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

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Power of Who...

I recently read The Power of Who by Bob Beaudine and found interesting his take on networking. Much of his book can be summed up by this statement..."you already know someone right now who knows the person who will help you achieve your goal or hire you or introduce you to the person you need to meet."

His whole idea is that we waste so much time networking and meeting new people and that what we really need to do is cultivate a few great friends. It is those 3-10 great friends (inner circle)who will ultimately help you. It may not be them directly, but someone they know or one of their inner circle's friends....if that makes sense.

Think of this. If you have 3-10 great friends, those people who will help you in most instances, each of them has 3-10 great friends. Out of that inner circle, you will have 3 close friends and 1 best friend. Of those 3-10, you will share some same friends, but ultimately the circle of influence gets bigger and bigger.

One of the biggest mistakes that we make in trying to get that position we would like to have is that we ask the wrong people. We often ask people that we have just met or someone in that field that we may barely know. He explains that we need not be afraid to ask the inner circle for is imperative to start there.

I think it is a book that many people would like to read. It doesn't necessarily have to do with basketball or even the business world. It can be a book for you to better understand your own circle of influence. Your "Who" friends. Once you understand better how relationships can work, you can get many of the things that you thought were hard to gain. It may be something as complicated as a job, or as simple as someone being able to find you a new bed frame for your son.

Especially in today's Internet society (social networks), we are intertwined in so many ways, however, the best people to help you are those closest to you.

The Seven Secrets of Successful Coaches: By Jeff Janssen and Greg Dale

This is a great book on how to "unlock and unleassh your team's full potential". The entire book is dedicated to being a better coach, but the 7 Secrets are as follows:
1. All coaches must be character-based. Coaches should seek to do the right thing. They should be honorable people with high ethical standards and great integrity.

2. Successful coaches must be competent. They have a thorough understanding of strategies and fundamentals. They know how to make adjustments, and while they are often revered, they stay humble and keep success in perspective.

3. Successful coaches are caring. They care about their athletes as people. They want what is best and are willing to help in any way possible. This caring does not end when the career is over, but carries over into their lives after sports.

4. Successful coaches are committed. They create successful visions for their teams and are willing to put the time in required to make that happen.

5. Successful coaches are confidence-builders. They plant seeds of success in their athletes' minds and convince them that they can be successful.

6. Successful coaches are communicators. They are open, honest, and direct when communicating with individuals and the team.

7. Successful coaches are consistent. Credible coaches develop a sound philosophy of coaching. This philosophy remains stable over time, but they are flexible enough to adapt to changing situations or times.

This book is a great read for coaches, players and civilians.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Please feel free to email me your thoughts on the blog, basketball, or life. I would prefer emails with names. I am not a fan of anonymous emails, let's just call it experience.

Email me at , I would love to connect with people around the country and world who happen to be visiting what I call my "organized ignorance" blog.

Giving Back...

How often do we take the time to help others? How often do we take the time to even think about helping others? I am going to bet through personal experience and educated observation, not often for many of us. I know how hard trying to overcome selfishness can be because I do it daily. I have found that having children helps in this somewhat because every single day you practice giving to your children. If not, you aren't a very good parent.

But how often do we give with someone other than our own children?

It's funny how I personally developed. In my decade before the teen years, I was full of confidence. I was invincibile. I could jump ramps with my bicycle, play baseball or basketball all day, eat when I was hungry, fall out of a tree, and get up and keep going. I never thought about tomorrow because tomorrow was so far away. Life was fun and much of that is due to how great my parents were, but it is also because you are so young and don't know about the fears and worries of the world. I know we sometimes had money issues growing up, but I never knew about them and even if I did, I wouldn't have known what it meant. Life was great.

