30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Friday, July 31, 2009

Don't Be a Victim

We really try to take the blame for our mistakes and our failures with Henryville Basketball. One of the easiest defense mechanisms (which has been nurtured by our society the last 45 years) is to blame someone else for our shortcomings.
Basketball related "it was the refs fault"; "I didn't walk, he just doesn't know a good move"; "He takes too many shots"; "he needs to pass more"; "the fans are supportive enough"; the other kids are punks"; "the administration needs to have my back"; I could go on and on.

We as a staff must be able to accept our mistakes, acknowledge them, and move on. We will make mistakes, and if we try to deflect, blame others, act like it isn't the pink elephant in the room, we will lose respect as the leader of the program/team.

I have said "sorry" to my team, to my players individually, to my assistants when I was wrong. Believe it or not, I have been wrong. I know, I know if you go into the stands on a Friday night you will find a lot of people who agree with that assessment, but I am admitting it.

Don't be a victim, one of the hardest things to do is lose a game on a Tuesday night, especially sectional games, and come to school the next day. To walk the halls and look at the people who the previous night were doing all they could to help you win, and you feel that somehow you let them all down. Usually, they are very nice, but sometimes you don't even want that.

In life, we have a victim mindset that has permeated everything. We all need something, have failed because of something whether it be child molestation, murder, parents that loved you too much, parents that didn't love you enough, mean teachers, hard ass coaches, lenient substitutes, the police...something, somebody has caused you not to do what you are supposed to do, has made you into what you are.

Trust me, I have had more than my fair share of bad things happen to me, some worse than others, but I absolutely refuse to be a victom. Often we cannot control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it. It isn't easy sometimes, probably most times, but what other choice do we have?

Lie around and feel sorry for ourselves? Blame others? Do things we aren't supposed to do? Crime? Passing that sin onto others? Not me, I refuse to be a victim, I prefer to be a victor. I absolutely refuse to blame others for my mistakes; I refuse it. Do I fall short sometimes? Yes, I know when I am doing it, and I should stop, but it makes you feel better inside, psychologically, which is not right in my opinion.
I do believe that it is okay to feel sorry for yourself, to be depressed, to be down. If you put a lot of time and effort into something you are bound to feel defeated when you fail. It is normal, and okay to feel this way, but you must not keep you from moving forward. It is at that moment when you find out what you are made of, what kind of mental toughness do you have?
Perspective helps, too. I look at the stories of some people who have it worse than I do financially, career wise, health wise and it humbles you. Some of the things I have complained about, been upset about are really nothing in the grand scheme of things, in the overall picture.
But, in those darkest moments when you are dealing with death, when you are dealing with the illness of a loved one you must seek out the help of others. Someone to talk to, someone to vent to, someone to help you keep proper perspective. You have to have someone in your worst times, heck in all bad times that you can share your feelings with. Even in these worst of times, it too shall pass, and then what do you do? I would hope we move forward and persevere because that is what is wanted for us.

So, when you come to our games in the future, you can know that we are taking responsibility for us. We have practiced, planned, and prepared for that game. But, when you see me on the referees, or one of our players complaining about something, you can know we are falling short, but always striving to not be a victim.
(Pictured is Clint Horine, a recent graduate of HHS, fan of HHS basketball, and The Voice of HHS baseball. Clint has battled some daily struggles with his health, sometimes is down, but takes a negative situation better than most adults and makes a positive out of it. He is one of my heroes.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day in the Life of a High School Basketball Coach

Day in the life of a high school basketball coach...practice before the season begins:
6:00 AM...wake up and get ready/ read paper/eat breakfast
6:50 AM...wake daughter up and get her ready
7:00 AM...head to school
7:15 AM...arrive at school/open gym door for any player wanting to shoot/prepare for day
7:35 AM...hall duty, supervise until class starts.
8:00 AM...teaching responsibilities begin/teach US History, Psychology, and Sociology/during the day prepare practice plan/ make sure practice gear is cleaned and dried
2:50 PM...head to gym/get practice gear for guys/turn on lights/make sure floor is getting cleaned/ talk to assts. as you head out/ make sure everyone is getting in right frame of mind
5-5:30 PM...practice ends/this year the coaching staff will discuss practice, how it went and what we need to work on
5:45 with jr. high or elementary practices or prepare to attend one of these lower level games
6:00 PM...make sure you eat something/ no jr. high or elementary games and you head home for supper with the family/ play with the kids /if there is a lower level game, arrive home around 8 PM, then spend time with the kids
9:00 practice or game film or just watch t.v., usually just t.v. to clear mind/ video games help to clear the mind from basketball also
11:00 PM..hope you can get to sleep by now and sleep through the night....many times I wake up around 4 AM thinking basketball and trying to go back to sleep.

