3 Ways to Maximize Your Time (As a Coach and Player)

3 Ways to Maximize Your Time (As a Coach and Player)

To maximize your time means to be as efficient as possible with a given task. For coaches, this often results in hours of prep time practicing planning. That time provides coaches with the opportunity to organize their thoughts and approaches. There are ways to simplify practice planning, but what if you’re a player? Maximizing your time as a player is just as important.

Maximize Your Time: Stretch Yourself

The idea here goes beyond the physical. Of course, athletes need to stretch to prepare and prevent injury. Muscles require this sort of physical manipulation in order to perform at their peak. Stretching also helps athletes gain more from their muscles in terms of ability and reach.

But it’s important to remember the concept of stretching yourself goes beyond the physical. Our brains are muscles, and they need stretching too. During down moments, how do you maximize your time? Coaches and players, really everyone, should look to learn new skills and appreciate new ideas as often as possible.

Being an athlete or a coach shouldn’t mean you’re consuming only sports-related content. Stretch beyond the limits of your sport to other realms. NBA coaches often turn to business gurus for advice on team building. Coaches seek bonding events and different ways to create connections for their players. And many of those ideas often comes after looking to places other than the gym.

Stretch yourself as often as possible, being a lifelong learner.

Maximize Your Time: Drop Comparisons

Comparing yourself to others can often be a rollercoaster ride. As coaches, we can’t help but look at the teams on our schedules and immediately stack our team right beside those. While it’s valuable to assess our team, to do so through the lens of another team can often be harmful. In the same way that people should avoid constantly comparing themselves to those around them, coaches need to focus on developing the team they have, and not necessarily the team they want.

Coaches can’t worry about what other teams are doing during the summer, or how their rivals are preparing for the season. You should evaluate your squad, and seek to develop practice approaches to improve your players. Constantly comparing your team, or yourself, to another can be an exercise in futility.

Drop comparisons with others because you’re not that team, or you’re not that coach. Focus on yourself, your team, and how to make things better. Coaches can look for way to improve focus and fun at practice and might immediately see dividends being paid.

Maximize Your Time: Be Okay with Making Mistakes

Teachers often assign homework to their students in order to gauge the understanding of a given lesson. Coaches practice similar habits following games and fold this information into the next day’s practice plan. None of us are perfect, so we should understand that we’re going to make mistakes from time to time. It’s important to accept that reality so we can see these moments as learning opportunities instead of abject failures.

It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you’re learning from them. By learning from your mistakes, you can avoid making the same ones in the future. You’re growing as a coach, as a person. For the players, making mistakes is part of the game. There’s literally a column for it on the stat sheet: turnovers. Players should push themselves to hone new skills in individual workouts. Understand that it won’t be perfect, especially not at the start.

Coach Collins says when his team is working on two ball drills, “if the ball isn’t bouncing all over the gym, you’re not pushing yourself.”

Steve Nash famously said: “I am uncomfortable being comfortable.” NBA trainer Tim Groover said something similar:

“Bottom line–if you want success of any kind; you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”

Understanding and accepting that you’re going to make mistakes, as a player and as a coach, will help maximize your time. This is an important part of the growth process. Coaches can help prepare their teams to learn from their mistakes by teaching situational basketball.


Related: 3 Key Basketball Intangibles for Young Players to Develop


Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 461 Three Ways to Maximize your Time as a Player or Coach


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Developing Focus and Fun at Basketball Practice

Developing Focus and Fun at Basketball Practice

In my coaching education workshops, I always asked coaches if they thought sports should be a fun experience for their players. Should there be fun at basketball practice? Of course, everyone said yes. So then I would make them the following offer: “If you can give me an adequate definition of ‘fun,’ I’ll sign off on your certification right now and you can leave six hours earlier than everyone else.” I made that offer for almost 15 years running and there were no winners.

Focus & Fun at Basketball Practice

Since the majority of your athletes’ time is spent in practices, it is vital that practice time be a fun, enjoyable experience. If it’s not, it’s not going to be effective. Unfortunately, some coaches feel that, because learning sports skills require discipline and focus, it’s incompatible with fun. But focus and fun are not incompatible at all.

In fact, focus is necessary for fun to occur! Just think of some of the fun experiences you’ve had in your life. You probably remember them very clearly. And that’s because you were very focused on what you were doing, who you were with, and what your surroundings were like.

It’s the same with sports. Sports are fun when three things are happening:

  • Kids are deeply involved in what they are doing
  • They feel closely connected to their “mates” (e.g., teammates, coaches, parents)
  • Kids feel like they are performing to the best of their ability

All three of these items require focus on the part of the athlete. And, as a coach, you can make all of these things happen in your practices and your games. There are ways to maximize your time as a coach. Here are some suggestions.

Developing Focus and Fun

Encourage your players to participate with all their senses.

For example, if you’re outside on a beautiful summer day, take a deep breath, pound your chest and say, “Don’t you just love the way the grass smells on a day like this?” If you’re poolside, you could say: “I love the ‘swoosh’ sound you guys make as you glide through the water. It’s better than therapy!”

Help your players to get to know each other better.

When everyone is pulling for each other, even the hardest drills become more enjoyable.

Focus on skill development.

Improved skills lead to feelings of competence, satisfaction, and accomplishment. These feelings, in turn, create enjoyment and fun at basketball practice.

Provide realistic challenges.

Kids learn and grow through a progressive series of challenges that are appropriate for their skill level and development.

Emphasize personal successes.

Playing well, or the feeling that a person has played well, is an essential part of the fun in sport.

Keep winning in perspective.

Being on the winning side is less important than striving to win. By striving to win, your players learn to concentrate, try hard, and be the best they can be.

Look for ways to energize kids and jazz up your practices.

Be creative. Cal Ripken saw a mannequin in a ski lodge and got the idea to use old mannequins to help kids learn to hit the cutoff man in the infield grass while practicing throws from right field. Just imagine how entertaining (and educational) it was when someone hit the mannequin in the wrong spot.

Other ways to incorporate fun into your practices might include ending a week as ”crazy socks day,” and doing fun, teamwork-oriented drills like “follow the leader.” Don’t think that just because your coach always made you run laps, you have to do the same thing to your players!

Dr. George Selleck, Stanford University Basketball Hall of Famer, Founder of Lead2Play, and author of Kian and Me: Gifts from a Grandson.

A former Hall of Fame athlete and coach, Dr. Selleck—a retired psychologist, organizational and management consultant, and sports education specialist—is the founder and director of Lead2Play, a comprehensive program that encourages youth participation in sports while promoting healthy living and the development of key life skills, such as organization, management, and team-building.

Dr. Selleck was inducted into the Stanford University Basketball Hall of Fame, the Pac-12 Hall of Honor, and named one of the “100 Most Influential Sports Educators in America” by the Institute for International Sports at the University of Rhode Island.


Related: 3 Practical Steps to Create Connections




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Basketball Team Building: 3 Practical Steps to Create Connections

Basketball Team Building: 3 Practical Steps to Create Connections

Incorporating team building exercises into practice has been one of the most impactful things I have done as a coach! My mission when coaching is to create an environment where everyone feels safe, valued, has a voice, and experiences joy every day! Coaches should strive to incorporate focus and fun into their basketball practices.

If you want to learn more about basketball specific principles and drills to create a championship culture, please check out my book, “Help Them Up” on Amazon.

The below exercises can be used for all team sports!

3 Practical Steps for Team Building

Question of the Day

Every day at the start of practice, we circle up. I ask if anyone has anything they want to share with the group. I have also used this time to praise someone for a good teammate moment I observed them do, had the team sing happy birthday to a team member, etc. Then, I share a question of the day or ask the team to think of one.

Everyone gets into groups of two or three and during a warmup lap and they ask each other the question. I ask them to pick a different teammate every day, so they get a chance to connect with everyone. They jog back to the circle, and I ask if anyone wants to share something they learned.

The team always enjoys learning about teammates. I have seen friendships develop through this exercise because they find commonalities about each other they previously didn’t know about.

A few examples: 
  • What is your favorite topic to talk about and why?
  • What do you like to do on the weekends?
  • Do you have any pets? If so, how many and what are their names? (With my team, they love talking about their pets!)
  • What is a goal you have for today’s practice and is there anything I can do to help you with it?
  • What are you grateful for?

Dynamic Warm-Up

A few years ago, I attended a UConn Women’s basketball practice. It was incredible! They were in complete unison when executing their dynamic warm-up. Since that day, I have been very intentional with warming-up as a team which prevents side conversations, shows unity, and creates elite level communication!

I have my team line up on the sideline and they do the exercises to the opposite sideline. I select someone to be the leader of the day or ask for a volunteer who then energetically yells out the exercises. The team then responds in a loud and energetic tone the name of the exercise. Then the leader yells, “go” and the team, while in unison, travel across the court trying to stay synchronized with all teammates.

For example, the leader will yell, “high knees” and then the team yells, “high knees” followed by the leader yelling, “Go”. We proceed with exercises like defensive slides, skips, lunges, jog, back pedal, etc.

I love to make this player led and have them take accountability over their team.

Accountability Circle 

A few years ago, I attended a USA Basketball youth development clinic. I was amazed by Coach Joe Mantegna at Blair Academy (New Jersey) and his presentation on building a culture. He shared this concept which happens at the end of practice for 5-10 minutes and after games.

We meet in a circle so everyone can make eye contact with each other. You can choose to have players put their arms around each other to stay connected.

When first introducing and teaching the team this exercise, I shared, “This is a safe space, and everyone needs to be respectful of one another. We will invest time everyday doing this because it will help us all grow as individuals and as a team. We are not stating things about any specific person, rather their actions and words that we witnessed that specific day. For the first few weeks we will only say positive things about each other and then if we do a good job, we will allow everyone to share feedback that may be tough to hear but said with the intent to help us improve.”

However, the coaches can interrupt if someone shares something unkind or not helpful to the team. The coach can explain why what was said was not helpful and why.  It works best when the coaches don’t speak first and allow for some silence so teammates can use their voice to build up teammates. This exercise was key to our team building. It single handedly elevated my team’s culture and use it consistently.


Dan Horwitz

Author of HELP THEM UP” 
Leadership Development, Culture & Team Building Consultant
Basketball Coach/Trainer
Website: DanHorwitz.com
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Related: Basketball Team Building: Developing a Positive Culture


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3 Key Basketball Intangibles for Young Players to Develop

3 Key Basketball Intangibles for Young Players to Develop

One of the many challenges as I have faced as a coach who has coached at lower levels is keying on the skills younger players need to develop over the summer. The “Dog Days of Summer” bring family vacations, traveling baseball and players expanding their game through AAU teams and individual workouts with personal trainers. In today’s coaching world, it’s important to encourage our players to participate in these activities. But developing the mental skills for our younger players preparing for the varsity level is crucial. This article will focus on 3 basketball intangibles you want to key in on as a coach to help your players prepare for their next season at the lower level, and prepare for the grind of the season.

Basketball Intangibles

1. Being Coachable

This is the most overused phrase in coach’s vocabulary but it is one of the most important traits for my players to have when the season rolls around in November. As coaches, we have all been at the summer league game where two fouls are called all game or the ref leisurely gets across half-court because they have worked several games in a row. The importance of these games goes beyond a few bad calls or getting into the gold bracket.

Don’t get me wrong, success in these games is important, but summer brings a unique opportunity for us as coaches to teach our players what it means to be coachable. The most important key as coaches in a summer league atmosphere is to teach our players through mistakes. In addition, to help them understand how to be responsive to constructive criticism.

It is imperative to talk, respond, and give our players positive feedback to enhance their skills physically. Also, to build rapport and install the understanding that being coachable is a win for our team, themselves, and for their teammates. Rewarding coachability in the summertime builds better relationships, will get you the most out of your players, and build a culture that creates accountability and understanding.

2. Accountability

Building accountability within your players is a necessary skill for the most successful teams. As I alluded to previously, guys have a lot going on in the summer. One of the more frustrating challenges as a coach is having different guys every weekend or having 6 guys for a whole weekend. We understand as adults, that life happens, families travel and kids need to be kids.

As a player and young coach, I have found that players become very frustrated when their teammates are no shows without communication. I tell my guys that your how successful you are in the season is how hard you work when no one is in the gym. This principle applies to showing up and being accountable as a player. I tell my guys I am a reasonable person and my family traveled a lot when I was a kid too. But the idea of not showing up without notice or communication is a slap to the face to your teammates who come to work every day.

Hey, I know if I didn’t show up teach my class without calling in or communication I would be in hot water. So this is a quality to teach your players for success on the court and success off the court later down the road. But, holding players accountable cannot just be on you, it is our job as coaches to teach and develop our players into leaders. Inspire your players to hold each other accountable to show up and work.

3. Communication

Teaching communication comes from multiple angles in the summertime. The most important key of teaching communication is teaching communication on the court. The most successful programs teach communication. Summer league can be frustrating because of the factors discussed above. But it is important as the leader to facilitate and stress the importance of on-court communication despite the unusual circumstances of summer basketball. Good teams communicate, and that is essential to tell your guys. Demand that they talk through on screens on defense, pick each other up on the bench, and communicate with you during the game.

