullet points’ during practice – they keep the action flowing! They keep instructions short and sweet.
  17. Great coaches… coach players; not a system. They know it’s not what you run, but how well you run it that matters.
  18. Great coaches… know that basketball isn’t just about offense and defense. It’s also about effort and execution.
  19. Great coaches… pay attention to detail. They know that everything regarding their program is important. Everything makes a difference.
  20. Great coaches… make sure everything done in practice has a purpose. Every drill has value.
  21. Great coaches… delegate to their assistant coaches and let them share the responsibility (and joy) of running a team.
  22. Great coaches… compliment their players and assistants often and with sincerity (but only when deserved; not to ‘blow smoke’).
  23. Great coaches… are THE hardest workers in their program. They set the tone. They don’t let any player/coach outwork them.
  24. Great coaches… are a spark of energy and enthusiasm.  They raise the level of everyone in their program, every day.
  25. Great coaches… are mentally tough. They don’t get flustered.  They know their mental toughness trickles down to the entire program.
  26. Great coaches… challenge their players and assistants… every day!  They don’t allow complacency.
  27. Great coaches… are the face of their program. They welcome this and represent with pride and class.
  28. Great coaches… have a clear, precise vision of what they want their team to become and accomplish.
  29. Great coaches… learn what motivates each player on the team.  They find ways to light each player’s internal fire.
  30. Great coaches… give trust and respect… and by doing so they earn trust and respect from everyone in their program.
  31. Great coaches… are 100%, absolutely, positively committed to their team in every way possible.
  32. Great coaches… create standards of excellence and hold their players and staff accountable.
  33. Great coaches… know that you can’t win every game… but you can prepare (and try) to win every game.
  34. Great coaches… set realistic, attainable goals and get everyone in the program to buy in and achieve them.
  35. Great coaches… admit when they are wrong or make a mistake.  They are humble.
  36. Great coaches… love to coach and have fun coaching… it is who they are!
  37. Great coaches… are confident without being arrogant.  They believe in their team and in their preparation; but never assume they will win.
  38. Great coaches… don’t worry so much about what their opponent is going to do; but instead focuses more on what their team is going to do.
  39. Great coaches… know… ‘it ain’t about me; it’s about them.’ (referring to their players)
  40. Great coaches… don’t coach for money or fame.  They may achieve money and fame; but that is not why they coach.
  41. Great coaches… constantly make adjustments. They go into every practice and game with a plan and then adjust accordingly.
  42. Great coaches… criticize the behavior or the play; not the person.  It’s never personal.
  43. Great coaches… will help a player they coached decades ago.  Every former player is a part of their team.
  44. Great coaches… lead by example and are excellent role models in every since of the word; on and off the court.
  45. Great coaches… coach the players on their team they way they would want someone to coach their own son or daughter.
  46. Great coaches… teach the fundamentals of the game… even at the highest of levels.
  47. Great coaches… are active during practice and games. They don’t stand in one spot with their arms folded. They are fully engaged!
  48. Great coaches… are authentic to who they are and to their own personality. They don’t try to coach like someone else.
  49. Great coaches… are lifelong learners and true students of the game.  They read, watch, and listen to anything that will help them get better.
  50. Great coaches… coach what they know and what works for their program.  They seek to learn what they don’t know.
  51. Great coaches… know ‘it ain’t what I say that matters… it’s what they hear. ’ (referring to their players)
  52. Great coaches… listen for things they don’t want to hear and look for things they don’t want to see.
  53. Great coaches… coach their current team to the best of their ability. They aren’t ever looking ahead to next year.
  54. Great coaches… don’t allow themselves, their staff, or their players to get satisfied… no matter how successful they are.
  55. Great coaches… call each player by name within the first 10 minutes of every practice.
  56. Great coaches… know they get what they emphasize. They make sure they emphasize the right things!
  57. Great coaches… impact and influence lives far behind the game of basketball. Basketball just happens to be their vehicle.
  58. Great coaches… promote communication, toughness, and competitiveness in addition to fundamentals, X’s & O’s, and game strategy.
  59. Great coaches… get the absolute maximum out of every player on their team and every assistant on their staff.
  60. Great coaches… are innovators. They don’t just do things because ‘that’s how they’ve always been done.’ They create!
  61. Great coaches encourage education.

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GREAT DEFENDEERS AND SCORERS TRAITS!!!