Day in the life of a high school basketball coach...HOME game:
6:00 AM...wake up and get ready/ read paper/eat breakfast
6:50 AM...wake daughter up and get her ready
7:00 AM...head to school
7:15 AM...arrive at school/open gym door for any player wanting to shoot/prepare for day
7:35 AM...hall duty, supervise until class starts.
8:00 AM...teaching responsibilities begin/teach US History, Psychology, and Sociology/during the day prepare look over game plan/ make sure practice gear is cleaned and dried
2:50 PM...get to locker room and make sure uniforms, warm ups are laid out/ sweep and clean game floor/ make sure bleachers are pulled out/ get something to eat/watch jr. high practice
4:30 PM...back to gym to get dressed and open doors for players
5:00 PM...players are allowed to shoot around/ sit and compose thoughts or watch game tapes of opponent
5:30 PM...make sure opponents have everything they need, and socialize with opposing coaches
6:00 PM...J.V. game begins
6:20 PM...J.V. 1/2 time/ make sure game plan is on board in varsity locker room
6:40 rest of J.V. game
7:00 PM...go over game plan with team
7:10 PM...send team to warm up/ speak with opposing coach/ referee meeting
7:30 PM...starting line ups, National Anthem, jump ball
8:45 PM...discuss result with team shortly and dismiss them as you go to the office.
8:55 PM...discuss result with assistants then call in scores to The Evening News and The Courier Journal
9:00 PM...make sure game uniforms are being washed and dried
9:10 with wife and kids and either head home or out to eat to discuss game or to relax **I never watch the game tape the night of the game. I try to leave it at the gym even though I rarely get to sleep before 1 AM on game nights, hard to wind down.**

Day in the life of a high school basketball coach...AWAY game:
6:00 AM...wake up and get ready/ read paper/eat breakfast
6:50 AM...wake daughter up and get her ready
7:00 AM...head to school
7:15 AM...arrive at school/open gym door for any player wanting to shoot/prepare for day
7:35 AM...hall duty, supervise until class starts.
8:00 AM...teaching responsibilities begin/teach US History, Psychology, and Sociology/during the day prepare look over game plan/ make sure practice gear, game uniforms are cleaned and dried
2:50 PM...get to locker room and make sure uniforms, warm ups, team bags are laid out/ sweep and clean game floor/ get something to eat
4:30 PM...back to gym to to leave depending on leave time
5:25 PM...arrive at opponents gym socialize with opposing coaches/ make sure J.V. coach has what he needs
6:00 PM...J.V. game begins
6:20 PM...J.V. 1/2 time/ make sure game plan is on board in varsity locker room
6:40 rest of J.V. game
7:00 PM...go over game plan with team
7:10 PM...send team to warm up/ speak with opposing coach/ referee meeting
7:30 PM...starting line ups, National Anthem, jump ball
8:45 PM...discuss result with team
9:00 PM...hopefully by now we are on the bus headed home
9:45 PM...make sure game uniforms are being washed and dried
9:55 PM...speak with wife on the phone on whether I need to get something to eat or if something is at home
**I never watch the game tape the night of the game. I try to leave it at the gym even though I rarely get to sleep before 1 AM on game nights, again hard to wind down.**

Day in the life of a high school basketball coach...during the summer:
During the summer, I will spend anywhere from 3-38 hours on the job at any given one time. On practice or open gym days, it will be closer to 3 hours, but when we go out of town for two days, it can be up to 38 hours with the team. We spend 21 days during the summer for these different amounts of time with the players.
I often speak with college coaches and tell them there is no way I could put in the hours they do, finally one day an assistant from the University of Evansville told me to put down on paper my typical day. I was amazed...and then I went home and thanked my wife for putting up with it.

Developing A Program from Kindergarten - Seniors in High School

One of the things that I did when I took over was to expand our intramural program to Kindergarten and 1st graders. The previous coaches had done a good job installing and continuing the program at 2nd grade through to 8th grade, but I wanted to give the younger classes a chance also.
I feel that the sooner we can get the kids exposed to basketball, the sooner they will put some of the skills to work. At each level, we teach them different fundamental drills to work on, and we emphasize that if they want to get better they must take those skills home and practice. You can really tell the difference in the guys from year to year on those who do go home and practice and those who don't.

What I have found, too, is that you will find what kids are extremely serious about basketball and which are not. It isn't a bad thing at a young age if you are not so driven that you are at the gym every single time it is open, but we want to give all boys K-8 that opportunity.

We have changed, too how we do things. We used to have intramurals in the fall, and in the summer a camp. But our numbers would be way down in the summer as opposed to the fall, so last spring we installed spring intramurals also. There were two main reasons, 1. to get more kids involved, and 2. one thing I noticed our kids didn't understand was basic basketball stuff in games.