As I entered my teen years, I dealt with what most teens do. Self-esteem issues. For reasons I won't discuss here, I didn't have much self worth which was really dumb on my part. The things that did bring me that self worth were sports. I can still remember scoring well in a basketball game and defeating a big rival in junior high, and having the varsity basketball players come up to me and give me recognition. It didn't matter that I may not have all of the friends or girlfriends, that mattered to me and made me feel good. Which fueled my personal effort to get better to get that kind of attention again and again. What is interesting is that attention often fueled even more people of my age group to do or say things which injured my self esteem even more which fueled my work ethic, and so on....

Then when I entered my 20's, which I wouldn't do over again, it was all about finding myself. I was so focused on trying to figure out who I was and what I was going to do for the rest of my life, I was pretty worthless in the "helping others" aspect of life. In my 20's I went from knowing everything, to realizing that I knew nothing, to going to college, to dropping out, to going back again, and trying to do all of that and find someone to be with.

In my early 30's, I started to figure it out sometimes. I got the job that I wanted for years, married a beautiful, very good woman, had 2 children, and found my faith in Jesus Christ. It was during the end of that decade and now (40) that I know longer think about myself as often. My legacy will not be what I win or lose, my legacy will not be the money I gave or earned, my legacy will have everything to do with what I gave back.

I have grown to know many people, some very well and some distant acquaintances. The legacy I want to give is to forget about my self as often as possible and to help others. Sure, there will still be hints of selfishness because I am human, but what can I do to help others achieve their dreams (that just sounds inherently selfish as if I can help, but I will try)? I have found that more often than not it isn't about the money that you give and more about the time you give. I know growing up that we often didn't have all of the money in the world, but my parents were there...all...the...time. I am so thankful for that.

When it comes to the high school basketball team, I have tried often to get them to understand the idea of giving. More often than not, it is discussion we have about how the younger kids look up to them. I will point out instances where they look at them as if they were some famous movie star and one of the best things the basketball players can do is to just say hello. I have had the guys sign basketballs for sick students, sign thank you cards, attend showings at funerals, read to the elementary students, and thank fans individually and collectively for supporting us. I hope that it helps them to "get it" earlier than I did.

So, what will be your legacy of giving? Because I really believe that is what it is about. If you are a young person, be better than I was. Work on yourself, but find times and instances to give back to others. And if you are older and you haven't figured out yet that it isn't about you, then keep searching because it isn't about really isn't.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

The Art of War is one of the oldest military treatise books in existence. I read this a few years ago because many basketball coaches were doing so. It was written by the Sun Tzu, and there is some debate if Sun Tzu was one man or many men. Many believe that the Sun Tzu were a lineage of military leaders who put their collective wisdom into written form for the first time. The Sun Tzu were located in northern China.
Quotes from The Art of War are italicized. Below are some of the excerpts from the book I found helpful.

The Sun Tzu says, "it is essential to know ourselves, to know our minds." I could not agree more. It is a lifelong journey that I started in my early 20's to try and know myself better. To reflect and understand the problems that I have in dealing with conflict which Sun Tzu believes is part of all life.

"Thus with one skilled at attack, the enemy does not know where to defend. With one skilled at defense, the enemy does not know where to attack." This is why it is important to be as skilled as possible on both ends of the basketball. A good defense and no offense will not win you games and have a good offense and no defense will also not win you games.

"Do not rely on their not coming. Rely on what we await them with. Do not rely on their not attacking. Rely on how we are unable to be attacked." Preparation, preparation, preparation!!!

"If one acts consistently to train the people, they people will submit. If one acts inconsistently to train the people, the people will not submit." This isn't saying, to me, that everyone should be treated equal, but consistently. If you are tough, you need to be tough with everyone about something. If you are light handed, you must also be that way with everyone in some manner.
All conflict requires that you know how to handle people. Whether it is people that you are competing against, or people that you are leading, you must handle them. It first begins with knowing yourself, being comfortable with yourself and being honest with yourself.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Henryville Basketball Mission Statement

Basketball at Henryville High School is a unique experience.

1. Mental Toughness: It will be demanding physically and mentally to prepare our young men for life.

2. Team: We will work together, struggle together, grow together and ultimately succeed together. We want their direction to be a positive direction if they can stay with us for four years.

