A Basketball Coach’s 3 Most Costly Mistakes

Taken from the Coaching Toolbox


A player is not the only one that makes mistakes. Coaches make many mistakes every day, even though most of them are not noticed. A costly mistake by a coach can be the difference between winning and losing. It also can lead to an underachieving, dysfunctional team. The three most costly mistakes of coaches are highlighted in this article.

Coaching basketball these days at any level is a very difficult job. Many books are written about successful qualities of excellent coaches and leaders. Most coaches will not take a deep look into their own coaching ability to discover their weaknesses. If you are serious about your coaching ability, take an objective look at the factors that keep you from reaching your potential.

  1. Coaching without Clarity–

This is by far the biggest mistake made by coaches in basketball. This flavor-of-the-day approach has no base and leads to failure. The ultimate test of coaching clarity is defined by your ability to answer this question;

  • What are your three areas of concentration in coaching? If your practice was observed for 30 minutes, would your Top 3 be easily identified? Why is this such an important part of coaching? Having a Top 3 given your coaching and your program the direction and clarity it needs. If your drills, terminology, practice, and daily focus are tied directly to your Top 3, your players will execute at a high level and time will be greatly maximized.

If your coaching or your program are without a Top 3, you are like a ship in the ocean without a map, compass or rudder. You will try hard every day, but you will not consistently travel the path to success. The Top 3 is the key to successful basketball coaching, consistent winning, and program development.

  1. Priority Imbalance—I have yet to meet a coach that said his family, parents, or significant other was not his Number 1 priority in life. This commitment is repeated so much we all begin to believe it after a while! This is “coaching blindness” at its best. I call it the “Coaches Biggest Lie”. Coaches confuse provision with priority. The paycheck that arrives home each month is important for all of us. This check, though, in no way means that by supporting our loved ones financially we have given them top priority in our life. We say they are important but rarely find the kind of quality time and communication needed, especially during the season. To illustrate this point, it is said that time is the true test of our priorities. The things we spend most time on we value the most. It is a cut and dry proposition.
  • Do you spend more time at work or with basketball than your family?
  • Do you carry your job home with you and pretend to be present when your mind is elsewhere?
  • Do you work as hard satisfying your wife’s needs as you do preparing for practice or games?
  • What do you do with your free time; spend it on selfish pursuits or with family or friends?
  • How many hours a week do you watch television as compared to quality time with your family?
  • Do you know the name of your children’s teachers at school better than your next opponent?
  • Do you feel that you have to watch tape at home at night?
  • How often do you tell your loved ones why they are your loved ones?
  1. Paralysis by Analysis—Coaches are famous for analyzing the game to the point of exhaustion. Many times we are the only ones who truly understand what is being taught. The philosophy, “Keep it Simple Stupid” gets massive lip service from coaches. This is a tough battle for most coaches, including myself. Our insecurity often leads to a catalog of drills, offenses and defenses that stagger the mind of young players. We stuff file cabinets with thousands of keys, teaching points, and magic late game plays. The knowledge well gets bigger and deeper by the year. At this point it is very important to ask a question: What is the goal of coaching?

I believe the answer to this question is execution. Coaching is the task of getting your players to play the game and execute the way you want them to. At its purest level, getting players to execute what you have taught and drilled them is the key. Some have said that execution is doing what you are suppose to do, when to do it, and with the greatest effort. If all of this is valid, simplicity is the only way to success.

The Simplicity Test for players—

  1. Do your players know your Top 3 as a coach?
  2. Do your players know exactly what they must do to get on the floor?
  3. Do your players know exactly what they must do to stay on the floor?

To do justice to your own coaching, ask your players these three questions? The answers will provide a map for the future of your coaching. Are you a confusing coach to play for? If so, humble yourself and step back for a while. Carefully analyze your coaching approach and philosophy and get the opinion of assistants, administrators, and players. What seems like weakness can actually be the strength of your coaching! Congratulations to all coaches that take on this challenge. Please share your results with me and make next season your best one ever!


“5 Qualities That Make A Good Team Player Great”

Strong team players are the backbone of any team. When others fail, these are the people who venture on with strong resolve and persistence, committed to getting the job done.

Most people can list the qualities without struggling too hard, but do you know what qualities great team players share?