We practice for 1/2 hour, showing fundamentals, shooting drills, etc., then for the last 1/2 hour we let them play. Trying to teach the younger kids about the baseline, the sideline, what is a walk, double dribble, when to pass, and so on.

With the Kindergarteners, we match them up, and every time down court, we match the defense up with the offense. And we allow someone different to bring the ball up the court every single time. Unfortunately at that age level, the person bringing the ball up is the one who shoots it.
At every level above that, we work hard for that 1/2 hour getting kids to understand the game. From playing defense, to passing, to shooting, to talking as we get to the older grades.

Then during the varsity season we take each group (K-2, 3-5, 6-8) and allow them to run up and down the court at one of our home games in front of the crowd. The players are allowed in free, but the parents and other family members pay. From the feedback I get, it is something that the kids and parents look forward to each winter.

In four years, I have changed some things and done some things the same. I hope that what we are doing is instilling a love for the game of basketball in the kids and is getting them to work on their games from an early age til the time we get them. I want them to have a love affair with the game, but I also want players when they get to high school who are fundamental and understand the game.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Plan your work, Work your plan

Many coaches are much smarter than I am and maybe don't need notes at practice. However, I have found that I always forget something that I want to do on that day.
Below is an example of one of our practice plans:

November 12/ Practice #2

3:05 – 3:08 Thought Of The Day…..get better every day.

3:08 – 3:14 Pre-practice

3:14 – 3:18 Full court dribbling

3:18 – 3:30 Offensive footwork
-Fist shooting…..curls off screen, catch and rip where you came from, catch and go.
-Posts should always be stepping into open areas.
-mix in shots, feeding the post for a shot, and shooter re-locating for a shot
-then perimeter catches, screen away for a shot coming off “double” screen.

3:30 – 3:40 Defensive breakdown
-wall up
-1 on 1 ½ court…keep ball on side….catch and shot fake, make sure you stay down, hands up.

3:40 – 3:45 1 on 1 block out

3:45 – 3:55 Run….2 in: 22
FT/ Drink

3:55 – 4:03 Shadow D

4:03 – 4:08 3 out/ 1 in….2 out of 3 stops.

4:08 – 4:23 Forward Help/Recover
-3 on 3 with person in corner being beaten.
-3 straight stops or run

4:23 – 4:28 100 point shooting

4:28 – 4:43 Break breakdown with Defense

4:43 – 4:58 Guard help/recover
-3 on 3 with person on wing extended being beaten
-3 straight stops or run

4:58 – 5:03 FT

5:03 – 5:08 4 on 3 in the lane

5:08 – 5:18 4 on 3 live
-get 2 stops and you are out.
5:18 – 5:27 5 on 5 shell/ transition

Just the titles of the drills gives me the idea of what I want to do. If I need to, I will write or even type in extra details on a new drill, or an old drill to make sure we hit what we are trying to do.

We usually want to warm up, then work on individual offensive moves or individual defense, then we move it to team offense and defense. We try to make as much of it a competition as possible to get them to compete all practice.

I believe that practice should be hard and short. We will go 2 1/2 hours for the first couple of weeks, but if they practice hard, we go 2 hours only. By 5 o'clock, they are ready to go home and I have seen a decline in effort.

I am planning on having 1 open practice again this fall, everyone and anyone is invited to come watch that one day.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

How do you want to be remembered?

The title of this article is a question I ask my players and students on a semi-regular basis.
For two reasons:
1. most people will say they want to be remembered in a positive manner, so I have them look at their behaviors. Does their behavior connect with their wishes?

"I want to be remembered as a good kid." Are you doing things on a consistent basis in class, on the court, in society that will render that memory?
"I want to be remembered as a hard worker." Are you turning in all your assignments, diving for loose balls, putting in the extra time to render that memory?
"I want to be remembered as......" It doesn't matter, if your actions don't equal your wishes, then one of two things needs to happen. You need to either change your actions, or change your wish. Hopefully, more often than not, we change our actions.

2. Not every basketball player is going to be remembered as one of the top 10 basketball players of all time at HHS, but you can be remembered as the consumate team player on a team that wins. The program was here before us, it is here while we are here, and when we graduate/retire, it will go on. Memories are formed whether we want them to or not.

People may not remember your name, but when you tell them you played on the 81 team, the 04 team, the 05 helps for them to connect you with those winning teams.

You may score 20 points a game, but if you have a losing record and cannot get your teammates to bond as a team, then people forget you. They might say "yeah, I remember you could really shoot, but how well did your team do?"

