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Thursday, September 18, 2014

REASON #2 TO ATTEND THE 3rd ANNUAL GARY BLAIR COACHING ACADEMY

As we inch closed to the 3rd Annual Gary Blair Coaching Academy, I want to occasionally list a few of the reasons that make us proud to be the host.  First and foremost, Coach Blair has a great passion for growing our sport.  Not all programs open their doors and share anything and everything with coaches off all levels.

Besides great meals, an Academy Notebook and some great videos, you get to hear to of the best clinic speakers in the business -- Hall of Famer Gary Blair, and WNBA head coach Dan Hughes of the San Antonio Stars.

Coach Blair hasn't slowed down after leading our Aggies to the National Championship and into the SEC where we have won the SEC Tournament Championship and then advanced to the Elite 8 the past two seasons.

Coach Blair, a two-time national finalist for the Naismith Coach of the Year Award, has guided Texas A&M to nine straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and to four conference championships.

Blair led the Aggies to their first national title in their first-ever trip to the NCAA Women’s Final Four and closed out the 2010-11 season with a 33-5 record, the most victories in program history. The Aggies were voted as the No. 1 team in the coaches’ poll following the season, the first time Texas A&M stood atop either poll in women’s basketball.

In 2013 he was inducted into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Coach Hughes is the winningest coach in San Antonio Stars history and will enter his 10th season with the organization next summer where he also serves as General Manager.  His list of honors and awards include:

• WNBA Coach of the Year (2001, 2007)
• 14 WNBA All-Star Selections
• 9 Postseason Appearances
• 5 WNBA All-Rookie Team Selections
• 4 All-WNBA First Team Selections
• 4 All-WNBA Second Team Selections
• 4 Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Awards
• 3 WNBA All-Defensive Team Honorees
• 1 WNBA Top 15 Honoree
• 1 Conference Title

The academy includes sessions led by each of the Texas A&M women’s basketball coaches, focusing on wide-ranging topics on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Registration for the Academy includes three meals, a Texas A&M highlight DVD, a DVD of the Academy sessions and a notebook that includes tips on scouting, motivation, coaching philosophy, conditioning, and practice planning, in addition to a playbook.

Interested coaches may register here or get additional registration details here.

For more information, email Coach Bob Starkey at rstarkey@athletics.tamu.edu

SATURDAY - OCTOBER 4, 2013
12:30 PM      Registration

  2:00 PM      Aggie Basketball Philosophy (Gary Blair)

  3:15 PM      Stars Basketball (Dan Hughes)

  4:45 PM      Dinner

  6:00 PM      The Don Meyer Legacy (Bob Starkey)

  7:15 PM      Quick Hitters vs. Zone/Man (Kelly Bond-White)

SUNDAY - OCTOBER 5, 2013
  8:00 AM      Breakfast

  9:00 AM      Point Guard Play (Amy Wright)

10:00 AM      Aggie Offense
                      ◄Primary & Secondary Break
                      ◄Man to Man Offense
                      ◄Shooting Development

11:45 AM      Lunch

  1:00 PM      Aggie Defense (Bob Starkey)
                     ◄Ball Screen Defense
                     ◄Shell Defense
  2:00 PM      Q&A with the Aggie Staff   

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CAL BAILEY: 4 KEYS TO BEING A GOOD COACH

I have blogged before about my relationship with legendary baseball coach Cal Bailey.  While an assistant men's basketball coach at West Virginia State College I also served as the Sports Information Director for baseball which mean that I shared a seat on the bench with Cal, rode in vans with him and had a lot of meals.  It was one of the most valuable experiences of my coaching career.  I learned a great deal from observing Cal and talking to him about coaching, teaching and life.

Recently there were a set of podcasts talking to Cal about various things including his coaching philosophy.  Here are a few take aways:

Something he got from a college instructor, Dr. Herman Kennedy, when Cal was 21 is that "life is hell."  And the sooner you realized that the sooner you could go about navigating successfully through life.  It helped form his coaching philosophy.  Cal would actually create chaos at practice intentionally.  His thought process was that we wanted to occasionally put his players in situations where they would fail in practice to learn how to recover from it.  The experience in practice would make it more comfortable to handle in a game situations.

As Cal said, he want to "teach them to become their own best coach."

Another thing that Cal shared on the podcast was something that he learned as well -- 4 Keys To Being A Good Coach:

#1 The ABILITY to recognize ABILITY

#2 The ABILITY to surround yourself with ABILITY

#3 The ABILITY to develop ABILITY

#4 The ABILITY to utilize ABILITY

Cal retired at the end of last season but after listening to the podcast the Big Dog is still teaching me.