February 21, 2014

GREAT SCORERS

  • Great Scorers can beat you in a myriad of ways – they are not one dimensional.
  • Great Scorers develop exceptional concentration and focus.
  • Great Scorers don’t get discouraged if they miss a shot or two. They always think ‘my next shot is good.’
  • Great Scorers know how to keep the defense off-balance.
  • Great Scorers attack their opponent’s weaknesses.
  • Great Scorers have multiple weapons and keep defenses guessing.
  • Great Scorers finish strong, even through contact. They embrace getting fouled!
    Great Scorers know how to control, read and react to their defender.
  • Great Scorers know the moves, angles and tricks to create space.
  • Great Scorers recognize scoring opportunities and get open easily.
  • Great Scorers practice game-like situations against tough competition.
  • Great Scorers make great ball fakes and shot fakes. They use their eyes to deceive.
  • Great Scorers are comfortable in the paint and can finish around the bucket.
  • Great Scorers have confidence in their game. A bad game doesn’t phase them.
  • Great Scorers can score from all three levels. They have their 3-pt, mid-range, and interior games on lock.
  • Great Scorers run hard on the break and get points off of offensive rebounds. They always look for ‘easy’ buckets.
  • Great Scorers make free throws. Period.
  • Great Scorers can get their shots off quickly, but without ‘rushing.’

 
GREAT DEFENDERS

  • Great Defenders take pride in deflecting passes.
  • Great Defenders have their heads on a swivel and see the entire court (always see their man and the
    ball).
  • Great Defenders play the pick & roll effectively – they hedge with a purpose!
  • Great Defenders delay the other team from getting into their offensive sets. They keep the offense out
    of rhythm and control the tempo.
  • Great Defenders pay attention to the scouting report and film sessions. They know who the other
    team’s best players are
  • Great Defenders are CONSTANTLY talking – they relay information quickly & efficiently.
  • Great Defenders are NOT afraid to take a charge – in fact, they embrace it.
  • Great Defenders dive on the floor for loose balls whenever the situation presents itself.
  • Great Defenders communicate when they are double-teaming or when a screen is coming.
  • Great Defenders don’t gamble. They make the right play, the easy play, the smart play.

  • Great Defenders know that THIS possession is THE most important possession of the game –
    regardless of time and score.

  • Great Defenders play aggressively but intelligently.

  • Great Defenders never take a play off. Resting is NOT in their vocabulary.

  • Great Defenders dictate what the offense is going to do.

  • Great Defenders approach each game thinking ‘I’m going to shut my guy down tonight.’

  • Great Defenders do not let the ball go to the middle of the floor on penetration.

  • Great Defenders understand the concept of ‘ball-you-man.’

  • Great Defenders keep the offense uncomfortable and off balance as often as they can.

  • Great Defenders understand that defense wins championships. If the other team can’t score, they can’t win.

  • Great Defenders don’t commit lazy or stupid fouls.

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WHAT MAKES A PLAYER GREAT???

