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Cultivating Basketball Confidence in Youth Players

Cultivating Basketball Confidence in Youth Players

In the dynamic world of youth basketball coaching, nurturing not just physical skills but also mental fortitude is crucial for success on the court. One fundamental aspect that can elevate a player’s performance is confidence. In this article, we delve into the significance of confidence in sports and unveil five effective strategies for youth basketball coaches to cultivate and boost the confidence of their players.

The Importance of Confidence in Sports

Confidence is the secret ingredient that transforms good players into exceptional ones. As mentioned in the recent “Basketball Leadership Podcast,” confidence is likened to a superpower, influencing individual and team performance. When players believe in their abilities, they make bolder decisions, take calculated risks, and ultimately contribute to a positive team atmosphere.

In the competitive realm of youth basketball, instilling confidence becomes a game-changer, impacting not only skill execution but also teamwork, leadership, and overall game strategy.

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Five Ways to Build Basketball Confidence

  1. Put in the Work:
    • Emphasize quality over quantity when it comes to practice.
    • Encourage players to focus on effective, purposeful drills.
    • Teach the importance of concentrating efforts on specific skills to see tangible improvements.
  2. Think Positive Thoughts:
    • Emphasize the power of a positive mindset on and off the court.
    • Encourage players to engage in positive self-talk, dismissing negative thoughts.
    • Share examples of overcoming challenges through optimistic thinking.
  3. Prepare for Success:
    • Stress the significance of thorough preparation for individual and team scenarios.
    • Teach players to anticipate challenges and plan strategies for overcoming them.
    • Discuss the value of poise in high-pressure situations and its role in building confidence.
  4. Plan Ahead for Adversity:
    • Acknowledge that adversity is a part of sports and life.
    • Utilize in-game situations as learning opportunities for future challenges.
    • Coach players on resilience and maintaining confidence during tough moments.
  5. Play Without Fear:
    • Emphasize the importance of playing fearlessly, free from the fear of failure.
    • Foster an environment where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities.
    • Instill the belief that taking risks can lead to personal and team growth.

Conclusion: As a youth basketball coach, your role extends beyond teaching the technicalities of the game. Cultivating basketball confidence in your players is a strategic investment that pays off not only in terms of on-court success but also in the development of strong, resilient individuals. By incorporating these five strategies into your coaching approach, you empower your team to unlock their full potential, setting them on a path to success both in basketball and life. Remember, confidence is not just a skill; it’s a game-changer that can make a lasting impact on the future of your young athletes.

Related: 7 Common Mistakes New Youth Basketball Coaches Make

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20 Ways to Get Mentally Tough

20 Ways to Get Mentally Tough

As a coach, you understand that developing your players’ physical skills is only part of the equation for success on the court. The ability to navigate through challenges, overcome setbacks, and maintain focus in high-pressure situations is what sets truly exceptional athletes apart. Basketball is a sport that demands players be mentally tough. Mental fortitude shines through split-second decisions and relentless competition can push players to their limits. However, it is in these crucibles that champions are forged. Whether you’re a seasoned coach or a passionate player seeking personal growth, this comprehensive guide will equip you with 20 invaluable strategies to cultivate mental toughness and resilience.

In his book, Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Elseauthor Jon Gordon presents Twenty Ways to Get Mentally Tough. This book is a valuable resource for coaches, but here’s a look at the strategies to develop that necessary mental fortitude.

20 Ways to Get Mentally Tough

  1. When you face a setback, think of it as a defining moment that will lead to a future accomplishment.
  2. When you encounter adversity, remember, the best don’t just face adversity; they embrace it, knowing it’s not a dead end but a detour to something greater and better.
  3. When you face negative people, know that the key to life is to stay positive in the face of negativity, not in the absence of it. After all, everyone will have to overcome negativity to define themselves and create their success.
  4. When you face the naysayers, remember the people who believed in you and spoke positive words to you.
  5. When you face critics, remember to tune them out and focus only on being the best you can be.
  6. When you wake up in the morning, take a morning walk of gratitude and prayer. It will create a fertile mind ready for success.
  7. When you fear, trust. Let your faith be greater than your doubt.
  8. When you fail, find the lesson in it, and then recall a time you have succeeded.
  9. When you head into battle, visualize success.
  10. When you are thinking about the past or worrying about the future, instead focus your energy on the present moment. The now is where your power is the greatest.
  11. When you want to complain, instead identify a solution.
  12. When your own self-doubt crowds your mind, weed it and replace it with positive thoughts and positive self-talk.
  13. When you feel distracted, focus on your breathing, observe your surroundings, clear your mind, and get into the The Zone. The Zone is not a random event. It can be created.
  1. When you feel all is impossible, know that with God, all things are possible.
  2. When you feel alone, think of all the people who have helped you along the way and who love and support you now.
  3. When you feel lost, pray for guidance.
  4. When you are tired and drained, remember to never, never, never give up. Finish strong in everything you do.
  5. When you feel like you can’t do it, know that you can do all things through Him who gives you strength.
  6. When you feel like your situation is beyond your control, pray and surrender. Focus on what you can control and let go of what you can’t.
  7. When you’re in a high pressure situation and the game is on the line, and everyone is watching you, remember to smile, have fun, and enjoy it. Life is short; you only live once. You have nothing to lose. Seize the moment.


