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Friday, August 15, 2014


I ran across this website and really liked the stuff I read -- especially this post by Eric Barker titled, "6 Things The Most Productive People Do Every Day."  I'm going to share a few excerpts but you can read the entire article here.

1) Manage Your Mood
Most productivity systems act like we’re robots – they forget the enormous power of feelings.

If you start the day calm it’s easy to get the right things done and focus.

But when we wake up and the fray is already upon us — phone ringing, emails coming in, fire alarms going off — you spend the whole day reacting.

2) Don’t Check Email In The Morning
To some people this is utter heresy. Many can’t imagine not waking up and immediately checking email or social media feeds.

I’ve interviewed a number of very productive people and nobody said, “Spend more time with email.”

Why is checking email in the morning a cardinal sin? You’re setting yourself up to react.

An email comes in and suddenly you’re giving your best hours to someone else’s goals, not yours.

You’re not planning your day and prioritizing, you’re letting your objectives be hijacked by whoever randomly decides to enter your inbox.

3) Before You Try To Do It Faster, Ask Whether It Should Be Done At All
Everyone asks, “Why is it so impossible to get everything done?” But the answer is stunningly easy:

You’re doing too many things.

Want to be more productive? Don’t ask how to make something more efficient until after you’ve asked “Do I need to do this at all?”

4) Focus Is Nothing More Than Eliminating Distractions
Ed Hallowell, former professor at Harvard Medical School and bestselling author of Driven to Distraction, says we have “culturally generated ADD.”
Has modern life permanently damaged our attention spans?

No. What you do have is more tantalizing, easily accessible, shiny things available to you 24/7 than any human being has ever had.

The answer is to lock yourself somewhere to make all the flashing, buzzing distractions go away.

5) Have A Personal System
I’ve spoken to a lot of insanely productive people. You know what none of them said?
“I don’t know how I get stuff done. I just wing it and hope for the best.”
Not one. Your routines can be formal and scientific or personal and idiosyncratic — but either way, productive people have a routine.

6) Define Your Goals The Night Before
Wake up knowing what is important before the day’s pseudo-emergencies come barging into your life and your inbox screams new commands.
Here’s Tim:
Define your one or two most important to-dos before dinner, the day before.
Bestselling author Dan Pink gives similar advice:
Establish a closing ritual. Know when to stop working. Try to end each work day the same way, too. Straighten up your desk. Back up your computer. Make a list of what you need to do tomorrow. 
Research says you’re more likely to follow through if you’re specific and if you write your goals down.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Anyone that knows me knows that I love reading -- that I believe strongly in the value of reading.  As Coach Don Meyer would say, "Leaders are readers."  The amount of information available today is amazing.  Books and magazines -- hard copies or digital -- are so many subjects are available.  Blogs and internet sites are numerous. In the coaching profession there are so many great email newsletters. 

I personally utilize Google Alerts -- giving the specific names of coaches that I admire and want to learn from.  Each day at 10:00 am I get an email that list anything on the internet about those specific coaches.  For instance, Doc Rivers is on my list and I generally get 3 to 5 articles a day regarding Doc.

From my time working with Dale Brown at LSU, I learned how to fully use a book.  Coach Brown would be constantly marking his books with underlines and notes.  Afterwards his secretary would type the notes for his files for him to pull out utilize with his staff, team, media, fans or in his speech preparation for organizations.  This has been incredibly useful for me in allowing me to maximize my reading experience.  You can see an example of one my books above.  Coach Brown also assigned books to his staff to read and would annually give each player a team on the book to read as well, later having a conversation with them about what they learned.  I have took that on to the programs I work with having a book for our team to read in the summer (in which they must write a book report) and then have another book for our team to read during the season (in which is accompanied by worksheets).  The summer book usually steers away from basketball to broaden their horizons.   This year we gave each player a copy of "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou.  They will turn their reports in at the beginning of fall classes.  Our book for the basketball season will be "Toughness" by Jay Bilas.

I remember at Coaching U listening to Kevin Eastman talk about his discipline of rising each day at 5 AM to get his reading in.  Kevin is some who understands the growth that comes from reading:

"No matter how much we know on any subject, there’s always more to learn. Make the time to read, to study, and to think; each of these is important to your development. We all need to keep up with what’s going on in our field, too. I’ve found that news and magazine articles can be as helpful as books in this regard. The key is to keep searching so that you stay gain knowledge, improve, and stay relevant!"