3. Achievement: It is our purpose to help young men develop the ability to truly maximize their gifts in an environment where educational and athletic achievements are a priority.

4. The journey: It is the process that will make us successful. We will become aware of the importance of the vital personal relationships that really test and develop us.

5. What we do and how we do it: In the basketball program results are important in that they are a large part of defining excellence and determining the quality of what we do, and yet how we do things is as important as what we do.

6. The future: Development of the qualities of personal and team leadership, accountability to each other, perseverance in the face of adversity, singleness of purpose and an understanding of the importance of doing our best each day will help these young men lead lives of significance beyond their high school years.

I borrowed some of this from Coach Don Meyer, but adapted it to what I wanted for us. We often fall short in the above traits, but it is something that we strive for each day.


Brian Tracy shares several important rules that accompany effective goal setting.

Your goals must be in harmony with one another, not contradictory. You cannot have a goal to be financially successful, or to build your own successful business, and simultaneously have a goal to spend half your day at the golf course or at the beach. Your goals have to be mutually supportive and mutually reinforcing.

Your goals must be challenging. They must make you stretch out without being overwhelmed. When you initially set goals, they should have about a 50 percent or better probability of success. This level of probability is ideal for motivation, yet not so difficult that you can become easily discouraged.

You should have both tangible and intangible goals, both quantitative and qualitative. You should have concrete goals that you can measure and evaluate objectively. At the same time, you should have qualitative goals, for your inner life and your relationships.

You need both short-term goals and long-term goals. You need goals for today and goals for five, ten, and twenty years from today. The ideal short-term timeframe for business, career and personal planning is about ninety days. The ideal long-term period for these same goals is two to three years. These time horizons seem to be the ideal for continuous motivation.

The ideal life is focused, purposeful, positive and organized so that you are moving toward goals that are important to you every hour of every day. You always know what you're doing and why. You have a continuous sense of forward motion. You feel like a "winner" most of the time.

The decision to become a goal-setting, goal achieving, future focused person gives you a tremendous sense of control. Your self-esteem increases as you progress toward your goals. You like and respect yourself more and more. Your personality improves and you become a more positive, confident person. You feel happy and exited about life. You open the floodgates of your potential and begin moving faster and faster toward becoming all that you were meant to be.

Posted by BOB STARKEY, LSU Women's Coach:

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Kind of Influence Do You Have?

I often wonder what kind of influence I am making, call it the self-reflective part of my nature. I am not the kind of person who drives towards a goal, not looking in the rear view mirror to see what kind of damage I have caused. I definitely am someone who wants to be successful in all the ways that the world measures you by, but am I having a positive influence as well? And isn't that what's most important?

Being a coach is being part disciplinarian, part social worker, part basketball aficionado, part friend, part coach, part....well, you get the picture. Measuring that balance among all of these items is a constant thing that I monitor. Am I too easy? Am I too hard? Is it just right? (Never).

I try everyday, though fail often, to live my life with integrity and honesty. When I first started coaching, I have often said, I was about as hard as you can get. I feel as if I should apologize to some of those first teams. I didn't know what I was doing, so I wanted to be a hard ass and have complete discipline. It is kind of embarassing looking back on it. When I became a teacher, you get to know the students in a different manner, and realize from where some of the actions develop.

You hope that if you lead your life this way with integrity and acknowledging your short comings that it will rub off on those guys you spend so much time with. "Those guys" are the basketball players and often many of the students in my classes. I am sometimes told by students that I have influenced them to become a teacher, to become a history teacher, to become a coach, to work harder, etc. I enjoy hearing that, but wonder if I really am positively influencing them.

I have to be honest...when I hear that a student who claims that I have been a positive influence does something that I don't approve of or would never think about doing, I have three different reactions. The first is that of the old me, the hard me...I want to disavow my contact with that person. The second reaction is a heart breaking letdown that if I had any positive influence on that person, how could I have let them down by not keeping them from doing what they did. Finally, I try to understand that often kids do really, really dumb things. We all did, heck, I still do and I am 40 years old. So, my reaction and feelings are a mixture of all three of those things.