Related: 12-Week Summer Running Program


Youth Basketball Coaching Made Easy

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Basketball: Remember the Dream

Basketball: Remember the Dream

Basketball: Remember the Dream

We’ve all heard expecting parents talk proudly about the dreams they have for their child or children on the way. They’ll say things like: “My son’s gonna play for the Yankees” or “My daughter’s gonna play for UConn”. Even before a child is born, the foundation of lofty dreams and expectations are already being laid. However, there is no box labeled “Dreams” on any birth certificate. Perhaps if there was such a box, it would feature 3 choices: “Dream Big”, “Dream Small”, or “No Dream”.

Of course, life doesn’t work that way. But it would be an interesting experiment to find out how parents would answer that question. What about coaches? Would any parent or coach have a mind to select “Dream Small”, or even worse, “No Dream”? When confronted with such blunt options, it’s unlikely, but not inconceivable. In reality, it’s not so obvious. But in many ways, parents and coaches convey these negative outlooks everyday. In most cases, without even realizing.

By not creating a culture of dreaming big and chasing those dreams, we’re consequently creating an opposite culture of mediocrity, and either dreaming small or not dreaming at all.

Ironically, we’re all completely equipped at birth to dream and achieve anything. But parents rarely encourage their children to dream passed a certain age. Yes, genetics does determine our physical makeup overall, but the heart and mind are virtually an empty canvas just waiting to be painted. Unfortunately, many parents often fear the thought of handing their children that proverbial paint brush, and daring them to dream big. In looking to spare their children the pain of failure and rejection.

In actuality, can send them on a path that’s far more likely to lead to mediocrity, and often more failure and rejection than if they’d encouraged them to dream big in the first place. Disappointingly, many of these children at some point enter into athletics with this uninspired mindset. It’s the job of every coach who believes in the power of dreams, to reverse this process as soon as possible, and inspire them to dream before it’s too late.

To the player, this new concept of inspiration and the instilling of dreams, goes far beyond the game of basketball. In fact, it can often be a pivotal turning point in their lives. Many happy and successful adults can look back to one specific coach or teacher that had a huge impact on their lives. We must never forget to inspire our players to dream big from the very beginning. And remind them to remember the dream throughout their lives, both on and off the court. It’s a great responsibility, but one that provides joy and inspiration for everyone involved.

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Top 10 Basketball Movies

Top 10 Basketball Movies

As the days of summer heat up, stay cool inside and watch some classic basketball movies! Here’s my top 10 basketball movies and a few honorable mentions.

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Top 10 Basketball Movies

Honorable Mention #1: Teen Wolf (1985)

This might be a stretch, as far as basketball scenes, but I have fond memories of watching this my senior year in high school.  “A struggling high school student with problems discovers that his family has an unusual pedigree when he finds himself turning into a werewolf.”

Honorable Mention #2: Like Mike (2002)

The revolution of the Air Jordan brand helped this movie become a cult classic. “A 14-year-old orphan becomes an NBA superstar after trying on a pair of sneakers with the faded initials “M.J.” inside.”

Honorable Mention #3: Semi-Pro (2008)

I could not put Anchorman on this list so Semi-Pro had to do. “Jackie Moon, the owner-coach-player of the American Basketball Association’s Flint Michigan Tropics, rallies his teammates to make their NBA dreams come true.”

Honorable Mention #4: Blue Chip (1994)

Not sure this deserves to be on the list but it shows the corruption of college basketball. “A college basketball coach is forced to break the rules in order to get the players he needs to stay competitive.”

#10 Love and Basketball (2000)

I had to list one romantic, date night movie. “In 1981 in L.A., Monica moves in next door to Quincy. They’re 11, and both want to play in the NBA, just like Quincy’s dad.”

#9 The Fish that Saved Pittsburg​h (1979)

A cult classic that everyone should watch at least once, not to mention it has a young Julius Irving! “The Pittsburgh basketball team is hopeless. Maybe with the aid of an astrologer, and some new astrologically compatible players, they can become winners.”

#8 White Men Can’t Jump (1992) 

A movie that is referenced a lot in mainstream media.  “Two basketball hustlers join forces to double their chances.”

#7 He Got Game (1998) 

A great movie showing the pressure of family and basketball in today’s society. “A basketball player’s father must try to convince him to go to a college so he can get a shorter sentence.”

#6 Fast Break (1979 for us old people)

Another favorite movie from my childhood.  “David Greene is a New York basketball enthusiast, who wants to coach. He is then offered the coaching job at a small Nevada college. He brings along some players, who are a bit odd.”

#5 Glory Road (2006)

A historic story that changed our game forever. “In 1966, Texas Western coach Don Haskins led the first all-black starting line-up for a college basketball team to the NCAA national championship.”