The following is an excerpt from a well-written article by Kelsey Meyer for Forbes Magazine titled "Why Leaders Must Be Reader."
Reading Reminds You
I make it a habit to re-read specific books every year because I need constant reminders of the good things they’ve taught me. After my third reading of Gary Vaynerchuk’s The Thank You Economy, I was inspired to work with our team to handwrite every one of our clients a thank-you note. Whether you re-read the same book or article to remind you of concepts, or read content on time management and organization as a constant reminder to work on these things, reading is valuable because it keeps important concepts top of mind.

Reading Challenges You
A female co-worker of mine, whom I respect immensely, recently gave me a book and said, “I disagree with about 80% of this, but you should definitely read it.” I loved that she was sharing a book that challenged her opinions, yet felt it was worthwhile reading for the 20% that was valuable. Reading something you disagree with can have a big impact on your ability to think, both creatively and logically.
Reading Gives You Opportunities to Interact with Others
I have referenced articles and books I’ve read in countless conversations, not to sound intelligent or cool (some of what I read would accomplish the opposite), but to relate to those with whom I’m speaking. Here are a few ways you should be making the most of what you’re reading:
Take notes and share them with your team.
  • An investor in our company sends me, on average, five articles a day and I always put them in a file that says “To Read.” When I have 10 minutes at the end of the day, I read an article or two, knowing that I can discuss these pieces with him later. It’s a great way for us to share ideas and inspire action in each other.
Spark debates with your team.
  • I also like using article topics to spark debate amongst our team members about how we should address a subject. I’ve heard of companies creating book clubs, where employees discuss topics in books that relate to their industry during lunch once a month. Sparking debate and sharing ideas is a wonderful way to use written content as a team-bonding tool.

Back up an idea you have or a decision you want to make.
  • You can use an article/book/speech from a respected person in your field to back up a decision you want to make. I’m not saying you should make decisions based solely on what you read, but it does give you more leverage when you say, “I read in So-and-So’s book that he had success with X, and I thought that we could implement this idea in our company by doing Y.” It’s a little more likely to stick than saying, “Who knows if this has ever worked for anyone in the past? But heck, let’s be the first to see if it can work!”
If you’re one of those people who claim you don’t have time to read, then first, I question why you’re reading my measly little article. Second, I encourage you to make time. Time never “appears” for anything; you have to make it. If nothing else, learn how to multitask.

Listen to content while driving or walking to work (I suggest “This American Life” and “Intelligence Squared” on NPR – I’m obsessed with both). If you don’t have time to read an entire book, read short articles online. If you’re dying to read a book but honestly can’t find the time, then pair up with a friend and take turns reading and sharing the ideas through short descriptions, or find excerpts of the book online.

"If you are a leader, you should be striving to develop knowledge to improve yourself, your company, and the people who work for you. To do anything less is to shortchange your ability to lead." -Kelsey Meyer


Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Purchased "The Rise: Creativity, The Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery" by Sarah Lewis per Coach Mike Dunlap's recommendation. I've just completed it -- great read with some blog posts to come.  My question is, what are you reading and what are you getting from it. I don't usually do it but I'm leaving the "comment" box open -- please feel free to let us know what book has your attention right now.


I  came across an absolutely great article on Derek Jeter written by Joel Sherman for the New York Post.  It is possibly the best thing I've read about Jeter and some of the reasons he been so consistently successful.  I've written before but to me, the true test of greatness comes with the test of time.  There are many that are good, even great for a short period of time but it is the long haul that truly show us greatness.

I strongly suggest you take the time to read the entire article here -- until, here are some great excerpts:

On Friday night, Jeter started his 2,610th game at shortstop. That moved him past Omar Vizquel for the most in major league history. It might not be Lou Gehrig or Cal Ripken stuff, and it came and went without confetti and fanfare. But you do not start that many games in the middle infield — all those double-play pivots, etc. — without a sense of responsibility, a reservoir of pride and a steely constitution. The day-after-day mental and physical grind ultimately defeats every athlete. But some endure better than others. And Jeter is at the top 1 percent.

“We all consider rolling over and shutting the alarm clock off,” Joe Torre said by phone. “Jeter never rolls over. He gets out of bed. It is never a consideration to take a day off. It is a sense of responsibility to his team and to himself.”

I remember a conversation long ago with Gene Michael when he was still the Yankees general manager. We were discussing the traditional five tools — hitting, hitting for power, running, fielding and throwing.