The second angle of communication that is necessary to focus on is player-to coach communication. Educators and coaches know the importance of positive relationships in motivating players to get the job done. Relationships cannot just be a 6-month season but rather a 365-day commitment by us as leaders.

Don’t be the coach that needs to be the “LaVar Ball” of the gym. Be tough on your players, but understand the situation. Summertime is supposed to be a time for players to refine their skills, build rapport and develop confidence.

Focus on Developing Basketball Intangibles in Young Players

Not every player is going to be able to develop an opposite-hand or a floater. They might not add 25 pounds to their frame in the off-season. Something I learned as a coach is to have systems in place for the summer to develop these physical skills. However, we also need to focus on developing young players’ intangibles. The mental development is just as important as the physical skills developed in the off-season. The teams that work on and develop communication skills, accountability, and coachability in the summer find ways to win on the last shot, dive on loose balls, take charges and are willing to go the extra mile to win basketball games when it matters.

Brett Pickarts <pickartsbrett@gmail.com> / @Coach_Pickarts


Related: Youth Basketball: Reducing Turnovers with Gold


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401 Inspirational Basketball Quotes To Motivate Your Team

401 Inspirational Basketball Quotes To Motivate Your Team

Are you looking for basketball quotes for you team to motivate them on and off the court?  I have done the work for you. I think that what makes these quote unique is that they are basketball quotes for girls and boys.

John Wooden Basketball Quotes

My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions – John Wooden
  • 1. Be on time. 2. Never criticize a teammate. 3. Never use profanity.
  • You’d like to see your team reasonably happy, but that’s not your job. Gain their respect and get them to accept their roles.
  • I do not judge success based on championships; rather, I judge it on how close we came to realizing our potential.
  • When the legs go, the heart soon follows.
  • Young men need more models, not critics.
  • You’d like to see your team reasonably happy, but that’s not your job. Gain their respect and get them to accept their roles.
  • I do not judge success based on championships; rather, I judge it on how close we came to realizing our potential.
  • My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions.

Winning Basketball Quotes

Instead of wanting to win, we expected to win. There’s a lifetime between wanting something and expecting something. When you expect something, it means you’ve prepared, done the work, and EXPECT TO WIN!! – Red McCombs, Minnesota Vikings Owner
  • Don’t think about winning. Think about dominating! – Pierre Pryor
  • The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, or ever seriously consider them as believable or achievable. Winners can tell you where they are going, what they plan to do along the way, and who will be sharing the adventure with them. – Denis Watley
Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. – Vince Lombardi
  • The superior man blames himself. An inferior man blames others. – Don Shula, Former Miami Dolphins coach
  • The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will. – Vince Lombardi
  • It is better to be boldly decisive and risk being wrong than to agonize at length be be right too late. – Marilyn Moats Kennedy
  • Men who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed. – L. Jones
  • The true champion loses many battles before winning the war. – Unknown
  • The greatest match a man can win is won within. – Unknown


I can take anyone down at anytime; they can’t take me down; no one can ride or turn me; I can control anyone. – Dan Gable
  • When we trust God, He can make the ordinary extraordinary! – John C. Maxwell
  • The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives. – William James
  • Change your thoughts and you change your world. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz
  • Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first time or last time. Then your time on earth will be filled with glory. – Betty Smith
Winning is a habit, but unfortunately so is losing. – Vince Lombardi
  • A great many people seem to end up over the hill without ever having actually climbed it!- Unknown
  • Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. – Ralph W. Emerson
  • Our attitude is the primary force that will determine whether we succeed or fail. – John C. Maxwell
  • “I can’t do it” never yet accomplished anything; “I will try” has performed wonders. – George P. Burnham
  • Ability is important, dependability is critical! – Alexander Lockheart
  • The wise does at once what the fool does at last. – Gracian Baltasar
  • Some people who yearn for endless life don’t even know what to do with a rainy afternoon. – Harvey H. Potthoff
  • To avoid criticism do nothing…say nothing…be nothing! – Elbert Hubbard
  • Life is 10 percent what you make it and 90 percent how you take it. – Irving Berlin
  • The roads we take are more important than the goals we announce. Decisions determine destiny. – Frederick Speakman
Yes, it’s true: We can’t control the wind or the rain or the other vagaries of weather. But we can tack our sails such that we can steer the course we desire. – Unknown
  • He is rich or poor according to what he is, not according to what he has. – Henry Ward Beecher
  • Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done. – Josh Billings
  • Four things come not back: the spoken word, the spent arrow, the past, the neglected opportunity. – Omar Idn Al-Halif
  • Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. – Mark Twain
  • The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.- Albert Einstein
  • Maturity is the capacity to endure uncertainty. – John Huston Finley
  • I’ve always felt it was not up to anyone else to make me give my best. – Akeem Olajuwon
  • She didn’t know it couldn’t be done, so she went ahead and did it. – Mary’s Almanac
  • The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible. – Arthur C. Clarke
  • You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction. – Alvin Toffler
  • Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing. – George Bernard Shaw
  • Whenever you’re in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude. – Timothy Bentley
It’s not your blue blood, your pedigree or your college degree. It’s what you do with your life that counts. – Millard Fuller
  • No one knows what he can do until he tries. – Unknown
  • Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are. – Marianne Williamson
  • To help me stay positively charged I will practice maintaining a positive attitude each day. – Unknown
  • There are two ways of spreading light – to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton
  • When you do not know what you are doing and what you are doing is the best – that is inspiration. – Robert Bresson
  • He that will not sail till all dangers are over must never put to sea. – Thomas Fuller
  • Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man; but sooner or later the man who wins is the man who thinks he can. – Vince Lombardi


Adversity weakens the weak and strengthens the strong. – Unknown
  • If it weren’t for the dark days, we wouldn’t know what it is to walk in the light. – Earl Campbell, former NFL fullback
  • Life’s blows cannot break a person whose spirit is warmed at the fire of enthusiasm. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. – Unknown
  • Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. – African Proverb
  • Tough times don’t last, but tough people do. – Unknown
  • It is a rough road that leads to heights of greatness. – Seneca
  • In order to discover new lands, one must be willing to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. – Anonymous
  • We all face a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. – Unknown
  • Close scrutiny will show that most crisis situations are opportunities to either advance, or stay where you are. – Maxwell Maltz
  • I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much. – Mother Teresa
  • Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley. – James Rogers
  • The Difficult is that which can be done immediately; the Impossible that which takes a little longer. – George Santayana
  • Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. – Dale Carnegie
  • The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain. – Unknown
  • Triumphs without difficulties are empty. Indeed, it is difficulties that make the triumph. It is no feat to travel the smooth road. – Unknown
  • Determination gives you the resolve to keep going in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you. – Denis Waitley
Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. – Michael Jordan
  • If I’d known how many problems I was going to run into before I finished, I can’t remember a single project I would have started. – Andy Rooney
  • A desire can overcome all objections and obstacles. – Gunderson
  • Undertake something that is difficult; it will do you good. Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow. – Ronald E. Osborn
  • Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are. – Bernice Johnson Reason
  • Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above it. – Washington Irving
  • Real difficulties can be overcome; it is only the imaginary ones that are unconquerable. – Theodore N. Vail
  • No matter how difficult the challenge, when we spread our wings of faith and allow the winds of God’s spirit to lift us, no obstacle is too great to overcome. – Roy Lessin
  • Stand up to your obstacles and do something about them. You will find that they haven’t half the strength you think they have. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • Every adversity carries with it the seeds of a greater benefit! – Napoleon Hill


Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits, they become your character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. – Unknown
  • Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. – John Wooden
  • The real measure of a man’s worth is how much he would be worth if he lost all his money. – Harold J. Smith
  • It may be all right to be content with what you have; never with what you are. – C. Forbes
  • A person’s true character is revealed by what he does when no one is watching.- Unknown
  • Reputation is made in a moment; character is built in a lifetime. – Unknown
  • Good intentions are not good enough… ultimately we are measured by our actions. – Unknown
  • Language is the expression of thought. Every time you speak your mind is on parade. – Unknown
  • Your words are windows to your heart. – Unknown
The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges. – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Ignorance is always swift to speak. – Unknown
  • Although the tongue weighs very little, few people are able to hold it. – Unknown
  • Character isn’t inherited. One builds it daily by the way one thinks and acts, thought by thought, action by action. – Helen Gahagan Douglas
  • Your temper is like a fire. It gets very destructive when it gets out of control. – Unknown
  • How a man plays the game shows something of his character; how he loses shows all of it. – Frosty Westering
  • Dollars have never been known to produced character, and character will never be produced by money. – W. K.Kellogg
  • Sports do not build character; they reveal it. – Unknown
  • A man of character does not expect to be liked by everyone, nor does he worry about being liked by anyone. – William A. Welker
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do. – Henry Ford


What you tolerate you encourage. – Unknown
  • Hire the best people and then delegate. – Carol A. Taber
  • A coach’s job is to see the team not as it is, but as it can become. – Unknown
  • The fullness or emptiness of life will be measured by the extent to which a man feels that he has an impact on the lives of others. – Kingman Brewster
  • It’s not what you tell your players that counts. It’s what they hear. – Red Auerbach
  • Success … has nothing to do with what you gain or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others. – Danny Thomas
  • Mama wanted me to be a preacher. I told her coachin’ and preachin’ were a lot alike. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • The standard of excellence on any job site is defined by the sloppiest piece of work you will accept. -F. Jones
But it’s still a coach’s game. Make no mistake. You start at the top. If you don’t have a good one at the top, you don’t have a cut dog’s chance. If you do, the rest falls into place. You have to have good assistants, and a lot of things, but first you have to have the chairman of the board. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • Always have a plan and believe in it. I tell my coaches not to compromise. Nothing good happens by accident. There must be a plan for everything and the plan will prevent you from overlooking little things. By having that plan, you’ll be secure and self-doubts will never become a factor. – Chuck Knox
  • Effective coaches live in the present, but concentrate on the future. – Unknown
  • I would rather be known for coaching great men then coaching great wrestlers – Howard Fergusson
  • You have the greatest chance of winning when your first commitment is to a total and enthusiastic involvement in the game itself. Enthusiasm is what matters most. – John Brodie
  • There are no little things. – Bruce Barton
  • We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give. – Winston Churchill
  • Some coaches are so busy learning the tricks of the trade that they never learn the trade. – Pete Emelianchik
  • You can accomplish anything in life provided you do not mind who gets the credit. – Harry S. Truman
As teachers and coaches, we must remember that when mere winning is our only goal, we are doomed to disappointment and failure. But when our goal is to try to win, when our focus is on preparation and sacrifice and effort instead of on numbers on a scoreboard then we will never lose. – Mike Krzyzewski, Duke University basketball coach
  • To a group of wrestling coaches: Promote your sport or lose it! – Bobby Douglas, Iowa State University
  • People matter more than winning and courage matters more than skill. – Michael J. Gray
  • One of my goals is to have NO wrestler go undefeated. – Jeff Buxton, Blair Academy
  • The most important statistic for a wrestling coach isn’t how many dual meets the team won nor the number of state champs they produced. It’s the number of wrestlers they had in the room on the last day of practice. – Greg DeMarco
Yelling doesn’t win ball games. It doesn’t put any points on the scoreboard. And I don’t think words win ball games all the time. Players do. Preparation does. – Jerry Tarkanian
  • Little things make the difference. Everyone is well prepared in the big things, but only the winners perfect the little things. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • If you want to coach you have three rules to follow to win. One, surround yourself with people who can’t live without football. I’ve had a lot of them. Two, be able to recognize winners. They come in all forms. And, three, have a plan for everything. A plan for practice, a plan for the game. A plan for being ahead and a plan for being behind 20-0 at half, with your quarterback hurt and the phones dead. With it raining cats and dogs and no rain gear because the equipment man left it at home. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
Don’t overwork your squad. If you’re going to make a mistake, under-work them. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • If there is one thing that has helped me as a coach, it’s my ability to recognize winners, or good people who can become winners by paying the price. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • Children have more need of models than critics. – Carolyn Coats
  • Greatest gift you can give another is the purity of your attention. – Richard Moss, M.D.
  • The happiest people are those who have harvested their time in others. The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to make them happy. – John C. Maxwell
Winning is the science of being totally prepared.- George Allen
  • Find your own picture, your own self in anything that goes bad. It’s awfully easy to mouth off at your staff or chew out players, but if it’s bad, and your the head coach, you’re responsible. If we have an intercepted pass, I threw it. I’m the head coach. If we get a punt blocked, I caused it. A bad practice, a bad game, it’s up to the head coach to assume his responsibility. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • The old lessons (work, self-discipline, sacrifice, teamwork, fighting to achieve) aren’t being taught by many people other than football coaches these days. A football coach has a captive audience and can teach these lessons because the communication lines between himself and his players are more wide open than between kids and parents. We better teach these lessons or else the country’s future population will be made up of a majority of crooks, drug addicts, or people on relief. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
If anything goes bad, I did it. Anything goes semi-good, we did it. If anything goes really good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you. – Paul “Bear” Bryan
  • You have to learn what makes this or that Sammy run. For one it’s a pat on the back, for another it’s eating him out, for still another it’s a fatherly talk, or something else. You’re a fool if you think as I did as a young coach, that you can treat them all alike. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • I’m no innovator. If anything I’m a stealer, or borrower. I’ve stolen or borrowed from more people than you can shake a stick at. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • If you whoop and holler all the time, the players just get used to it. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • Praise in public, criticize in private. – Unknown
Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs. – Henry Ford
  • Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day. -Unknown
  • After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral? When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut. – Will Rogers
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. – Will Rogers
  • It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test. – Elbert Hubbard
  • There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading, the few who learn by observation and the rest of them who have to pee on the electric fence for themselves. – Will Rogers
  • What you tolerate you encourage – Unknown
  • Some days you’re the bug; some days you’re the windshield. – Unknown