#4 Hoop Dreams (1994)

The only documentary on the list and one of my all-time favorites. “A film following the lives of two inner-city Chicago boys who struggle to become college basketball players on the road to going professional.”

#3 Coach Carter (2005) 

A story of a coach who puts the game in perspective.  “Controversy surrounds high school basketball coach Ken Carter after he benches his entire team for breaking their academic contract with him.”

#2 Space Jam (1996) 

I love this movie and thought it was a great twist of live action from Michael Jordan, one of my favorite players, and cartoons. “Michael Jordan agrees to help the Looney Toons play a basketball game vs. alien slavers to determine their freedom.”

#1 Hoosiers (1986)

This movie gives every high school player a dream of winning it big.  I remember the day I watched this movie for the first time as a freshman in college.  I wanted to live that dream and did it with 3 state titles!  “A coach with a checkered past and a local drunk train a small town high school basketball team to become a top contender for the championship.”

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Winter Sports in High Schools around the US and World

Winter Sports in High Schools around the US and World

This is the Information we have received from coaches   It is quoted from specific coaches and if something is in-correct please email me at or reach out via social media (Twitter: @coachcollinsjmm; Facebook group–coaching basketball Click here)


The Alabama High School Athletic Association has approved its Return to Play “Best Practices” guidelines for winter sports


starts January 11 (it appears) and will end in late March. Not sure yet on fans and the use of masks may or may not be in play for athletes!


Practice for winter season sports had begun on Nov. 9 for the counties, districts and schools that met metrics to allow for a permissible start, the AIA said. Those schools can continue to practice until further notice, the AIA said.

With surging COVID-19 metrics again hitting the state, Arizona Interscholastic Association Executive Director David Hines recommended to the Executive Board on Monday that high school winter sports competition be delayed until sometime in January.


Limited spectators, no in season tournaments, if a conference game is missed due to COVID reasons and can’t be made up the game isn’t counted/penalized, for either school. Conferences have choice on a district tournament and how it’ll be played, our conference will probably travel to the higher seeded team.


Dates shifted, yes, but sports are also played at a different time. For example, boys volleyball is usually a spring sport, but it has moved to the same time as girls volleyball during the “fall sports” that will begin mid December through mid February. Girls tennis is usually a fall sport and it is moved back to the “spring sports” at the same time as boys tennis beginning at the end of February through early May.

They have shifted from 3 seasons (fall, winter, spring) down to 2. So there are a lot of sports happening at the same time that do not share seasons. Makes it difficult for multi sport athletes that have 2 of their favorite sports happening at the same time. Basketball and baseball/softball as an example.

The state of California has always had an 18 hour rule during the week. Games/meets/matches count as 3 hours towards that number, even if a cross country meet only takes 20 minutes, it counts for 3 hours. Plus the practice time during the week. If you play one sport a season, that is very reasonable. There will be more people trying to play 2 sports at the same time instead of making a tough decision. That 18 hour rule will be pushed big time in that case. In addition, the 18 hour rule also states you cannot double up on sports on back to back days.

Delayed Start until March


Season moved back to start January. Shortened season (14 games). As of right now, play with masks, no spectators


postponed at the moment after a spike. Prior was playing a shortened season and area teams.  CT has announced we are postponed until January 19.


Have not found much looks like they are playing


is playing every county is different tho. My county (orange) is doing covid testing every few weeks. And we have several in game changes when it comes to covid. Like no jump ball to start game, sanitized ball every timeout, come to game in uniform, etc.  Fl is county to county even though you don’t have them as missing. Most counties are pretty normal. Ours unfortunately is not 1 of those. We can only play in county. We could play a tourney vs out of county teams though as long as the games were at a private school in our county.


is Playing


Hawaii has  a tentative date of Jan 4….. we still have no protocol or policy


Is Playing


As of now, Illinois is leaving it up to the local school districts. The governor wanted it moved till spring but the IHSA is not following that guidance. Illinois is currently in limbo (at least my school is). Governor and IDPH both have said basketball is high risk and the season is postponed. IHSA has said the season will commence on schedule. Some have opted out, some are saying they’ll play.  Illinois – Health Department says NO to basketball. IHSA- sports association says we are going to ignore you and play. Most schools have announced they will not play due to insurance liability issues. Insurance companies cannot support a school knowingly going against expert health advice.
IHSA sent a survey to delay the season. They meet on 11/11/20 to discuss. Practices scheduled to start next Monday 11/16. Very few schools have committed to participate.


Playing. Coaches wearing masks, limited tickets for family pending on school, players are playing on (no masks) at the middle school level in


We are currently as normal. Some conferences are limiting fans but as far as the top goes they have only submitted recommendations.


Here is KS, we have some limitations on crowd size depending on the school (most everything is decided local) and we are not having jump balls this year to start the game, instead visiting team will start with a side out.


Kentucky High School Athletic Association votes to delay hoops, other winter sports until Jan. 4


Seem be to playing/ No masks for players


Under the announced schedule, teams in all winter sports except for wrestling may conduct “skills and drills” practices beginning Dec. 7, with more formal preseason practices and intrasquad scrimmages scheduled to start Dec. 14.


