Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Visualization might sound like some type of new-age junk, but I'm really convinced that it works.
When I was a varsity coach in South Tama, we always played better. We did it a lot at Como Park with the JV as well and I felt that we played well doing it. Visualization is kind of like driving however, you can't just get behind the wheel and go. There are some things you need to know for visualization to work. Below are some thoughts and ideas that will help you teach your players to visualize effectively.

1. Have them visualize process, not results.
   -Some coaches have players visualize winning a game, but why?
    What good does it do to visualize something they can't directly
   -You should have them visualize themselves DOING things
     to help them win the game, making shots, making good
     passes, etc.

2. Have them visualize good starts to the game.
   -Players have a lot of anxiety at the start of a game. As
    coaches you can use visualization to relieve some of
    that anxiety.
   -Have them visualize being calm on the tip, the tip
    happening and several good trips up and down.
   -Have them include simple things like making clean
    catches, making a shot, defense, etc.

3. Use visualization with skill development.
    -Great for skill development is to show them a skill
     have them practice it, then have them visualize how
     they should be doing it, then have them practice
     it again.
    -Visualizing things when they are laying in bed
      at night or sitting on the couch is great too!

4. Have them visualize a situation they struggle with
    and have them visualize it happening right.

5. When they screw up, have them visualize the situation
    where they make the correct decision.
    -If it's in practice, then have them repeat the situation.

Here is a great video from Josh Medcalf on visualization that has a lot of the same points as above.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rule of Ten

I was lucky enough to sit down today and talk hoops with coach John Hedstrom. It was a great conversation and I learned a lot. I reached out to Coach Hedstrom because I was interested in how he runs dribble drive motion. I got some great dribble drive stuff, but also got a lot of great coaching nuggets in general. The most important thing I may have gotten was his "Rule of 10", I rule which I will be using this year.

Coach Hedstrom's Rule of 10 is simple yet powerful. He expects every player in practice to say ten positive things to a teammate during practice. Imagine that, you have 12 players on a team. Each one says ten positive things, that's 120 positive comments during the course of a practice. What do you think THAT would do for team morale? I don't think it could hurt.

This is something I am excited to try this year and I believe it will have positive results.

Friday, March 21, 2014

What I Learned from Coach Errickson

Well, it's been WAY to long since my last post. But that's what happens during the season. Just not enough time in the day to teach, coach, update this etc. But plan on more updates coming now that the high school season has ended and am not doing AAU this year! I'm going to miss coaching AAU because I had a blast last year, but I am also glad that I have some down time to focus on LEARNING the game better. I just want to improve every year.

This year I was lucky enough to be the sophomore coach at Tartan High School under Coach Mark Klingsporn who's a coaching legend here. I learned a ton of stuff from him this year, and those nuggets will be coming in blogs down the road. For my return to the blog, however, I wanted to write some thoughts about what I learned from my assistant coach Art Errickson this season. The fact that Coach Errickson even came to be my assistant is crazy. The guy was a head varsity coach last year and also coached at the college level. He has a high level of knowledge and was way over qualified to help me. We didn't always agree on everything, but having him around definitely made me a much better coach. Below are some important things I learned from him:

1. Shot Selection is Key
    -Everyone says this, but Coach Errickson charted it and constantly preached it
     in games and practice.
    -He charted it in games and used it at half time to reinforce our offensive goals.
    -Reinforced it in practice by making shot selection a rule in our SSGs.
    -Helped us do a great job of getting all our shots either in the paint or kick out threes.
     By the end of the year it was ridiculous.

2. Stats are Powerful Motivators
    -Coach Errickson was good enough to take stats on the bench and use those stats to
     educate our players.
    -Monitored shot selection and used statistics to really help sell our players on the
     "Three or Key" mentality. We had a very good 3pt/FG ratio because of his
     constant use of stats to teach our players. Without the stats our players wouldn't
     have been nearly as good in their shot selection.

3. If you think you are playing enough games in practice, you are wrong.
   -I've always been a fan of small sided games in practice, but Coach Errickson helped
    me take that to the next level.
   -Greatly improved on defense and offense because of the way we used SSGs.
   -Showed me even MORE ways to modify and change SSGs.
   -Also put me onto a "ball clock" that limited how long players could hold
    the ball in practice.

4. I need to run more sets.
    -I don't run enough sets. Luckily coach Errickson showed me some good
     stuff, unfortunately I didn't run it enough.

5. It's vital to check your emotions at times as a coach.
    -I'm an emotional coach and it was great to have a guy with a Sports Psyc Masters
     to remind me to keep my head.

I could go on with several more things, but these are five of the biggest things that I got out of my experience with coach Errickson. I was blessed to have him and couldn't have been luckier!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Best of MBCA Clinic - Part 1

After a month of, trying to get back at it. Had this post in the hopper since the 2nd of Nov. when we had the clinic.