February 21, 2014

  1. Great players… go after every rebound on both ends of the floor – they are crafty and aggressive.
  2. Great players… run the floor as fast as possible on fast breaks AND defensive transition.
  3. Great players… are defensive stoppers – they stop their man as well as help teammates. They do the things offensive players HATE!
  4. Great players… contest all shots. They don’t go for ball fakes or shot fakes. They deflect passes, bump cutters, and take charges.
  5. Great players… don’t gamble on offensive or defensive. They aim to make the RIGHT play; not the HIGHLIGHT play.
  6. Great players… are strong with the ball. They rip through hard on offense, ‘chin’ all rebounds, and don’t expose the ball when dribbling.
  7. Great players… play under control and play at different speeds. They know that playing slow can be VERY effective.
  8. Great players… practice just as hard as they play in games. They don’t have an ‘on and off switch’ – they are ALWAYS on!
  9. Great players… allow themselves to be coached. They make eye contact, listen, and welcome coaching. They crave getting better.
  10. Great players… are great teammates. They are supportive, high energy, and make their enthusiasm contagious.
  11. Great players… ‘Play Present.’ They focus on the process, not the outcome. They focus on what they can control. They don’t get distracted.
  12. Great players… take advantage of every opportunity to get better. Every workout, every practice, and every game is a chance to improve!
  13. Great players… are mentally and physically tough. They are comfortable being uncomfortable.
  14. Great players… can pivot both ways off of either foot and can dribble, pass, and finish around the basket with either hand. They don’t have a ‘weak’ hand.
  15. Great players… love and respect the game of basketball. They don’t play for money or fame; they play for love.
  16. Great players… are unselfish passers. They hit open teammates. They know the goal is to get THE best shot; not THEIR best shot.
  17. Great players… don’t commit stupid fouls.  They know their greatness is eliminated if they are on the bench in foul trouble.
  18. Great players… are students of the game. They watch film. They study opponents. They study themselves.
  19. Great players… value every possession.  They aren’t careless with ball.  They make smart passes and take high percentage shots.
  20. Great players… don’t wait for the workout or practice or game to start… they prepare for it! They prepare mentally and physically.
  21. Great players… are super competitive. They hate losing more than they enjoy winning. They compete in everything they do!
  22. Great players… always know the time and score. They know how many time-outs they have as well as who is in foul trouble on both teams.
  23. Great players… log the game in the mind. At any point in time, they can tell you exactly what happened, on both ends of the floor, the last 3 possessions.
  24. Great players… are assertive with the ball, welcome contact when driving to the cup, and get to the free throw line.
  25. Great players… immediately think ‘Next Play.’  They don’t dwell on mistakes (missed shot or TO)… they make up for it on the other end.
  26. Great players… make plays, not excuses. They don’t care if the refs suck, if the floor is slippery, or if they have a cold. They get it done.
  27. Great players… are the first ones in the gym… and the last ones to leave EVERY day.
  28. Great players… don’t worry about getting exposure.  They focus more on never getting exposed!
  29. Great players… elevate their teammates to become great players too!
  30. Great players… know that their legacy will be judged on their ability to win championships.
  31. Great players… would rather play ball than anything else.  They truly love to play.
  32. Great players… are well rounded and have a complete game.  They can ‘hurt’ you in a variety of ways.
  33. Great players… are top notch communicators.  They talk with a presence on both ends of the floor.
  34. Great players… want the ball in their hands when the game is on the line because they know they have put in the work to DESERVE success.
  35. Great players… train with a purpose. Their workouts are focused, intense, and progressive.  Nothing they do on the court is casual.
  36. Great players… give back to their program and are humble and grateful for what basketball has done for them.
  37. Great players… are responsible for tone and effort of the entire team… every workout, practice, and game.
  38. Great players… are always thinking two plays ahead.
  39. Great players… hold themselves, their teammates, and their coaches accountable. They believe in collective responsibility.
  40. Great players… play in straight lines and sharp angles. They make hard basket cuts and set solid screens.
  41. Great players… love playing and competing against other great players.
  42. Great players… know that no detail is too small and that the smallest of details can make them even better.
  43. Great players…have high values. They value their teammates, winning, and self improvement.
  44. Great players… are never content and never complacent.

You know my favorite part about this list? Nearly every trait on this list is 100% controllable! They are characteristics you choose to have! It doesn’t say, ‘great players… are 6’8”’ or ‘great players… can jump out of the gym’ – it lists things that you can make the conscious choice to work on and improve.

Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to be a great player?

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GREATNESS DEFINED!

February 21, 2014

GREAT POST PLAYERS

  • Great Post Players knock down their free throws when they get to the line.
  • Great Post Players have go-to moves with either hand to use in the paint. They also have a countermove for every move.
  • Great Post Players enjoy banging on the interior and setting solid screens.
  • Great Post Players are exceptional at help defense. They stop the ball when it’s in the paint!
  • Great Post Players can hedge on the perimeter and get back to their man QUICKLY.
  • Great Post Players draw double-teams, recognize them and react quickly to get the ball to an open teammate.
  • Great Post Players never over dribble.
  • Great Post Players run the floor – rim to rim – on offense and defense.

GREAT GUARDS

  • Great Guards are relentless on both ends of the court.
  • Great Guards use pump-fakes and ball fakes often. They set up the defense to go one way and pass/go the other way.
  • Great Guards know not to telegraph their passes. They use their eyes to create deception.
  • Great Guards welcome defensive pressure. They see it as an opportunity to score an easy bucket for their team.
  • Great Guards are patient with the basketball. They read the defense & act accordingly.
  • Great Guards facilitate every facet of the offense.
  • Great Guards don’t try to find the ball, they let the ball find them!
  • Great Guards are ALWAYS communicating with their teammates to ensure cohesiveness.
  • Great Guards hustle back on D when they get beat. They set the defensive tone!
  • Great Guards rebound their position – they don’t leave that to the ‘big guys.’
  • Great Guards push the ball up the floor and try to find an opening in the defense for themselves or a teammate.
  • Great Guards get everybody involved by sharing the basketball.

GREAT TEAMMATES

  • Great Teammates call out screens so their teammate doesn’t get clobbered.
  • Great Teammates don’t care whether they start or come off the bench – they just want to win!
  • Great Teammates HYPE their team UP before the game and during halftime.
  • Great Teammates are an extension of the coach – on and off the court.
  • Great Teammates are positive, supportive, honest, and enthusiastic.