So, when these actions occur, I reflect. What am I doing wrong? What could I have done to stop it? Is it me at all? Was that person lost and I did everything I could? Do I need to change something that I am doing? Sometimes I do try to make an adjustment or a complete change...sometimes, it's just not me.

So for every single person who is reading this (yea, you), what kind of influence do you have? Are you a positive or negative influence? Do you reflect on your behavior and I don't care if it is coaching basketball or just living your life. My father once told me in my idealistic youth..."you cannot change the world, but you can change yourself. You can be a good person, and raise children to not be racist and sexist, and in those small changes you can make a difference in the world."

What kind of difference are you making and if you are making a negative one...what are you doing about it?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ten Practice Standards for HHS

(I got this from Coach Starkey, LSU Women's basketball coach, and adjusted it for our needs)

1. Practice Hard – come every day with energy and enthusiasm. Practice hard because the effort you give will follow over into games. Push through fatigue because the best improvement comes upon the heels of being tired.

2. Practice intelligently – come with a constant state of focus and concentration. Enter the practice court with the mental frame of mind that you will use your eyes, ears; seeing and listening. Treat practice like it is a classroom, or even better.

3. Practice together – work as a team to make each practice a “victory”. Push yourselves because to make the team better, you must make yourself better. Encourage and pick up teammates, together you will work towards a great practice.

4. Run the floor – sprint the lanes offensively. Run early and late during practice. Sprint back as a team defensively. Sprint from one drill to the next. Run off the wood when getting a drink respecting the game and efforts of those who came before you.

5. Stay in your stance – stay low in a basketball stance because you know it provides proper balance necessary for good offensive and defensive play. Stay low because it adds to the quickness of your movements.

6. Get a hand on the ball – keep a hand up on defense and keep your hands up on offense. We want to deflect passes when possible. We do not want them to play to their strengths and we will not allow any uncontested shots.

7. Take care of the ball – value each and every possession because its importance ensures offensive success. Be strong with the ball. Strong rips. Catch and triple threat. Catch and chin it. Use the dribble wisely and pass away from the defense.

8. Take good shots – work hard each possession to get the best shot available. Work to get layups, to get out best shooters shots. We will decide where, when and who will shoot.

9. Communicate – use words of encouragement to lift your teammates. Talk to improve execution on the court. Talk during practice to help “coach” each other.

10. Practice the above everyday – follow the previous standards each and every practice. Together doing the previous 9 standards will help us reach our full team potential.

More stuff from Coach Starkey can be read here: .

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"I am not playing basketball so I can concentrate on_________."

(pictured is Taylor Stone who played 3 sports while at HHS all 4 years)
I have coached high school athletics at some level for the last 18 years. I cannot believe it has been that long, and there are some consistent things I have heard through those years that seem to recycle themselves.

The main line I hear about once a year is "I am not going to play basketball next year because I want to concentrate on baseball/grades/family/track/whatever. Often it is from someone who has some basketball talent which always amazes me, but it amazes me less and less each year.

A few observations: I have never seen these guys work on their games in other sports. Now, to be fair, just because they aren't accessing our fields/weight facility/ or coaches doesn't mean they aren't doing these things elsewhere. Many I have noticed rarely make a great change in their academics, in fact, often their grades aren't as good. They do not have basketball or the coaching staff on them making sure they do what they need to do. Finally, maybe they are spending more of their time with their family because I do not see them at school anymore. If they want to play a fall sport and not basketball, basketball can help them keep their grades up during the winter months. If they want to play a spring sport, they can keep their grades up and stay in some kind of physical shape. Often, I think, these guys just don't want to play anymore and think they need some reason that they can blame it on.