Concentrate on each task, whether trivial or crucial, as if it’s the only thing that matters. – Mark H. McCormack
  • Show me a man who cannot bother to do little things and I’ll show you a man who cannot be trusted to do big things. – Lawrence D. Bell
  • Nothing is more harmful to the service than the neglect of discipline; for discipline, more than numbers, gives one army superiority over another. – George Washington
  • When I’d get tired and want to stop, I’d wonder what my next opponent was doing. I’d wonder if he was still working out. Then I tried to visualize him. When I could see him still working, I’d start pushing myself. When I could see him in the shower, I’d push myself harder. – Dan Gable
  • Bad habits are like a good bed; easy to get into but difficult to get out of. – Unknown
  • If you doubt you can accomplish something, then you can’t accomplish it. You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through. – Rosalyn Carter
  • Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period. – Lou Holtz
  • A closed mouth gathers no foot. – Unknown


Nobody who ever gave their best effort regretted it. – George Halas
  • Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt
  • It’s not important whom you wrestle; your biggest opponent wears your uniform. You must overcome your own short comings. – Mitch Clark
  • When I go out there, I like to mark out that area of the mat and own it. I want to dominate and I want to humiliate. I want to show that guy and everyone in the gym that I am the best. “Abuse” doesn’t sound right, but that’s it. – Peter Yozzo, Lehigh University
  • Anybody can win the matches you can dominate, but it’s the tough matches that are going to make the difference. -Jim Zalesky


Repeated actions are stored as habits. If the repeated actions aren’t fundamentally sound, then what comes out in a game can’t be sound. What comes out will be bad habits. – Chuck Knox
  • If you haven’t got the time to do it right, when will you have the time to do it over? – Jeffrey J. Mayer
  • Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition. – Unknown
  • You can drill and waste your time or you can drill and get better. Either way we will drill! – Unknown
  • It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen. – Claude M. Bristol


The biggest thing that I felt basketball could do for me was help me get a good education. – Julius Erving
  • If I went back to college again, I’d concentrate on learning to write and to speak before an audience. Nothing is more important than the ability to communicate effectively. – Gerald R. Ford
  • Even in the dictionary, academics come before athletics. – William A. Welker
  • I will study and prepare myself . . . and someday my chance will come. – Abraham Lincoln
  • Apply yourself. Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don’t just stand there, make something happen. – Lee Iacocca
  • Generally speaking, you aren’t learning much when your lips are moving. – Unknown


If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably end up somewhere else. – David Campbell
  • More men fail through lack of purpose than lack of talent. – Billy Sunday
  • Set goals – high goals for you and your organization. When your organization has a goal to shoot for, you create teamwork, people working for a common good. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • The poorest man is not without a cent, but without a dream. – Unknown
  • Remember a goal isn’t a goal until it is in writing, until then it’s a dream and everyone has dreams. – Unknown
  • Setting goals for your game is an art. The trick is in setting them at the right level neither too low nor too high. -Gleg Norman
  • The achievement of your goal is assured the moment you commit yourself to it. – Mack R. Douglas
All our dreams can come true – if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney
  • You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the other shore. – Unknown
  • The secret of unleashing your true power is setting goals that are exciting enough to inspire your creativity and ignite your passion. – Anthony Robbins
  • High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation. – Jack Kinder
  • An obstacle is what you see when you take your eyes off the goal. – Unknown

Hard Work

Most men stop when they begin to tire. Good men go until they think they are going to collapse. But the very best know the mind tires before the body, and push themselves further and further, beyond all limits. Only when their limits are shattered can the attainable be reached. – Mark Mysnyk
  • I don’t choose to be a common man. I want to be better tomorrow than today. And through a commitment to work and discipline, but mostly hard work. I’ll be a little more content, and a little different from the average guy. – J. Robinson
  • Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare. – Japanese proverb
  • If you don’t invest much of yourself, then defeat doesn’t hurt very much and winning isn’t very exciting. – Dick Vermeil
  • Hard work is the best remedy for all of life’s trials. – Unknown
  • The harder you work, the harder it is to lose. – Unknown
  • Time will come when winter will ask what you were doing all summer. – Henry Clay, American Statesman
  • Think like a man of action, act like a man of thought. – Henri Louis Bergson
Before I’d get in the ring, I’d have already won or lost it on the road. The real part is won or lost somewhere far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. – Muhammad Ali
  • It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • I am a great believer in luck, The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have. – Coleman Cox
  • What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. – Alexander Graham Bell
  • There is no great achievement that is not the result of patient working and – J. G. Holland
  • Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. – Goethe
  • Ideas without action are worthless. – Harvey Mackay


Leadership, like coaching, is fighting for the hearts and souls of men and getting them to believe in you. – Eddie Robinson
  • Leaders are like eagles… they don’t flock. You’ll find them one at a time. – Knute Rockne
  • A prime function of a leader is to keep hope alive. – John W. Gardner
  • The leader demonstrates confidence that the challenge can be met, the need resolved, crisis overcome. – John Haggai
  • The capacity to develop and improve their skills distinguishes leaders from their followers. – Warren Bennis
  • It is more than willingness to change that sets the true leaders apart. Seeking out change and wringing every bit of potential out of it that takes you to the next horizon. – Ty Boyd
  • Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and like doing it. – Harry Truman
  • The most valuable gift you can give another is a good example. – Unknown
  • A big man is one who makes us feel bigger when we are with him. – John C. Maxwell
The higher you want to climb, the more you need leadership. The greater the impact you want to make, the greater your influence needs to be. Whatever you will accomplish is restricted by your ability to lead others. – John C. Maxwell
  • Personnel determines the potential of the team. Vision determines the direction of the team. Work ethic determines the preparation of the team. Leadership determines the success of the team. – John C. Maxwell
  • A man who wants to lead an orchestra must turn his back to the crowd. – Max Lucado
  • There are no office hours for leaders. – Cardinal J. Gibbons
  • It is truly said: It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide what to do. – Chow Ching
  • It is the men behind who make the man ahead. – Merle Crowell
  • Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions. – Harold S. Geneen
  • If you’re riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there – Will Rogers


The things which hurt, instruct. – Ben Franklin
  • How a man plays the game shows something of his character; how he loses shows all of it. – Frosty Westering
  • There is always another chance… This thing called ‘failure’ is not falling down, but staying down. – Mary Pickford
  • It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again. – Vince Lombardi
  • If you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make anything. – Marva Collins
  • Failure is a far better teacher than success. – Unknown
  • Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little. – Edmund Burke
If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed it. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeeded. – Michael Jordan
  • If I could have one hope for our young people as they go out into the world, it would be this: I hope they fail. I hope they fail at something that is important to them, for failure, like nothing else, is able to stimulate the right kind of person to that extra action that always makes all the difference. – Lyman Fertig
When things go wrong, don’t go wrong with them. – Unknown
  • Losing doesn’t make me want to quit. It makes me want to fight that much harder. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • In great attempts it is glorious even to fail. – Vince Lombardi
  • Sometimes you have to lose major championships before you can win them. It’s the price you pay for maturing. The more times you can put yourself in pressure situations, the more times you compete, the better off you are. – Tom Watson
  • Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent. – Marliyn vos Savant
  • If you blame others for your failures, do you also credit them for your successes? – Unknown
  • In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail. – Cassius
Failure isn’t fatal, and success isn’t final. – Don Shula
  • Winning is a habit, but unfortunately so is losing. – Vince Lombardi
  • It’s not whether you get knocked down. It’s whether you get up again. – Vince Lombardi
  • There are some defeats more triumphant than victories. – Montaigne
  • The man who never makes mistakes loses a great many chances to learn something. – Unknown
  • It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. – Unknown
  • Defeat isn’t bitter if you don’t swallow it. – Unknown
  • Nobody is a failure until he stops trying. – Unknown
Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently. – Henry Ford
  • The things which hurt, instruct. – Ben Franklin
  • Success requires no explanations. Failure permits no alibis. – Napoleon Hill
  • A failure is like fertilizer; it stinks to be sure, but it makes things grow faster in the future. – Dennis Waitley
  • The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way. – Dale Carnegie
  • You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you. – Brian Tracy
  • The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one. – Elbert Hubbard
  • You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try. – Beverly Sills
I have always grown from my problems and challenges. It’s from the things that didn’t work out, that taught me the most. – Carol Burnett
  • The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, but expecting a different result. – Albert Einstein
  • Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment. – Will Rogers
  • Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. – General George Patton


Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them. – Ann Landers
  • Luck sometimes visits a fool, but it never sits down with him. – German Proverb
  • We all face a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. – Unknown
  • Opportunity may knock, but you must open the door. – Unknown
  • All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get. – Morarji Desai
  • Desire is the key that opens the door when opportunity knocks. – Unknown
  • The individual who knows the score about life sees difficulties as opportunities. – Norman Vincent Peale
  • Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. – Theodore Roosevelt
  • Great opportunities come to those who make the most of small ones. – Unknown
If not us, who? If not now, when? – John F. Kennedy
  • Challenges should not be seen as obstacles but rather as opportunities for acquiring new experiences in life. – Unknown
  • Destiny is no matter of chance; it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for. But it is a thing to be achieved. – William Jennings Bryan
  • In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. – Albert Einstein
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up. – Will Rogers
  • There are costs and risks to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. – John F. Kennedy


He who endures conquers. – Italian Proverb
  • Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge
  • Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. – Thomas A. Edison
  • Rome wasn’t built in a day. – Unknown
  • Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go. – William Feather
  • The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda. – John C. Maxwell
  • I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion. – Muhammad Ali
  • Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all. – Dale Carnegie
We will either find a way, or make one! – Hannibal
  • Within each of us is a hidden store of determination. Determination to keep us in the race when all seems lost. – Roge Dawson
  • Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin
  • An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men. – Dr. Thomas Fuller
  • What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it. – Alexander Gulialll Bell
  • Progress is a tide. If we stand still we will surely be drowned. To stay on the crest, we have to keep moving. – Harold Mayfield
Failure is the path of least persistence. – Michael Larsen
  • If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you. – Unknown
  • Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough. – Og Mandino
  • So long as there is breath in me, that long I will persist. For now I know one of the greatest principles on success; if I persist long enough I will win. – Og Mandino

Positive Thinking

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out. – John Wooden
  • Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. – Colin Powell
  • It isn’t the load that breaks us down; it’s the way we carry it. – Unknown
  • Your mind can hold only one thought at a time. Make it a positive one. – Unknown
  • A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition. – William A. Ward
  • Never think of the consequences of failing for you will always think of a negative result. Think only positive thoughts and your mind will gravitate towards those thoughts! – Michael Jordan
  • Although elementary, turning negatives into positives is the best foundation to having a happy life. – Unknown
  • If you think you can, or you think you can’t, your right! – Henry Ford
  • Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can You can go as far as you mind lets you. What you believe, you can achieve. – Mary Kay Ash
A positive mind has extra solving power. – Alexander Lockhart
  • There are three types of people in this world: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. We all have a choice. You can decide which type of person you want to be. I have always chosen to be in the first group. – Mary Kay Ash
  • When fate hands you a lemon, make lemonade. – Dale Carnegie
  • To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe. – Anatole France
  • Always remember that you are unique. Just like everyone else. – Unknown
  • A positive attitude is like a fire – Unless you continue to add fuel, it goes out. – Alexander Lockhart


When I played with Michael Jordan on the Olympic team, there was a huge gap between his ability and the ability of the other great players on that team. But what impressed me was that he was always the first one on the floor and the last one to leave. – Steve Alford
  • But it’s the wrestler who can put the fatigue out of his mind and break through the “wall,” like a marathon runner after 18 or 20 miles, who will survive. The key to that survival is in hard workouts that develop mental confidence to the point where you won’t submit to fatigue and pain descending upon you. – Lou Banach
  • If I had stood at the free-throw line and thought about 10 million people watching me on the other side of the camera lens, I couldn’t have made anything. So I mentally tried to put myself in a familiar place. I thought about all those times I shot free throws in practice and went through the same motion, the same technique that I had used thousands of times. You forget about the outcome. You know you are doing the right things. So you relax and perform. – Michael Jordan
  • Practice without improvement is meaningless. – Chuck Knox
There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and guts between dreams and success. – Paul “Bear” Bryant
  • It takes less time to do something right the first time, than it does to explain why you did it wrong. – Unknown
  • It isn’t the hours you put in, but what you put in the hours. – Unknown
  • Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. – Vincent Van Gogh
  • The wise does at once what the fool does at last. – Gracian Baltasar