I know as coaches we will remember all the players, but the ones who gave of themselves for the sake of the team are the ones who will stand out in the future. Basketball and life, are selfish endeavors. You play because you get something out of it, and if you give up something of yourself, something that helps you enjoy it to make the team better...those are the greatest players ever.
What is the cruel part of being remembered is that some of us no matter what or how we do things, no matter how successful you are, we will be judged by numbers. Each year when a team wins or loses, in our record book, it isn't the name of the players next to the record. It is the coach, the coach's name is next to the W-L column. It isn't just in coaching, it could be in accounting, any job where making a profit is the bottom line. If you are the greatest person in the world, if you the numbers are bad, you will be remembered for that, sometimes only for that.
So, what can we do? We work as hard as we can, try to be good people, continue to strive to be better in every way, and then at night be able to look at ourselves in the mirror.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Four Agreements

I get a monthly newsletter from Xavier University Men's Basketball program.
In one of the newsletters it included The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. Found it interesting and a good guide in life.

1. Always Do Your Best: No matter the circumstance do your best, no more, no less. When doing your best, you will learn to accept yourself, you will learn from your mistakes, look honestly at results and keep working. You will be accountable to yourself and to others.

2. Be Impeccable with your Word: Your word is the power to express and communicate which creates events in your life. Take responsibility for your actions, but do not judge or blame yourself too harshly.

3. Don't Take Anything Personally: Taking things personally is the maximum expression of selfishness because we assume that everything is about me. Nothing other people do is because of you, it is because of them.

4. Don't Make Assumptions: You tend to make assumptions on everything and the problem is that we believe that assumption to be the truth. We assume things on what others are doing or thinking and we take it personally. To keep from doing this, ask questions until it is clear what it is that you want to know.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Why We Play High School Athletics

I got this from someone a few years back, but it was "Why we play college athletics". I changed a few things so that it would make more sense to the people that I coached in high school.

Why we play high school athletics....It's not about getting a scholarship, getting drafted, or making Sports Center. It's a deep need in us that comes from the heart. We need to practice, to play, to lift, to hustle, to sweat. We do it all for our teammates and for the student in our Biology class that we don't even know.

We don't practice with a future major league first baseman; we practice with a future athletic trainer. We don't lift weights with a future Olympic wrestler; we lift with a future doctor. We don't run with a future NCAA champion; we run with a future lawyer. It's a bigger part of us than our friends and family can understand. Sometimes we play for 2,000 fans; sometimes for 200. But we still play hard.

You cheer for us because you know us. You know more than just our names. Like all of you, we are students first. We don't sign autographs. But we do sign college applications, ACT exams, and tests in all of our classes. When we miss a shot, or strike out, we don't let down an entire state. We only let own our teammates, coaches, and fans. But the hurt is still the same. We train hard, lift, throw, run, shoot, dribble, and run some more, and in the morning we go to class. And in that class we are nothing more than students.

It's about pride in ourselves, in our school. It's about our love and passion for the game. And when it's over, when we walk off that court or field for the last time, our hearts crumble. Those tears are real. But deep down inside, we are very proud of ourselves. We will forever be what few can claim....high school athletes.

Author unknown

I never understand when a student-athlete in high school decides not to play a sport they love or are good at. They probably only have 1 four year window in which it really matters. Very few are going to go on and play in college at any sport, but while in high school they hire officials, they have concessions, people pay admission, the band plays, cheerleaders cheer, students act wild and yet some students are willing to give that up for a job or girlfriend/boyfriend.

I know that a high percentage if not 100% of the students who have quit a sport that they were good at have regretted it. Some have verbally expressed, and others haven't, but you can tell from their demeanor and that they are at every single game how they feel.

I tell our high school athletes each year with the changing culture of our society that they are more and more special. They work hard, they have someone yelling at them and demanding they give up their time and self for the good of the group. That just does not happen much in today's individualistic society especially if you aren't a starter and maybe don't get to play much.

But being part of a team, giving of yourself for the sake of your friends and school makes you special.  Unfortunately athletes become more special each year, not because of a greater effort given by them, but by the acceptance of mediocrity as being special by society.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

11 Principles of a Good Parent

I ran across this on, and hope to employ it if my children decide to participate in athletics. It is a good guideline, but I don't know if you can ever have a "set in stone" set of guidelines to raising a child.
Here it is:
1. Make tough decisions: Give your children roots, a stable place for them to be, and you can't always be the popular parent. Sometimes your kids have to hate you because they are hedonistic, selfish individuals who are learning to not be.

2. Get kids out of activities: One per semester. Children should have varied interests, but kids today participate in too many things. Everything is organized, give them time to be kids and meet up with the kids in the neighborhood to play games.

3. Raise your own children: Be there for them. Attend their athletic functions, their band shows, their spelling bees. Even if they don't want you around, be there. They may never want to share their lives with you, but ask and be there. Raise your child.