REASON #1 TO ATTEND THE 3rd ANNUAL GARY BLAIR COACHING ACADEMY

As we inch closed to the 3rd Annual Gary Blair Coaching Academy, I want to occasionally list a few of the reasons that make us proud to be the host.  First and foremost, Coach Blair has a great passion for growing our sport.  Not all programs open their doors and share anything and everything with coaches off all levels.

One of the items that clinic participants receive is our Academy Notebook.  The notebook is over 100 pages of Aggie Basketball and will include the following sections:

Practice Planning & Philosophy
This section speaks to how the Aggies develop their practice and has some sample practice plans for coaches to view

Man to Man Offense
A very detailed list of Aggie set plays via Fast Draw.



















Zone Offense
A look at the Aggie zone offensive attack

Man Defense
This section will deal with shell series and screen defense this year.

Special Situations
Principles and guidelines for Aggie special situations.

Skill Development
     -Point Guard
     -Wings
     -Post Play













Strength & Conditioning
A look at some of the work the Aggies do in the areas of strength, conditioning, explosion, quickness and agility.

Scouting
Guidelines for scouting and always includes an actual scouting report that Aggies would utilize with their team.

Motivation
Always one of the favorite section for clinic coaches, this is filled with motivational passouts that the Aggies give to their players.



















Resources
A section of how you can follow and contact the Aggie coaching staff.

We take great pride in making sure the material from the previous Academy is not repeated!  We want to make sure that we are adding new information for those coaches who are repeat attendees.

We start putting the Academy Notebook together in the summer and work on it up until the day before the clinic.

The academy includes sessions led by each of the Texas A&M women’s basketball coaches, focusing on wide-ranging topics on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

Registration for the Academy includes three meals, a Texas A&M highlight DVD, a DVD of the Academy sessions and a notebook that includes tips on scouting, motivation, coaching philosophy, conditioning, and practice planning, in addition to a playbook.

Interested coaches may register here or get additional registration details here.


For more information, email Coach Bob Starkey at rstarkey@athletics.tamu.edu


SATURDAY - OCTOBER 4, 2013
12:30 PM      Registration

  2:00 PM      Aggie Basketball Philosophy (Gary Blair)

  3:15 PM      Stars Basketball (Dan Hughes)

  4:45 PM      Dinner

  6:00 PM      The Don Meyer Legacy (Bob Starkey)

  7:15 PM      Quick Hitters vs. Zone/Man (Kelly Bond-White)


SUNDAY - OCTOBER 5, 2013
  8:00 AM      Breakfast

  9:00 AM      Point Guard Play (Amy Wright)

10:00 AM      Aggie Offense
                      ◄Primary & Secondary Break

                      ◄Man to Man Offense

                      ◄Shooting Development

11:45 AM      Lunch

  1:00 PM      Aggie Defense (Bob Starkey)
                     ◄Ball Screen Defense

                     ◄Shell Defense
  2:00 PM      Q&A with the Aggie Staff   

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

WHEN YOUR TEAM IS UNITED

“When your team is united, it can ward off any flak from negative perceptions. It won’t make any difference what outsiders think. When your team is working together, your competition will have fewer weaknesses to exploit. But a team divided against itself can break down at any moment. The least bit of pressure or adversity will crack it apart.”

-Bill Parcells

MAKING THE "RIGHT" DECISION

A big part of coaching is the ability to make decisions.  When you think about it, coaches have numerous decisions that they must make on a daily basis.  All are relevant to our programs though certainly some are more important than others.  Here is a great list of thoughts in regard to decision making from Bill Walsh from his book "Finding The Winning Edge."
 
-One of the main attributes a leader must have is the ability to discriminate from what is often contradictory information. In this matter, it takes a thorough understanding of the situation and of the sources of information to act effectively.

-Decision making involves more risk and responsibility than any other managerial activity. The work of problem analysis and evaluation can be delegated to others in the organization, but the responsibility for decision making is ultimately assigned to one individual. Choosing among various alternatives often demands courage and moral judgment, as well as intelligence.

-Effective decision making is vital to the growth of any organization.

-Toward that end, there is a series of questions that you should address when making a decision, including:

·         What difference does it make what course of action you decide to adopt?

·         Do you have sufficient information to fully analyze the issue/matter under consideration?

·         If you are lacking essential information, do you know how to get it?

·         How critic al to implementing your decision is its acceptance by those who will be affected by it?

·         To what degree does the commitment of others to your decision depend on their active participation in the decision-making process?

·         Is everyone affected by your decision in general agreement with its basic objectives?

·         To what degree will those who will be affected by your decision disagree over possible alternative solutions?

