Yesterday, I had a great conversation with several of our coaches on Orange County Magic who are navigating their respective High school teams and their formation and organization challenges that are going to come up. How many players to keep on a team?
Now each coach has their own perspectives on their formation of their teams and why they do what they do. I personally didn't want to carry more than 12 players. I wanted the team to have enough to count on each other, keep rooming lists even, and to make sure that I had the 12 that were committed to the team. But there are some interesting ideas as it relates to this as I posed with my experience in High School and then going to the PAC-10 conference where I heard this term, minutes.
Before I go into that, I want to share with you what I shared with Coach Sean and Coach Ron. Some questions that I asked them to ask of their players. I did this when I was a high school coach and also with my individual meetings with players in the PAC 10 and my professional teams abroad to get my own perspective so that I could get to the heart of things as we entered into the season.
Teams are fragile. If for example you carried 12 players as was usual with my team, here is what I discovered, see if this is true with your own experiences?
Players 9-12 want to play. Players 6-8 want to start. Players 4-5 want more shots. Players 2-3 want to be the best player. And the best player wants to play at the next level. This was true of my high school teams, NCAA Division 1 and 2 and of course, even my professional teams abroad.
There is nothing wrong with this as you have been teaching your players all along to want more, to strive. It becomes a problem when it outweighs the teams needs. You know everyone needs to sacrifice for your team to be successful. Your players need to see this and feel that they are part of the solution.
Here is how I got to the heart of the matter. Try this. Ask your players these questions and see what you discover.
1. How many minutes will you average this year?
So of course, this varies if you are a high school coach because the maximum amount of minutes that you can hand out is 160 minutes (5 players x 32 minute game), if you are a college or overseas coach the maximum you can hand out is 200 minutes ( 5 players x 40 minute game). Ask your players this question, how many minutes will you average this year and then add up all those minutes. I usually discovered about 300 minutes was the norm. OK, that was impossible.
2. Next question that I would ask. Will you start?
In basketball you can only start 5 players, but the responses were usually around 9 players who believed they should or would start. Again impossible.
3. How many points are you going to average?
When I added this up, we were always going to be the highest scoring team in the country, :). I tell you. Usually added up to nearly 160 points per game. Again not impossible, but you know.
What this proved to me and my coaching staff was that we needed to really address the players that sacrifices were going to have to be made by all, roles were going to have to be embraced and rewarded, recognized by the coaching staff.
This type of early discussion allowed everyone to feel that they had a role and an important part that was going to be rewarded and recognized. These were daily efforts on our behalf to make sure we paid attention to all these little details in terms of player relations on and off the court to make sure we were centered and ready to drive toward our goals together as a team.
Before the other distractions come, you know outside expectations :)
Here is Coach Bill Parcells, I know it's a football hall of fame speech, but the message is clear about the locker room, the sacrifices that a team makes, why it is special and how winners and losers handle things. Enjoy.
Bill Parcells What Makes a Team Great
Let me know your thoughts. I love hearing from you.
OK, so where do we begin the season? How do we make sure that we are teaching our players all that they need to know for a successful season? How do you stay on track?
You need to start. You need to create a master plan so that you have a reference point to look at. Really, to keep on track and stay on track. Sometimes we as coaches tend to focus on a few things and run out of time during the season and don't cover something and wish we had.
I learned how to get this done as I was a high school coach and visiting clinics and hearing NCAA coaches at UNC and UCLA talk about it, but how did they put it together? That was never shared? How much time did they spend on things? I asked them for information and dug deeper as I had a thirst for how to become the best coach that I could become.
Here is what I put together after gathering information from many coaches across the country.
Coach Saintignon Master Plan for Basketball
I used this especially during the season to make sure that I was staying on track. One thing you will have to keep in mind is that you will always have to modify, adjust and adapt. This is true in all things.
University of North Carolina Practice
Coach Bobby Knight Indiana University
*Please note that there are typos, this was a document sent to me, so I had no control over the spelling.
This gives you a little idea to help you during your season in your preparation phase. Should anyone want more, please email me at email@example.com and I would be happy to help in anyway that I can.
So we are at that time of year where as a coach and player there is the talk about winning and losing and the results that are being produced is at the forefront of many discussions. There are many things that can derail us as coaches, players that I want to see if I can remind to see if this helps a bit.
As I stated before all of us can get off the rails so to speak and get caught up in disappointment because of the thinking that we can win, or deserve more. We can lose sight and turn away from what is most important during the course of the season.
We all experience success, we all have an ego that say we deserve this or that. We believe that maybe we are talented enough that we can maybe take it easy here or there, ease up on some of the development that should be occurring or the training that should be happening.
One of my greatest moments of coaching was the time that I spent learning from Coach John Wooden. As I was coming up and winning, thinking that what we did was a direct result of my teaching, etc., Coach spoke in parables, quotes, and with poems. One in particular that has become my favorite that he usually recited to me to make his point, was "IF" by Kipling. I was reminded that winning and losing were impostors. To treat them both the same, according to Coach Wooden, he used to tell me that you are not as good as people say you are and your not as bad as they say either. The players that you work with on a daily basis, they are why you coach. They are under your supervision and are you giving them the attention that they deserve and not just only talking about winning or losing and the end game, the results. Are you concerned with them as individuals as this is a short lived game, it doesn't last forever, but your relationship just might.
