Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Renters" vs "Owners"

This is another quick Don Meyer thought that I love. Many times when you look at a house you can tell if a person rents or owns it by the way the house and yard are taken care of. Owners care far more about the house than renters do on average because they have a stake in it. The same idea is true with your players and their view of the program/team you run.

If your players are "renting" their spot in the program/team they are not going to care enough about it to take care of the program. In the end all they care about is using the program. They are just there taking up space and in turn hurting the program. You need the "owners" the guys who buy into the program, have a stake it in, and care enough to want to better it. You need guys who are always representing your program well. Working with younger players, doing well in class, behaving classy on and off the court, being a positive community role model, and just going out of their way to help the program any way they can. The more owners and less renters you can get in your program, the better your program is going to be.

Players Echoing Commands

I watch A LOT of tapes with Coach Don Meyer (amazing former coach from Northern State University), and something he does with his guys is teaches players to "echo" his commands or call them out to their teammates as they hear them. They echo them until everyone is echoing the command. This is a great idea as it teaches players to communicate and it also ensure that every player knows what is going on. He uses it in practices as well as games with great results.

Something to think about!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What I Learned This Year

Well, this is my first post in a long while. This season was a rough one, and I didn't feel like I had much to say. Its hard to keep the guys into it when you are 1-21 for the was by far my most disappointing season I've ever had. I made a lot of mistakes this year, did some things well, and learned a lot. Unfortunately for me it was not the right fit, and I've since moved on. I decided to wait until school was over and I was gone to share my insights on my season. I'm going to be open and honest about the season and what I learned in the hopes that it helps other young coaches along the way.

What I Did Wrong

1. Didn't have enough confidence in what we were running to be steadfast about it.

-I knew from previous experience that what I was doing worked, but I wasn't completely sure of it and I think it showed right away and didn't help when I went to tweak what we did throughout the year and the players saw itwas changing because it wasn't working. Not exactly a great way for a new coach to breed confidence within the program! I should have stuck to my guns more and paid deerly for that!

2. Was too positive at the beginning of the season.

-Although I wasn't dumb enough to predict that we would win X amount of games, I did give our players a lot of feedback saying we could compete with anyone and have a positive season this year - which to them meant wins. Instead I should have been more realistic about our chances in our league and should have stressed that all we just play hard and that's enough.

3. Was not harsh enough or honest enough about players roles on the team.

-While I did define players their roles, many times I tried to "soften" (read - sugarcoat) their roles on the team. I would tell a limited role player that they were important, their effort was appreciated, and I would try and get them minutes when I could - they would then get disappointed when the minutes didn't come. Instead I should have told the players that were role players simply they were role players and would likely not see the floor. That way they would appreciate minutes they got.

4. Let our offense be too loose.

-I wanted a free wheeling offense that allowed players to play. I thought it would bring some energy and excitement to our program and help it get going, especially at the younger levels. But upon reflection, I think our offense was little too wide open since we were one of the top teams in the state in shots taken and turnovers. With the group we had we should have played a slower more deliberate game and should have managed the shots a little bit better.

5. Let the parents intimidate me.

-I'll admit that I let the parents throw me in my first year. Many times I was not as forceful in defining the roles of parent and coach as I should have been. It's easy to handle parents when you have a head coach above you to have your back. It's much harder when you are the "lone ranger" so be ready to be tougher than I was! I let parents talk with me about topics and at times I never should have. I also should have communicated better to the parents what was going on throughout the season. We had the traditional meeting at the beginning of the year, I had individual meetings with each player and parent before the first game to define roles. In hindsight I should have had at least one more private player/parent/coach meeting in order to keep the lines of communication more open.

6. Not demanding enough at times on certain aspects of things.

-I was demanding in terms of behavior and effort. But where I wasn't demanding enough was on the execution end. I used the cop out of - it's the first year and they don't know the system as well because it's the first year, it will get better. I shouldn't have done that. I should have demanded they do things right and the way that I wanted them done every time.

7. Didn't communicate enough with our other coaches on the staff.

-This was something that I was dead set on doing this year, but as the season started I got "deer in the headlights" syndrome and kind of was overwhelmed with everything we had to do. I was constantly checking with them to make sure everything was OK, but with weights in the AM and practice after school, I did not attend as many games and practices as I should have (we didn't play at the same time as our other teams). I also had a couple of preseason meetings where I gave the coaches the playbooks of what I wanted them to run. But never found time with everyone's schedule to have a meeting - and that's something I should have been a stickler about and made time for.

Things I Did Well

-After reading the above, you might thing the year was a complete disaster. In many ways I felt like it was and I really regret that I couldn't have helped the guys get more wins. But, at the same time we were within 6 points of the #1 rated team in the state in the fourth quarter of a game, we were down 23 points in the first quarter of our playoff game before rallying to get it to within three in the fourth quarter. So, throughout the season there were some positives to be had as well.

1. Staying positive and continuing to grind it out the entire year.

-This is the #1 greatest thing I feel that happened with my coaching this year was I was able to stay positive the entire year even at 1-21. I've always had a hard time being positive when things are not going well, and it was a goal of mine to get better at that aspect this year. Even when we were 1-20 in the first playoff game and down 23 in the first quarter I wasn't belittling the guys and telling them how crappy they were, I was still staying positive with them to the end. Truth be told, I was too positive this year, but at the same time it was a learning thing for me coming from being very Bobby Knight esque in previous years. I think it really did help the players to be able to gut out a tough year. For me, there is a great deal of pride in the fact that I coached the last few practices as hard as I did the first practices and didn't give up all year, while that's never been my personality, it's good to see being 1-21 doesn't change that about me.

2. Getting players in the gym in the off season.

-This was something that hadn't been a regular thing in the community. But I put it out there to the guys what it would take to get better, gave them plenty of opportunities, and they took them. We had almost all of our varsity players and younger kids regularly at our workouts and open gym sessions getting better. I tried my best to make it fun, exciting, and worth their time.

3. Got involved at the younger levels.

Along with the older kids, I ran twice a week open gyms for the middle school players and once a week open gyms for the elementary. I think it made a difference working with those grades and ages to get them more excited.

4. Being creative and taking a risk.

For years the program had had a walk the ball up slow it down style and the players were ready for a change. I've always been a push the tempo guy, so I took a gamble and went to the extreme with my tempo. In the beginning this created a lot of excitement and interest within the program which was good. I think if we would have ran it for a couple of years players would have adopted the system more readily and been better at it. While this is a mistake as well, there is something to be said for going out on a limb and shaking things up. It's a better feeling to have tried it and failed than never given it a shot. We also played a lot of different and junk defense I wouldn't normally play, and it helped us out. We were able to be within 6 points of the #1 ranked team in the state because we went stick and three on them a lot of the game.

5. Learning from my mistakes

As a first year coach, you are going to screw things up, a lot of things, I promise you that. And if you don't make any mistakes your first year you are probably not looking hard enough. So make sure when you make a mistake you step back and learn from it, make yourself better.

Again, I hope this post can be helpful to young coaches out there that are taking or have yet to take their first coaching gig. I tried to be as open and honest as possible with my comments.