4. Realize that people are more important than things: Spend time with your kids even if it means you work less and can't afford a new car, big screen t.v., or an i-phone. Your relationship with your kids will last a lot longer than things. And all that time you worked, can never be replaced with time missed with your children.

5. Discipline your children with love: Again, sometimes you are going to be hated by your children, it is a part of growing up. Discipline them, but never allow them to have to guess if you love them or not.

6. Take your children to your place of worship: There is a world out there ready to instill their values on your children. Give your children good values so when they encounter that world, they have something stable to fall back on.

7. Have dinner together as a family: It shows that it is important to be together as a family. It sort of forces you to be in one place and communication can begin and flourish. You will find out a lot more over a meal, then walking into their room and asking "What's up?".

8. Realize your kids don't necessarily need what you didn't have: We all are guilty of spoiling our children. We need to realize that by giving our children too many things, we are not teaching them that people are more important than stuff.

9. Turn off your television: This is one of the things that is instilling the worlds values on your children. The things you don't blatantly see, are the things you should be worried about. Kids are like sponges picking up many things that we don't see because we are older. If you can't turn off the t.v. on a regular basis, at least do it at supper time.

10. Walk it! Don't talk it!: You can talk to your children and instill your values, but if you tell them one thing and do the opposite, you can forget it. If you tell them not to smoke and you do, they will. If you tell them not to sleep around, and you have a different boyfriend/girlfriend every 2-3 weeks, they will, too. You must walk the walk and it may be the hardest thing to do on the list.

11. You can't run your life on feelings: The sign of a mature emotional person is someone who is under control most of the time. It is all right to be extremely happy, it is okay to cry, it is okay to be mad, but if you are hitting all these emotions on a regular basis (daily) expect to be unhappy. Also, expect to teach your children that is acceptable behavior imprisoning them to a life of emotional unhappiness.

I believe that these are great guidelines to being a good parent. Also, making you a relatively happy person. It may be something that helps you, it may not, but it is something that I will work towards on a daily basis to try be the best parent I can be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ten Rules to Live and Play By

I haven't given this out to the players in awhile, but will do so again this year. I stole some of these from Pat Summitt's Defnite Dozen from her book, Reach the Summitt. Coach Summitt is the all time winningest coach in college basketball, mens or womens.

I believe that these 10 things will help you to be successful in life as well as on the basketball court.

1. Respect: You must respect yourself which believe it or not, some players/people do not do. Whether it be that you are consistently making bad decisions in life or on the court, it can be because of a lack of self-respect. Respect others also. Most people in life have dealt with enough garbage and deserve some semblance of respect. On the basketball court, respect your opponent. We say often, respect everyone, fear no one.

2. Take responsibility: In my opinion, one of the worst things about our society today, and it seeps onto the court, is a lack of taking responsibility for yourself. It is always someone elses fault, or some unforeseen mystical force kept you from doing what needed to be done. It is better to say "my bad" and move on. But also take responsibility for others. If you are in a class, don't let your teammates or friends act in a way that is detrimental to the class, take responsibility for the group.

3. Develop and Demontrate Loyalty: Don't let the winds of popularity decide who is your friend. And on the court, all of your teammates are working and having the same high expectations thrust on them as is being expected of a loyal teammate. Integrity above all else.

4. Discipline yourself and others will not have to: Do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it and you will have very few problems on the court or in life.

5. Establish good habits: Get up early, be on time, word hard, work smart. Eat right, hang out with positive people, and get up and do it again each and every day. It is much easier to say than to do.

6. Put the team before yourself: In the summer, I understand that the self/family will sometimes come before the team, but if you play sports or work a job somewhere, often the team will come before you. You may have to give up some things that you enjoy doing during a season for the good of the team, we do it all the time as coaches.

7. Compete: Be persistent every day, all the time; never give up every day, all the time; and in all things, make the other team earn its victory. Do not just give up, go through the motions and lose. Scratch, claw, and fight!!!

8. Communicate: Probably one of the most important items on this list for a team and in any relationship is communication. Talk, if you are confused, ask questions until everything is perfectly clear. This will keep problems from occurring. If you get burned, get it in writing the next time, an email will suffice.

9. Accept change: Most people like how things are going if it is being semi-successful or comfortable for them. Accept change, accept losing playing time, or a starting position if it can help the team. Sometimes others do not display loyalty, and you must accept it because you will eventually get some type of reward. It may not be immediate, but it may be something that you have learned that will help you in dealing with another aspect of your life.

10. Handle success and failure the same: I believe that if you win, celebrate, have fun then move on to the next competition. If you fail, it is okay to be down, but never give up. Competitors do not see failure as the end all, but as a way to learn something or the beginning of something else. In the end, handle both, though, the same....with class. Win and shake hands and do not rub it in, and when you lose muster up your strength, shake hands, congratulate the victor and head to the locker room but do it with class.