I began to change as a coach each time as I am sure everyone who came in contact with Coach Wooden, did change. It's easy many would say coming from someone who won National Title after Title and UCLA with the best of the best. But he was pointing out to all of those who looked for his advise, what was important.
I once had a team that I was playing against in a tournament, I believed that we were good, I saw that the talent level on the other side of the floor during warm ups wasn't that great and noticed that our own players thought that they were just going to run them over as well. We weren't serious as a staff and also as players during the warm up. I didn't address the situation as I should have right then and there, as a result, we ended up getting beat that night because we didn't approach the game the same as we would have had it been the championship round of the tournament. We were the better team, only on paper that night. I was so frustrated, furious as I knew we should have been better, I second guessed myself, took it out on the team, coaching staff, when I knew all along that it was my fault, period. So to this day, I take every opponent serious, as all the championships that I have won as a coach, were formed during that lesson learned that night.
The bottom line is that when you experience success we all think that we can cut corners from time to time and still achieve the end result, the win. Many of us get caught up thinking that we are bigger than the game. This comes from us only focusing on winning. We can get caught off the rails and make it so that we believe it's all about the X's and O's and not about the Jimmy and Joe's.
So ask yourself? What are you doing each day to make your players better people. Is your message only about the sport? Only about winning? There is much more to this than just getting the W. That night we lost I should have addressed the importance of respect for each opponent and that we owed it to ourselves to give our best effort regardless of who we were competing against.
We can become consumed with winning. We can forget about getting home to your significant others. Your family, children. We make up excuses that we don't have the same talent, we don't have the same facilities to compete with others. We need to practice longer, stay in the office so others will notice that we are giving all to this team. We can think that we need every advantage to achieve what we want and the thing that we usually sacrifice first is our family.
There are incentives to winning as well that have been placed, with bonus structures, raises, etc. This has now become a performance based industry. Including AAU. Winning supports your ego, yes, it also allows for those players to come to your programs, which leads to them going to NCAA., which allows players to continue with your program. So it's now come to this, winning is everything. Here's the problem. 99% percent of us aren't winning the ultimate national championship in the sport. So here's the question. How do you want to be remembered? Maybe the focus from winning should be to developing people. And make that the national championship that you are trying to create. Coach Wooden told me that he knew he did a good job, 10 years later, when those that were under his supervision, were doctors, lawyers, parents, businessmen, etc.
The lessons learned from sports are lifelong. What lessons are you imparting to those under your supervision? Make this season your best, use your own definition of the results your looking for.
I look forward to helping.
I begin this post today with a question that has been asked over and over again especially during this point in time during the season. What are you doing to prepare that is any different than others? I certainly know that my role as coach is more than just x's and o's. I have a unique opportunity to help shape a young person for the rest of their lives. I want them to remember that playing for me was more than just winning a basketball game as I am certain that is case with many of you coaches as well. So beyond getting a team in shape, lifting/running, court exercises, putting the ball in the basket, etc., how much of your time is spent on teaching them about their decisions, and moreover, how are you providing them with solutions.
How am I to foster winning from the Inside? I believe that it will start with their character. We all talk about this, but really what is it? There are 2 types, performance character, which dictates how you are as a player, tough, determined, focused. This relates to your performance only. There is another type and that is your moral character. This affects others, your teammates, coaches, administrators, fans, parents, alumni, donors, sponsors.
How do you get your players to buy in to what you are talking about? You first must buy in yourself.
Begin with this question. What is the goal of a team? How would you answer this question? Usually it's the first thing, Win. But it's really to maximize your teams ability. Because if you do this, it will lead to winning.
What are the top 3 things that can get in the way of maximizing your teams ability. Think of your roster, think of the top 3 things that can come in the way, injury is outside of your control so leave that off.
Usually it will look like this? Selfishness, impatient, no trust in one another. If you take the poll with your own coaching staff, and you reflect, you will notice that there will be human related hurdles that you will have to overcome. I doubt you will see much performance related things to overcome, usually.
So you must spend time on this to maximize your teams ability to perform. Here's how I do it.
I ask our players/coaches to provide me with 3 things that we believe stand in the way. I then take the top answers, provide a glossary of the performance and moral skills. We as a staff can make this as easy or as complicated but we chose to just take the checklist and pair the character skills with the struggles. Now you have a road map. For example, like selfishness that would be paired with unselfishness and the definition that we can provide without it being so long, just short and to the point, so in this case, it would be putting the team first. This is done with just about 3 things of course, you will discover that along the course of the season, conditioning, practice, wins/losses during the season, struggles will continue to arise, but you will need to help yourself and your coaching staff to know that you have a great responsibility and this is to help your players get through this.
I discuss all the time prior to taking the court daily, during practice and post practice. I want our team to always be aware of what I am emphasizing so that we can reach our maximum potential.
Character development needs a road map, discuss the goals of a team, what is going to get in the way, what does your team think, then take the list and pair the character skills and pair with the struggles listed. Build team awareness, discuss often.
I spend a lot of time in this area of development, I want my players to be aware. First impressions, to how they dress and act and how they will continue to progress using basketball as a tool to get their education.
So ask yourself what are the 3 things that are potentially getting in the way of your team maximizing it's ability? Talk about it with your team, show them examples of what it takes to not be selfish with images, video, stories. Provide them with a road map so that there is nothing in the way that prevents your team from maximizing their potential.