I’ve found that when you go the extra mile, it’s never crowded. – Unknown
  • Most battles are won before they are fought. – Sun Tzu
  • Spectacular achievements come from unspectacular preparation. – Roger Staubach
  • Before I’d get in the ring, I’d have already won or lost it on the road. The real part is won or lost somewhere far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. – Muhammad All
  • The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. – Chinese proverb
  • Winning is the science of being totally prepared. – George Allen
  • There will come a time when winter will ask what you were doing all summer – Henry Clay
  • The secret of our success is found in our daily agenda. – John C. Maxwell
  • Yelling doesn’t win ball games. It doesn’t put any points on the scoreboard. And I don’t think words win ball games all the time. Players do. Preparation does. – Jerry Tarkanian
Spectacular achievement is always preceded by spectacular preparation. – Robert Schuller
  • The only preparation for tomorrow is the right use of today. – Unknown
  • Confidence comes from being prepared. – John Wooden
  • If you plan to go the distance, you have to do the roadwork. – Chuck Parker
  • If you fail to plan, plan to fail. – Unknown
  • Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action. – Napoleon Hill
  • Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. – Unknown
  • Chance favors those who are prepared. – Louis Pasteur


Failure isn’t so bad if it doesn’t attack the heart. Success is all right if it doesn’t go to the head. – Grantland Rice

  • Everybody is looking for instant success, but it doesn’t work that way. You build a successful life one day at a time. – Lou Holtz
  • The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. – Vince Lombardi
  • The secret of successful people lies in their ability to discover their strengths and organize their life so that these strengths can be applied. – John C. Maxwell
  • Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it. – Henry David Thoreau
  • The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. – Mark Twain
  • Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. – Albert Schweitzer
The greatest possession you have is the 24 hours directly in front of you. – Unknown
  • The reward of a thing well done is to have done it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Our days are identical suitcases – all the same size – but some people can pack more into them than others. – Unknown
  • Success comes in cans; failure comes in cant’s. – Unknown
  • Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible. – Francis of Assisi
  • Luck: a loser’s excuse for a winner’s success. – Unknown
  • You will never plough a field if you only turn it over in your mind. – Irish Proverb
  • The first step to wisdom is silence; the second is listening. – Unknown
To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can’t just accept the ones you like. – Mike Galka
  • Your companions are like the buttons on an elevator. They will either take you up or they will take you down. – Unknown
  • My father always told me, “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” – Jim Fox
  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. – Gen. Colin L. Powell
  • To demand more of yourself than you do of others is the first step on any ladder of success. – Unknown
  • A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done. – Vince Lombardi
Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit. – Conrad Hilton
  • Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom. – General George Patton
  • The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a person’s determination. – Tommy Lasorda
  • Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible. – Doug Laison
  • You can’t fly a kite unless you go against the wind and have a weight to keep it from turning a somersault. The same with man. No man will succeed unless he is ready to face and overcome difficulties and is prepared to assume responsibilities. – William J.H. Boetcker
  • Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. – H. Jackson Brown

Teams ( Basketball Team Quotes)

Great teamwork is the only way to reach our ultimate moments, and create breakthroughs that define our careers and fulfill our lives. – Pat Riley
  • An effective organization holds a purpose that is shared by all its members and to which they will willingly commit their efforts. People working together can do almost anything. – James L. Hayes
  • People acting together as a group can accomplish things which no individual acting alone could ever hope to bring about. – Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Coming together is the beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. – Henry Ford
  • Commitment to the team – there is no such thing as in-between; you are either in or out. – Pat Riley
  • We must all hang together; else we shall all hang separately. – Ben Franklin
  • All men like to think that they can do it alone, but a real man knows that there no substitute for support, encouragement or a pit crew. – Tim Allen
The will to win, desire to succeed, urge to reach your full potential – these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. – Eddie Robinson
  • There is one quality which one must possess to win, and that is definiteness of purpose, the knowledge of what one wants, and a burning desire to possess it. – Napoleon Hill
  • I’ve got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end. – Larry Bird
  • If you want a place in the sun, you have to expect some blisters. – Unknown


  • My religious beliefs teach me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. – Stonewall Jackson
  • It is not work that kills, but “worry.” – Dinah Mulock
  • How much pain has cost us the evils which have never happened. – Thomas Jefferson
  • The reason why worry kills more people than work is that more people worry than work. – Robert Frost
  • Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God – (Philippians 4:6)

Related: Basketball: Remember the Dream

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Basketball Passing Drill: Passing Lanes & Patience

Basketball Passing Drill: Passing Lanes & Patience

Developing a patient team can be one of the most difficult aspects of coaching. Young and inexperienced teams tend to rush through sets and often leave scoring opportunities unexplored. These teams need to reduce turnovers and play with more purpose. So finding the right drills and competitive practice games becomes a challenge. So here’s a look at a basketball passing drill that works on both the offense and the defense simultaneously.

Basketball Passing Drill: Passing Lanes and Patience

The Passing Lanes and Patience drill promotes multiple things. For the offense, it promotes patience and making good passes. It stresses the importance of working for great shots. It also helps build habits like crashing the offensive boards.

For the defense, this drill promotes getting into the passing lanes, blocking out, and limiting teams to one shot. It stresses toughness in taking charges and playing hard without fouling.

The Set Up

This basketball passing drill requires two even teams. The drill uses competitive 5-on-5 action that should be high intensity.

Coaches implement four 2:30 minute quarters for the drill, with a 45 second break in between each segment. The two teams split time as offense and defense, alternating after each quarter. Subs can be incorporated with each dead ball situation.

basketball passing lanes

The Rules

Coaches set a specific number of passes the offense must complete. (We do 6 passes.)

The offense “scores” 1 point if they reach that number of passes without a turnover or deflection. They also get 1 point for each offensive rebound. The offense gets 3 points for made three-pointers, but 4 points for a made two-point field goal. We stress working for great shots.

The defense “scores” 1 point for each deflection of a pass. They get 2 points for a steal, and 3 points for limiting the offense to one shot in a possession. They get 4 points for each charge drawn. The defense loses a point when a player commits a foul.

basketball passing lanes


  • Emphasize the importance of getting in passing lanes to get deflections & steals. On the line, up the line is a way of life for our program.
  • Discuss scoring with teams & ask them why they think 2’s are worth more than 3’s in this drill & ask them why they think securing a D-Board after one shot and taking a charge are worth so many points.

Kyle Brasher
Gibson Southern High School
Social Studies Teacher
Lady Titans Basketball Coach

Related: Favorite Basketball Practice Drills



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Youth Basketball: Reducing Turnovers with Gold

Youth Basketball: Reducing Turnovers with Gold

Gold. Basketball turnovers. What do these two items have in common? The answer is more than you may realize! As all coaches know, a turnover in basketball is one surefire way for your team to be defeated each and every game out. Not only do turnovers mean you do not get a field goal attempt, if the turnover is a live ball turnover, it could mean an easy bucket for your opponent. So basketball coaches seek new and innovative ways in reducing turnovers.

Gold is one of the most precious metals on earth, and an item that has monetary value. Gold is something that people want to protect and ensure that they retain. When playing the game of basketball, we like to think of the basketball as a piece of gold, We like to think of it as something that is very precious, which we hope to retain more than we lose. So using special gold basketballs to aid in reducing turnovers created a competitive practice game with stakes.

Reducing Turnovers with Gold Basketballs

As a program, we instituted gold basketballs in many of our live scrimmage segments to help encourage our players to be more focused on reducing turnovers. Players do not like the punishment of running; players will do almost anything to avoid running, so as a staff we decided to tap into that mindset and try to become a team that commits fewer turnovers.

In live scrimmage segments, we place three gold basketballs out for each team playing. (To create gold basketballs, we found three old basketballs that would not retain air and spray painted them gold.) During the scrimmage, each time a team commits a turnover, they lose one of their gold basketballs. Once a team has lost all three of their gold basketballs, we stop the scrimmage and that team gets on the line to run. After their run is complete, they only get two gold basketballs back.

It is imperative that they retain a high level of focus in not turning the ball over. Once those two balls are gone and they run again. Then, they get the last ball back. Once that final ball is gone and they run, they get all three back and we repeat the process again. The goal is for the players to understand the value of limiting our turnovers and putting ourselves in the best position possible to succeed.

Limiting Use (and Turnovers)

The Gold Basketballs are not something we use every day. As a staff, we feel they may lose their luster if we commit to doing them every practice. We utilize the balls once or twice a week. If we have a game where we just committed a lot of turnovers or an upcoming game where reducing turnovers is important, we may utilize the balls a tad more.

It has given our players a visual cue to look at and realize the importance of retaining possession and putting ourselves in the best position to succeed in all game situations.

Related: Basketball Team Building: Giving Out Game Awards

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Teaching Situational Basketball at the High School Level

Teaching Situational Basketball at the High School Level

Understanding situational basketball comes only after playing the game competitively for some time. Getting young and developing players to understand the ins and outs of different situations takes time, and experience. Coaches can carve out practice time for situational drills, but often, players won’t fully understand until they’ve experienced it in a competitive game.

Situational Basketball: The Background & Problem

Let’s start by setting a scene: low-scoring, hard fought playoff game in a loud high school gym in the first week of March. We worked for this all year long. It’s the month of the season where any coach would work for free just to have the chance to feel that utterly different, barely describable adrenaline that comes with a win to advance to the next round.

So that’s where I was as an assistant coach. Up off the bench trying to diagnose the intended action of a play before our team forced a five-second call on a sidelines out of bounds play. It’s where I was a few moments later, using what was left of my voice to remind our inbounder that we were out of timeouts. It’s where I was when his inbounds pass took our best free throw shooting guard back toward our own basket.

I exhaled as a late whistle negated a steal that would have led to our opponent tying the game. With both hands pressed behind my head, I felt a tap on my shoulder from our older and more composed assistant coach.

“We’ve got to work on late game situations tomorrow in practice,” seemingly oblivious to the fact that we still needed to make a pair of free throws to ice the game.

“I hope we have a practice tomorrow,” I shouted back to him.

We survived and advanced. I knew he was right. Teaching situational basketball was integral. But, in my career and with the coaches I had played for, worked for, or even spoken to, it’s always been the thing that got cut out of practice.

I first heard this response as a high school player when I was talking to a respected and decorated retired coach from my high school as I explained the newfangled approach of fouling in the closing seconds when up three points.

“You’d have to practice that and then hope you get it right with the same players,” he said. “And no one is going to find time to practice that.”

I next heard the response as an eager young coach, trying to offer something different to a coach in my first job.

“That’s great, Bennett,” he said. “But have you noticed that we aren’t even good enough to be in late-game situations?”

“This is why we don’t do this,” I heard another coach say as I watched a comical close to an otherwise fine practice when my situations were marred by managers not being able to run the clock and JV players incapable of handling any sort of pressure defense.

But my idea persisted. I tucked it away in a notebook until finally, called for out of complete frustration, it got its chance to make its way into a practice plan.

“Bennett,” our head coach said. “We’ve got to figure out ways to teach our players what to do in different situations.” I heard this after a weekend where we nearly choked away a double digit lead in a Friday night game. We suffered a very frustrating loss a night later when we gave up not one, not two, but three 3-point shots to close quarters.


Our Solution

So what did I propose and implement? Nothing too time consuming. Nothing too difficult. But something that has helped our players think situationally better.

Three to four times in each practice, in little short segments, we blow a whistle, gather two teams, and conduct a situation. It works as a palate cleanser for whatever else has happened to that point in practice or to what might happen next. Of course, there are also consequences. We run when we don’t achieve our stated goal for that situation.

But, above all, it’s a chance to teach, talk, and coach players through a situation that they have seen or could see. It’s the opportunity to work on that last second play, see how long it will take to get into a set and execute it. Teaching situational basketball can reaffirm a recently taught point, or test the mental mettle of your team.

Defining Situational Basketball

Too often, I think coaches envision working on situations to mean the last two minutes, holding a lead or last 45 seconds trying to come back. Those kinds of situations often do take too much time or can lead to frustration when a JV team can’t pressure or a manager doesn’t know when to stop the clock.

Our situations are often short. I think back to the idea of getting a pass inbounded with two seconds left and no time outs. After that situation, we can grade our players immediately as to whether we got what we wanted. Did the right player get the catch or was the pass thrown to a place where it would hurt us the last if it were to be intercepted?

Often our situations aren’t end game either. One of my favorites is putting 45 seconds or so on the clock, giving the ball to us on a sideline out of bounds and saying that I want to win the end of the quarter. Our players have learned to look for quick action off the sideline out of bounds and then to move into a “get the last shot” situation.

Other times, we simply talk about urgency and give the ball to the opposition with 20 or so seconds to go. Give up that last shot? Enjoy a few sprints before we move on to the next part of practice. I reiterate that the most important thing that we do is huddle again after the situation and address exactly what we thought went right and what still needs to be fixed in future situations.


What We Like Best


It’s a great way to bring some intensity to practice, even amongst coaches. I have been given free reign to coach our top varsity unit through the situations. Our other varsity assistant and JV coach, who both work in our building, often find me at lunch to try to figure out what situations we’ll be working on that day and what lineups I plan to use.