The previous two days for me have been spent at the Minnesota Coaches Association Clinic in Minneapolis. It was a great event, as usual, and I picked up a lot of great information. The speakers where Fred Hoiberg (ISU), Chad Walthall (MN State Moorhead), Steve Bergman (Iowa City West HS), Steve Collins (Madison Memorial HS, WI), Dave Thorson (DeLaSalle High School, MN), and Mike Dunlap (Former Bobcats, St. John's, Metro State), and Richard Pitino (U of M). So overall it was a great clinic lineup. I was very pleased with the number of high school coaches in attendance because I feel that while watching the big boys (college and NBA) is fun, and there are some great things, many things they talk about are not applicable to you in your situation as a high school coach. For example, Coach Pitino talked about pressing and how he recruits a certain kid. Sorry, at the high school level I can't recruit that certain kid - I get what I get! At these clinics it's about getting all the good ideas and using the ones that fit your system anyway, but I would much rather hear from high school guys who are in the same boat I am. With that said, below is the first installment of great things I picked up from the clinic. 

1. Important Statistics that Win
Those of you know know me, know I love statistics (which is funny for how bad I am at math). But a few different coaches brought up some good statistical points over the weekend. 
      -Coach Walthall talked about the 4 things that impact point differential, which is similar
        to Dean Oliver's
        "Four Factors". 
                        1. True FG%
                        2.  FT Attempts (not always makes)
                        3. Total Rebound %
                        4. Turnovers

     -Have to get 3 of 4 in order to assure victory.

2. Math Behind Why You Should Run the Fast Break
Steve Collins, head coach at Madison Memorial HS (WI) talked about some statistics associated with good transition teams and why teams need to run. These statistics come from what he's calculated with his teams and they make sense. Scoring in the break is likely more efficient.
     *Points Per Possession
          -Transition Offense: 1.05 ppg.
          -Half Court Offense: .83 ppg
     *Turn Over %
          -Transition: 14.2% of possessions end in turnovers.
          -Half Court Offense: 17.2% of possessions end in turnovers.
     *Field Goal %
          -Transition: 57.7%
          -Half Court Offense: 44.5%

3. Style of Play
Almost every presenter at the clinic said something about establishing your style of play and having that style of play show up in how you think about practice.

4. Steve Bergman Dominator Game
Iowa City West head coach Steve Bergman gave a great talk. One thing he does in practice is play a dominator game. His JV and varsity practice together with about 18 guys total. He runs a game where the top ten play against the bottom 8. At first it sounds unfair, but the expectation is that the top ten must DOMINATE the game. He sets goals when they are on defense such as not giving up X number of open shots (not even makes), etc. On offense they must score in X amount of time, get X amount of good shots in 10 possessions.

The reason I love this game is that is solves an age old problem. You want your first string to play together, but at the same time if you play regular they win and don't have to play very hard. This makes them play extremely hard and be almost perfect.

5. Coach Thorson's Presentation
Did a great job explaining why his program at DeLaSalle is great. I'll just post his PowerPoint. Great stuff!

6. Mike Dunlap Cutthroat
Coach Dunlap is just great at teaching basketball. He spent an entire two sessions showing how he uses cutthroat to teach basketball. It's something we've adopted this year, with other SSGs, and seen amazing results.

Basically you play 4 on 4 on 4 cutthroat and emphasize that you want. If you want your players to learn how to catch and square to triple threat, show it then play cutthroat where every time they catch the ball they must square up or it's a turnover. Same for defensive emphasis.

Also, he talked a lot about how the NBA is superior in it's ability to space the floor in transition. Hopefully it's something we can work toward.

As always in a clinic there were a lot of other great points and Xs and Os. The above, however, was most likely the most important things that I learned. Best of luck to all of the coaches as we start our seasons, going to be a fun journey!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

3 or Key Mentality

Courtesy of Masslive.com
You hear a lot of coaches talk about the death of the mid range game like it's a bad thing. In my opinion, good riddance!! Ok, I don't feel QUITE like that, but I do favor a "three or key" mentality when running offense. It makes for the most statistical sense to take these types of shots over the mid-range variety. I was first introduced to this concept when reading about Vance Walberg's Dribble Drive and overall philosophy. Being a basketball purist, I thumbed my nose at this at first. But after spending more time researching the ideas I am a complete convert.

The reasoning is simple and it boils down to Points Per Shot. You make shots inside the lane at approximately a 60% rate. You take .6 x 2 and you get 1.2 points per shot. You take a mid range shot and it's about 38% x 2 points or .76 points per shot. When you take a three pointer players make that about 33% of the time on average and it's 3 points for roughly 1.0 points per shot. So as you can see, the best bet is in the layups and three pointers.

What's the worst shot in the game? Well this Tweet by Coach Karius pretty much sums it up...

The pull up jumper is the shot that we DON'T want players taking. It's just not that efficient, especially at the high school level. Many coaches will point to people like LeBron James and other good NBA players who shoot pull ups. My response is twofold: First, look at the stat above for NBA players, imagine the poor shooting at the high school level. Second, if you've got LeBron on your high school team by all means let em fly! Otherwise, stop letting your players settle for mid-range pull up jumpers.