You can't score, if you don't shoot!

At HHS, we also have 10 basic rules on offense. As with defense, they are rules that we look at often, redefine, and hopefully make better. Below are the 10 items, I think that are important to be a good individual offensive player as well as a good offensive team.
As in defense, we want our players to communicate, communicate, communicate. It never amazes me that kids who want to talk during school all day, want to enter the gym where we want them talking and won't.

1. Off the catch, triple threat: When we catch the pass, we want to go immediately into the triple threat position. That way you are prepared to be a threat offensively. It doesn't necessarily mean shooting, but driving and drawing two defenders and passing to the open man. Now sometimes we want to catch and rip immediately if the defense overplays the pass because the defense is at a disadvantage and scrambling.

2. Off the bounce, chin it: When picking up the basketball from the dribble, we want our players to chin the basketball. The defense through the years has been allowed to get away with more pushing, shoving, and slapping, fouling in general, and we want our guys to be strong with the ball. When working on this, I will tell them often to "check the air pressure" so that they think to be strong.

3. Without the ball, always put pressure on the defense: As an offensive player, we do not want to allow our defensive player be able to relax or take their mind off us. We want our players ready to make a cut, a backdoor cut, or a seal in the post if their defensive player falls asleep. Even if we run a set, I want the other guys not involved ready to be offensive. I will often say during practice "don't let the set keep us from scoring" because someone hasn't taken advantage of their defensive players lack of awareness.

4. Use your arms and body to get open: We try to teach our guys to be physical on both ends of the floor, but on the offensive end of the floor, if they will take advantage of a little arm bar push or dragging their man into a screen they can be more successful. But not only can they be physical with their defensive player, but I also want them to use their teammates. I want them to push and shove the screener in places to help bump their defensive player.

5. When the shot goes up, rebound. *Shooting % increases with each additional shot*: Never concede that a shot is going in, never, never, never. Also, pay attention to the coaches and live action to see where rebounds come off during action. Offensive rebounds can be a back breaker to other teams.

6. Minimize turnovers: The fewer TO's you have the more opportunities you have to shoot which increases your chance of scoring.

7. Take good shots: This is an individual thing. What is a good shot for one player, may not be a good shot for another player. However, if you have a good shot for you, our players must feel comfortable to shoot at any time....again, if it is a good shot for them. This is something that some people don't understand because one player may have the green light to shoot an off balance shot with 2 players on them, and another may not because it's a good shot for one player and not another.

8. Pass up a good shot to get a great shot: This is one of the hardest things for kids to understand. But it is something that can increase shooting %. This usually happens on a ball reversal or a drive and kick where someone passes up a good shot to get a wide open shot. Wide open shots for guys that can hit it are great shots.

9. Be unselfish, and it will come back to you: Kind of a Zen way of thinking, but most scorers from jr. high want to shoot, or pass it and get it right back. We try to teach our guys that the best way to get open for a great shot is to pass it and get away from the ball. By doing so, they create space and gives their defensive player a better chance of making a mistake. The game is full of hundreds of passes that lead to nothing other than maybe getting you or a teammate open in the future.

10. Throw the ball inside. Open 3's on reversals and inside out: Even if your post players aren't that great at scoring, you have to throw it inside so they can pass it back out. It is almost always going to happen, but some perimeter defensive player will help leaving somebody open, weakside will come to the help side even more leaving the opposite elbow open, or a pass out could lead to another pass to a wide open shot (see #9). Also, any perimeter who can hit a 3 point shot, if the ball is reversed quickly and they are open, have the green light to shoot.
If your posts can score, it makes your perimeter players even more dangerously open.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Defense! (clap, clap) Defense! (clap, clap) Defense!

At Henryville, we have 10 Basic Rules of Defense that we try to follow and incorporate in our daily practice plans. They are 10 rules that can make you a tough team to score against. But before you do anything on this list, the coach must pass onto the team how important being a good defensive team/player is to your successes. Probably an 11th rule should be added on both offense and defense and that is communication. Talk to each other.
1. No middle: We do not want the ball driven to the lane. Most kids will drive to the lane to score, if we can keep that from happening, we feel we can stop individual offense.

2. Jump to ball 1/2 step, then drop to defend drive: Kids have gotten so much better at penetration and we want to stop dribble drives. In fact, because of personnel, we do not teach to deny one pass away. For two reasons, 1. we find that getting back doored happens, creating offense, but 2. because the person is so good at penetration, if we deny, we don't help as well.

3. Close out with hands high: Depnding on how good the shooter is will decide for us through scouting if we want to close out tight, or shallow. But it is imperative to get your hands up, both of them. Stutter stepping while closing out to take away penetration. Now with that said, if we believe the player cannot shoot, we may not raise our hands giving them the shot.