That day I disagreed with the confines of the five tools. I suggested there were so many more than five tools. Aptitude was vital. You could have five tools, but if you couldn’t apply them, what was the use? Victor Martinez might only have two tools, but he has pretty much maximized them. That is so much more valuable than having five that excite scouts but never come out in games with consistency.

Grace under pressure is a tool. Again, you could have the physical stuff down, but if you can’t do it with 40,000 people in attendance or in October, what is the point?

Discipline is a tool. Are you going to keep working out, avoid perks that could drain your energy and skill?

And durability is a tool. Danny Tartabull used to tell me to project his stats over a full season and I finally told him, “Why? You never play a full season.” Mark Buehrle might not be blessed with the stuff that makes scouts drool, but wind him up and he gives you 200 innings. Every year. Year after year.

Because I believe it is in all these areas beyond the traditional tools that Jeter was an A-plus and took very good traditional tools to a Hall-of-Fame level.

His aptitude, his grace under pressure, his discipline and — for me — especially his toughness.

Chili Davis Code: If I am playing, I am healthy enough to play. He never played the “I am 80 percent” game to provide an alibi. Never told you off the record how he was really feeling, again, as a way to set up the excuse. “I’m all right.” That he what he told managers and media.

Jeter felt a responsibility to play, that the team was best when he did. Torre and Joe Girardi have known they could write his name into the lineup game after game, season after season. Do you know how much easier that makes the managing job?

“There was a playoff series in which he had pretty much a broken hand, got shot up for Game 1, couldn’t feel his hand and said he would rather just play with the pain,” Torre said. “There was never a consideration that he wouldn’t play. He came to the ballpark to play. It certainly made my job a whole lot easier. You talk about a guy who is a leader. You have someone who wants to rest, they look across the locker room and see him. He forced other people to play, not literally, but by example.”

Saturday, August 9, 2014


This past July, I spent as much time as possible picking the minds of coaches on the road in regard to defensive play.  We are always looking to refine what we do — find ways to improve.  One of the things I was asked a couple of times from some younger coaches are what considerations do you make in forming your defensive philosophy? 

And it’s a great question.
First let me say that I think it is important that you do have a system of play defensively.  You need to have a philosophy that says "this is how we are going to defend."  It needs to be surrounded by rules, principles and teaching but you must have a system as a centerpiece.

Let me state that I firmly believe that are a lot of different ways to play the game successfully — especially on the defensive side.  If you look at the men’s game, you can look at three of the best teams in the nation and see three different systems of play.

Syracuse - great zone team

Duke - primary man to man team

Florida - excellent pressing team

During my younger days, two of the best teams in the country were Indiana and North Carolina.  It was Bob Knight who played exclusively man to man defense, and Dean Smith who utilized a multiple defensive system.  Coach Knight would say that it was “simplicity and execution” vs. “surprise and change,” though I believe execution is a big part of both.

So while it is important to know that the game can be played in a variety of ways, there are still some considerations I think coaches should give thought to.

Here are a few things that I think any good defensive systems would have:

1. A good defensive system needs a consistent set of guidelines and principles that govern it and certainly some set rules.  I believe that defense is more “rule” oriented than offense.

2. A good defensive system needs to fit the players you have available.  If you are on the high school level, you inherit the players that play for you.  If you are on the collegiate level, you sometimes have a certainly type of player that you can recruit.  Does your defensive system fit those players?  Too often, coaches see a particular coach be successful and want to adapt his/her system of play and this can often time be a mistake.  Do you have the make-up of a team that can play the way you want to play?  If not, you must adjust your system.  On the collegiate level you can attempted to adjust your recruiting.

3. A good defensive systems needs to be flexible.  I believe this even if you primarily play one set defense.  The programs I have been involved with have been man-to-man defensive teams.  Yet I think it is imperative that you can defend ball screens more than one way.  I think it makes a major difference if you can defend the low post more than one way.  I really believe that good defenses have a Plan A and a Plan B.

4. A good defensive system needs allow you to beat/compete with the best teams in your league.  I see teams that play a certain way (offensively and defensively) and they are successful to an extend but are unable to beat the best in their league or advance in the post-season.  Give thought to what it takes to compete with those elite schools in your conference and make sure you defense gives you a chance to do just that.

5. A good defensive system needs to have a means in which it can allow a team to comeback from a deficit.  All teams fall behind and must play catch-up at some point and it is even more critical in the post-season.  What can your system of play do to get you back in a game?

6. A good defensive system should have a transition defense philosophy.  Again, it doesn’t matter if you are man-to-man, zone or multiple, what are the guidelines for your team getting back and being ready to defend?

