Friday, July 31, 2009
Momentum Breakers and Makers
Momentum breaker - double-mindedness
Momentum maker - focus
By creating and following a clear and focused vision statement, a leader develops momentum. A leader drains away momentum by shooting at nothing or attempting everything.
Movement causes friction. When you paint a target for your team, you'll likely encounter resistance. As a leader, you can't restrict yourself by living inside of someone else's comfort zone. Great accomplishments require leaders to fix their gaze beyond what's easily attainable.
Momentum breaker - the past
Momentum maker - the future
An organization picks up steam when its leaders point to a better tomorrow. Momentum breaks down when leaders preoccupy themselves with the past. Or, as I've heard quoted, "Losers yearn for the past and get stuck in it. Winners learn from the past and let go of it."
Many people have powerful dreams. However, most don't realize that the viability of their ideal tomorrow is based on what they do today. The difference between a dream and wishful thinking is what you're doing now. Practice today what you want to be tomorrow. If you do it well enough, someday you may arrive at your dream. In other words...if you want to be a champion, then you must practice like a champion everday!
Momentum breaker - individualism
Momentum maker - teamwork
If you want to kill momentum, then insist on doing things by yourself. Momentum grows through team victories in which numerous people can claim to have played a role. The level of celebration on a team depends upon the level of participation.
Momentum breaker - critical attitude
Momentum maker - constructive attitude
Tennis great Chris Evert said it best, "The thing that separates good players from great ones is mental attitude. It might only make a difference of two or three points over an entire match, but how you play those key points often makes the difference between winning and losing."
Momentum breaker - tradition
Momentum maker - creativity
Don't tear down the fence until you understand why it was built. At the same time, relentlessly question the logic, "that's how we have always done it." What worked in the past may be outdated and could hold you back in the future.
Momentum breaker - apathy
Momentum maker - passion
Passion energizes your talent and rubs off on those around you. If you have courage, then you will influence people based on your passionate convictions. If you lack courage, then you will only influence people to the extent of your comfort zone.
Momentum breaker - dishonesty
Momentum maker - character
Character is the sum total of our everyday choices. It cannot be built overnight. A trustworthy leader has a much easier time generating momentum than a leader with a reputation of being manipulative and deceitful.
Momentum breaker - conformity
Momentum maker - change
As John F. Kennedy said, "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." Sticking with the status quo won't create an ounce of momentum. Although it's difficult and may demand sacrifice, change is required to build momentum.
Momentum breaker - ingratitude
Momentum maker - gratitude
As a Chinese proverb states, "Those who drink the water must remember those who dug the well." No one can claim to be self-made. Whatever accomplishments we attain in life have connections to the goodwill and support of those around us. When we express thankfulness for the benefits bestowed upon us by friends and colleagues, then those people are more apt to aid us again in the future.
Momentum breaker - indecision
Momentum maker - action
I am never overly impressed with idea people. Anyone who takes a long shower can come up with a good idea. I'm impressed with a person who has the tenacity and discipline to make ideas happen. I've seen many leaders break the momentum on their team by succumbing to the paralysis of analysis. Leaders have to act with incomplete information. You can never know all of the variables. Momentum and risk go hand in hand. As a leader, if you always play it safe, then you'll never inspire excitement in those you lead.
I'll leave you with a simple assignment. Assess your personal momentum. Are you serving as a momentum breaker or a momentum maker on your team? What is responsible for your momentum or lack thereof? Do you recognize any of the momentum makers or breakers in your personal leadership?
If you have followed Coach Don Meyer the past year, he has not doubt been a great inspiration to us all. But it is important to understand that as he navigates through the adversity that even in pain he is trying to teach us coaches. It is what he does best -- help us to do our jobs better.
That's why one message he was sending us over and over resonated with me very strongly -- give thanks we have a team. If you watched any of his interviews, the part that was most emotional for Coach Meyer was talking about having a team to coach -- to teach -- to mold.
During a video of his story showed during the ESPYs, the poignant moment of the night was when his daughter Brittany spoke of the first communicative message from Coach after the car accident. Unable to speak, he grabbed a pen and pad and wrote, "How long before I can coach?" In other words, "when can I rejoin my team!"
Not too long ago I had career opportunity that would have kept me in athletics but took me away from coaching. As I do before making a big decision, I have a small circle of influence that I ask for advice and guidance which by the way always includes Coach Meyer. At the top of that list is my junior high coach and mentor, Allen Osborne. Allen listened to me explain everything and then told me to pass on it and stay in coaching. I asked him why and he responded, "You will miss the feeling of being part of a team. You will miss shaping a team. There is something special about a team." His words carried a lot of weight because a few years before, after long and successful career, Allen had retired. It lasted on year. He need a team again.
To me the best part of being a coach is practice. It's what I enjoy the most. It's where I think I have the most influence on our "team." The way we conduct practices at LSU, in my opinion, not only makes them better players but better people. When asked what he misses most about coaching, John Wooden simply said, "Practice. The smell of the gym. The sound of sneakers squeaking."