I often tell these guys that there are people who would love to be in their position to play basketball. In fact, not all of them are just students at HHS, but those who can't walk or run because of physical problems. I also tell them that there is one 4 year window where people make a big deal about something that you do other than your parents, it is special to play basketball.

I want those guys who do quit to understand that there are no hard feelings, but I don't understand it. I am not the kind of person to hold grudges on kids for decisions they make, but basketball is not for everybody. In my previous blog entry, I wrote about the time and commitment it is something that comes easily for those who want to be there and not so easily for those who don't.

My final observation is this, 100% of the guys who have quit basketball regret it at some time. They may or may not tell me, but it gets back to me. I hear or am told by them how much they missed it, how they regret their decision and would do it differently, but they can't get that time back. Some even come out after a year off, but never seem to get back to their previous talent level.

I have had parents and students ask me "why do you get so upset when someone quits?" Besides investing time and caring about these kids, I often use the analogy of working together on a group project. If you and a couple of other people work, and work on a group project, then on the day you are going to give the presentation one of your "teammates" doesn't show up for school, it is frustrating.

Again, I will never hold a grudge against a kid, or treat him differently in the classroom for a decision not to play basketball. My frustration stems from the idea that I believe that being part of the basketball program is a special thing, and will provide memories and life lessons that will last a lifetime.

Fun time or "shoving it down their throats".....Summer?

About six years ago, the Indiana High School Athletic Association opened up rules in the summer. Before that Indiana high schools could only have "open gym" in the summer. Nothing mandatory with no coaching allowed, but many schools abused this rule. So, the IHSAA changed the rules and allow high schools to do just about whatever they want during the summer. There is a moratorium week during July 4 where we are not allowed to have any contact whatsoever. Then there is one the week before August which can be conditioning only.

You can literally practice as many times as you want and play as many games as you would like during that time in June and July. What I have tried to do is use the rule to our benefit, yet not burn the kids out. Many of our players are two or three sport athletes, and they get very little time off, so I try to compete with other communities/schools, and yet still let the kids have time to be, well, uh... kids.

Usually, during the month of June, we will practice and play games. We are practicing 6 times this June. During those six practices we will work on individual skills, but also breaking down our motion offense because that is all we really do in the summer. Very little is said about defense, but we play all man to man and zone unless it is towards the end of a game in June. But the first hour is working on our stuff, the second hour is guided playing.

Now when I say first and second hours, we practice 2 hours at a time on those six days...that is a total of 12 hours of practice this summer. Also, the games we play, I try to make it as enjoyable as possible. Our j.v. will play at Hanover College and Salem High School to get some games in during June.

The varsity will play from 14 to 18 games during June and we will travel to Purdue University, Indiana University and Olney Central J.C. So, during a four year period, our basketball players will see many different colleges/universities that they wouldn't see otherwise.

Also, I pay for the team's to play in these tournaments, so the only cost to our guys is for their hotel rooms. At the most, it costs them $100 a summer to do some of the things we do. During these trips, I try and get them to experience Indiana's Hoosier Hysteria. We have been to the Hall of Fame, to Hoosier's gym, to New Richmond (town of Hickory in movie), we have seen Notre Dame, IU, Indiana Wesleyan, Purdue, Plymouth H.S., Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse and many other basketball relevant locations.

What I have found is that what we do in the summer is right about what many teams do. Some teams go three days a week at six AM, others at night. Some schools play 14 games, and some will play 40 games in a summer. Some schools have weights, some don't. Some schools have workouts in July, some have just open gym, and some do nothing. But I can tell you that we have to do something. If we lose and have done nothing, I will be removed as basketball coach.

Now you tell me, if a kid loves or even likes basketball this sounds like a pretty good time for summer basketball? I think it is important that before you express an opinion about something that you have some knowledge of which you speak.