Here are five qualities that make a good team player great:

  1. Always reliable. A great team player is constantly reliable day in and day out, not just some of the time. You can count on them to get the job done, meet deadlines, keep their word and provide consistent quality work.  With excellent performance, organization and follow-through on tasks they develop positive work relationships with team members and keep the team on track.
  1. Communicates with confidence. Good team players might silently get the work done but shy away from speaking up and speaking often. Great team players communicate their ideas honestly and clearly and respect the views and opinions of others on the team. Clear, effective communication done constructively and respectfully is the key to getting heard.
  1. Does more than asked. While getting the work done and doing your fair share is expected of good team players, great team players know that taking risks, stepping outside their comfort zones, and coming up with creative ideas is what it’ll take to get ahead. Taking on more responsibilities and extra initiative sets them apart from others on the team.
  1. Adapts quickly and easily. Great team players don’t passively sit on the sideline and see change happen; they adapt to changing situations and often drive positive change themselves.  They don’t get stressed or complain but are flexible in finding their feet in whatever is thrown their way.
  1. Displays genuine commitment. Good team players are happy to work 9-5 (work hard in sports) and receive their paycheck at the end of the month  (receive playing times and get Wins). Great team players take the time to make positive work relationships with other team members a priority and display a genuine passion and commitment toward their team. They come to work with the commitment of giving it 110% and expect others on the team to do the same.

To be a great team player, you don’t have to be extroverted or indulge in self-promotion. In fact, great team players sport all kinds of personalities. You just need to be an active participant and do more than your job title states. Put the team’s objectives above yours and take the initiative to get things done without waiting to be asked. In return you will build positive perception, gain more visibility, and develop influential connections to get ahead in your career.

Disclaimer:  Insert is from the Career Advancement Blog

Being Versus Doing

Snippet from Coach Tony Dungy

In our society, this struggle between being and doing starts early and is often innocently encouraged. We ask our children what they want to be when they grow up, which really means what they want to do. If they love animals, we’re not surprised when they tell us they want to be veterinarians.

Some children aspire to be bankers, or professional athletes, or the next American Idol, or an Olympic gold-medal winner. Maybe they want to make lots of money , or live in a big house, or have more cars than they can drive at one time. Great dreams—but they are all related to doing, not being. Those dreams tell us nothing about who our children are, or want to be, inside—what their values and priorities are—those things that will guide them through all of the things they will do.

I believe we all struggle with this, but it seems to me that it may even be a greater challenge for men. That may simply be because I am a man and have struggled with this trap as much as any. That’s my disclaimer.

Men feel pressured to tie their personal value to their career. Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23—“love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Yet we rarely embrace these inner qualities because they don’t seem to fit within the world of competitive sports or business. Too often, we believe that a man’s value is determined solely by his achievements and measured against the standards of a world that pays homage to winning.

Unfortunately, many of our players feel this pressure as well—deriving their value from what they do and what they accomplish. They confuse what they do for a living with who they really are inside. Once they’re done with football, they aren’t sure who they are. For better or worse, they have the rest of their lives to figure it out.

Sadly, for better or worse doesn’t always apply to their marriages. A staggering number end in divorce . My guess is that many of the players don’t have that clear sense of self when they’re done playing football, compounded by the fact that their wives may have fallen in love with their husband’s high profile role and lifestyle. Whatever the case, their careers have come to define them, and when they are no longer involved in football, they simply don’t know who they are deep down inside.

A negative job review or worse yet, getting fired, can be devastating. I’ve been there. Though it is understandably traumatic, it doesn’t have to be defining. I hope you’ll never go through it, but the odds are that you will.

If you do, take a step back and remember that you’re not the first person to experience this. Your career is not you. It should not, and does not, define who you are as a person.

Every day in my line of work, I receive performance evaluations, often by people completely unqualified to give them. Though I must admit that I don’t listen to much talk radio, I decided long ago that I would analyze the criticisms from my superiors, players, assistant coaches, and even sportswriters for things that might be helpful. Trying to constantly improve means being open to learning throughout your life.

I also realize that I can’t control what is said, and I will not let harsh criticism affect my sense of who I am. People are free to criticize all they like (sometimes they seem to like it too much, especially when I had done something questionable in a loss), but I don’t let it negatively impact me. I know that I was created by God with all of my strengths and limitations. Somebody pointing out my limitations, real or otherwise, doesn’t change my strengths or the truth that I am and will always remain a child of God.

Being versus doing—distinguishing between them will make all the difference in the lives we live.



Are You a Window or a Mirror?