GREAT TEAMS

  • Great Teams dig in on defense until they get the ball or the buzzer sounds. They NEVER give in because they’re tired.
  • Great Teams listen to their coach – they understand that he/she is looking out for their best interests!
  • Great Teams know who they want to get the ball to in the clutch – they have a game-plan.
  • Great Teams close out games and know how to play with a lead. They also know how to fight back when they are down
  • Great Teams are willing to share the ball on offense – they don’t care who scores they just care that they
    score.

GREAT PASSERS

  • Great Passers make scoring easy. They put the ball where it needs to be, when it needs to be there.
  • Great Passers can throw every type of pass – with either hand – depending on the situation.
  • Great Passers make the simple play, not the flashy play. All they care about is a positive outcome, not
    how it looks.
  • Great Passers fake a pass to make a pass.

GREAT REBOUNDERS

  • Great Rebounders are quick off the floor – they anticipate where the ball is going and go get it!
  • Great Rebounders just don’t want the other team to get the ball – they clear out space for teammates to
    get the rebound.
  • Great Rebounders assume ‘shot is taken, shot is missed.’
  • Great Rebounders protect the ball after the rebound.
  • Great Rebounders attack the glass on both ends of the floor.
  • Great Rebounders have soft hands and great body balance.
  • Great Rebounders always think the ball belongs to them.
  • Great Rebounders find their man when the shot goes up, make contact, block out, then pursue the ball.

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WHAT MAKES A PLAYER GREAT???

February 21, 2014

  1. Great players… go after every rebound on both ends of the floor – they are crafty and aggressive.
  2. Great players… run the floor as fast as possible on fast breaks AND defensive transition.
  3. Great players… are defensive stoppers – they stop their man as well as help teammates. They do the things offensive players HATE!
  4. Great players… contest all shots. They don’t go for ball fakes or shot fakes. They deflect passes, bump cutters, and take charges.
  5. Great players… don’t gamble on offensive or defensive. They aim to make the RIGHT play; not the HIGHLIGHT play.
  6. Great players… are strong with the ball. They rip through hard on offense, ‘chin’ all rebounds, and don’t expose the ball when dribbling.
  7. Great players… play under control and play at different speeds. They know that playing slow can be VERY effective.
  8. Great players… practice just as hard as they play in games. They don’t have an ‘on and off switch’ – they are ALWAYS on!
  9. Great players… allow themselves to be coached. They make eye contact, listen, and welcome coaching. They crave getting better.
  10. Great players… are great teammates. They are supportive, high energy, and make their enthusiasm contagious.
  11. Great players… ‘Play Present.’ They focus on the process, not the outcome. They focus on what they can control. They don’t get distracted.
  12. Great players… take advantage of every opportunity to get better. Every workout, every practice, and every game is a chance to improve!
  13. Great players… are mentally and physically tough. They are comfortable being uncomfortable.
  14. Great players… can pivot both ways off of either foot and can dribble, pass, and finish around the basket with either hand. They don’t have a ‘weak’ hand.
  15. Great players… love and respect the game of basketball. They don’t play for money or fame; they play for love.
  16. Great players… are unselfish passers. They hit open teammates. They know the goal is to get THE best shot; not THEIR best shot.
  17. Great players… don’t commit stupid fouls.  They know their greatness is eliminated if they are on the bench in foul trouble.
  18. Great players… are students of the game. They watch film. They study opponents. They study themselves.
  19. Great players… value every possession.  They aren’t careless with ball.  They make smart passes and take high percentage shots.
  20. Great players… don’t wait for the workout or practice or game to start… they prepare for it! They prepare mentally and physically.
  21. Great players… are super competitive. They hate losing more than they enjoy winning. They compete in everything they do!
  22. Great players… always know the time and score. They know how many time-outs they have as well as who is in foul trouble on both teams.
  23. Great players… log the game in the mind. At any point in time, they can tell you exactly what happened, on both ends of the floor, the last 3 possessions.
  24. Great players… are assertive with the ball, welcome contact when driving to the cup, and get to the free throw line.
  25. Great players… immediately think ‘Next Play.’  They don’t dwell on mistakes (missed shot or TO)… they make up for it on the other end.
  26. Great players… make plays, not excuses. They don’t care if the refs suck, if the floor is slippery, or if they have a cold. They get it done.
  27. Great players… are the first ones in the gym… and the last ones to leave EVERY day.
  28. Great players… don’t worry about getting exposure.  They focus more on never getting exposed!
  29. Great players… elevate their teammates to become great players too!
  30. Great players… know that their legacy will be judged on their ability to win championships.
  31. Great players… would rather play ball than anything else.  They truly love to play.
  32. Great players… are well rounded and have a complete game.  They can ‘hurt’ you in a variety of ways.
  33. Great players… are top notch communicators.  They talk with a presence on both ends of the floor.
  34. Great players… want the ball in their hands when the game is on the line because they know they have put in the work to DESERVE success.
  35. Great players… train with a purpose. Their workouts are focused, intense, and progressive.  Nothing they do on the court is casual.
  36. Great players… give back to their program and are humble and grateful for what basketball has done for them.
  37. Great players… are responsible for tone and effort of the entire team… every workout, practice, and game.
  38. Great players… are always thinking two plays ahead.
  39. Great players… hold themselves, their teammates, and their coaches accountable. They believe in collective responsibility.
  40. Great players… play in straight lines and sharp angles. They make hard basket cuts and set solid screens.
  41. Great players… love playing and competing against other great players.
  42. Great players… know that no detail is too small and that the smallest of details can make them even better.
  43. Great players…have high values. They value their teammates, winning, and self improvement.
  44. Great players… are never content and never complacent.