Yes, in the fall, we do have conditioning to prepare for basketball. Yes, it does last a couple of months, but it mostly about commitment. We run for 45 minutes, at the most, then play touch football or other enjoyable things that involve running and jumping. It is not mandatory, but you have to be in physical shape to play and compete. If you miss a day, I just ask that you make it up on the last day of conditioning, nothing drastic and only fair to everyone else. Yes, it isn't easy, but missing a whole day of conditioning is nothing to take lightly. And if you come to every single day of conditioning, that last day is a day off before practice begins.

Nothing, absolutely nothing, we do is mandatory. However, we will do these things basketball related in the summer and while you may not be there, someone will be playing in your spot. Someone who is working hard and not wanting to give that spot up once school starts in the fall during conditioning and open gym.

Monday, May 17, 2010


(Currently reading Oregon State men's basketball coaches "A Game of Character")
I learned many life lessons growing up in the Hunter household, but one thing that I have carried over from observations in my childhood to as an adult is reading. Growing up, my dad David, was always reading something. I think about it now, but that example helped me to give into something that I wanted to do and that was, read.

I would find books at yard sales about baseball and its history and would sit and read an entire 300 page book in one day. I will be honest, I haven't read that many diverse books, but I read. I estimate anywhere from five thousand to seven thousands book that I have read in my lifetime.

I read mostly autobiographies and biographies on basketball coaches now, but have read history books, fictional books and non fictional books. I consistently want a book that I am reading. I really enjoyed the "Left Behind" series, and I enjoy John Grisham books.

Why is reading so important? I believe that it helps you to grow your mind, to become smarter. What's the commercial slogan from the 90's? "The more you know, the more you grow." It is true that reading can make you more intelligent and intelligence will help you more in life.

My wife and now me, but I will give Kristi most of the credit, we have read to our children since they were babies. Our daughter now loves going to book stores and yard sales and wants us to buy her books. In our modern society, I take pride in that. We are working on our son now, and at two, he wants a story read to him every night. I hope we are instilling our love for reading in them as I believe it as important as just about anything we do in raising them.

But, it's not just books that I read. I have yet given into the technological age of reading papers online. I enjoy eating a small breakfast every morning and reading the newspaper. Of course, I go to the sports section first, but will open up the rest of the paper and check the headlines and read what interests me. Also, I enjoy magazines like Time and Newsweek to keep up with current events and other news.

If you are a parent, read to your children. If you are a student, read for yourself. Finally, if you are an adult or parent...keep reading for yourself. You just may be planting a seed for your children or those around you. Reading is important, important, important for individual development.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stepping out of the Comfort Zone....Part 2

When I head to Europe in a few days, I have many apprehensions that come with stepping out of your comfort zone, however, there have been many things that have helped to relieve some of those fears.

First, I had a question with my plane ticket from Louisville to New York. I called Continental and the service rep there was very nice and helpful.

Second, I have spoken to quite a few people who have told me that the airport in Frankfurt will pose few problems.

Third, I have been told that many people especially the younger people over there speak English quite well. I think my biggest fear with this is that I don't want to come off disrespectful to their culture.

Fourth, I want to say that every single person that I have met from that area has been more than reassuring about how I will be treated. I have many new friends from that area in which if they are representative of Serbia and Macedonia, I have few worries. I will be there for basketball and hope that it is the international language of all at the camps!

Fifth, the food...well, I am picky but I am sure I will find something to eat and may take peanut butter and crackers.

Lastly, my family...yeah...I got nothing. It's going to be hard.

Thanks to former Henryville Hornet Javier Bunes from Spain, Macedonians Tane Spasev, Borce Ilievski, and Robert Trajkov and U.S. travelers (US diplomat) Rodney Hunter and UPS pilot Buddy Coats...and many others for alleviating my fears.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

In 48 days....I step out of my comfort zone

I believe that if you want to grow as a person, you must do a couple of different things. One is to reflect. Reflect on your life, on your actions...decide what works and move on, find what doesn't work and change it.

Second, I believe that you have to step out of your comfort zone. This past fall, I became friends with a man from Macedonia, Tane Spasev. We connected on Twitter, then on Facebook and he being a basketball coach, we had a common thing we liked. He is quite fluent in English having attended college in the United States. During one of our conversations, he asked if I had ever been to Europe...I haven't been out of the United States.