By the beginning of practice, I find that they’ve schemed to come up with sets they want to run against the top group in order to force them to have to run sprints. There’s been a healthy amount of competition while our players are also learning. As I mentioned earlier, it can also act as either a bridge to the next segment of practice or a cap on the previous portion.


How often do we say to our guys “know the time and situation” or “be aware of the situation”? Now, we have three to four chances each day to teach our basketball players situational awareness. Want to know how and when to foul up three? How about focusing on getting 2-for-1 at the end of a quarter or half? Want to practice turning a ball handler after getting a score with a few seconds left on the clock?

These are all little quizzes that you can more easily incorporate into practice. Better yet, it’s a great way to review the situations you might have failed in previous games. Finally, it even gives us a chance to fit in sets/tendencies of our upcoming opponent.


So often because of fouls, you wind up with strange groups on the floor. How often is your big on the floor at the end of the half because of foul trouble? This is a great way to try out different lineups as you envision the best or worst case that might come Friday night.

It’s also a great way to know who you can trust to do certain things. Going back to my high school’s old coach – I can pick one or two guys and teach them how to foul with a 3-point lead.


How often as coaches do we say things like “Can we do this?” “Can so-and-so run that?” “How much time do we need to do this?” So much of the intel that I try to collect and have ready for our games comes from these situations.

I have an “end of quarter” column on a sheet I have with me each game that lets me know exactly how much time each set might take us to run. That way when our head coach calls something out at the end of a quarter, I can let our point guard know exactly what time to start the action. It’s similar with lineups. I know, based often by what guys have done in the past couple weeks, who can handle what assignment or what certain guys actually know how to do.



Does this cure all situational ails? Of course not. But, what it does do is it gets players thinking throughout practice. Just the other day, we had worked on how we wanted to finish a quarter by getting a stop and then running a bit of clock before going to a closing seconds set that we call “tap.”

Toward the end of practice, we worked a simple 8-minute quarter as a scrimmage situation. A ball got batted out of bounds with about 30 seconds left on the clock. Without prompting, our shooting guard turned to me and said “You want this like we did earlier?” I nodded and he right away called out and gave direction to his teammates. Something had clearly stuck with him.

How has it helped though? I think some. And the wins and losses do show that to be the case. Going back to that frustrating weekend where our current head coach tasked me with coming up with some solutions. We were 3-12 in two possession games over the past year and a half. Since then, a sample size of a little more than a year now, we are 8-1 in two possession games.

I go back to the coach I worked for (and highly respect) who said there were so many other things that needed to be done before we worried about end game situations. He was exactly right. But, I think winning situations in the first three quarters is integral in getting a lot of teams to the fourth with a chance. Nevertheless, it is something that you can work on in practice tomorrow – if there even is a practice tomorrow.

Brian Bennett is the associate boys basketball coach for Richmond (Indiana) High School. He has coached high school basketball for more than a decade in Indiana high schools. Bennett teaches composition, speech, and journalism.


Related: Basketball End of Game Situations


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Basketball Team Building: Developing a Positive Culture

Basketball Team Building: Developing a Positive Culture

Basketball team building can be a difficult task. Whether a coach is looking for bonding events or building morale through game awards, building a positive basketball culture remains integral.

Developing a Positive Basketball Culture

A positive basketball culture is the first thing you will need to build in your program.  You will need to fight for this every single day in every thing you do–from the weightroom to your open gym sessions.  When you face adversity your culture will be able to overcome any negativity if you have a strong foundation.

Jon Gordon is a master teacher on culture and I strongly recommend you check out some of my favorite books of his–The Energy Bus, The Power of a Positive Team, The Carpenter, and You Win In the Locker Room First.

When you start to establish your culture and identity as a positive team, you will then need to establish some core values for your program.  We stole ours from Alabama and Nate Oats: Max Effort, Continuous Learning, and Selfless Love.  We even tied Bible verses into these so we can reach our players spiritually.

Our program spent some money and put some cool signage up to improve our facilities with these words all around it for our players to see daily.  The important thing is, you must fight for these values daily as a coach and hold your players accountable to them!

We talk about these values daily and what it means to live them out on and off the court to develop the entire individual.  A few things we do is ask a player at the end of practice or a weight room session to name a core value.  Then we will ask them to tell us how one player on our team lived it out today and why.  This gets our kids thinking about the values constantly!


Getting Player Buy-In

When you are building your culture, you have to have players buy into your culture. One way you can do this as a coach is to have your players have some input. We asked our players to create a vision statement and standards they would like to live out daily that correlate with our core values.

One tip I got from a few experts on culture was don’t limit yourself when setting goals. For example: we want to win districts, go undefeated at home, and go to the State Tournament.

While those are great things, oftentimes everyone has those same goals.  And what happens when you lose that first game at home?  What happens when you don’t win districts but you can still advance? Or an even better question: what if your players do get complacent when they accomplish winning districts and going undefeated at home?

You can get complacent and think you achieved enough and you fall short of going even further than what you were capable of doing.  So we made a vision statement instead that has seemed to really motivate our players to the next level.

They came up with the following: The FCS basketball team is a united group of brothers here to glorify Jesus through the game of basketball while exceeding the expectations of others, with the expectation to win everytime we step on the floor.

A few standards our players came up with through guided discussion include: Accountability, CommunicationElevate, Grit, Selflessness, and Servanthood.


Avoiding Burnout

Kids have to have fun with the game of basketball and so do coaches! Basketball is a long season, and in a lot of ways it’s year round with post-season workouts, summer, pre-season, and in season.  One way to avoid any burnout is to celebrate little things.  Celebrate progress in the weight room. Celebrate winning two games in a row in season. And celebrate simple things like winning a situational segment in practice!

Another tip to have a positive basketball culture comes with making time for relationships with your players. Something I got from T.J. Rosene at Emmanuel College and PGC Basketball is to write out the names of three players on your practice plan and have a meaningful conversation with those players that day.  Mix up the names each practice and you will be able to reach all of your players consistently.


Use Your Assistant Coaches

As coaches we have to trust our assistant coaches–we hired them for a reason!  A tip I want to suggest is to delegate your work and let your assistant coaches lead in some areas of the program.  For example, in the pre- and post-season, my assistant coaches lead all my weight room and skill development days. As the head coach I serve as the manager and see the big picture.

My assistants will run everything by me and make sure it is in alignment with what we are trying to accomplish.  This allows your players to hear someone else’s voice and allows you to save yours more so for the season!  You also are helping your assistant coaches who want to move on to become a head coach one day.

I would also encourage you to write out other areas of your program you can delegate to your assistants.  I really like the defensive end of the floor, so I call one of my assistants the “offensive coordinator.”  We run a read and react/dribble drive hybrid offense, so I give him free reign out of that to come up with ways to improve our offense, drills, small sided games, etc.  This also limits my film, as he will watch everything on us offensively and I will watch everything defensively.

I hope you found some useful tips and strategies that have worked for our program.  Best of luck this season!

Jeff Long is the Head Men’s Basketball Coach at Friendship Christian School in Lebanon, TN.


Related: Basketball Team Building: Bonding Events



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Basketball Team Building: Giving Out Game Awards

Basketball Team Building: Giving Out Game Awards

Coaches know that to win games you ultimately must score more points than your opponent. What coaches also know is that teams cannot win unless there are players willing to do all the small things that amount to winning. Small things like blocking out and getting rebounds, finding the open player for an assist, or taking a momentum-swinging charge. These are oftentimes the things that go overlooked when the local newspaper comes to write their stories about basketball teams.

Well, as a staff, we wanted to reward the players who impacted games in ways that don’t always make the paper. So, we created a system for our varsity game awards where the individual who earns that award will get recognition. We wanted to award them with an item that represents individuals who are tough, gritty people who show up every day to work hard and get the job done. We decided to go with the following three items: a Hard Hat, a Windex Bottle, and a Lunch Pail.

Lady Titan Basketball Varsity Game Awards

The Hard Hat

Our coaching staff elected to use a Hard Hat for one of our awards because construction workers are the type of people that do hard, tough, gritty work. We wanted to reward the individual who earned this award with a hard hat that has our school logo on it. We use a formula to help figure out the winner of this game award. The following stats are worth one point: Rebounds, Steals, Assists, and Deflections. Charges are worth 2 points. You add that number up and subtract turnovers, and the player who has the highest number wins the Hard Hat award.


Windex Bottle

As we all know, the team that wins the rebounding battle is oftentimes the team that wins the basketball game. We reward the player who leads our team in rebounding with the Windex Bottle as the person who did the best job “cleaning the glass.” Rebounding is something that is a tough,gritty skill to teach young players, and this is such a winning part of the formula that we wanted to reward it.


Lunch Pail

While the first 2 awards are very objective, the Lunch Pail is something that is very subjective. There is no formula or stat we look at for the winner of the Lunch Pail. The person who wins the Lunch Pail is going to be someone who makes a major impact on the game. This impact could be taking a momentum-changing charge, playing great defense on the opposing team’s best player, or being a supporting teammate on the bench. The player who earns this award represents all the people who pack up their lunch everyday and head to work, hence why we found a dingy old lunchbox.


These game awards have become a huge part of the identity of our program, and these awards are something our players want to achieve. They understand we can only pass these awards out for games that are victories, and on those victories the coaching staff will walk in with these players having already laid out the awards in anticipation of learning who earned the awards for the night. Those players then get their name on the board and a group picture taken for social media. This stat tracking method brings great life to our program and basketball team.

Kyle Brasher
Gibson Southern High School
Social Studies Teacher
Lady Titans Basketball Coach

Related: Basketball Team Building: Bonding Events


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Basketball Team Building: Bonding Events

Basketball Team Building: Bonding Events

Any team that has hopes and aspirations of a great season needs to ensure that the team chemistry is very solid. An extremely talented team that lacks in the chemistry department could easily fail to meet its ceiling. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a team that is not as talented but has great team chemistry could exceed their expectations. This is where basketball team building comes in.

While the players in and of themselves play a huge role in developing chemistry, I think the coaching staff plays a huge role in that department as well. The staff needs to provide opportunities for the team to develop this culture. Because it cannot be done in your normal practice time. The staff needs to look for ways to create this culture through different activities. Below are some things we have done as a staff to help develop, in our opinion, strong culture through team building.

Basketball Team Building

Lead ‘Em Up

This has been hands down one of the best investments our program has made. Lead ‘Em Up is a leadership-based program run by Adam Bradley It teaches and encourages leadership habits that bring groups closer together. It is a positive-based program with fun activities that teach selflessness, encouragement, and a “green” mindset. This helps propel athletes into leadership roles as they continue to go through life. It’s a program that we run weekly and something our players look forward to weekly.

Dance Routine

We took our athletes to a local dance studio a few years ago for an opportunity to learn a choreographed dance routine to the High School Musical song “Get your Head in the Game.” It started where our girls stretched for a bit and then it was time to learn the routine. From a coach’s standpoint, it was a lot of fun to see our athletes in new situations to see how they would respond. It is safe to say it was a day filled with laughs and memories that will last a lifetime.

Great Basketball Cookoff

This is a new event we are trying this season and it centers around something our coaching staff and program loves: FOOD! Food seems to bring people together, and nothing brings a team together like a great team meal. We will break the athletes into teams, and each team will create the same dish. In addition, we will have a panel of judges who will then judge which group made the meal the best. The team that is judged to be the winner will receive the glory on social media, but at the end of the day what is really important is the team bonding aspect of the event.

These are just a few of a wide variety of ideas that we have implemented over the years. We have had lots of discussions on other ideas and there are other things we have done. The challenge is for every coaching staff to foster a culture and environment where the athletes want to come and work hard every day. We cannot always make everything centered around basketball. I believe that will burn the athletes out very quickly. The athletes need to realize we want to get to know them on a personal level. These fun-filled team bonding activities can go a long way to helping establish that type of positive, team mindset culture.

Kyle Brasher
Gibson Southern High School
Social Studies Teacher
Lady Titans Basketball Coach


Related: Building a Basketball Brand, Culture and Program


Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 407 Team Building ( The 3 H’s)


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Why High School Basketball Is Failing

Why High School Basketball Is Failing

Here is the good news: AAU is not killing high school basketball. The bad news is that schools are themselves killing it, or, more accurately, school boards are killing it.

Reasons Why High School Basketball is Failing

No-one to hire. Coaches historically were teachers who taught to coach, or who coached to teach. It was easy to schedule practices after school, Mon-FRI, 2:30pm-4:00pm, plus be away from family 2 evenings per week, and on weekends. You only had to do it 3-4 months. The aim was to win. How you handled players came second, and parents a distant third. Coaching was fun, relatively easy to do, families were intact, and expectations clear.

It is impossible to hire competent non-teachers to coach who can do so mid-afternoon, and put parents first, players second, school boards third, ADs fourth, and, finally, still win enough games to keep your job based on merit. Who can do it, and who will do it for a stipend of $2.000.00-5,000.00?

As for teachers coaching, there is a joke: “The fastest way to unemployment as a teacher–is to coach.” The money has never been worth it; today the risk of coaching outweighs its benefit. Have you calculated recently how dangerous it is to show taught love to kids, so as to make a difference in their lives?