You know my favorite part about this list? Nearly every trait on this list is 100% controllable! They are characteristics you choose to have! It doesn’t say, ‘great players… are 6’8”’ or ‘great players… can jump out of the gym’ – it lists things that you can make the conscious choice to work on and improve.

Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready to be a great player?

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WHAT MAKES A GREAT COACH???

February 21, 2014

What makes a great coach?

It's a big question, but I can bring it down to 10 factors. Take a look at these and see if you can tick them all off. And if not, see if you can work on the missing factors.

A great coach...

• Has a philosophy. This is a set of principles or beliefs that you share with your team.

• Teaches the fundamentals of the game, developing the players' essential skills.

• Communicates well. Get across your ideas and goals to the players clearly.

• Is enthusiastic. Show up to every practice brimming with positivity and energy (even if you're having a bad day). Enthusiasm is infectious.

• Is not a screamer. Make sure the practices are fun for the players and that you inspire and motivate. Don't just yell!

• Is easy to work with. Stand up for your ideas and principles, but be prepared to compromise if necessary.

• Learns from others. Seek out expert advice, tips and coaching drills so that your coaching continues to improve. Even the best coaches still have something to learn.

• Knows the team's limits. While you might have the ideal offensive and defensive moves in your mind, if your players aren't ready to carry out these moves, modify your strategy.

• Instills discipline. Make sure you have a set of rules and boundaries for behavior and conduct, and apply them at all times to all players equally.

• Is organized! Make sure you plan your practice drills in advance, targeting specific problems and goals, with new and varied exercises to stop players from getting bored.

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Beat the Clock: Improve Your Grades and Your Game

January 31, 2014

Practicing and playing basketball can be fun, but it can also make it very tough to get good grades. Family, friends, chores, and other stuff can pull you in different directions. Whether you are a student-athlete in middle school or high school, you need good time-management skills to succeed.

Early in my H.S. and college coaching career, I was given the opportunity to learn from John Wooden and Ray Meyer as they discussed the importance of teaching players "self management."

I’ve utilized that knowledge to keep future NBA players active in study hall and focused on their self-management. The following game plan will help you manage your busy life!

BASIC FUNDAMENTALS

Do two hours of homework/study for every hour of class and get good grades. It’s that simple.

ADVANCED FUNDAMENTALS

1. Make a list of everything you need to do.

2. Divide your list into 3 main areas:

--School: Going to class, doing homework and studying

--Personal: Eat/sleep/hygiene, friends, family obligations

--Basketball: Team practice, individual practice and games

3. Prioritize your lists by importance and timing. For example:

--Must Do – Go to school (8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.) Basketball practice. (3:00 – 5:00PM) Homework (6:30-9:30 p.m.)

--Should Do – Work on a paper due in 3 weeks. (3:00- 5:00 p.m. Saturday) Community service project. (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Every 3rd Saturday)

--Want to Do – Play video games with friends. (Saturdays from 5:00 -7:00 p.m.) Go to the mall/movies. (7:00-10 p.m.)

4. Schedule: Use your lists to make a schedule for each day, week and month or more. Get a weekly planner and fill in each day, and even each hour with what you will do. Use the calendar and timer on your mobile phone to keep yourself on schedule.

STRATEGY

Students who get the best grades aren’t necessarily any smarter, they simply stick to priorities and schedule to stay organized. Remember, the first part of "student-athlete" is student, the first part of "high school player" is high school and the first part of "college scholarship" is college.

OFFENSE

Beat procrastination. "Take the next action." Got a book report due? Just pick up the book! The "take the next action" play will always work.

PLAY POST AND PERIMETER

Multi-task. Record your notes and listen to them while you ride the bus to school. Read while doing laundry.

PLAY DEFENSE

Phone - Set aside a specific time and tell your friends that's when you'll be available to talk or text.

TV – Record your favorite shows and set a time to watch, but only once or twice per week.