4. Don't get screened: Screening and using screens has deteriorated, so we feel we should never get screened. If you are physical with your offensive player, they will not use the screen correctly, but also, if your teammates help you, screening won't happen because.....

5. Extend screens/ Bump cutters: By being a good teammate, you should help your teammate on defense by stepping out and extending screens. But if you are not going to do that, bump cutters. When an offensive player comes into your area, move into their path, bumping them or taking them off their line.

6. Go with the butt: Again, on a ball side screen we want to slip through the screen, but if you cannot, stay right behind your man. If you do that, you cannot be screened!

7. Affect shots, no standing 3's: No matter where someone shoots, affect their shot. Wall up in the post, hand up on 15 footers, yell, throw hands up, rotate, switch, do whatever you have to, to affect shots.

8. Take the charge: Be a good teammate and help, and when you do, take a charge. Then all other teammates should help that person up because of such unselfish behavior.

9. Look to help out: Depending on whom you are guarding, look to help out. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

10. Block out, or arm bar: Block out in the paint, and hold them, keep the offense from getting second shots. On the perimeter, we teach to arm bar, then roll to block out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

What? Where? When? How? Why?

With today's modern technology, the average fan shouldn't be out of the loop when it comes to Henryville basketball. We have a website at, you can follow me on Twitter at CoachHunterHHS, I send out a news letter once a week during the school year (email me at if you want on the list), and you can access the schedule as soon as it is on Harrell's website at

If you have made it to this blog site, you can access all of the above, except the news letter, from here. Hopefully, this clears up any questions that may arise at anytime pertaining to Henryville Basketball. Please contact me at the above email if you have any questions in the future.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"I do"

Today, July 19th, is my 6th wedding anniversary. I thought I would take some time and write about the person who is truly the MVP of my coaching career, my wife, Kristi Hunter.

We actually started dating 8 years ago and at that point I didn't know what direction to go in when it came to coaching basketball. I entertained the idea of getting into college coaching and I was frustrated with the position I was in at my high school.

She listened and gave very little advice, but the advice she did give was strong. Whenever I was totally frustrated with a specific situation, she asked me one simple question: "Are you coaching for you, or for the boys?". And it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I chose to stay where I was. I ended up assisting a bunch of guys who were highly successful and learning from the previous head coach.

Then when I took over, we had one child, and I didn't know if it would be too much for us. My wife played on a two time sectional champion at Silver Creek High School, and she knew the amount of time it took to be successful. Plus her high school coach, Lisa Cook, had been successful and she saw from that angle what someone might do if they coached.

So, we went for it. Since then we have had a son making mine and her job even harder, but it has been worth it. She is home when I scout, practice, go to jr. high games, in the summer taking care of our kids. Teaching them to read, be respectful, and to be good people. She has done a great job.

It seems that often men marry up and I certainly did. If we were to start keeping track of who was the nicer person or who most people thought the most of, I would lose in a landslide. My wife is truly a great person, great mother, and great wife. I couldn't do all I do without her support.

I tease her that she probably wanted to break up with me when we dated, but she didn't know how, and eventually I had a ring and popped a question. She never completely denies it. :) But whatever the reason, I am a very lucky man, and have had a great marriage since the day we said "I do".

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Natural talent vs. Competitive work ethic

Why is it that the most physically talented players in my experiences have often been the ones who worked just enough at it?

They may do one of two things:
1. work very little, and still get by on their abilities in games, and at that time they do compete and play relatively hard. But, if they had worked much harder on their games, they would be able to take themselves and the team to a different level.


2. put in more practice time than anyone else on the team. They work on moves, they lift, they run, they shoot, shoot, shoot, but yet when the game starts and the refs have the whistles, they don't take advantage of their hard work. They end up being the consumate "team" player when you just want them to take over.

Then you have the little guy, the slow guy, the not as physically challenged guy. He will work his tail off 110% of the time off the court. He is the guy leading in sprints, he is the guy trying to do everything correct in drills and practice. He is often the emotional leader, the soul of the team. He is the one who is talking and probably the Captain of the team.

But he is also the guy that no matter how hard he works, and no matter how much you as the Coach want it for him, he just cannot get it done to the level that you or he wants. He is the guy who would do anything to have the ability of the first guy, to be able to take a game over, to take the team to the next level, to possibly even play at the next level, but he cannot.

If you could somehow mix the two, the heart of the competitor with the physical ability of the athlete that is when a special player comes along. They are all special, and as coaches we often develop guys who can take your team to the next level.

But when the perfect storm hits in the body of the natural "star" what a wonderful sight to behold.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Competing and Perception

I want my players to flat out compete on the basketball court. I want them to try and win at almost any costs (I don't want them hurting anybody intentionally). When doing that, it will often be perceived wrongly in the stands. I understand, there have been players from other schools in the past that I could not stand for that very reason. They competed at a level that you don't see many people do anymore. It came off wrong to most people, but they could have played for me anytime.