Standardized tests are the sole determiner today of the continued employability of teachers, and principals alike. Test scores, not Game scores, matter in both the long term and short term teaching calculus. Principals are never pressured today on how well their coaches coach, or if their teams win the conference. Teachers get meager annual appraisal points for “making a difference” in lives of players coached. I think it fair to say, of all parent feedback principals receive about coaches, 90% of it is negative.

So while the personal risk to teachers is skyrocketing, to be responsible to coach others’ kids, schools have completely de-incentivized coaching in the name of test scores and US News & World Report rankings.

High School Basketball Isn’t a Movie

Schools drift in nostalgia, in a sort of basketball movie Hoosiers-mode, where kids of mediocre talent come together once per year, in the Fall, to play for their high school to earn a letter jacket, under a wise teacher-coach. In reality, no serious basketball player 16YOA and up waits till October to dribble, and begins to condition only on the first day of practice in running line-drills.

Schools do not care about the other 8 months of a player’s basketball development. That is not the school’s problem. If you ever read a basketball coach’s contract, it generally says you will coach 6th grade, and Coach Joe will coach 7th grade, and Bill JV, James Varsity, etc.

None in the school track the overall, cross-year development of any player. This omission is from elementary school (95% of states do not have school-based basketball in elementary schools) to middle school to high school. As far as the school system is concerned, the first time a basketball player shows up on its duty-radar screen is 7th grade. Can you imagine any player in college today starting to play in 7th grade?


No one in the school system (even the Athletic Director of that system), “owns” the responsibility to create and run a basketball development program reaching across grades and ages, and skill levels, of players who want to grow in the game. No one manages transitions of players from year to year, and no trains them longitudinally. Further, no one in the school district is responsible to recruit out-of-school season coaches, and build valuable relations with adults in the community to staff a basketball development feeder program. No one coordinates between schools and, say, AAU or travel teams, from March to the next October.

The school sees, and contracts, only in parts. Most school coaches sign contracts just a few weeks before season begins, then wait to see who shows up for tryouts. Some are cut, others kept, then 10 practices are held before the first game. In most states HSB varsity coaches are precluded from coaching AAU, Elite and travel teams during the off-season. And below varsity coaches, few school coaches also coach in these venues. Similarly, very few coaches hold pre-season workouts or post-season player improvement trainings. Few hold camps, clinics or one-on-one trainings, at any time of year.

School System Difficulties

Schools are inherently political. They must satisfy the constituents they serve, who all vote, complain, and run to social media whenever the pettiest slight is felt, or perceived. It is impossible to believe how many people complain to a school principal on a given day.

The problem is not that parents complain (they do in AAU and travel as well). The problem is that no school board, and very few superintendents, will defend you, or hold warpath-parents accountable for their unfounded attacks on you. You get no protection from any quarter. In my experience, not one person above you will say anything good about you on the record, or to the newspaper, once an allegation is raised against you. Instead, you will meet a haunting silence that will fill the space around you.

Internal school system are also difficult. The principal’s daughter will make the team; the coach’s daughter will start, and; the son or daughter of a school board member will get to take the final shot in a close game! Children of fellow teachers also generally make the team, out of solidarity for all that teachers have to put up with to stay in the profession.

Athletic Department Difficulties

Athletic Directors are schizophrenic. Historically coaches had to do 2 things to keep their jobs: win 60% of games, and not hit players. Today the list of expectations is growing, and non-sustainable. Now yelling at is akin to battery. To be “mean” or to “talk down to” players is sister to abuse. To not respond to a player’s every need is to “negate their self-esteem.”

High School basketball coaches today are expected to: 1) Start each parent’s child; 2) Validate them in every way, and; as far as the AD is concerned, 3) Generate copious amounts of money to pay for all the other unsuccessful sports programs in the school. Win 70% of games, and be a “nice guy” 100% in practices, games, interviews, and in all conversations with members of the public.

As for ADs, 75% are full of pride, and the other 25% failed when they were coaches. They are men (almost all are males) who cannot coach, and who do not want to teach. Most see themselves as above principals, and many in fact do report direct to the school system superintendent.There is a clear dichotomy today inside schools: principals hire the teachers, and ADs hire the coaches. ADs function in perpetual plausible deniability.

Social Media Difficulties

In this social media age, every aspect of you as a teacher-coach is under direct, constant scrutiny. The problem is you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, personal security guard, and public relations specialist to defend you. There are no rules of ethics or legal procedures to limit how anyone may attack you. You do not get to argue merits. You can bet that each night while you stay awake to ready the team for the next day’s big event, someone, somewhere is posting something about you on social media that is harmful and not true. If it should go viral, you are dead before morning. I bet a parent is already taping you at games, to edit later, and use however they wish. It does not take long to get from a hostile parent facebook page to your school superintendent. In fact, just two “Shares” will do it.

When you coach kids from 2-parent homes there is a good chance you can reach agreement on what are the goals for the season, and how they define success, and fun, for their child. But with our totally messed up “family” structures today, 70 percent of the friction you face during the season will be caused by those who are not even related to those you coach. Most you will never meet, know or have any dealings with. Yet all can harpoon you in moments, so as to “stand up” in protecting “their” child.

For the reasons above, good coaches regularly leave schools after 2-3 seasons. The reason is because a rolling stone gathers no moss. Nothing sticks to the one who moves. So since 90 percent of high school basketball coaching positions are part-time, if you want to move up to coach full-time, you simply have to move. And move. And move. For coaches to survive today, move in 3, or perish, is the reality.

Mr. Terry Boesch is a Gold-level Certified Youth Basketball Coach with USA Basketball. He is a US Army veteran, and former senior leader in the US Federal Government in Washington, DC. He is a licensed public school teacher, and previously taught in the hometown of his basketball hero, John Wooden, in Martinsville, IN. Contact: terryboesch@gmail.com Website: TexasExpress.org

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Ernest Blood: Basketball’s First Wizard

Ernest Blood: Basketball’s First Wizard

John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood, is the coach by whom modern-day coaches are measured.  Winning ten of twelve NCAA Championships has immortalized his place in basketball history.  History, on the other hand, has not been as kind to another basketball wizard.  Ernest Blood, who dominated his peers to an even greater degree a few generations earlier in New Jersey, was called the Grey Thatched Wizard.

Ernest Blood, the Grey Thatched Wizard

ernest blood basketballFew basketball purists in California are aware of this first wizard of the hardwood.  “Prof” was a shortened version of Professor. It was the name his players and students called him, but they spoke it reverently.  Passaic High School’s Grey Thatched Wizard was known for his all-around coaching acumen.  His teams enjoyed six undefeated seasons, and during another season, his team lost one game. His truncated stay at Passaic High School was a nonpareil 188-1. Furthermore, his teams would have undoubtedly won many more if jealous administrators and school board members hadn’t interfered.

A recently published book investigates the life of Prof Blood from his precocious athletic youth to the development of his avant-garde system of coaching.  In Prof Blood and the Wonder Teams: The True Story of Basketball’s First Great Coach, California coaches learn how and why this man was a generation ahead of his peers.  His methods and philosophies, which are not always followed today, are still very much worth learning and implementing.

Winning streaks followed these two coaching wizards.  Wooden’s UCLA teams once compiled 88 consecutive victories. While a couple of generations earlier, Blood’s boys went five seasons in a row without a loss, 159 straight, topping the latter-day wizard’s mark by 71 games. Besides the length of their winning steaks, these two coaching wizards had much in common.

Basketball Lifers: Blood & John Wooden

For starters, Blood and Wooden were astrological Libras.  Their birth dates were October 5, 1872, and October 14, 1910, respectively.  If self-confidence is an essential ingredient to be a successful coach, then that explains the reason for their success. And their confidence was reflected in their teams’ demeanor.

Other similarities of these two Naismith Memorial Hall of Famers include:

  • Excellent, accomplished athletes—one of Wooden’s two inductions into the hall of fame was for his accomplishments as a player
  • Great free throw shooters–Wooden once made 134 straight in professional game competition with the Kautsky Athletic Club, while Blood at age seventy-four, calmly sank 484 out of 500 after a practice session
  • Physical conditioning enthusiasts. With Wooden, it was an obsession
  • Adherence to clean living was a must
  • Adamantly stressed the importance of teamwork
  • Recognized the importance of speed and quickness as essentials
  • Strange eating habits
  • Proponents of a controlled offense, fastbreak, and full court pressing defense. Blood pioneered these innovations and referred to his full court defense as “offensive defense”
  • Shy in social situations
  • Honest to a fault
  • Far ahead of their time as basketball tacticians
  • The only enemies they had were people who were jealous of their success
  • Neither believed in charging a team up before a game. They wanted a calm assurance in the dressing room and in the pre-game warm-ups.

Prof Blood often said: “I train boys for the game of life—not to win basketball games.  If I succeed in that, I have accomplished something worthwhile.” In Prof’s way of thinking, winning remained incidental.

The Story of Basketball’s First Great Coach: Ernest Blood

Before little John Wooden was a twinkle in Joshua Hugh Wooden’s eye, Prof was equating basketball to the more important game of life.  While reading John Wooden’s book They Call Me Coach, you could insert Blood’s name for Wooden’s. You would be accurately describing Blood’s philosophy as well.

The major differences between the two behemoths of the game were their eras of dominance (’20s and ’60s) and their arenas (high school and college).  They had their priorities straight; they were teachers of the game of life.  The differences between the two lay in society’s memory.  Wooden has become a household name synonymous with basketball coaching excellence while Blood’s story has never accurately been told until now.  His accomplishments, contributions to the game and tribulations that have been lost in the annals of basketball have been resurrected in Prof Blood and the Wonder Teams: The Story of Basketball’s First Great Coach.

There isn’t a basketball coach who knows an X from an O who wouldn’t benefit from becoming more familiar with basketball’s first great coach.  Prof’s biography should be required reading for all high school coaches and fans.


Chic Hess, Ed. D. is the author of Prof Blood and the Wonder Teams: The True Story of Basketball’s First Great Coach, available at www.profblood.com.  Hess is a former NAIA College District and NABC-Kodak National Junior College Coach of the Year.

Related: John Wooden’s First Lesson

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Using The Funnel Down Defense

Using The Funnel Down Defense

Scheming the right defensive system for your team remains one of the most important parts of preseason preparation for any basketball coach. While defensive principles may largely be the same from year to year, the athletes on the team might not be. Coaches must gear their strategies and approaches to fit the capabilities of their players. That makes systems like the Funnel Down Defense so valuable. Funnel Down stands as a versatile defensive weapon for any team, no matter the level.

The Funnel Down Defense

funnel down defenseThe basic principle of this defensive set up is to prevent opposing offenses from comfortably using the middle of the floor. Funnel Down creates “gutters” outside the volleyball lines, which are present on most high school and even college courts. Defenders force dribblers into these gutters and funnel them down the line to the next man. The ball is pushed down to the baseline and toward “strike zones,” or trap areas in the short corner.

Ideally, the offense never centers the ball, or swings the ball to the weak side of the floor. This defense focuses on shrinking the court for opposing offenses. Funnel Down tries to prevent offenses from effectively using 60 percent of the court.

Funnel Down is purposefully built to get opposing offenses out of their normal rhythm and flow, resulting in turnovers, and bad or rushed shots. When deployed in games that feature a shot clock, the effectiveness of this strategy is further amplified because the offense must spend time getting out of the trap zones.

Why Use Funnel Down?

This defensive system provides coaches with a versatile set up, adaptable to almost any talent level. Funnel Down can be paired with any base defense. It doesn’t matter if a team normally runs man-to-man or zone, funnel down can work either way.

When used correctly, this system disrupts any offense by keeping the ball on one side of the floor. Funnel Down seeks to “pin” opposing offenses to the sidelines and forcing them into traps. This creates an urgency in dribblers that often speeds them up to a point where they are uncomfortable. By speeding up the dribbler, the offense becomes more mistake prone, leading to game-changing turnovers.

And this defense can be taught by any coach, to basically any team. The lesson linked below provides all of the video tutorials, drills and practice plans needed to implement this system. Funnel Down might be the only defense a team needs!

The versatility of this set up allows for any type of athlete to be used on the floor. The defense creates difficult angles for passing and shooting, especially once the ball handler enters that baseline trap area. Funnel Down uses the sideline and the baseline as extra defenders to leverage pressure on the floor.

Incorporating this system into your routine forces opposing teams to spend extra time preparing. That ultimately robs opponents of time to prep for other parts of their game plans.

For more on how to implement this game-changing defensive system, Click Below for the Limited Time Offer!

Click Here for More about the Funnel Down Defense! 

This limited time offer includes teaching sessions and video drills, PDF diagrams, practices plans, a cheat sheet, and a coaching community!

Related: What is the Funnel Down Defense?


Coach Unplugged Podcast:

Ep: 1142. Funnel Down Defense

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What is the Funnel Down Defense?

What is the Funnel Down Defense?

Basketball coaches often find themselves scheming for different ways to defeat the best team on their schedule. Many of those schemes are oriented around the defense. Coaches searching for ways to streamline their practices and become more efficient in their instruction need to look no further than the Funnel Down Defense. This approach provides coaches with a tried and true defense system that dictates pace and generates turnovers.