Why not adopt a three or key mentality? I really do think it helps your players to understand shot selection better. It also makes more sense statistically. What do you have to lose? 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Corner Action Secondary Break

Lately I have become enthralled with Coach Rick Adelman's "Corner Offense". It's a version of the Princeton offense that Adelman learned from legendary Princeton coach Coach Pete Carril when Coach Carril was his assistant in Sacremento. They ran some GREAT stuff with Williams, Webber, Divac, etc. Vlade was especially prolific during this time. After starting to look over it, I've become interested in running it as a secondary break into our motion offense. I think it's a great quick hitting look when you have a stud guard who you want to get driving the ball down hill to start.

The secondary is NOT NEARLY as complex as the corner offense itself obviously. But it merely uses one look I like out of it which is the point guard in the corner on the ball side, ball is on the wing. The wing enters the ball to the high post and screens down for the point and basketball plays ensue. Below is the basic corner offense, the first clip is the action I like. In the first clip, the Wolves actually do run it as a secondary.  The other difference is that while Coach Adelman does it with two posts, the version I would run has four perimeter players.

This secondary is a simplified version of the corner offense as a quick hitting secondary break. The idea is to screen down for the point guard into a handoff with the high post and play out of it. I have yet to explore this in much detail, and could easily add a variety of counters to this. The offense would be great if you have a stud point guard who you want to get the ball in a different way than a high pick and roll.

Basic Movement
The set up is pretty standard for a secondary break. Point comes down the floor, passes to the wing and corner cuts to the wing side. Have a slot and wing on the back side, post rim runs.

When the wing receives the ball and the point starts to cut, the post pops to the high post and catches the ball. As he catches the ball the wing goes to set a down/pin screen for the point in the corner. The point can either curl the screen or straight the screen.

The option we want the most is for the point guard to straight cut to the high post. The wing (2) should pop to the corner, but can dive if they switch the screen. The point takes the handoff from the high post and drives to the basket. As he attacks the basket the wing (3) sinks to the corner and the other guard (4) fills behind the drive.

Once teams start to cheat it, the point guard can then curl the screen to the basket for a layup. If that isn't there, the wing who screened (2) pops up to the high post, takes the handoff, and attacks the rim with the same idea. On the drive, the point fills the backside corner.

If we don’t get anything off the drive, we kick out, fill to the ball, fill the open corner (just like our offense) and we are in 4 out.

Optional Additions or Counters
Rejecting or Curling the Handoff
If the player coming up for the hand off reads the overplay and back cuts, or doesn’t get the handoff, we can do the following action. There are probably 50 more good ones, but this is what I have for now.

The corner screens, the point cuts and rejects. The wing who set the screen (2) comes up and gets the ball.  As that happens the point (1) backscreens the wing (3) and gets a screen the screener downscreen from 4. Get the ball to the point, space out, and start the offense right from there.
Flairing the Back Side
Another interesting option is to flair the backside if the top player (4) is a shooter. That action may hold the defense and force open up the lane. Also frees up the shooter.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Notes from France vs. Spain First Half

Every day I wake up I count my blessings that I have ESPN 3. Got home today after setting up my classroom for the year and watched Spain vs. France in some National Team game. Riveting stuff, plus some of the Spaniards have great beards. Below are a three gems I got out of the first half. As a four out motion coach, both could be ran as entries, or just as looks if you are a set play coach.

Spain Iso For Stud
Spain, and a lot of pick and roll teams, run this for their 4 usually, but I think it's a great look to get your stud isolated in the high post. They ran it several times and got good results.

Play starts with a ball screen. Usually the 3 is a 4, but for the sake of the look we're putting an athletic wing in this spot and your 4 would have to be a wing who could shoot it a little. Anyway, the point looks to turn the corner off the ball screen, if not there the point bounces out, throws back across to the screener (3) who goes to the elbow after setting the ball screen. Post relocates and the stud (3) goes to the basket. If the stud goes middle, post stays.
I've seen this look with quite a few NBA teams, but haven't seen many high school coaches running this look. Trust me though, it's coming.

France Drive and Flair
In this set, 3 is Nicolas Batum to give you some context. Not sure if this was a designed set, although I think it was. Would be a very effective motion action or entry, great late clock play as well. The point (1) does a dribble hand off with the wing (3) who tries to turn the corner. As that is going on the backside wing (4) sets a flair for the backside guard (2) so that when 3 comes off the dribble hand off the 2 is setting up to shoot. Skip the ball over and get a shot.
France Post Step Out
France had their post step out, wing enter, wing cut and get it back. The difference is that it wasn't on the block. The post came out to about 10 feet to receive the ball and then hit the cutter for a layup.

Again, nothing out of this world, but how many motion coaches, or any coaches, teach this action? Not one I've seen a whole lot of - see it on the block, but not with the post stepping 10 feet out.