So, I was invited to work a camp in Zlatibor, Serbia which is southwest of the capital Belgrade. Since then, I have been asked to work at another camp for their Junior program in Macedonia. That camp will take place at Lake Ohrid, Macedonia. I readily accepted and have grown to know Coach Spasev and Coach Borce Ilievski both of Macedonia (Coach Borce is a pro coach in Iceland and coached former South Central star Craig Schoen...what a small world).

Stepping out of my comfort zone...I have never flown in a plane...EVER!!! Now I will fly from Louisville to New York, New York to Frankfurt, Germany, Frankfurt to Belgrade...then back again after two weeks. I am forty years old and have never flown and now my first flights will be halfway around the world.

I will be entering countries in which English is not the native language. I am nervous because I have heard horror stories about the airport in Frankfurt, Germany. That it isn't English friendly, that the people aren't apt to help Americans and on and on and on. In its defense, I have also heard that there will be no problems.

I will end up in Serbia which wasn't exactly an ally of the United States in the mid 90's and earlier this decade. To remove the Serbs from Kosovo and allow U.N. peacekeepers in, the U.N. (mostly the United States and Germany) bombed the Serbian military. From all accounts, there will be no problems with me being there this all.

I will be around people who will not speak English first which will be the first time I have ever been around this type of situation.

After visiting the International Clinic for foreign travelers, I have been put on alert to what types of "diseases" I can get. Such as "traveler's diarrhea" which I have already been given a prescription to fight off if I get at anytime during my stay. The water is not bad for them in that area as they are used to it, however, I am not and have been told to not drink the water and to close my eyes and mouth during showers.

The worst part of being out of my comfort zone is not being around my family for two weeks. I am going to miss my kids and wife terribly during this time. We will use skype to communicate, but with the six hour difference, it will be hard to find time when we are all capable of being free. I am not so sure that seeing them rarely during those two weeks may not make it worse when I leave. Watching them cry and missing me, hopefully, will be painful...very painful.

But, with all of the above said, we/I must step out of the comfort zone. I can stay in Sellersburg/Henryville my whole life and live a good life, but would it be great? Yes, there is the chance that I could die on this trip, but that could happen every time I get behing the wheel of my car.

I will write about my experiences in Eastern Europe, I may even blog from there, but I will be going this summer, Lord willing, and hopefully will come back a better coach, person, and father.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mental Toughness is Everything

If you play athletics, especially at a younger age, there are certain lessons that will inherently be learned. Often, they are very hard lessons to learn. How to lose, how to win, how to be unsuccessful and show class, and how to be successful and show class.

It is those lessons that you learn mental toughness. Mental toughness is being able to function and continue doing what you are supposed to do at all times. You will be given so many opportunities to learn it in athletics that you will be prepared for "real life".

As an athlete, I have learned to deal with many tough times in my life. It can be something as hard as divorce or the death of a loved one, or it can be something as simple as dealing with a family member or student in school. Those mental toughness lessons from athletics have helped me to continue on in life....without medication.

I often tell my students/players that life isn't easy or fair and the sooner you understand that, the happier you will be. However, like me, they will learn those lessons on their own, the hard way. Luckily for me, in my experiences with athletics, I learned how to deal with getting out of bed on days when lying there, depressed would have been much easier. Those days when you can barely look anyone in the face because of shame or is mental toughness that gets me up and moves me on.

There are two choices in life...competing and giving up. With me...I only see one choice: to compete, every second, every day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Developing Individual Players

Developing individual players is an important part of any program. We, as coaches, must work to develop basketball players from the time they start coming to our camps in kindergarten, all the way until they graduate as seniors. In fact, much of what is shown as kindergarteners will be shown all the way through school.