The Funnel Down Defense

Funnel Down uses something most basketball courts feature and many coaches dismiss: the volleyball lines. This defense focuses on shrinking the court for opposing offenses by pushes ball handlers outside of that key stretch of the floor. Funnel Down tries to prevent offenses from effectively using 60 percent of the court. Instead, it forces them to the perimeter, operating on just 40 percent of the floor.

This approach attempts to keep the ball on one side of the floor. It speeds up opposing offenses to the point where they become mistake-prone. It also shrinks the usable floor space for the offense.

Funnel Down is purposefully built to get opposing offenses out of their normal rhythm and flow, resulting in turnovers, and bad or rushed shots. When deployed in games that feature a shot clock, the effectiveness of this strategy is further amplified because the offense must spend time getting out of the trap zones.

Three Key Concepts of the Funnel Down Defense

Funnel Down Defense1. Pin the ball on the sideline

2. Funnel the ball to the baseline

3. Trap and Rotate in the short corner

The design of this defense borrows its terminology from bowling. The task of the defense remains to “funnel” the ball along the “gutter” of the court to the baseline, where a trap awaits in the “strike zone.” Funnel Down seeks to keep the ball out of the “alley,” which is the main stretch of center court inside the volleyball lines. The traps occur in “strike zones” positioned at the short corners.

Ideally, defenders pressure the ball into the gutters, avoiding the centering pass. This is called a “pin.” This tactic overplays the ball handler away from the middle so that the ball can’t be swung.  Defenders stay ahead of the ball handlers by sprinting, not sliding, trying to stay half a body width ahead of the dribbler. This discourages penetration and funnels the ball toward the trap areas.

The defender “up the line” covers a man below the ball level on the court. This defender needs to remain between his man and the ball in order to help. The defenders continue to “funnel” the ball along the sideline, encouraging the dribblers to head toward the baseline. Once the ball enters the “strike zone” in the short corner, that triggers a trap and weak side rotation.

For more on how to implement this game-changing defensive system, Click Below for the Limited Time Funnel Down Defense Offer!

Click Here for More about the Funnel Down Defense! 

This limited time offer includes teaching sessions and video drills, PDF diagrams, practices plans, a cheat sheet, and a coaching community!



High School Hoops Podcast

Ep: 161. Funnel Down Defense


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Coaching in a Pandemic

Coaching in a Pandemic

I think it is safe to say that there has never been a course created or an experience a coach could pull from on how to plan for and attack this situation. This has been a trying time for sure. But ultimately, this has been a time where, if done correctly, players and teams could still have improved. At Gibson Southern High School in Fort Branch, Indiana, the Lady Titans basketball program, like everyone else, has experienced our share of challenges and has taken many steps to combat the challenges of coaching in a pandemic

Challenge 1: Coaching with Masks On

Like all coaches, this has been a change for our staff. The biggest part of this is the difficulty in communicating and talking in a loud gym and the inability to show emotion in our facial expressions. There are many coaches, just like the great Pat Summit, who used emotion in their facial expressions to help coach their players. This is something that we have had to adjust in our practices to ensure we are able to continue the teaching of the game that is necessary to improve as a program.

Challenge 2: Keeping Everyone Healthy

It is imperative to emphasize the importance of masking up and putting ourselves in positions to remain healthy. We have consistently talked to our players about avoiding situations where they could be compromised and possibly contract COVID or become a close contact.

Challenge 3: Volatility in Schedule

We had arguably the best schedule our program has seen in over a decade scheduled for this season. Then we had received an invitation to play in an 8-team holiday tournament with seven schools more than double our size, many of which routinely play for sectional championships. Due to our county COVID status, we were forced to drop out of that tournament. Luckily, we were able to get in a shootout with two other quality teams to partially make up for the games lost in the holiday tournament. We have had multiple other games rescheduled or dropped within 24-48 hours of tip off. This volatility of scheduling has been very difficult to coach through. Needless to say, our Athletic Director has earned his money this season.

Challenge 4: Inability to conduct Team Gatherings

One of the things we pride ourselves in as a program and staff is developing a strong team culture/bond. One way we do this is through team gatherings and give-backs. We were unable to host our annual holiday giveback, where we’ll volunteer time to ring bells for the Salvation Army and/or donate gifts and time at our local YWCA. Unfortunately, we were unable to have our annual team Christmas Party as well. We have had to become more creative to help develop these strong bonds.

Challenge 5: Ticket Guidelines

In Indiana, every county has different ticket guidelines. Some counties allow two tickets per player. Others allow two tickets per player but can only be parents. Some allow six tickets per player. Others tickets are sold at gates, while others sell online. It can be a major challenge to stay on top of the various ticket guidelines from game to game.

Related: Best Face Mask for Basketball

Steps to Overcome Challenges Coaching in a Pandemic

Step 1: Daily COVID/Temperature Checks

One step our athletic department has established to help keep everyone healthy is a daily COVID and temperature check. We record everyone’s temperatures and ask a series of questions to check everyone’s health status. Then we file these away in case an issue arises in the future.

Step 2: Networking

With the volatility in our game schedule, it has become that much more important to network around the state with other coaches. I talked to a veteran coach this past week and one thing he mentioned he will miss when he retires is the camaraderie of the coaching fraternity. Every coach can understand and relate to the difficulty of fulfilling a schedule during these trying times. This season has shown the needed importance of developing those relationships with coaches around the state.

Step 3: Ornament Party

In an attempt to keep some semblance of normalcy for our players and do some form of team-building activity, we held a socially-distanced ornament party with our players. We got the players soft drinks and individually packaged snacks. With Christmas music playing, the girls paint their own ornaments. We then took the ornaments and had them “fired up” at a local pottery store that finished the ornaments. Many of the girls commented on how fun this activity was and we feel it met the important goal of team-building and improving our culture.

Step 4: Ticket Sales

One piece of advice: Try to have your athletic director conduct ticket sales online. This could take the collection of money and distribution of tickets out of your hands. It is important to be organized and have a system in place to ensure all money is collected and all tickets are distributed. As much as can be done online or via mobile sales, the better.

In conclusion, while this time is difficult, it is important to look at it through the lens of we still have a great opportunity to coach this great game and see young people grow. If we view this time as a positive, our players and those around us will view it the same way. Good luck and coach them up!

Related: Building a Basketball Brand, Culture and Program


Coach Unplugged Podcast:

Ep: 802. Covid, Coaching, Sacrifices, Opinions and the WIAA

Ep: 584 Basketball Coaching NOW with Coronavirus, Covid-19 and Quarantines


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Writing Your Basketball Coaching Philosophy

Writing Your Basketball Coaching Philosophy

Where is your WRITTEN Basketball Coaching Philosophy? Don’t miss the FREE OFFER Below, to help Fellow-Coaches!

I know, you don’t need one, because others will figure you out if they just watch how you coach. Oh, and you are too busy to write anything down. I know, I said these things for five years also. As a result, I had no real clear answer to any of these questions about coaching: WHY Do This? WHAT am I about, Really? WHO do I want to produce thru my coaching efforts?

Then it dawned on me, while reading something General Eisenhower said during WWII, when he planned the biggest military maneuver in the history of the world (D-Day). He said that while a Plan may be useless in that it can and will change, the PROCESS of MAKING the Plan, and thinking it through, over and over, is THE MOST useful thing a leader CAN do. I feel the same about making a written coaching philosophy.

Basketball Coaching Philosophy

Your written coaching philosophy is your business card about you. It makes you better by making your mind clearer. It defines “you” when you dont have time to explain what you are thinking. And it helps you make better decisions. For if something doesn’t fit within your vision (no matter how great it sounds, or who else may be doing it), the answer is: “Sorry, it doesn’t fit with what I am doing.”)

A written philosophy simplifies–and who today does not need to simplify every aspect of our lives and coaching? Writing down your coaching philosophy makes clear to parents, other coaches, future players, and officials, what you believe, why you coach, and what they should expect from you. It defines-up your best. Isnt this what coaching is all about? “Without vision,” the scripture says, “a people perish.” Your written philosophy is your vision.

There are two errors in writing a philosophy. First, trying to please others by saying everything. If you work for a corporation (or the government), you know what I am talking about. No one even reads their vision or mission statements, because they are full of words written by lawyers & public relations experts. The second error to avoid is cutting & pasting someone else’s as your own. This is especially true if you are quoting from some famous coach. You cannot Google your way to authenticity. Or copy your way to originality. Instead, you must scratch & dig it out for yourself.

My Basketball Philosophy

Here is my basketball coaching philosophy. I made this; it is original to me. My Basketball Philosophy is:

  • Teach life through the great game of basketball;
  • Train each player how to succeed at this, and the next, level of her basketball career, and;
  • Show all players how to play, and win, within the context of team.

My elements are life, the game, training to succeed individually, and showing how to win collectively.

I offer these tips to help you. Use no more than 3 bullet points; this will force the cream to the top of your thinking. Otherwise you will start to list things, and in the process go too far.

Start with the really big picture, almost at God-level, then break it down from there. Include values at the individual and team levels. For basketball begins with a person, but is played as a team. Do not worry, you will not get it right the first time, even the first fifteen times!

Keep working it over in your mind. Say it aloud, even type it (my method). As you do so, it will emerge from the fog like a big ship. But hear me: your philosophy must both be descriptive (defining how you see yourself now). And it must be prescriptive (meaning it must pull you to get even better–in your practice planning, in your selection of offensive & defensive schemes, in your hiring of assistants, and in your tryout of players.

With a good coaching philosophy, you, too, will be ready for the D-Day of this year’s basketball season.

Free Offer!

MY FREE OFFER (I am serious) is to help you craft your coaching philosophy. If you want to share your philosophy ideas with me, send me an email. I will give you my honest feedback, for free. I love learning from, and sharing ideas with, fellow-coaches.

Email me at steve@teachhoops.com and I will have Terry Take a look at it.

Related: Basketball Philosophy


Coaching Philosophy Handouts

High School Hoops Podcast:

Ep: 126 Building a Basketball Program and Philosophy

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4 Steps to Get a Basketball Rebound

4 Steps to Get a Basketball Rebound

Block out the Block-out (#3 thing I no longer teach on Defense). Tom Izzo gets the credit, but I thought of it first! (Just kidding). I did realize this point on my own as a coach, however, and only later learned Izzo agrees with me 🙂 All this before I get to my 4 Steps to Get a Basketball Rebound.

Izzo deserves credit for his courage, for he challenged the Big 10 Creed that when rebounding a player must first Find his (or, a) player, Spin around, Put his butt into gut, Spread his arms & legs out (wide), Lean back into his man, Hold him there for, say, 2 seconds, and THEN go get the ball.

How many years have we seen coaches teach this same thing to players? Answer: Too long. Truthfully, it doesnt work, at least not for anyone outside the paint.

The only thing that matters in rebounding is getting the ball. Anything more is just a dance. What does matter is what I outline below, which is what I now teach regarding How to Rebound. First, though, some background.

Recently I happened to be watching another coach practice with his team. Dutifully, they did the 3-Man Box-out Rebounding Drill. But this time I saw what was actually happening each time the coach shot the ball. When his shot went off, his players looked AWAY from the ball, to find a person to go try to box out. They ran AWAY from the basketball to go get that person.

Then when they got to where that player was, they tried to turn around to locate them with their butts. But by then that offense player (who was facing the basket, and watching the ball the whole time), easily got around the spinning rebounder. In 80% of time the boxer-outer rebounder never even made contact with the moving, reacting offense player. No contact! Instead, just wasted effort, and an unsuccessful solo dance.

I have since noticed this same phenomenon at other practices (disclaimer, including at my own!)

4 Steps to Get a Basketball Rebound

This is what I now teach on the 4 Steps to Get a Rebound:

First, ASSUME every shot is going to miss (this may sound obviously, but most of our players assume every shot is going to be made–which is why 90% stand there watching the shot floating in the air toward the basket, and dont move). They assume the ball will go in; a good rebounder knows it will not.

Second, ANTICIPATE where the missed ball is going to bounce after it hits off the rim or backboard. And while anticipating, take your first step in that direction. Go when no one knows where, not after it is obvious. Let me ask you as a coach, isnt rebounding more about positioning than player size? Will not the smallest, slowest player on the floor get the rebound if he is in the right place, than a taller guy who is out of place and gazing flat-footed?

The truth is, most players stand where they are and hope the ball bounces to them. Almost none move. The next time you are at a practice note how many stand where they are when the shot is taken, and dont move more than 4 inches in any direction. Instead, they freeze & gaze.

Third, POSITION yourself between the ricocheting ball and ANY other player who may be standing in that same area on the court (even if it is your own teammate). As coach, I am okay with one of my players getting in front of another of our players, to grab the rebound. The point is to get the rebound; it doesnt matter to me who on our team gets it.

Fourth, JUMP to meet the ball at the highest point in the air. Again, this sounds obvious. Yet it is surprising how many players only partially jump, if at all; and, instead, they assume the ball will come to them, so they wait for it.

One of my original observations about basketball is this: The first-mover wins the play. And, rebounding is all about who moves first, to the right place, and there jumps first & highest.

