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Bang Zoom!

One of these days Alice.. one of these days!

One of these days Alice.. one of these days!

Ralph was a big yeller, always yelling at everyone and anyone. After doing a lot of thinking about my own yelling during games, I resolved yesterday to try coaching a basketball game with no yelling or screaming at all.

It was awkward and felt odd to be honest. I guess I’m just one of those guys. But, I did it and I survived the experience. And the odd thing, is that the more I think about it as I write this post, the more I realize that it’s the right thing to do.

The girls I’m coaching range from 9-12 years old (4-6th grade, 2 different teams) and while they need lots and lots of coaching and lots and lots of encouragement, they simply don’t need it at extreme volumes while they play the actual game.

I am slowly starting to remember how confusing and fast it was to play basketball as a 10 year old; the last thing these girls need is me yelling and screaming at them. It’s about time eh?

Meanwhile, the girls played much better tonight. The basics are there but we need more practice time that we just aren’t going to find. Two of our smaller girls played extremely well, one getting a basket and the other coming up with at least 2 rebounds and one terrific defensive stop. It’s pretty much the best feeling to see those weaker players start to slowly but surely improve over the course of the season.


We had game last night and got absolutely crushed. In addition to missing 2 players we came out totally flat from holiday break. It was like all that practice we had put in was totally gone; the girls were sloppy in their dribbling and pivoting and couldn’t keep up with the other team’s fast breaks.

Interestingly, the other team played a very basic 2-3 zone defense and because we were so flat, we simply weren’t able to get any penetration because of really poor passing. We’ll have to take another look at our basic offensive set up and we’re going to have to be a lot more careful about who is playing guard – we need someone with some level of intensity and ball handling skills. We must have turned the ball over twice as often as we took shots.

We’ve got another game on Thursday, then a key practice on Saturday where we’ll refocus on pivoting and ball handling in particular, along with basic rebounding drills.

I didn’t keep stats, but I’m guessing we got 10% of the rebounds in the game – there were at least 2 times the other team had 5 or 6 shots! I was a bit frustrated!

The most interesting thing however, was that the girls didn’t seem to care that much that we were losing. In fact, I am pretty sure that one of them asked me at the end if we had won or lost… wow, girls sure are different than boys!

Update: I watched some of the video I shot from the game last night and am really embarrassed by how I acted. I posted earlier about coaches yelling and have to say, I need to really focus my attention on NOT yelling. In fact, I think I’m going to be a silent as possible from now on.. it will be tough, but after watching the video, I have no other choice. I wasn’t inappropriate I don’t think, but it was close enough to the line that I need to make some major changes immediately.

Coaching Words Matter

There is nothing like an awe inspiring gipper speech to rally the troops. As I watched the Tennessee vs. Rutgers match up this weekend, I kept thinking what Pat Summit would say at halftime. Sure enough, a NYT article pulled a terrific snippit from legendary coach Pat Summitt that really made me laugh.

“The last thing I told them coming out of the locker room is you do not want to go home with me tonight having played this way.”¬† Summit went on saying “We better at least show up and play with some Tennessee pride.”

That’s powerful and challenging. I can imagine being a member of that team and really knowing that it was time to step it up.

During the broadcast, they also showed Summit talking, in front of the entire team to Angie Bjorklund (what a shooter!) and challenging her to step it up. I loved that she did it in public like that, and it seemed to work. Incredibly, Ruters folded and Tennessee staged an amazing comeback.

Separetely, Pete Carroll’s quote after beating Penn State soundly is also revealing.

“I just wish we could keep playing. Unfortunately, we don’t get to. Maybe someday there will be a chance, but not today.

I love it. He’s not directly knocking the system, and he remains positive about his team and the things that he can control. I’m not a USC fan, but I’m in awe of Pete Carroll for doing things his own way and reaping the rewards.

Video, Video, Video!

I’m addicted to using video with my youth teams, but before you roll your eyes, let me tell you how simple it’s been to set up and use.

I have a tiny Flip video camera (they even have an HD one now!) and a cheap tripod. During practices and games, I just turn it on and point it at one of the hoops and let it run. I’ve been sharing that video with commentary via email with my players and parents and letting them see what they are doing and then using that to help them get better.

I’ve just started using this as a technique, but I’m convinced it is making a difference already. It’s terrific for showing the girls footwork, defensive positioning and showing them where they missed something important (like an open player to pass to!).

Most surprisingly, when I viewed my own daughter taking a jump shot, we noticed that she was using her left hand (she’s a righty!). We were both shocked, and what she took away from seeing that was a need for better practicing, and to try to slow things down a bit and not play so frenetically.

I’ve also become addicted to watching basketball coaching videos on youtube and have embedded one of my favorites here.

Have you used video before with your teams, and if so, how has it worked for you?

Interactive Worksheet for Youth Basketball Coaches

I wanted to share this (free) resource I’ve been using for a few weeks with everyone. After reading every web site I could get my hands on and a stack of coaching books, I’ve developed a simple matrix you can use to develop your practice plans. This is designed to be modular and for you to use it to develop a specific set of skills through progressions.

I *THINK* this is best for 4th – about 7th graders, but feel free to adapt it to your own needs.

This spreadsheet is open and editable by everyone and anyone, please do add your own drills (but don’t delete any) by adding them to the list.

Here’s how to use it…

  • The left column shows fundamentals that must be taught. Without getting these right, you will have a rough season
  • Across the top are 3 levels of drills that you can use to interactively pick for either the group or individuals
  • As you develop your practice plans, keep the fundamentals and skill levels in mind!

I’d love any comments you might have as well!

Book Notes: Rebound Rules

I just finished reading Rick Pitino’s latest book “Rebound Rules.” I was looking for some inspiration in both my professional and coaching life and found it here. This is a breezy read for those of us who read a lot of self help books, much of what Pitino talks about is well-tread in other books.

That said, I especially liked some of what he has to say about managing young players. Granted, the difference between the type of coaching he does is a galaxy away from the type of coaching I do!

What I loved most about the book however is how Pitino recounts his Celtics failure and how he rediscovered himself and his passions. His “PHD” (Passion, Hunger, Drive) framework is something that I will be using personally as I begin to plan for 2009.

One other phrase that I really liked was the “darkness of doubt.” I’ve had some recent failures myself in my professional life and realized that the doubt I felt was natural, but something that I simply need to move past. That’s a phrase I’ll keep in mind for a long time to come.

It’s a good read and worth your time.