I have heard, as I sometimes do, criticism that the coaches do not "develop players" to the best of their potential. Now, I am not going to say that isn't totally correct, but I do know that players in our program, again from K thru 12, are given the opportunity to do just that; develop themselves.

Some of the things available for Henryville boys' to do to develop their games are our camps which we hold in the spring and in the fall. During those camps we show individual drills that each player can work on, and in the fall, we allow them to play also. I think it is imperative that when they enter 5th grade (which is when our "teams" form) that they know what a baseline and a sideline to line up for jump balls, and for free throws.

Also, the gym is open every morning at 7 AM for any player to work on their game. During the off season, I have yet to be approached by many players to stay after school to work on their games. I understand that spring and fall sports are being played and that takes some of the players, I support that they play them.

We also have the opportunity for them to try out for AAU teams, there is the new TSI Nolan league available in the spring and summer. These leagues will allow them to play on teams together and with players from other schools to see where they stand skill wise.

Finally, we have the entire month of June for them to work on their games and play. Our practices and open gyms in July are for the high school, but I have yet to turn away a younger player who wants to come in and shoot around, or play. I would love to be bothered to the point of frustration that people want to use the gym, but it hasn't been the case.

I could use any number of players as an example who worked on their games, but if you want to see or think back of an example of a player who took what we showed him and then he worked on the himself...without direction; take a look at the picture associated with this article. Shane Meadows, Henryville's all time leading scorer. A guy who scored over 1700 career points, 1300 in his last two years, and won a ton of basketball games. He was shown the skills and then worked his tail off, many times by himself, to make himself better.

So the next time you contemplate if we develop our players, please ask me to help in anyway, think about what you have done to help your son, think about what your son has done, both in the gym and at his home; and then reconsider your comments.

When you are thinking of not sending your son to camp (I understand not every player can make every camp), or not having them play in the Nolan league (I understand vacation time), or allowing them to skip our June practices (which I don't ask for much), or making some excuse why they don't have to work on their game; please do not lay the blame at my or any of our coaches feet. There is no one here, on our staff, that wouldn't help to develop your son, I can promise that. And if you ask someone who won't, come to me and remind me of this article!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everybody Else

Another book I have read and found useful is Training Camp:What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else.  The book details a Playbook in how to be successful.  This playbook has 11 things that can be done to help you achieve your goals.

It is a fictional book done from the perspective of a mid-major, to small college football player (Martin) trying to make his NFL team. He sprains his ankle, then taken under the wing of one of the Assistant coaches who gives/reveals the Playbook to the player to be successful.  Martin has spent his entire life proving critics wrong.  His sprained ankle in pre-season ends his dream, or so he thinks.  The player believes the help and the Playbook are for making the team, but ultimately it is about how to be successful in life and to be the best of the best.

Some of the virtues it touches on is that success isn't often how well you do something, but just sustainability. Meaning, you get up every day and go to work and often you will succeed because so many people will not do that simple thing, they will give up.  Arriving at work early and leaving late, and finally "mental toughness". In fact, the comment is made in the book that "mental toughness is everything" when wanting to be successful. Mental toughness is that ability to continue on when your mind and/or body are telling you to stop.   The book even lists ways to become more mentally tough.  Too often, in today's world, we never want to get out of our comfort zone and by never doing so, we cannot live a fulfilled life in every aspect of life.

It is an inspirational story using real world wisdom on what it takes to reach true success and how you, your team, your school team, your church, your family can achieve it. The book ends happily, but also sadly which is ultimately turned into a success. When you experience failure, use it as a defining moment for some success that will come in the future.

Training Camp is a Great book which can be read by everyone to improve themselves.  Put down the remote control, the XBOX, or game tape and read.  Read this book (again, I get zero dollars for writing this for you to purchase) or read something else.  If you are not moving forward in trying to improve yourself,  you are standing still which is, in effect, moving backwards.  Feel free to email me at anytime which can be found on my blog listed below.  I would love to discuss this book, any book, or anything I have written in the past and your thoughts.  Just no anonymous emails, let me know who you are.