Watch your players–are they dancing, or actually getting the ball?

Related: Shell Drill, Rebounding and Transition


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What Everyone Gets Wrong About The Princeton Offense

What Everyone Gets Wrong About The Princeton Offense

When I was in college I would get through some of the most tedious lectures by drawing out basketball plays within my notes. And that evolved into designing offensive sets that would seamlessly flow from one right into another. At the time I didn’t have a big picture in mind but I was being creative and I was trying to solve a problem.

Little did I know the problem was already being solved. And the journey through the rabbit hole began.

Concerns About The Princeton Offense

The Princeton Offense is more often than not a polarizing topic for offensive basketball discussion. Coaches seem to either love it or they will say, “you’ll never catch me running that offense!”

There are three main reasons coaches will not entertain running Princeton and these are the actual words they say to me:

1) The Offense is too much. It is too hard to learn. It’s a slow down offense… and even if I wanted to run it, I don’t even know where to start.

2) The Offense is too complicated, too hard to break down, and takes too much time to install in practice.

3) I just don’t have smart enough or skilled enough players to run it. And my best players won’t buy in. It will bog them down.

And on the surface… these concerns ARE valid.

Simplifying the Offense

1) Yes the offense can be overwhelming and yes most teams run it as a slow down offense. But did you ask “why” those teams slow the game down? For example: Princeton University vs any Tournament Program. Northwestern vs The Big Ten. The Air Force Academy vs The Mountain West.

The teams we typically see run the offense slow it down because of who the can recruit and more importantly who they compete with. Have you seen Chris Mooney’s Richmond teams play lately?

2) Sure Princeton looks like an extremely complicated offense. It has many moving parts and an unorthodox philosophy. But have you actually seen a good coach break it down “correctly” in a practice situation?

One thing I have done is I’ve completely abandoned the “Whole-Part-Whole” philosophy of teaching. Sure that is a little controversial. But what I’ve learned is teaching (especially Princeton) in a progression based manner which I am calling The Progression Method, is much more efficient at getting reps and covering every scoring action and counter action. And it is simple because it addresses them step by step.

3) Having less than skilled or instinctual players is something we all battle with. But I am going to repeat some of the best advice i’ve ever received as a coach, “So you’re players aren’t good… Well, Coach Em Coach!”

The Princeton Offense: Helping the Role Players

The Princeton Offense will actually do MORE for your role players because it has the ability to “manufacture” shots that they cannot create on their own. So the advantage of running an offense like that versus one where you hide your role players is this. Now the defense has to stay honest and they cannot as easily target your best player with double teams and stopper defensive philosophies. I actually argue Princeton can actually “FREE” up your best player(s) rather than coup them up.

The Princeton Offense is designed to take the tension out of the game and to help even the playing field especially for the underdogs. And it might be the championship game but eventually we will all be the underdog. How will you compete to win that game?

And when you do have players, alright who wants to lace them up now!!!


By: John Wheeler


If you want to learn more about The Princeton Offense go to www.teachhoopsprinceton.com for a free training. Coach John Wheeler has 20 years experience with The Princeton Offense in both girls and boys programs and has a unique ability to simplify what is complicated and emphasizes the details of the game that elevates a players’ ability to execute under pressure.


Related: How to Break the Princeton Offense Down


Princeton Simplicity Diagram PDF



Coach Unplugged Podcast

Ep: 705 How to Breakdown and Teach the Princeton Offense

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5 Keys to Becoming a Basketball Coach and the Interview Process

5 Keys to Becoming a Basketball Coach and the Interview Process

I want to become a head coach? Here are the 5 Keys to Becoming a Basketball Coach and the Interview Process.

Becoming a Basketball Coach

Over the next month or so I’m going to do discuss getting a basketball job and the interview process, kind of things like that. Things that I’ve collected over the years for that. It doesn’t matter if you want to be a head coach of a junior high team, head coach of a high school team or NBA head coach. I think there’s some key components that you as a coach need to be able to do before you do that.

So I’m just gonna go through these. First thing I think you have to ask yourself is especially if you’re an assistant coach and want to leave, which is great. I only hire assistant coaches that want to be a head coaches.

If you want your first basketball coaching job, you have to ask yourself, where do I want to go, why do I want to go there? What can I bring to the table in that community, in that school, in that a specific basketball program? I think he had to start making a list.

My Personal Journey

I’ll tell you a personal story of mine. Before I got my first head job, I made a list. I knew about the geographic area I wanted to be in. Then I looked at every possible boys head basketball program and probably decided on 10 or 15 schools that I thought had a chance to be successful in basketball. I actually ended up on one of the schools on that list and we have won 3 state championships.

If you want to be a head basketball coach you have to take a chance. You can always change your location and look for better job. You can always look for a more supportive community or more supportive administration, whatever it is, especially if you’re in the, in the high school ranks. There’s always people looking for good coaches. If you want to be a head coach make sure to make a list and ask yourself why, where, how, when…. Why are they looking for new coach? Was the coach fired? What is the salary?


Coach Unplugged Podcast

EP: 127: 5 Keys to Getting A Basketball Coaching Job and Interview

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Summer Basketball (Avoid the Drought)

Summer Basketball (Avoid the Drought)

With the sweltering heat of the summer months on the horizon. The fear of drought can overtake even the best of teams. And only the vital summer rain can keep the fields fresh and the crops growing. Young basketball players are no different, especially freshmen. But the rain that they require to grow is in the form of experience and guidance, provided by veteran players and coaches. A drought can strike a young player or team at anytime and in many forms. Even a brief lack of focus and dedication can be huge dangers to a young crop, especially during summer basketball.

Summer Basketball

Bad habits can also be a form of drought, which can quickly spread throughout the team if not addressed early. It can be something as simple as a poor diet, or something as complex as not properly grasping an advanced scheme. These bad habits can be compared to stubborn weeds that consistently appear in a yard or garden. Pulling them up is only a temporary solution, and the only way to be rid of them completely is to destroy the source beneath the surface.

It’s also extremely important to make a list of these bad habits as soon as they pop up. Even after they’re addressed and eliminated. Writing each one down makes them far less likely to forget about. Including when, where, why, and how they occurred. Just like the famous George Santayana quote: “Those who do not remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.” In contrast, be sure to list all the good habits as well, which can just the same be easily forgotten.

Lastly, it’s also a helpful suggestion to have all players write down their individual “Max-Out” Shooting numbers (from “Spring” Blog) as they progress throughout the summer. As the preseason gets closer, it’s best to have those numbers as accurate as possible. At this point, all routines and regiments should be carved in stone. Most players are creatures of habit, and the product of every summer break should be a strict “Game Day” and “Off Day” schedule to be followed in detail for the rest of the year. And with these details established, it’s time to tip off another preseason.

Related: Summer Team Basketball Work


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Winning Basketball Teams: Attitude

Winning Basketball Teams: Attitude

I am currently reading one of the best basketball books on the market, Attitude by Jay Wright. I would highly recommend this book to any coach. In a chapter I just read, Wright talks about how real progress comes when nobody is watching. That idea is fundamental to developing a program and winning basketball attitude.

Winning Basketball Teams: Attitude

There is just not enough practice time in a given season at any level for skill development. A player truly grows through being what I call a gym rat. A gym rat is someone who lives in the gym or on the courts working on their game.

Gym Rats are continuing to decrease every year in my opinion. I feel that players have come accustomed to coaches organizing their skill time opportunities for them. As if coaches don’t set times and opportunities for players then the growth often doesn’t happen. We have now become a generation of convenience and having things done for us. I am sure if players could just purchase an App to get better they would.

At the college level, we recruit kids with high character and value hard work. Our job is often easier then coaches who coach high school or younger when it comes to skill development. For example, there were times this past summer the doors closed at midnight in our gym. I am telling you this not to brag, but to provide the results of the hard work that happened. We won our first state title in school history with having 4 all-conference players this past season.

Summer development benefits the whole team. You cannot simply win with one or two players that put up a lot points. For example, when I coached HS I had player scored 530 points in his senior season. We completed the season with only 5 wins. Why? Not enough scoring from others and easy to defend of our tactics.

Take a look at the winning teams in the last few years: Villanova, Golden State, North Carolina, Gonzaga, and even our team this season. If you view these team’s statistics, you would notice a trend of 4 to 5 players scoring in double figures every game. I believe role players still exist in some capacity and often are glue kids for a team, but coaching basketball is easy when you have multiple players that can score. It’s hard to defend and scout. Also, I think as a coach you can keep your offensive system very simple with many players that can score. You allow them to create and score on reads and reaction. We were able to complex our defense this season, which made it very difficult for other teams to compete with us.

The more commitment you get from players in the summer, especially dedication in skill development that team becomes harder to defend. Better players and deeper bench equals better practices as well. Practices become more competitive with players challenging each other for minutes. Summer development for all equals better results during season play.

Related: Winning and Losing Basketball Games


Attitude By Jay Wright

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Basketball Leadership: Show, Don’t Tell

Basketball Leadership: Show, Don’t Tell

The Legendary Clint Eastwood once said: “You can say more with your mouth closed than you can with your mouth open.” Unfortunately, in today’s society, most young people learn only how to talk about taking action, but very few learn how to actually do it. To demonstrate basketball leadership effectively, you need to show it, not just say it.

Basketball Leadership: Show, Don’t Tell

The best leaders in life, are the one’s who lead by example. And although communication is the cornerstone of every great team, the most important thing any player can do is let their actions speak while leading their teammates into battle. It’s the same thing when a player makes a mistake, and tries to atone by using phrases like: “my bad” or “my fault”.

These hollow apologies can become contagious, and eventually create a culture of excuses. The only response that should ever be accepted for making a mistake, is learning from it and correcting it as soon as possible. Especially in game situations, when uncorrected mistakes and excuses can deflate a team faster than anything else.

Players should be quick to address the cause of their mistakes, and even quicker to move on from them. A short memory and a closed mouth can restore order amidst in-game chaos faster than any excuse can. And moving on to the next positive play keeps bad possessions from turning into bad stretches, or even bad quarters.

This makes it possible for the team to maintain closer connection to their opponent more often, which increases comeback opportunities by limiting deficits. This action-based mindset is a valuable asset to any player and team, but it’s an ongoing process that begins as soon as every new player arrives to the program. The earlier it’s instilled in each player, the more it can be cultivated in every practice and eventually every game.

From Talk To Action

The steps to shifting your team from talk to action are simple.

First, implement a strict punishment policy in practice whenever a player either makes an excuse for a mistake or begins to talk too much about execution, without actually delivering. Extra running or push-ups for the whole team following each infraction is a punishment that works very well.

Second, is adding a brief stretch to each practice known as “Silent 5”, in which the entire team must be completely silent for a full 5 minute scrimmage. Any talking of any kind will result in punishment for the whole team following each infraction. This will encourage the team to rely on their actions and instincts, rather than their words.

Lastly, comes the final measuring stick for a successful shift in mindset. And that’s incorporating the concept in actual games. Punishment at that point will be decreased playing time instead of extra running or push-ups. Follow all 3 steps carefully, and repeat them each practice or game, and you’ll begin to see a solid shift in mindset.

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Related: 100’s of Leadership Work


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Summer Team Basketball Work

Summer Team Basketball Work

As we continue to address the topic of summer, I find it’s time to start talking how the improvement happens for a player in the summer. First, you have to understand that many other steps have to be in place before summer begins for the biggest improvement to happen. There is still a lot of effort that needs to be made on the coach’s part to make growth happen. Here is my pre-summer checklist, note these actions can happen right now if needed.

Summer Team Basketball Work

1. Player Evaluation with an End of Year Meeting

I believe development is at its strongest when supported and guided by coaches. Take the time to meet with your players after the season. Talk about what skills they need to work on, but also enhance the strengths that possess.

2. Schedule available times throughout the summer for players to work on their game.

Society and the game has changed so much. You hardly see players working on their games in their driveways or the local parks. Players tend to do things when organized for them. Create a calendar that players can see in the advance so they can plan with their parents on to make time for getting better.

3. Workout Resources

You need to provide workout for your players. I have developed my own and used others in the past. Please email me if you need workout resources

4. Summer Camp

When I was Varsity coach, I ran a camp early in June. During that time, I took the time to teach the players the workouts during the camp. The rest of summer, I provided gym times to do the workouts on weekly basis three times a week.

5. Less emphasis on games more dedication on getting better.

Some players will play more than 40 games in the summer if they play the AAU circuit. Players need to understand that games will only help your game in small amounts, but direct workouts of basketball skills is where development happens. You can’t be a great shooter by just playing games. It takes repetition just like any other skill in basketball.

6. Develop a culture of hard work and improvement

At my end of the season, I tried to highlight the players who improved the most from the previous season. Usually, it’s those players who committed to the summer are the ones making the gains.

For example, I had player who told me at the end of his junior season, he was going to score 1,000 points in his career. I said, “You will have score more than 500 points in one season.” We worked together to make this goal happen. He learned to create his own shot with learning how to be a rim attacker. His growth is one of many stories I share with players and parents about the importance of getting better.

Your team is only as strong as its weakest player.

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