·         Do the individuals involved in your decision have the capability to implement the decision as planned?

 - An educated guess is just as accurate and far faster than compiled errors. – George Patton

Sunday, September 14, 2014

LATER

Can there be a more insidious word? Later, as in “I’ll do it later.”  Or, “Later, I’ll have time to write that book that’s been on my mind for the past five years.”  Or, “I know I need to straighten out my finances...I’ll do it later.”

"Later” is one of those dream-killers, one of the countless obstacles we put up to derail our chances of success.  The diet that starts “tomorrow,” the job hunt that happens “eventually,” the pursuit of the life dream that begins “someday” combine with other self-imposed roadblocks and lock us on autopilot.

Why do we do this to ourselves, anyway?  Why don’t we take action now?  Let’s face it: The familiar is easy; the uncharted path is lined with uncertainties.”

-Jennifer Reed (Success Magazine)

 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

35 SECRETS OF BRILLIANT COACHES

The following comes from a great list that was written by Anne Josephson for the Huffington Post.  The title of the article was "35 Secrets of Brilliant Coaches." The complete list of 35 and is well worth reading here.

These are the ones that I thought had stood out during my life-time of coaching:

1. Cherish the child over the athlete. Brilliant coaches know that being an athlete is just a small part of being a child. Brilliant coaches never do anything to advance the athlete at the risk of the child.

6. Begin with the end in mind. Brilliant coaches keep their focus on the big picture of the goal of the athlete. They have a plan, but are flexible as they are aware the road to success is filled with twists and turns.

7. Are obsessive about fundamentals. Brilliant coaches understand the value of fundamentals as the core of all skills. The stronger the core, the more successful the athlete. Legendary basketball coach John Wooden would spend his first practice with his players instructing them how to put on socks. Correct wearing of socks prevents blisters, and feet absent of blisters can attend basketball practice.

8. Break skills into chunks. Brilliant coaches don't simply teach a cartwheel. They break that cartwheel into several key sub-skills and instruct on those skills first before putting them together to perform the cartwheel. Brilliant coaches know that by isolating the individual elements that are woven together to achieve the skill athletes will succeed faster.

9. Embrace athletes' struggle. Brilliant coaches understand that learning is a curve. Like muscle needs to break down before building up, athletes need to struggle to push forward. A brilliant coach doesn't panic when this struggle happens.

10. Make the boring interesting. Brilliant coaches connect the tedious to the goal and make games out of those things that can be counted. They issue challenges and create missions. The goal is to make these dull, but necessary moments more engaging.

14. Give feedback in short, clear spurts that are precise and action oriented. No long speeches. John Wooden was once followed for a whole season so his motivational techniques could be studied. Wooden's average "speech" was four sentences. Furthermore, brilliant coaches do not engage in observational coaching. ("Get your arms up." Up where? "Your knees are bent." Tell me how to fix that.) Concrete feedback ("Your arms need to be right behind your ears." And "Squeeze this muscle and this muscle in your leg to make it straight.") is given instead.

15. Are careful about how they measure success. Brilliant coaches do not use scores or win-loss records as their sole measure of success. Brilliant coaches understand that doing so can erode the long term development of the athlete. Brilliant coaches instead develop competencies for the long run, even if that means sacrificing success at the beginning of journey. If you had to choose, would you rather have your child be the strongest student in the first grade or in the twelfth grade?

18. Constantly are seeking continuing education. Brilliant coaches never believe they know it all or that they cannot improve themselves. Quite the opposite. Brilliant coaches read journals, articles, books and scour the internet for training ideas. They attend professional workshops and seek mentorships from other coaches.

22. Use imagery in coaching. Brilliant coaches paint pictures in the athletes' minds. "Jump as high as you can," becomes "Push the floor away from you like a rocket blasting into space and reach that rocket to the stars."

32. Educate their athletes. Brilliant coaches go beyond instructing their athletes, instead educating them in a age-appropriate ways regarding the purpose of and objective of various drills, skill sequences and conditioning circuits.

Again, the entire list is outstanding -- an especially great read for young coaches -- and you can read it in it's entirety here.

RICK PITINO ON THE FORCE OF FOCUS

The following comes from "The One Day Contract" by Rick Pitino:

Whatever is happening in life, focus is the key to performance.

In this age of social media, bad news always spreads fast, and technology spreads it faster than anything. When this happens, you cannot let the negativity and disappointment infiltrate all you’re trying to accomplish.

Everybody loses focus when bad things happen.

When you change everything because of your critics, you are losing focus, and when you answer them you are losing focus. Leave your critics isolated. Stay focused on your journey only.