Taken from http://billzipponbusiness.com/

A window and a mirror are both made of glass, have a frame around them, and are used for seeing things.

But they have two totally different functions. You look through a window to the world outside, and you look into a mirror at yourself.

I have found that there are two totally different kinds of people when it comes to life and leadership. There are externally focused people, window people, who look outside at others passing them by; and there are internally focused people, mirror people, who look inside themselves for the solutions they need to move forward.

Which of these two are you? Answer the following four questions:

  1. Do you assign blame or find solutions?

The first characteristic of a window person is that they look to the world outside and critique it. Rather than participating in the toss-and-tumble of real life, they stand on the sidelines and find fault. Window people are professional critics who see problem after problem and ask, “who screwed up here?’”

A mirror person, on the other hand, takes a totally different approach. Rather than passing the buck onto someone else, they accept responsibility. If they participated in causing a problem, they own it and fix it. If they didn’t, they help find a solution. This question is never far from their lips, “How can I help?”

  1. Do you give up power or do you become self-empowered?

The great irony of being a window person is that you think you’re so smart, sitting smugly on the sidelines cynically criticizing the work of others. But that’s a position of powerlessness. Quite simply, when you’re not involved in finding solutions, you give up your power to others whom you have no ability to control. You are at their mercy.

By looking into the mirror, internally focused people see the one thing they can control: themselves. And by controlling their response in any situation, they become self-empowered in every situation. Few things can stand in the way of a self-empowered person.

  1. Do you approach issues as a victim or as an equal?

Lack of power and control, then, makes a window person a victim, and all victims, by definition, have villains. Instead of working with other people just like you who are trying to do their best, you view yourself as working with sinister people who are out to get you. This point of view poisons your relationships.

Mirror people bring confidence and strength to their relationships. They don’t play the victim, but approach others as respected peers, an equal to an equal. Even in a bad situation, they believe the best in others, withhold judgment, and ask questions for clarification (as opposed to making accusations).

MOREResolving Conflict at Work without Victims and Villains

  1. Do you take input personally or receive it as useful information?

Finally, window people take a totally different approach to input and feedback. Because of their victim mentality communication is always personal, seen as an attack on them. As a result they feel compelled to fight or take flight. That’s what we do when under attack, right? The villain is either attacked in return or withdrawn from completely. Both destroys communication.

A mirror person, approaching issues as a peer to a peer, an equal to an equal, doesn’t assign emotional meaning to a conversation. Input received, even if it’s about them, is a way to become more knowledgeable. And knowledge is power. As a result, a mirror person is able to communicate calmly and collaborate effectively because it’s not personal. It’s just information.

How do you become a mirror person?

Okay, how do you become a mirror person and not a window person?

Recognize that we’re all born window people. We come out of the womb pointing our finger at others and assigning blame. It’s part of the human condition. We become mirror people by the choices we make. Here are two.

In every circumstance you face, first ask and answer this question: Who am I? That is, look deep inside yourself and discover the values you embrace at the very core of your being. Define those values personally and live by them uncompromisingly. They are your moral center. Your rock. Your anchor.

Secondly, ask and answer this next question: What do I do well?

From your moral center flows a functional capacity for excellence. This is the unique ability you possess that allows you to thrive. It’s your personal tool box, a set of gifts and talents you can access at any time to solve pressing problems.

These two dynamics, character and competence, are the choices you can make to become a mirror person. Character, your core values, and competence, your unique ability, clearly defined and consistently deployed allows you to control the one and only thing you can control in any situation: YOUrself.

Mirror or Window

The Intertextuality of Hip Hop and Sport

Taken from Brittany Young of byoungncompany.com

It seems that every athlete wants to be a rapper and ever rapper wants to be an athlete – at least this is the case for African American males. Athletes such as Ron Artest, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and others have tried to rap, and many rappers have played sports and decided it wasn’t for them (Shaq was actually decent). On the other hand, rappers such as 2-Chains, Roscoe Dash and others have had a short stint on the hardwood. I always wondered why this is the case? Maybe the rappers were undersized – most rappers are short – and maybe athletes’ word plays weren’t strong enough. One thing that’s for sure is that you can always catch rappers at sporting events and athletes at a hip-hop concert. Even in the film Brown Sugar, Boris Kodjoe’s character is an NBA player who is an aspiring rapper. In his song titled “January 28th,” J. Cole says  “I turn the TV on, not one hero in sight, unless he dribble or he fiddle with mics.” I think the commonality between the African American males that rap and play basketball or even football, is their economic statuses. Consider the aforementioned athletes and rappers’ cultures. Each of them have tough backgrounds and have had to overcome some struggles, and they either had to rap or play their way out of their situations.

