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29 years coaching experience/ 7 years as a varsity boys' basketball coach, now assisting

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why Give it Your All?

Some of the worst times I have experienced in my life (I have been really blessed) have come in the disappointment of athletic endeavors. Losing a game, a tournament, the last game of my career at HHS have brought some of the most emotional, draining experiences of my life.

Why? Why has it happened that way? Why would you allow that? Why?

What other way is there? If I have done something I want to do, I have rarely done it lukewarm. The time and effort invested in that experience has allowed it to hurt when you do not get the desired result. But, I ask again, is there any other way?

I would rather risk the hurt for the joy of success. If I were going to play, I would dive on the floor for a loose ball or I would rather sit. Coaching I would rather scout, practice, put in time on the gym floor and the thousand other things I do or quit.

I would rather play/coach with everything I have and risk the hurt of failure than to go through the motions and never feel anything.

I once had a coach tell me that as you coach, the losing gets worse and the wins don't mean as much and I believed that and felt that way until about 3 years ago. It began with the birth of my daughter and then my son, but my perspective changed. As I have grown in my faith, my perspective has changed. It doesn't for everyone, but it did for me. Losing isn't the worst thing in the world, taking your sick child to the hospital is. And winning is always fun, maybe not as fulfilling as it sometimes can be, but it is fun.

But I will still coach with everything I have and risk the hurt of failure than to go through the motions and never feel anything.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Some Things New Coaches Should Know

I recently read an article about 50 things a coach wished an older coach had told him before they took the job. It was rather intense, but it made me think. When I became the head coach at my school, there were things I already knew and some I learned on the job. Following are 15 things I think new coaches should know entering the job of head basketball coach.

1. Character matters - If they want to fire you, make them fire you over wins and losses and not because of something you have done in the community. This is a tough one because it means you are under the microscrope, more so by yourself.

2. People will talk and critisize - Learn to deal with it or get out. Do not lose years off your life or be stressed out, realize it is going to happen.

3. Every year there is something to deal with - If you believe that a certain year will be problem free, prepare to be wrong. There is always something that happens.

4. Help others - You will be amazed how much others will help you if you are willing to help them.

5. Winning is often not in your hands - You can prepare, work, and take care of every detail, but at some point it is high school kids playing the game and you aren't. This is a really hard one to come to grips with.

6. Pick your battles - Most of them are not worth fighting, most of them you will lose, but when you do fight, fight with everything you have.

7. Build loyalty - Do not bad mouth other coaches and help out as many people you can at your school. The more loyalty you build, the more likely someone will at least remain silent when you are being bashed, at best they will defend you.

8. Many people at games are there to watch an individual and not the team - Therefore when you win, you will still have upset people because of not enough shots, not enough playing time.

9. Make the big time where you are - Don't work less because you aren't at a generally accepted big time place...make it big time there!

10. Success is in the eye of the beholder - What you view as a success isn't always seen by everyone else as a success.

11. Don't bad mouth a previous coach - It makes you look bad and most people will you believe you are jealous.

12. When forming a team, having players quit is much better than having to cut them - It puts the power of the decision in their hands.

13. Fundamentals, fundamentals, fundamentals - Enough said.

14. Love it or get out - You will deal with enough negatives that if you don't love it you will get out. Always, always have a positive attitude!

15. Pray - It gets me through some of the worst times not just in coaching.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Trust and Basketball

I recently read some quotes on trust and it got me to thinking about what trust means to a basketball team.
First, the players need to trust me. They need to understand that I am going to work to the best of my abilities to gain the knowledge to help them be successful. In today's world it must be visible. They must see that I am going to clinics, working on practice, scouting games, and having good game plans. They may not realize it, but they trust that the coaches know what they are doing and trying to help them be successful.

Players will hear negative comments about the coaching staff around friends, girlfriends, family members and it makes it that much more important that they can trust you. You must make that trust be something that transcends the court. Can your players trust you to have their backs at school, academically, issues that happen in the community and if need be economically. "Having their back" doesn't necessarily mean you are getting them out of trouble or complaining to teachers about players grades. What it does mean is allowing for time to work on school work and possibly discipline for off the court issues. That trust is between you and the player involved, but the rest of the team as well. Are you consistent? Are you letting some things slide?

A coach must be able to trust the players also. My rules are set up to ensure trust, but hopefully to teach my players the self-discipline to be trustworthy. I have had people ask me why is having a haircut or some of my other rules important. I have answered that I need to know that when I say "shave" they will do it, or better yet I don't have to tell them at all. Because I believe there is a direct correlation in a player who will "shave" when I say so and who will also run the play I tell them with ten seconds to go in a game. I/We need to have that trust in each other.