Internet – When online, stick to schoolwork till finished, before you reward yourself with email or social networking.

Video Games – Limit yourself to a couple rounds of your favorite games during the week, more only on weekends.

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Glossary of Basketball Recruiting Terms

January 31, 2014

College recruiting is a process that deserves its own dictionary. So here it is.

If you're trying to become a college basketball player, chances are you will hear words like "dead period" or "letter of intent" or "unofficial visit" throughout the journey. It's common lingo for those who have been around the recruiting world. But the truth is, young basketball players usually aren't recruited more than once. It's a new process for almost everybody, so don't feel like you're behind the 8-ball just because you don't understand everything.

The NCAA recently defined several terms that are widely used in recruiting. Here's a look at the recruiting process from start to finish, and some unfamiliar terms you might come across along the way:

Initial Interest

Prospective Student-Athlete: When a student enters ninth grade. It also applies when, before a student's ninth-grade year, a college gives the student, the student's relatives or their friends any financial aid or other benefits that the college does not generally provide to prospective students.

Contact: When a coach has any face-to-face contact with a prospective student-athlete or the prospect's parents off the college's campus and says more than hello. A contact also occurs if a coach has any contact with the prospective student-athlete or his or her parents at the prospective student-athlete's high school or any location where the prospect is engaging in competition or practice.

Evaluation: An activity by a coach to evaluate a prospective student-athlete's academic or athletics ability. This would include visiting the prospective student-athlete's high school or watching the prospect practice or compete.

Recruiting Calendar Terms

Quiet Period: The college coach may not have any in-person contact with you or your parents off the college's campus. The coach cannot watch you play or visit your high school during this period.

Contact Period: The college coach can talk to you or your family on or off campus, and can watch you play.

Dead Period: The college coach cannot have any in-person contact with you. However, the coach can write you or call you on the phone.

Evaluation Period: The college coach can watch you play or visit your high school, but can't talk to you off the college's campus.

Visiting a School

Official Visit: A prospective student-athlete's visit to a college campus paid for by the college. The college can pay for transportation to and from the college, room and meals (three per day) while visiting and reasonable entertainment expenses, including three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest. NCAA recruiting bylaws limit the number of official visits a recruit may take to five.

Unofficial Visit: Any visit by a prospective student-athlete and their parents to a college campus paid for by the prospective student-athlete or the prospect's parents. The only expense the prospective student-athlete can receive from the college is three complimentary admissions to a home athletics contest. The prospect may make as many visits as he or she likes and may take the visits at any time. The only time the prospective student-athlete cannot talk with a coach during an unofficial visit is during a dead period.

Picking a School

Verbal Commitment: A college-bound student-athlete's commitment to a school before he or she is able to sign a National Letter of Intent. A college-bound student-athlete can announce a verbal commitment at any time. Verbal commitments are popular, but they are not binding to either the student-athlete or the school.

National Letter of Intent: The document a prospective student-athlete signs when he or she agrees to attend the designated college or university for one academic year. According to the terms of the program, participating institutions agree to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year to the student-athlete, provided he or she is admitted to the institution and is eligible for financial aid under NCAA rules. An important provision of the National Letter of Intent program is a recruiting prohibition applied after a prospective student-athlete signs a National Letter of Intent. This prohibition requires participating institutions to cease recruitment of a prospective student-athlete once a a National Letter of Intent is signed with another school.

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5 Quick Tips to Help You Land a Scholarship

January 31, 2014

In my 10 years as a basketball strength coach I have been fortunate enough to have worked with hundreds of high school players who have gone on to play college basketball. These players have gone to schools ranging from Division III to major Division I. It is important to understand that only a very small percentage of the hundreds of thousands of kids who play high school basketball are fortunate enough to play in college, and an even smaller percentage play on scholarship. The competition is fierce!

If you are 7-foot, a scholarship will probably find you. If you play for a nationally renowned high school or AAU program, a scholarship will probably find you. But what if you don't? What if you are one of the millions of kids across the world of average size, decent skill level, and a ton of heart? Do you have a chance? YES.

Trust me; I know what I am talking about. I played on a basketball scholarship at Elon College (now Elon University) and I have had private conversations with almost every major Division I head coach in America.

Here are five tips on how you can improve your chances of attaining a basketball scholarship:

Be an outstanding student. Being a great student expands the ranges of schools you can attend and shows a coach you are committed to excellence and are organized and disciplined enough to handle college academics and playing ball. Unless you are a bona fide All-American, coaches are tired of taking “risks” on kids who are poor students. This is the first question every coach asks.