Rappers talk about ball players in their songs and ball players are inspired by rappers by listening to their music before practices and games. It’s a strong connection because of the African American culture. It should not be the case – because there’s more to life than rapping and playing sports for males of color – but J. Cole has a point in saying that all of the rappers and athletes serve as heroes for young black males, mostly by default due to their status. Nevertheless, one basketball player who has been successful in articulating his lifestyle is Portland Trailblazer point guard Damian Lillard. He’s better than a lot of these rappers that are currently out. Check out the freestyle.



Characteristics of a Great Leader

Taken from Holly Rust of the Huffington Post

There’s no question that some people are just natural born leaders. Others may spend years strengthening their skills and helping others just to achieve their leadership status. Anyone can assemble a team and give direction, but to be a strong leader you must have the ability to inspire the masses.

I’ve personally been very fortunate to work with some amazing, influential, brilliant people over the course of my career. Some of these colleagues carried titles and others did not, however all possessed many of the qualities I deem to be that of a remarkable leader.

If you look at all the great leaders past and present you’ll find they carry many, if not all, of these traits:

Have the Ability to Listen. Many leaders get into the habit of just directing and delegating. In order to nurture your team you need to know their needs and struggles. What can you do to help them grow? Ask them. They need to be heard in order for you to better lead them.

Have the Ability to Communicate Effectively. Unfortunately people cannot read minds, so it’s important to be concise and communicate your expectations to your team. Knowing what is expected of them will not only promote productivity, but also will keep the lines of communication open and eliminate confusion.

Demonstrate Integrity. Strong leaders treat others how they would like to be treated. Foundations are based on trust and respect. If these two are not present, your team will continue to turn over–or their efforts will be minimal.

Demonstrate Humility. Anyone who achieves success, big or small, should be celebrated. I am a believer in being proud of your accomplishments and letting others know, however being proud and being arrogant are two different things. Remember you, too, were once someone working your way from the ground up.

Demonstrate Empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Putting yourself in others shoes helps you manage conflict better and builds long-lasting relationships with your team.

Make It Their Mission to Inspire Others. Good leaders exude passion and confidence. They know the right words to say because it comes from the heart. They’ve been where you are and want to help you get to where they are–together.

Lead By Example. This one is my favorite. A true leader “walks the walk”. They don’t just tell you how to do it; they show you how to do it. They don’t make excuses. Their expectations of themselves are just as high as their expectations for their team. When leaders lead by example they become a great resource, and employees respect them more and willingly take their direction. The most important lesson I’ve learned in my continuous pursuit of becoming an inspirational leader is the same advice you hear when you become a parent; It’s not about you anymore. Once you’ve realized this–you’ll be on your way to being a great leader.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do

By Amy Morin

1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves

Mentally strong people don’t sit around feeling sorry about their circumstances or how others have treated them. Instead, they take responsibility for their role in life and understand that life isn’t always easy or fair.

2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power

They don’t allow others to control them, and they don’t give someone else power over them. They don’t say things like, “My boss makes me feel bad,” because they understand that they are in control over their own emotions and they have a choice in how they respond.

3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change

Mentally strong people don’t try to avoid change. Instead, they welcome positive change and are willing to be flexible. They understand that change is inevitable and believe in their abilities to adapt.

4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control

You won’t hear a mentally strong person complaining over lost luggage or traffic jams. Instead, they focus on what they can control in their lives. They recognize that sometimes, the only thing they can control is their attitude.

5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone

Mentally strong people recognize that they don’t need to please everyone all the time. They’re not afraid to say no or speak up when necessary. They strive to be kind and fair, but can handle other people being upset if they didn’t make them happy.

6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks

They don’t take reckless or foolish risks, but don’t mind taking calculated risks. Mentally strong people spend time weighing the risks and benefits before making a big decision, and they’re fully informed of the potential downsides before they take action.

7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past

Mentally strong people don’t waste time dwelling on the past and wishing things could be different. They acknowledge their past and can say what they’ve learned from it. However, they don’t constantly relive bad experiences or fantasize about the glory days. Instead, they live for the present and plan for the future.

8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over Continue reading