7. A good defensive system is backed up by good, formulated practice plans on a daily basis.  Regardless of what defense you play, it is the teaching that allows it to be successful.

8. A good defensive system is given the amount of importance and relevance from the coaching staff that helps a team understand why it is necessary for success.  As Don Meyer would say, “It’s not what you teach, it’s what you emphasize.”

9. A good defensive system should have a system of communication.  Regardless of the type of defense you play, all good defenses communicate.  Coach Krzyzewski has three phases of basketball: offense, defense, and communication.  It much more than just “talking.”  You communicate with your voice, your ears, your eyes, and your body.

A couple of quick thoughts in regard to a good defensive system of play, especially as it relates to man to man defense in the half-court is that I think in todays game you have to have a plan that:

...has a strategy to defend the low post

...has a strategy to defend dribble penetration

...has a strategy to defend ball screens

Now certainly there are other things involved in good defense, but these three areas to me seem like where offensive teams are scoring from the most.

Within our defense, we have our “daily to-do list” of areas we want to cover in some form — whether it be in a part-method drill or through the emphasis of a whole-method drill.  For us, things that our important daily include:

1. Transition Defense

2. Defending the Dribble

3. Post Defense

4. Closeouts

5. Contesting Shots

6. Help and Recover

7. Blockout

I could include communication in this list but it is a part of each one.  But the point is, communication is taught and stressed each day.

Again, regardless of your style or system of play, you should have a list of daily things to cover in order to build or grow your defense.  They don’t have to be the things I listed above but there should be a list of your systems defensive priorities.

Friday, August 8, 2014


Here's a great story from Tim Grover's book "Relentless."  Grover calls the mentality of champions "cleaners." Cleaners perform at the highest of levels physically, emotionally and mentally. His story below on Larry Bird not only portrays him as a cleaner but I love the "process over results." 

Find a video of Larry Bird in the 1988 All-Star Game Three-Point Contest against Dale Ellis. Bird had won the competition the two previous years and was coming back to defend his title, and he made sure there was no doubt he was there to win: “Who’s finishing second?” he asked the other players in the locker room. It wouldn’t be him. After every shot, as soon as the ball left his fingertips, he turned back to the rack to get the next ball. Never watched a single shot after it left his hand. Some went in, some clanged off the rim, but he never looked. He was already halfway off the court headed back to the bench by the time the winning ball went in; he never even took off his warm up shirt. All instinct. He didn’t have to wait to see what would happen. He already knew.

The fact that Bird shot the ball and than moved on to the next one without waiting to see if it went not only shows his confidence but also his concentration on the process -- not the result. 


My friend Don Yaeger's most recent blog post on fear is outstanding.  You can read it (and should!) in it's entirety here.  Part of Don's post was an interview with Tony La Russa.

“It’s okay to have anxiety,” La Russa said. “You’re going to face a lot of opportunities where there’s an uncertain outcome and you’ve been given the opportunity to try it. Bad fear means you call in sick. And you will never, ever have a strong personal feeling and a strong enough ego to be successful and take advantage of what you’ve gone through your whole life.”

His philosophy is so practical: Good fear propels you to facing a challenge with a stronger mindset and better preparation, while bad fear drives you to curl up on the couch. La Russa told me that responding to bad fear—dodging your challenges—will lead to a weak ego and a lack of confidence, and can create more anxiety as we obsess over the opportunities that we passed on.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


I got the following from my friend Joey Burton. He came across an articled on Nick Saban with some of his comments regarding the quarterback competition at Alabama. Certainly all of our football coaches will enjoy but as Joey pointed out, basketball coaches could make the same thoughts in regard to point guard play.

Saban commented, "It's going to come dow to, in my opinion, three things."

They are:

#1 "...the guy that can basically have the best judgement, decision-making, relative to doing what we need them to do."

#2 "...the guy that is most accurate in throwing the ball to the right place at the right time to give guys the opportunity to make plays."

#3 "...their leadership to affect other people."

Monday, July 28, 2014


The ultimate dysfunction of a team is the tendency of members to care about something other than the collective goals of the group.  An unrelenting focus on specific objectives and clearly defined outcomes is a requirement for any team that judges itself on performance.

From "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Patrick Lencioni

Friday, July 25, 2014


1. You can’t trap once he catches it.

2. Anticipation is huge

3. LP Defender ¾ to behind.

4. LP Defender: Take away baseline

5. Trapper: Not trying to steal it… trying to give other 3 chance for steal.