In a high school situation, trust is important and the players are going to test and sometimes lose your trust. They should never (as well as their parents) have to worry about trusting you as a coach. We all are going to make mistakes, but there needs to be some trust that the players and their parents know you are going to set a good example, and will be around to coach the team an entire season. Breaking laws or being unethical is something that shouldn't enter into the equation at all, but seems to do so more and more each year.

Trust is important in a team. Any team. It doesn't matter if it is a basketball team, a teaching staff or your family. Trust is a building block of success.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cell Phones and the Internet

Cars, the radio, television, rock and roll, rap music....um, that is about all of the things that I can think of in my knowledge database that have been called fads. They were things that would not last and if they did it would be the downfall of western civilization.

Now, it is cell phones and the Internet. Teachers are frustrated with the fact that students use cell phones at school. There are many negative issues that can come about because of this, but it is a problem that will not go away, it will only get worse. So, what do we do? I am sure there is some device we could put on top of the school to stop cell phone usage (by both students and teachers) or should it be something that we come to accept from Generation Y? I feel that my Gen Xers have become the Baby Boomers complaining of rock and roll, just now it is cell phones, ipods, and ipads.

Also, it isn't so much the Internet that is bugging teachers and administrators, but social networking sites. How much cyberslacking do people do on these sites while at work? Is it a problem? Should they be able to post what they want? Most people are called on the carpet for verbal negativity, why written? Should you be allowed on these sites at schools/work? Why not ban these sites if they are an issue? Are facebook, twitter, linkedin and other sites as much a problem as other sites with message boards for sports? What about fantasy baseball, fantasy football and other sites?

In my opinion, facebook has become the new email. I have used it to converse during the school day with former students who have social issues, college issues and also with current students who are home sick and have a question about class. I have a Henryville Basketball site on facebook and a site on twitter and I have used them to market our program and school...is that wrong? I have used those sites to push/market our school and have done so internationally was that wrong? Is it wrong to update/check these sites during the day? As long as I am covering the standards, teaching the curriculum and engaging my students is it wrong?

Complaining about school, administrators, the town or any kind of negative aspect I can understand. It is unprofessional to go on these sites and bash your place of employment. Especially if you want to be considered a professional. Your friends list can be changed, but ultimately it is a private blog that you have allowed others to access. But, in today's world if you used the Internet for private thoughts/actions...there is no privacy. Then it becomes how you want to be perceived publicly or how your employers wants his employees to be perceived publicly.

Having the Internet at school opens inherent issues that can be negative. But the bad reputation of some of this stuff hurts it, I don't know if singling out certain sites is the way to go about things...I am not sure I know the answer to any of this, but one thing I am certain of...it's not going away anytime soon and will not be seen as a fad anymore than cars or television are today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

IHSAA By-Laws

I was looking throught the book the other day of all the rules that are included in our state's by-laws for high school athletics. It is a rather lengthy book with many rules. So many rules that I would bet that many coaches/athletic directors have broken multiple rules during their times of leadership. You cannot have contact with student athletes on Sunday, you cannot drive student athletes to open gyms during the summer, and numerous others.

However, I believe that many of the rules violations have been done more out of ignorance than just to break them. I know that my first year, we played a few kids without physicals on file in the office and were put on probation after self-reporting, but that was out of ignorance. They had played fall athletics and figured if they were eligible there, they must have been for us, that hasn't happened again since that first year.

But, some people do break the rules...on purpose. Schools openly recruit players for their programs. Sometimes it is as blatant as a coach speaking with the player and/or the parents and sometimes it is subtle has having your current players speak with the player/or parents about attending their school. There is a clear rule that players from other schools may not attend open gyms of your school while school is in session, but it happens often. Is that ignorance? Is it that they don't care? Are they trying to get better players?

If I were going to recruit players, they would be foreign players. Guys that I could bring here to better their lives and to better our program and school. They would be players who might help us, but would better our school from a cultural standpoint. It would give them the opportunity to play college basketball here, an opportunity they would not have living abroad. But, if they end up here, it would be because of their own accord and through an approved exchange program.

It is a competitive game we play and you must have good players to compete at a higher level. Will I ever recruit? I guess the definition of "recruiting" should be defined. We openly recruit our players from birth to graduation at HHS in many different ways. I am constantly trying to get those players to stay here, but once they leave, if they come back, it will be under their own accord.