MPSSAA in MD granted permission to begin winter sports as early as Dec 7. (First day of tryouts. MD requires 20 days of practice before competition.) However Anne Arundel County where I am just suspended indefinitely all indoor and outdoor workouts, practices and training due to a surge in cases locally. Dev 7 is now up in the air. The original plan a month ago was a 2nd semester winter sports season starting in early February.


MA… still being negotiated. Youth basketball not happening as of now.


I’m in Michigan and our players have to wear masks at all times, even while playing. Coaches, fans, and refs will be masked too. No more than 2 spectators per player/coach, no locker room use for practice, no jump balls for games. Michigan is playing but has instituted a ton of restrictions/rules. Refs can’t the ball. No jump ball. Coin flip if game goes into OT. Have to play with masks on. Etc.


18 games instead of 26 for the regular season. Section play offs, the state tournament is undetermined as yet. Two family members per player can attend. This could change as COVID-19 numbers are rising.


Seems to be playing


Missouri is playing and pretty much like nothing happened. Looking like our bench is going to be 6 feet away from each other


Delayed start of 1 month. Reduced spectators based on county health recommendations. Games start Jan 2


Nebraska currently: 25% capacity, limited to house hold members only effective till Nov 30. Masks worn by all except those on floor. No pregame or post game hand shakes. Masks on bus rides. Athletes responsible for their own water bottle during games.


Do not seem to be playing

New Hampshire 

A tentative start to competition is set for Jan. 11, 2021.

New Jersey

As of now NJ is playing. Shortened season. Players are supposed to wear face covering while on bench. Not sure how that will work/be addressed. No fans at all. NJ: 14 regular season games. 1 scrimmage. Down from 25ish and 4. Home and Home with the same opponent each week. Limited state playoffs.

New Mexico

NM no sports at all happening In The state. New Mexico tentative start date Jan. 4th 2021 with 18 game schedule

New York 

We have confirmed with state officials that low & moderate risk winter sports may begin play on Nov. 30. We continue to examine opportunities for high-risk sports to be played with strict risk minimization efforts in place. At this time, high-risk sports are not authorized. New York recently got moved to January 4th

North Carolina

North Dakota is playing a full season at this point. Masks during games and practices just came down for volleyball so I expect it is coming for winter sports. We have been doing open gyms with masks.

North Dakota

Winter High School Sports & Activities Suspended in North Dakota Until December 14


The Ohio High School Athletic Association reaffirmed its plans Wednesday to move ahead with winter sports as scheduled, notifying athletic directors across the state while providing results of a recent survey.


Is playing.   Oklahoma we put signs up to wear masks, and social distance but games are packed like sardines and no masks. Game un changed


winter seasons slated with our athletic association, OSAA, to start December 28th with a short 7-week season. However our governor says no full contact sports which basketball has been designated, until OR phase 3 which is a long ways off… a reliable COVID treatment or vaccine is required. Oregon reduced games from 24 to 14. Season from 14 weeks to 9. Pushed start back by 6 weeks.


PA is starting basketball on time on Nov 20 with full schedules planned.  Many schools are starting to shut down

Rhode Island

Season shortened from 17 to 10 games then playoffs.
Possibly Varsity only no JV , Max roster 15 but only 12 dress for games. Games played on Saturdays. 2 spectators per player no student fans. All players will wear masks even while playing

All subject to change

South Carolina

limit number of fans … follow protocols as far as distance on bench, players/coaches wear mask while on bench… HSL has recommended playing same opponent back to back (Tues/Fri), tournaments pretty much have been canceled… recommending coming dressed to games, limit use of locker rooms.. have several basketballs for use during games…

South Dakota

South Dakota is starting as normal. Fan limits are on school to school basis.




Game limit of 27, no tournaments. Only one game allowed during school week. —-Nov 10 Texas, 1st game today, must wear a mask while playing and on the bench. No fans allowed in the gym


Gov tonight declares a state of emergency effective tomorrow due to rising Covid cases and limited hospital space. Late-night order includes a statewide mask mandate and orders people to restrict casual social gatherings to family only. No youth or high school sports


A tentative start to competition is set for Jan. 11, 2021. Vermont, practice start 11/30, games begin 1/11/21. Right now no spectators.


At this point VA is starting winter sports on Dec. 7th with a condensed season and championship bracket.  For public schools, high schools are slated to start practicing in a couple of weeks, cutting season by about 25% of games, no spectators in the gym. I’m a middle school coach, and we are not slated to start practicing until January, have cut about 20% of the games, and only 1 parent per kid in the gym (no siblings)


No fall sports in WA State; we are supposed to start basketball on 12/28/20. Currently practicing; only 5 players and 1 coach per practice.

West Virginia

Gov. Jim Justice issued an executive order on Friday morning that the high school winter sports season will postponed until Jan. 11 at the earliest.