Off the court, I want my players to be positive leaders, gentlemen, and hard workers in the classroom. They too often fall short of those standards as do I, but I want them to turn into good human beings. Most of them will not go on and play college basketball, but most will go on and be boyfriends, husbands, fathers, sons, etc.

The example of what I want from a basketball player is a kid who just graduated. He did a few things I did not like and would disagree with on the court sometimes, but he flat out competed. If you were going to beat him, you were going to earn it. Often his actions on the court led to negative perceptions from people in other communities, and even the officials (he may have never gotten the benefit of the doubt on a call). He played harder with an attitude as much as anyone who has played for me and I loved it, and yet probably was one of the most disliked players ever at HHS by people from other communities.

But here is the deal with him, off the court, he was exactly what I thought epitomized what I want my players to be. He was respectful to teachers and adults. He worked hard in the classroom, he was never, not once a discipline problem at HHS. He helped with special needs students on a daily basis. I had many times teachers come up to me and tell me what a great gentleman he was in school, how helpful he was. He was so good if you didn't look for him, you didn't even know he was at school because he was quiet and to himself and his friends.

He was never acting like an idiot in class trying to make the teachers job harder.

What will be interesting is that many people seemed to want physical confrontations with him, but they had the protection of him being under 18, and then that he was in high school. Next season as he has graduated, it will be interesting to see who confronts him without that protection, I bet not many if any.

Perceptions are what they are, and no matter what I say most people from other communities will only remember him from his days competing. Which is too bad because they are letting that bias keep them from completely understanding the whole person, a whole person who is a pretty darn good person who will not be a drag on society.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

That Coach is Terrible.....

In my experiences, which seem to have crept up on me, when you want to complain about how bad someone is doing their job, there is probably someone doing the same to you.

First, my experiences: when did I become the oldest, most experienced coach in the system? Four years ago when I took the Varsity job, suddenly I became the old guy that all my coaches went to for did that happen?

This year I have hired a volunteer coach, Chris McKain, and coupled with the 7th grade coach I hired last year Jay Munk, I now have two older, experienced coaches in the system. Besides my mentors, I need someone who I can go to for advice.

Not that my younger coaches don't give great advice, I have been very lucky that I have such qualified younger guys.

For the complaints....I have been in the teacher's lounge enough to know that there is always someone who will be complained about. I have tried to minimize my public bitching and even try to take up for people if at all possible. I would hope that someone is doing that for me.

As a head coach, I understand that I will not make everybody happy all of the time, heck, maybe never. I do the best I can, try to do what is in the best interest of the kids and the program, and if that ends up never being good enough, I will resign and let someone try.

And when that day happens, that person can know there will be one less person in the stands complaining about the job they are doing.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I am a Winner....right?

What is a winner? Is it that person who holds the trophy at the end of a tournament? Is it that person who wins most of their games? I would agree with both assessments, but just because you win games or championships doesn't make you a winner. I have seen some real losers in my times holding trophies at the end of the day.

Being a winner, to me, is winning and losing with class. I think the ultimate goals in athletics and I try to use in basketball are to have fun, be disciplined, and get better.

Having fun is playing with passion, appreciating the past, the now, and the future. It is about coming every day and having the correct perpective. We are doing something serious and what others would love to being doing, but it isn't a war, and it isn't dealing with cancer. Even though, I believe that athletics can help you in dealing with those two very serious events.

Being disciplined is doing what the coaches want for the team to be successful, but also as a coach allowing the players freedom to play and have fun. It is a social contract between the players and the coach in this instance. But, to me, it is also about setting a positive example off the court in your town, your school, your community.

Getting better; are you working every day seriously to get better, or are you going through the motions? Do you go through every drill with intensity? Do you show up every day trying to get better individually and as a team?

If you do those three things on a consistent my opinion you are a winner. As I have stated, I have seen many losers at the end of the day holding trophies, but I have also at the end of the day seen many winners on the sidelines....trophy less.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The End of Innocence...It Happens All the Time

I have often tried to do the right thing when being a coach. I probably have hurt some players and bent my values to do what I thought was best for the individual at that time. I know there are parents who are still upset with some of the decisions I have made in the past, and I have come to grips with that. I am probably too sensitive on such matters, and it does help that former players come back and thank me.

But, when you try to do something for your program, and an individual who was tantamount in your development as a person and basketball player/coach isn't honest with hurts.

As I have often said that in these moments when you don't know if it is worth going on or not, you have to ask yourself: Do I want to quit or move on and confront the problem. Each moment that has happened, I have chosen to go on, but there will be a day when I say...."enough".