Ted Williams said that an average hitter swinging at a good pitch to hit is better than a great hitter swinging at a bad pitch. Basketball is no different. A good shooter taking a great shot is better than a great shooter taking a bad one.

Muhammad Ali said, “Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

ON LEADING AND FOLLOWING

One of the best books I've read on leadership in the past several years is "Leadership In The New Normal" written by Lt. General Russel L. Honere.  In fact, I've took this week to reread it.  Here are some great thoughts from General Honere on leaders and followers with my thoughts in bold red italics:

Earlier on, I stated my working definition of leadership: the art and science of influencing others to willingly follow.  To accomplish this, to get willing followers, leaders need to do two things: they must walk the walk and they must inspire loyalty.

"Walk the walk" -- as Coach Don Meyer would say, your example isn't the main thing in influencing people, it's the only thing.

Leaders have to be genuinely respectable.  The need to live up to the best attributes of the organizations they lead.  Good leaders are good citizens.  Followers want somebody who's responsible, not just somebody who's loud.

Good followers, however, obey willingly because the mission is as important to them as it is to the leader.

Without question, one of the main things a leader must do if forge a set of principles and goals that excite and inspire those that he/she leads.  I also believe that big part of that is allowing the followers to be a part of that process in deciding why they are doing what they are doing.

The Gallup Organization has done a lot of research into inspired followers -- what they call "engaged workers" - and found that these workers are must more productive and profitable, get hurt less, are more loyal, and somehow create willing customers.  Engaged workers achieve all that only if they have good leadership.

And good leadership has something to do with presence.  A leader's presence isn't just a matter of power, or decision making authority, or control over resources.  A real leader isn't even elected; some elected officials think they're leaders when, in fact, they're just figureheads.

Leaders who fail get caught up in the wrong things...the power...the budget...material things.  Leaders that succeed know that the it begins and ends with people and relationships.

Leaders must say what they mean and mean what they say.  Follows don't score you on where you come from or necessarily what you look like. They score you on your character.  As soldiers like to say, your audio and your video have to match.

It's about character -- enough said!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

NEVER FORGET: THE ATHLETES THAT IMPACTED SEPTEMBER 11

On the 10th Anniversary of 911, Rick Reilly wrote an amazing piece for ESPN.com titled "Let's Keep Rolling."  The reference was into one of the passengers on Flight 93, Todd Beamer who told a small group "Let's Roll" before they altered the history of our nation. 

Rick's column began:
The first battle in the renewed war against terrorism wasn't waged in Fallujah or Kandahar or Tikrit. It was held 32,000 feet above Pittsburgh, on Sept. 11, 2001.

And it wasn't soldiers who led the battle.

It was four athletes, pushing a food cart.

This morning at our 6 AM workout, I took time in the middle of the workout to talk about September 11 with our team.  One of my biggest fears with this generation as that they live so much in the moment -- they don't take the time to study history -- to learn from history.

We talked about the great joy of being able to get up and condition this morning.  We talked about the freedoms we have because of the sacrifice of so many that we've never met.  And we talked about the importance of this day.  Not because it's September 11 -- but because it's today.  Nothing is promised.

We talked about how can we be the least bit upset about running in the morning.  How does that compare to the discomfort that fireman faced running up the stairs of the towers.

And we talked about just what we want to accomplish through athletic competition.  It's not about winning our opening game of the season or even striving to win the last game of the season to claim a championship.

It's about life lessons.  Rising early to drive them pass a level of comfort through conditioning isn't just about getting them ready to play 40 minutes -- it's about preparing them to work through discomfort 5 years from now...10 years from now...40 years from now.

Some line drills this morning will pale in comparison to some of life's challenges that they will face later.

But it's what makes athletics great -- the lessons of hard work, sacrifice, team work...it is what helped Todd Beamer (former shortstop at Wheaton College), Jeremy Glick (NCAA Judo Champion), Mark Bingham (National Rugby Champion), and Tom Burnett (outstanding high school quarterback) storm the cockpit on Flight 93 and stop it from continuing it's path to Washington, DC.

Talking about putting the team above self.  On that day, WE were ALL on their team -- and they thought about US!  As Burnett told his wife via phone on Flight 93: "I know we're going to die. Some of us are going to do something about it."

Reilly also writes of those families left behind:

Many of the families of the Flight 93 victims have stayed close. So close, in fact, 24 of them will run in the New York City Marathon in November as a team, led by the sister, Kiki, of one of the slain pilots, Leroy Homer, a former high school track star.

You might recognize them. They'll probably be wearing T-shirts that read: They didn't quit. Neither will we.

Reilly's column is one of his very best -- you can read it in it's entirety here.