Dane County is not playing. The WIAA is going on with a season….Yes we are doing wrestling and winter sports when our state is on fire.  Our State Association has done NOTHING to push for a later start or second season.


The WHSAA has not pushed back the start date for any winter sports


Countries around the World

Japan. Back to Normal

Ontario, Canada (a province, not a state) is currently not playing winter sports

In Italy all youth basketball is suspended. Only the first two male and female championship are playing

England is in a lockdown until early December so just about all competitive matches put back to a January 2021 start.

Sydney, Australia – we have been playing since July (on and off). No masks but at times no spectators. All change rooms are closed so you need to turn up in your gear. Players must sanitise hands as they sub in and out as well as out of timeouts and breaks between quarters/halves. Now each player is allowed one spectator to any indoor sport but spectators must remain socially distanced. Seems to have worked well so far.

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Life is a series of moments. Each uniquely unfolding every second for all who walk this earth. Good or bad, each and every moment is a miracle, as well as an opportunity to be our best or worst. The number of these moments we’ll receive in a lifetime remains forever unknown to us in the land of the living. Only after we’re gone will this exact number be revealed. A painful epiphany, often occurring just seconds after another pivotal moment of truth in our lives has come and gone. Moments that most of us so often take for granted. In these pivotal and powerful moments, life presents us with 3 simple questions: Will you take the risk?, will you play it safe?, or will you freeze?

Our decision is often based on a choice between listening to our mind or listening to our heart. Ironically, the assurance that comes with deciding to play it safe, does not always assure a safe outcome. In fact, taking the risk in any given moment is often safer than not taking it. Risk provides the potential increased reward to further separate us from harm or danger. This separation is one of the great differentiators between every person, place, thing and idea on this earth. Any one person being healthier, wealthier, or happier than the next, is often a direct result of the risks they’re willing or not willing to take.

Basketball Game of Risks Example

A perfect sports example would be playing conservative for an entire game against a superior team, in hopes of keeping the score as close as possible. This approach often leads to a more competitive defeat, but a defeat nonetheless. In actuality, a more aggressive or risky approach would be far more likely to produce a victory, with the only drawback being a potentially larger margin of defeat. If playing it safe leads mostly to losing anyway, regardless of how close the score is. Then why not take the risk of being more aggressive.

William Wallace, the legendary Scotsman, better known as “Braveheart”, faced many pivotal moments of truth throughout his life. He and his fellow freedom warriors were especially confronted on a particular battlefield, which would become the site of a miraculous shift in spirit and fearlessness going forward for Wallace and his warriors. That great shift was given life by these powerful words from Wallace himself:

Fight, and you may die. Run, and you’ll live. At least awhile. And dying in your beds, many years from now. Would you be willing, to trade all the days from this day to that? For one chance, just one chance!, to come back here and tell our enemies, that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!

The most powerful moments of any risk taken or not taken, are not the moments unfolding in the present. The most powerful moments are the ones that follow immediately after, and on into the future, for the rest of your life. Ask yourself. Ask your players. Did you take the risk?, did you play it safe?, or did you freeze? And since no one is promised tomorrow. What about today?

Previous: GAME OF RISKS ( PART 1)

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Jim Kramer, the famous stock analyst, advises his viewers to take risks based largely on their age. He feels that the younger an investor is, the higher their risk/reward profile should be. The logic being that younger investors have far more time to recover from high risk losses, which allows them to be more aggressive in pursuing their financial goals. Compared to older investors, who have far less time to recover from high risk losses, and therefore often take a much more conservative approach. This concept proves true with young athletes as well, who should always be more aggressive in chasing their athletic goals.

Basketball Game of Risks

Increased competition level is a great place to start. Most young ballplayers tend to play equal or lesser competition, in comparison to their skill level. Often due to fear of failure or physical punishment, many young ballplayers are not willing to take the risk of playing bigger and better competition. When in fact, this is exactly the time in their lives when they should be taking that risk. Players of all ages should always play up in competition whenever possible, never equal or down. That’s the best way to test their physical and mental limitations both on and off the court. Specifically, when young players become accustomed to playing up in competition. They often not only increase their skill level and toughness, but increase their confidence as well, leading to loftier goals and expectations.

Another great opportunity for high risk/reward potential is increased level of personal play. Young players often have a tendency to limit themselves in the way they approach and play the game. These limitations can reveal themselves in many ways. Usually in the form of timid execution, such as passing up open shots on the offensive end, or failing to aggressively engage on the defensive end. Unless addressed and corrected, this timid approach will only get worse in time. Eventually, it can even become part of their lives off the court, such as in the classroom and in social situations.

The best remedy is repetition. Confidently encourage your players to step out of their comfort zones on a regular basis, regardless of the results. The more they become comfortable with an aggressive mindset, the more likely they are to become comfortable executing aggressively as well. These are just a few suggestions, but the bottom line is that young players need to take more athletic risks while they’re still young. If they continuously make the mistake of waiting until they’re physically or mentally ready. It will almost always be too late. Encourage your players today to embrace being young and being bold.