This really hit home even more last night when I was reading "Champion," a magazine published by the NCAA. Don Ketchum wrote an article in this summer's edition on Bruce Snyder. Coach Snyder was an outstanding football coach that died last spring after a courageous 10-month battle with cancer.
Here's a little from Ketchum's article:
Snyder's cancer was discovered in June 2008, and he began his long difficult fight at medical facilities in Phoenix and at his home. Late in 2008, Snyder was invited by Texas coach Mack Brown to visit practice for the Fiesta Bowl. Snyder described the experience on http://www.caringbridge.org/:
"I was treated first class," he wrote. "Golf cart, access to the entire field, introduction to Coach Brown's staff individually and was able to watch the entire practice."
"At one point, I closed my eyes and took in the feeling of being at practice. There was the smell of cut grass, the voices of coaches on the run yelling instructions, the sound of the horn to alert players and coaches to switch drills and the sounds of pads -- it took me back to the days that I cherish."
"And at the end of practice, Coach Brown introduced me to his team and asked if I would say a few words. What an honor. I love talking to a team. It wasn't my team, but it was a football team."
Sometimes we take things for granted -- like we in fact do have a team...our team! Sure, we have our share of adversity and obstacles but that's life -- and we still have our team!
It also reminds of something that I heard Kelvin Sampson speak about three springs ago at a coaching clinic. He said his program would look each year for a retired coach to adopt because of the enormous hole in your soul when you get out of coaching. They would invite the coach to practices. Ask him for input. Have him address their team. Take him on a road trip. What an amazing idea. Mack Brown gave Coach Snyder a wonderful gift by making him a part of the Longhorn football program for an afternoon.
So today, let's be thankful that we have a team...a team to practice...a team to coach. And let's think about those who no longer do and make them a part of our team!
If you have the time, please copy and paste and email this to every coach you know. It's really an important message for all coaches to understand.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
- Control the defensive boards
- Take more shots than your opponent...by forcing turnovers and offensive rebounds
- Shoot more Free Throws...must make them; get 3-pt plays...you must get to the line! The team that takes the most FTs wins 9 out of 10 times.
- Get your best shooters high percentage shots...is your offense getting your best 2 shooters shots that they can make?... chart your shooting drills to see where they shoot well from
- Prevent turnovers...by breaking pressure...the difference between great teams is often the amount of time it takes to advance the ball from top of key to top of key.
Here are some thoughts from Dick Bennett on how to win with less talent...
Make free throws; don't foul - giving up free throws & negating pressure; don't give second shots to the opponent; don't give up offensive rebounds; prevent turnovers; take good shots; and don't give up uncontested shots to the opponent.
- You haven't EARNED the right to shoot until you have LEARNED what a good shot is.
- from Ed Schilling:"Guard your yard"-prevent your man from dribble penetrating 1 yard on either side of you
- Your program must have an overriding purpose which is clearly visible and which teaches lessons beyond winning. -- Don Meyer
- "Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming."
- Defensively think about this: wins occur by what you do on the other side of the floor; not always what you do on the ball side of floor
- execution requires timing, spacing, pace, vision, and concentration; the great teams understand this and work on these things each day!
- "Habit passes" are what our defenders have to ready for; all players seem to have them; if defense is ready for them you can get a few
- A hesitant athlete is a non athlete
- Little hinges swing big doors. Little things do make a big difference!
- Take pride in overcoming difficulties. The greater the difficulty, the greater the pride
- "Treat people as they are, and they will remain that way. Treat them as what they can be, and you help them become..." - Goethe
- The 4 Cancerous Behaviors of Athletes: Criticizing, Complaining, Comparing & Condemning.
- Small minds discuss people. Average minds discuss events. Great minds discuss ideas.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Nike set the standard for youth basketball development and the LeBron James Skills Academy and accompanying King City Classic have been heralded as the premiere events of the summer. What made it such an incredible event was the fact that King James himself was so actively involved. The reigning NBA MVP made a commitment to be an integral part of this event and he came through in a big way. It is universally accepted that LeBron has an undeniable work ethic, solid fundamentals, and an obvious passion and true love for the game. He epitomizes everything positive about the greatest game on earth. And despite his astounding fame, fortune, and world renowned notoriety, he still made the time to give back and to help those aspiring to follow in his foot steps. I saw first hand, for three and half days, that LeBron is a class act and deserves every bit of the success he has achieved.
In addition to LeBron’s participation, Nike assembled an elite staff of coaches and skill instructors; including many of the games best teachers. The theme at the initial staff meeting was succinct:
Have energy and enthusiasm at every workout; sweat with the players.
to your personality; don’t try to be someone you’re not. Be authentic.
Keep the drills moving! Less talk, more action!
It’s not how much you
know; it’s how much you bring that counts! Bring your best every workout.
Improvement is a constant, repetitive process. Do the little things to
keep things fun!