Be a great teammate. Every coach I have ever talked too looks to recruit players that are coachable and who get along with their teammates. No one wants a jerk. Be the teammate everyone loves to play with because you are unselfish, are committed to team goals, and raise the level of those around you. Don’t take for granted how important enthusiasm is. Being a great teammate can raise your stock tremendously! I have seen players lose a coach’s interest because of bad body language or acting like a jerk when they don't agree with a foul call or when they come out of the game. Before college coaches ask me to evaluate a player's athletic ability, they always ask, "Is he a good guy?" "Do you like working with him?"

If you can't, don't. Stick to what you do best and play to your strengths. Stop doing what you think coaches want to see. If you aren't a great 3-point shooter, STOP SHOOTING 3's! Coaches want players who know, understand, and accept their role. Nothing can lose a scholarship faster than trying to show off for a coach during a practice or a game. All you are doing is exposing your weaknesses!

Do the little things. Contrary to what most high school players think, it is NOT all about scoring. To play college basketball, you need to do the little things that make a big difference like: have good footwork, know how to set screens, box out, share the ball, communicate, play solid defense, dive for loose balls, work hard, and be a leader on and off the court. These things alone will separate you from 95 percent of the players who are your size and skill level. The little things can earn you a big scholarship!

Maximize your ability. You can’t control your height, and certainly some folks are born "more athletic" than others. But you can make sure you are as strong as you can be and in as good of basketball shape as is humanly possible. You should be on a year-round strength and conditioning program and work on your ball handling and shooting daily. College players do this stuff year round. Do you?

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3 Tips to Build Mental Toughness!!

January 26, 2014

As an endurance athlete, I'm sometimes asked where I find the most challenge during an event. Is it the swim portion, elbowing for room through a pandemonium of competitors? Is it the bike as I strive to maintain my pace through a series of hills, or is it the run, the final stretch?

Without hesitation, I always answer the mental game is where I find the most challenge and reward.

Yet, as an amateur athlete who's gone from a complete newbie to placing in the top three in my age group, I've been unable to maintain gains beyond certain strength and stamina thresholds.

From consulting numerous nutritionists to incorporating a variety of strength training programs, these barriers have persisted. Had I reached certain impassable thresholds in my physiology, or were they perceived? Was there no way around them, or did I simply lack the key?

Six months ago I came across a camp designed specifically to challenge and enhance the physiology of mind and body. The Kokoro Camp (Japanese for warrior) put on by SEALFIT of Encinitas, California, has in a relatively short period of time become the world's premiere camp for forging mental toughness.

Founded by former Navy SEAL Commander, Mark Divine, along with his core group of ex-Navy SEAL instructors, Kokoro is based off of the famous Navy SEALs Hell Week concept with an emphasis on teaching through experience, rather than a focus on attrition. Each camp participant is provided with the tools via field and classroom instruction to push the body and the mind way beyond previously perceived limits.

In my particular case, it set those limits on a hard cement floor and crushed them into powder beneath the weight of 50 hours of intense physical training.

The concept behind the camp can be broken down into three main components:

  • Mental toughness
  • Full spectrum functional fitness
  • Self awareness

MENTAL TOUGHNESS

This means precisely what is says, lessons and practical advice on how to toughen your mind. Does this mean push-ups and sit-ups for the mind? Yes and no. Yes, in that physical exercise is the vehicle used for forging this type of toughness. No, in that you can't literally have your mind do push-ups?

So how does it work? Simple. One step at a time. Have you ever been in a workout or race and found yourself completely, 100%, without a doubt out of gas? Of course you have. So what did you do? Most of us probably eased off the throttle, while others stopped and took a breather completely.

Don't focus on what's left in your race... just focus on the next step. Assuming you're not training with any injuries and it's the mental component we're dealing with, this is where mental training proves extremely valuable. Don't focus on what's left in your race or workout, don't even focus on those around you, just focus on the next step. One foot, one rep, one stroke after another. Incorporate focused breathing to relax and invigorate your body—then carry on.

SELF-AWARENESS

One key lesson learned after participating in the Kokoro Camp is the fact that our bodies are capable of more—way more—than we give them credit. As a matter of fact, on the third day of this camp, I actually felt my pushups, running and squats getting stronger! But ask me to sit down, or get up from a chair—and I was moving at the speed of a centenarian.

Can you be pushed too far? I don't know, let's see. At one point, I was asked to hold the ready push-up position with my feet on a log. Fine. Then I was told to hold this position while raising my right leg in the air? fine. Then I was told to hold this position while a crew of six men crawled between me and the ground.

No longer able to hold my right foot in the air, it simply collapsed on top of my left. I glanced at my teammates and noticed most had done the same. When the body is maxed, it's maxed. And the instructors at Kokoro, as with most elite training programs, understand that.