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Basketball Triple Overtime (Part 3)

Basketball Triple Overtime (Part 3)

The objective should always be to win in regulation. Too many outside factors can determine the outcome of the game in overtime. Factors such as foul trouble become increasingly crucial. This means the refs will have a much larger impact on the outcome of the game. Fatigue also becomes a major factor, specifically when it comes to game schedule. Game location, too, which even in basketball can have a substantial impact on the game.

Some of these factors include elevation and temperature, which can affect both the team and playing conditions, such as breathing issues and dangerous floor condensation. Overtime also allows for the further risk of injury, both in the current game and in the games to follow.

More Basketball Triple Overtime Factors

Another factor to consider when contemplating settling for overtime, is carry-over. The same explosive factor discussed in the “2 Sides 2 Every Blowout” blog. Game 1 of this year’s NBA Finals is perfect example of that. The positive and negative carry-over of an overtime game is so much more powerful and future altering than a regulation game, especially in the playoffs.

In game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the biggest underdogs in Finals history, and yet they dominated regulation. They put themselves within 1 possession of pulling off the huge road upset, but casually squandered the final seconds with a gigantic miss from both the free throw line and the floor. This was followed by an inexcusable mental blunder, to finish regulation, and doom them to overtime.

As most of us know, overtime was a disaster for the Cavaliers, and I believe produced a negative carry-over so powerful, that regaining their confidence going forward was virtually impossible. That would end up being the case, and further solidify the point that almost any risk is worth taking in regulation, in order to avoid overtime. With the lone exception being a comeback situation where the only mathematical path to victory is forcing overtime. The Warriors proved that in the exact same 2018 NBA Finals Game 1 example, after trailing for most of the game, but finding a way to sneak in to overtime. The rest is history.

In conclusion, it should be abundantly clear that overtime is in no way a desirable destination for any team involved in the final minute of a tie game, or in possession of the ball in a tie game at the end of regulation. In fact, it’s where most regulation dominated performances go to die. As entertaining as overtime is to fans because of the fireworks it so often provides. Why not provide some winning fireworks at the end of regulation instead, and send everybody home happy. Everybody, that is, except your opponent.

Related: Basketball End of Game Situations

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Basketball Triple Overtime (Part 2)

Basketball Triple Overtime (Part 2)

As the last of the final minute plays out, the beginning of the final possession is the perfect opportunity to catch your opponent off guard. You want to get out on the break as quickly as possible. Make sure there’s at least 10 seconds left on the game clock. Anything less would most likely not allow enough time to rebound a miss, or recover from an unsuccessful fastbreak, which usually takes an average of 3 to 4 seconds to unfold.

The shot clock must either be in sync with the game clock or turned off. Your opponent will often assume that you’re going to call an immediate timeout if one’s available. Regardless of how the possession is obtained, this assumption provides a great chance to quickly advance the ball while your opponent may simply be waiting for the whistle to blow.

Triple Overtime Strategy

This strategy not only opens the door for a potential game-winning fastbreak opportunity, but also for some possible trickery in the process. Having your players casually approach the bench for what looks to be a timeout being called. If your opponent appears to accept that a timeout has actually been called, it can often provide a virtually uncontested path for a deep leak-out, full court pass and layup. It seems quite risky, but is surprisingly safe. That is, as long each player knows not to initiate the play if the defense doesn’t take the bait. The contingency plan would be to simply call an actual timeout, and not allow the defense any clues to what was in the works. This will preserve the play for the future.

When all strategies for the final minute and the final possession have been either analyzed or applied. If the game is still tied, you still have the ball, and there’s still time left on the clock. The final shot is all that matters now. However, taking the final shot at the buzzer will not give you the best chance to win the game. It will only give you the best chance to go to overtime.

The best chance to win the game comes when you shoot the final shot several seconds before the buzzer. Preferably something in the paint, or at least inside the 3 point line. Far too many regulation tie games go to overtime because the team with the ball let the clock run down too far. They had to settle for a 3 point attempt at the buzzer. Instead of purposely letting the clock run down, use every single second of the clock to get as deep in the paint as possible.

Take the final attempt with several seconds to spare, which allows for the possibility of a quick put-back, or more. Sometimes it’s not the best drawn up play that works, but the one right after. So every time a team holds for the final shot, they automatically eliminate the chance of the one right after.


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Basketball Triple Overtime (Part 1)

Basketball Triple Overtime (Part 1)

It’s late in the 4th quarter, the shot clock is turned off, the game is tied, and your team has the ball. We’ve all been there before, as either a coach, player, or both. Standard operating procedure is usually to call an immediate time out if available. This can happen after a rebound or a turnover. This is usually the moment when many coaches exhale with the comfort that overtime is the worst possible outcome, barring any disastrous miscues. Unfortunately, this standard operating procedure that so many coaches lean on. This quite often leads to the same standard operating results that so many coaches regretfully look back on.