The official banquet was held on Monday and was absolutely spectacular. The food, décor, and atmosphere were first class. There was a professional DJ spinning records the entire time and they showed numerous LeBron highlight clips and commercials (many of which haven’t been released yet). The highlight of the night was a live Q & A with King James and ESPN’s Jay Bilas. Jay asked numerous questions as well as asked LeBron to say the first thing that popped into his mind when historic pictures of his career were put on the big screen; first Sports Illustrated cover (“I was just a kid”), shaking David Stern’s hand on draft night (“a dream come true”), holding up the 2009 MVP trophy (“hard work paid off”), and hearing the National Anthem upon receiving the Gold Medal in the 2009 Olympics in Beijing (“biggest accomplishment of my career”). LeBron was funny, entertaining, but very truthful. Again, a total class act. Nike kept highlighting the fact that LeBron is extremely loyal. For example he still resides in Akron, where he grew up, and insisted the academy was held in his hometown. He even chose to have his MVP press conference at his old high school to show the world he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Nike presented him with a pair of one of kind LeBron 2009 MVP Air Force 1’s. In closing, LeBron told the players, “I am here for you guys, the players. You are the games’ future, so take that seriously. Represent yourselves to the fullest and honor the game. Heck, one of you might host a camp that my kid goes to one day!”
While this was my third time meeting and seeing LeBron up close; I forgot how physically imposing he is. He is an absolute specimen. He has the perfect basketball physique. I closely followed his every move as I am always trying to learn from the great ones. He had a very standard pre-workout routine (which I wrote down in my notes) he followed meticulously before every workout session. It included getting his ankles taped and having his trainer (Mike Mancias of the Cleveland Cavaliers) stretch him out thoroughly. Once he hit the court he was all business. Intently watching him in the drills, I noticed that everything he did was crisp and sharp. He did everything at game speed; never just went through the motions. Every pass, every shot, and even his footwork were perfect. LeBron has great work habits. He had tremendous focus and an unbelievable level of concentration during each workout. He was also a great communicator. Despite balls bouncing, shoes squeaking, and players competing in drills on two courts – you could always hear his voice. He was a presence. Mark my words; LeBron James is not a great player by accident. He was worked for it. He has earned it.
Speaking of communication; midway through the first workout, he pulled the high schoolers aside to offer this bit of wisdom, “As the best player on your team, your presence alone should create opportunities for your teammates. You should demand double and triple teams every time you touch the ball which means your teammates are open. It’s your responsibility to get them the ball and to help them be successful. Great players make those around them better.” Amen.
Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to interview LeBron one on one about his training. So I did the next best thing; I spoke with his trainer! Mike Mancias, an assistant athletic trainer and strength & conditioning coach for the Cavs, was gracious enough to rap with me for a few minutes and give me some insight to LeBron’s regiment. While working for the Cavs full time, Coach Mancias is primarily responsible for LeBron. He goes with LeBron everywhere; even went with him to China for the Olympics. Since LeBron is such a workout machine, Coach Mancias admitted he is on call and keeps his Blackberry glued to his hip! He said LeBron does something workout wise almost every day; shooting work with private coach, hits the weights, takes yoga, or does some pool work. He aims to do 3 or 4 structured strength workouts a week focusing on full body movements, core strength, and improving joint mobility and integrity (ankles, hips, etc.). He also incorporates some cardio intervals in the mix. I watched one of LeBron’s strength workouts which included a combination of upper body movements, core exercises, and short intervals on the versa-climber. I always feel good knowing the stuff I do with my players is the same stuff guys like King James does! I also saw part of one of LeBron’s shooting workouts; very intense.
Jay Bilas, whom I have always very much respected and admired, brought up a great point about Mike’s talk. Inevitably, when you ask a group of elite level players “who wants to play in the NBA?” every hand in the room goes up. Then you ask, “Who truly believes they will play in the NBA?” not a single hand budges – they all stay up. Then you ask, “How many of you have made basketball your #1 priority; have made it 100% your main focus in life?” Again, no hands waver. Every player in the room swears they have made basketball their life and truly believes they are doing everything they can to make it to the league.
Yet when you ask them if they spend an hour a day working on their weak hand, or if they make (not take) 400-500 shots a day from game spots at game speed, or if they have read any books by Dean Smith, John Wooden, or Pete Newell, or if they are on a structured, year round strength & conditioning program, if they eat breakfast every day… 99.99% of the time you only get excuses. A lot of players say they will do anything to make it the NBA, but only a select few actually do.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
"He works great with players," Hewitt said. "I think the way he connects with players is what separates him from everyone else. He knows the game really well, too. He studies it and always does a great job scouting. He's going to get the kids to buy in, and he'll keep them motivated and they'll play really, really hard for him."
- Paul Hewitt, Head Coach at Georgia Tech on newly hired coach at Georgia Southern, Charlton Young.
"It’s the way you handle the kids and it’s morale and that’s a big thing here. When you break morale, kids aren’t going to play for you; they don’t want to play for you. The kids have to like you to a certain extent and have to respect you. But you have to respect them, too, and treat them fairly.”
- Former Marine Corps Lt. and newly hired Shade HS Head Varsity Footbal Coach, Gene Boley
- Pete Newell, the legendary coach and teacher, has often said that basketball is "over-coached and under-taught".
- Wake Forest football coach Jim Grobe: "We're not looking for the best players we can find. We're looking for the best kids we can find."