It isn't your time or total reps that ultimately count—it is the fact that you put in 100%. You weren't holding back. No plans for the future or memory of the past. You simply put out for the moment and found you had enough to take you the distance.

Rather than waste energy on what happened... the body will take care of what needs to happen now. Instead of my mind being in charge and "teaching" my body a new exercise, my body taught my mind a few things. One of these was the fact that it is capable of much more, if my mind will simply let it do what it needs to do to take care of that moment. Rather than waste energy on what happened or will happen, the body will take care of what needs to happen now.

FULL SPECTRUM FUNCTIONAL FITNESS

At Kokoro Camp, emphasis is placed on the following key fitness components:

Strength. Aside from endless amounts of push-ups and squats, there was the functional aspect of strength development through bear crawls, duck walks, and running on the beach with a 25 pound rucksack strapped to your back.

Stamina. Each day challenged us to continue at a high rate, race after race and rep after rep for several hours at a time.

Work capacity. Your work capacity never diminishes. We finished doing the same intensity and number of exercises the last minute of the camp as we did the first minute.

Endurance. It seems to go hand in hand with stamina, and often did. Yet, it was distinctly tested during particular "evolutions," as the varying events were called, that lasted for several hours at a time.

Durability. This extended to our physical and mental (don't forget the two go hand-in-hand) durability. From jumping into 60 degree ocean water and performing flutter kicks on our backs to over an hour of pushups on a cement floor carrying 25 pound rucksacks. How did we rest between sets? Kneeling down.

And finally, there is little in your life you will find as rewarding and enduring as making it through a mentally and physically challenging experience that pushes you to new limits—akin to challenging one of the world's tallest peaks or traversing a vast ocean or desert.

When you come out the other side and take a glance at who you once were, you understand. You know in the deepest corner of your being that you have reached new heights, surpassed self-imposed limits and are now a much better athlete, family member, co-worker and overall person.

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How to Conquer Fear of Failure

January 26, 2014

Why do athletes sabotage their own success?

You might assume this problem relates to a "fear of success." Fear of success does cause athletes to self-destruct. But fear of success is very rare compared to fear of failure.

Both of these fears cause athletes to "get in their own way"--experiencing fear, anxiety, tension and worry about scoring and achieving results. However, these fears come from different sources.

YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT

Athletes develop a fear of failure when they worry about not getting what they want and have worked hard to obtain, such as winning a championship.

They develop fear of success when they worry too much about what comes with being successful in their sport. Most athletes experience fear of failure and not fear of success.

Fear of failure manifests in many ways in sports. Athletes who are anxious or tense when competing are often afraid to fail or mess up. Fear of failure can also cause your athletes to try too hard, which leads to "getting in their own way" mentally.

DIAGNOSING FEAR OF FAILURE

It's not enough to know that athletes experience a fear of failure. What's more important is to know what types of fears hold athletes back.

As you can see from the list below, fear of failure often relates to what athletes assume they think others think about them (or social approval).

Signs of fear of failure:

  • Fear of losing a match, game or race. Kids badly want to win and are afraid they won't succeed.
  • Fear of negative social evaluation. Athletes fear others will view them as a failure in sports.
  • Fear of embarrassment. They're afraid to embarrass themselves in front of others if they don't perform well.
  • Fear of letting others down. They do not want to let others down-- coaches, parents or teammates.
  • Fear of putting in the effort and not ever getting the "payoff" or not playing to their potential. They don't want their hard work, talent and long
  • practices to result in nothing (e.g. wins, trophies, etc.).
  • Fear of not performing up to others' expectations. Young athletes worry about not meeting others' expectations.
  • Fear of being rejected, losing respect, or not gaining approval.
  • Fear of making mistakes and not performing perfectly after having worked so hard.

HELPING ATHLETES OVERCOME FEAR OF FAILURE

  1. To help kids with fear of failure, it's best to understand the specific fear and address it head on. Take fear of embarrassment, for example. If your athletes have this form of fear they worry too much about what others think about them. They need to play for themselves instead of being concerned about what others think.
  2. Help kids focus on success instead of worrying about failing. Many athletes with fear of failure focus on all the wrong things. They think more about not making mistakes than completing the pitch or gymnastics routine. These athletes need to set small goals that help them focus more on success. One option: kids should see a good result in their minds before they execute it.
  3. Athletes with fear of failure need to learn how to perform efficiently instead of perfectly. The idea here is that your athletes DO NOT have to be perfect to perform their best. They often want to over control their performance (due to their worries about making mistakes). They need to understand that mistakes are a natural part of sports. The goal is for your athletes to trust in their skills so they can play more freely and feel less tight or controlling.

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