Triple Overtime

This misplaced trust in the safety of overtime can usually be traced back to three crucial parts of the end of regulation. The final minute, the final possession, and the final play. The team that consistently makes the most of these 3 parts will always have the best opportunity to win in regulation and avoid overtime (and especially triple overtime). First, it’s important to ignore the general notion that a tie game in the final minute is a time to be conservative. In actuality, it’s the perfect time to be aggressive. Because it comes with the guarantee that any failed offensive possession. At worst, it can only result in a 3 point maximum deficit on the other end. That’s excluding the rare exception of giving up a 4 point play.

With this in mind, the smartest way to apply aggression in the final minute, is to attack the basket. This eliminates the pressure of having to connect from outside in such a hostile shooting environment. It also potentially places your opponent in serious foul trouble and provide the opportunity for making the possible game winning free-throws. Bottom line, the final minute of any tie game is a time to be aggressive an. Avoid overtime at all costs. In fact, the final minute of regulation should always be approached as if overtime is not an option.


If a win or a tie were the only two possible outcomes, then most teams would be much more aggressive in the final minute of regulation. Especially at the end of the regular season, when many teams are fighting for every possible victory to make the playoffs. Ironically, most of those teams would not be in that position if they played that aggressive in the final minute of every game. It’s all about having the proper perspective for the current moment. Because many coaches and players instead have the “next” mentality. They’ll say things like this. “We’ll get it next play,” “next quarter”, or “next game.” Although attempting to be positive, this way of thinking doesn’t put enough emphasis on the current moment. In basketball and in life, that’s the only moment that should ever matter.


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Lessons Learned From The 2018 NBA Playoffs

Lessons Learned From The 2018 NBA Playoffs

“Lessons Learned From The 2018 NBA Playoffs”

*S.E.O. Words: Intensity, Desperation, Motivation

Year after year, the NBA Playoffs offer us all a front row seat to the game of basketball being played at it’s highest level. However, even the top seeded teams can often fall short of that level when it comes to playing with maximum effort. In any given game, most NBA Teams can be trusted to play their hardest, but in a “best of 7” series, there are far more opportunities for human nature to sink in. Following a loss, the most common NBA Playoff Team adjustment is usually not schematic, but simply to play with more energy and determination.

Coaches have used several different buzz words over the years to describe either how an abundance of effort led to victory, or how a lack of effort led to defeat. In the past, the most frequently used buzz word was “desperation”, which has graced the narrative of many post-game press conferences and off-day interviews. However, in 2018, the new buzz word appears to be “force”, which ironically has been used most by Head Coach Steve Kerr of the Defending Champion Golden State Warriors. Regardless of whether “desperation” or “force” best describes maximum effort. What’s most important is why it alludes a team to begin with, and how to get it back when it does.

Overconfidence is the most common contributing factor, and also the most damaging. Overlooking any opponent brings about consequences that often cannot be reversed. Coaches of all levels can learn a valuable lesson from this years NCAA Tournament, in which a #16 seed beat a #1 seed for the first time ever. The concept of “rest vs rust” is also a major factor, when a team is affected by having either too much rest, or not enough. Lastly, is a lack of 3-dimensional preparation. Most preparation is based on 1-D and 2-D tendencies, such as preparing for an opponent that plays fast, or tries to dominate the paint. An example of 3-D preparation would be discovering that your opponent has a hidden motivation, such as a team member dealing with a tragedy, or perhaps a hidden revenge angle. That hidden motivation could make this game extra emotional for them, causing them to play with maximum effort and increased intensity. That could be huge problem if you as a coach are unaware of it, and your players enter the game at only a standard motivation level. Bottom line, there are infinite reasons why a team can lack effort in any game, at anytime, at any level. These are just a few details to keep an eye on.


Summer Basketball : Building a Basketball Program

Summer Basketball : Building a Basketball Program

First, I want to say thank you to Coach Collins for asking me to do this Blog for Teach Hoops.  Two things you need to know about me is that I am not all knowing, and I am always learning how to better myself as a coach.


Right now at the college, we are just kinda at a wait and see period for some recruits with an attempt to find that gem that went under recruited by the 4 year schools.  Yes, I am assistant at junior college in Wisconsin, but before that I coached 5 years as a varsity boys coach and I almost coached every level below that since my coaching journey started in 2005.  As I sit typing my Blog in the sun over Memorial Day Weekend, I ponder the question….why are coaches so busy in the summer?


First, I think it’s important to know that all coaches are not busy in the off-season.  For example, I consider myself as a college coach to have a lot of free time. But, my position is much different from when I coached Varsity Boys Basketball at the high school level.  My current summer commitments reside in help running two youth camps and support supervision for open gyms. But, I know how much work consist in the summer for High School coaches in the summer.  And in reality without summer, I think it would be impossible for coaches to function without it. Summer is a time for development, trial and error, and logistics. Here is a list of items I have done in one summer as a head coach.



  1. Coach summer league games

  2. Support and watch JV summer league games

  3. Open and supervise skill sessions 3-4 times per week

  4. Plan and Run 3 different youth basketball camps

  5. Watch and review 8 different basketball coaching dvds

  6. Organize and host summer fundraiser

  7. Attend overnight summer tournament with players

  8. Coach summer tournament at a local high school

  9. Plan fall fundraiser

  10. Complete practice schedule for HS program

  11. Weekly open gym

  12. Plan out special game nights for the season: Goldout, Parents’ night, Throwback Night, and etc

  13. Rank and evaluate talent for the upcoming season

  14. Plan and meet with youth program board monthly to plan for fall registration, budget, and other agenda items

  15. Facilitate 10,000 Shot Club

  16. Host HS Summer Camp

  17. Diagram and review old sets for all situations

  18. Try and tweak new sets, defenses, offenses with team opportunities

  19. Meet with High School staff weekly

  20. Plan and organize online shoe and apparel stores for upcoming season


Wow!   I forget how much I did in the summer for preparation for the upcoming season.  The question you really asking is why? Winning is hard work, and frankly my tenure at my previous job  had only small moments of success. I worked harder than most of my players. Personally, I saw more growth in the youth program with future players coming up the ranks in next the 5 years.  But, building a program takes time and making the right decisions through the journey. The worst decision I made was not facilitating the workload to others to provide more time for my own team.  My advice to young coaches is create a pipeline of people to work under you. Build and maintain positive relationships with other coaches, parents, and community members to support building your program.  Your support system comes down to finding individuals that believe in your program and our invested in the program not their child. Again, the process takes time to build a program, which you have to be careful about picking the right job.  That is something I can address in a later Blog.


Summer is a period of time for coaches to eliminate clutter during the season.  It’s impossible to do the items above plus coach your team during the season. It would be overload.  I feel the many of items on my list provide clarity and direction for the season to come. You can learn about your players and how they respond to certain offense and defensive schemes.  The regular season has not enough for trial and error and building your identity. 10 practices and your competing in your first game.

Finally, coaching isn’t a full-time job that pays the bills unless you make it to the big time.  I currently still teach 5th grade and coach other sports as well. Without using summer, I believe no one could function during the regular season, unless your single and retired.  Please email with questions regarding my blog at



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Why my son IS playing AAU Basketball

Why my son IS playing AAU Basketball

This is one of many letters I received about the video and podcast I did concerning my son not playing AAU and summer basketball.  I thought I would share



Appreciate your views on this and agree with much of it.  However a few observations:

I train my son  and his skill development has exploded in the last few years.  But, as you know, there are tons of kids who can “kill a drill” but can’t perform when there’s 10 guys on the court.  When you have defensive pressure and lots of decision-making in a game situation, those skills can all of a sudden look a lot different.  You just can’t simulate that environment in the quiet of a gym while developing skills.  I know every good trainer tries to develop an athlete’s skills while doing “game-like” drills.  But it is just not the same.  Actual “games” must be played and it’s becoming really hard to find them outside of the AAU tourney scene.

In AAU ball, my son has learned “toughness” that he never had before, and would have never developed, in a training session in any kind of drill.  There’s a clock, there’s a scoreboard, there’s fans, there’s referees, and there’s personal “pride” at stake.  When he was getting beat up in an AAU game, he either had to fight back or get crushed.  He chose to fight back and it has served him so well.  He hasn’t turned into an aggressive maniac, but acquired just the right amount of toughness and aggressive mentality that will enable him to play high school basketball.  I guarantee he would not be in the same place at this moment without AAU basketball.  (He’ll never be a college recruit, but he setting himself up to have a ton of fun playing HS basketball.)

It’s really difficult to supplement skills training with “games” without having a place to actually play games.  You and I know there aren’t a lot of parks or gyms that young athletes use to play meaningful “pickup” games that aren’t tied to their schools.  We’ve tried playing in the local clubs and the games are mostly garbage for development purposes.  Please don’t take this personally, but being a father who is a head coach gives your son access to a gym and I’m only assuming a place where players can get together to play decent pickup games (if WIAA allows, which I believe it does) during the summer.  Not everyone has that.

I do agree that AAU travel is ridiculous.  I myself coach a boys AAU team  and my HS daughter plays AAU and I see that the competition 1 hour away is not substantially different than competition 4+ hours away.  I also agree it’s way more games in a weekend than necessary.  But of course, the tournaments are making money and they aren’t going to set up tournaments where you only play 2-3 games — which in my opinion would be plenty to supplement skill development.

AAU is ridiculous for kids under 12 years of age (and maybe that’s too young).  The most physically mature kids dominate and nothing real productive gets done an AAU format for those young kids.  But parents are feeling good that their kid “played AAU”.

I assume the birth of AAU must have been to get the very best players exposure for college.  And it probably then trickled down to younger and younger age groups.

Bottom line — I think there’s value in AAU but I think it’s overhyped.  At the same time, in order to become a better basketball player, it takes more than reps in the gym.  Those skills have to be tested in a game format.  I played DI college baseball and there was plenty of guys who hit .300+ in “batting practice” but in a game, for some it was a completely different story.  It’s all a “balance” (skills practice + games) which I know is what your message is all about.

Thanks for making your video and providing quality content on !!!


Concerned Father