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

Monday, May 30, 2011

Mental Toughness....Again

I have written about mental toughness a few times, if you ask me I will tell you, mental toughness is everything!  But a few things have happened recently that have exposed it to me even more so. To me, mental toughness is worrying less or not at all about things you cannot control.

I am watching a high school baseball game today on Memorial day and I heard two players complaining about how hot it is.  It is very warm...96 degrees, but you cannot control the weather, but you can control how you react to it.  Complaining about something you can't control gets your mental focus off what needs to be done, play baseball.  I have coached baseball for 20 years and you can always see mental toughness in a few instances.  When it rains, some teams/players cannot handle the conditions, those that can are usually the successful ones.  In a low scoring game, if one team finally scores a few runs, you will see few teams go 3 up, 3 down in the next half when they are on defense.  Watch a guy throwing a no-hitter deep into a game and then when the no-hitter is broken up, he sometimes needs to come out of the game or at least also  loses the shutout.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mall Parking Lot Mentality

I went to the dentist yesterday and we spoke about how busy they were that day, but it was a good thing that someone didn't show up...to ease the work load.  Someone or two had gone on vacation this week and everyone was doing more work.  But a patient had "no called/ no showed" meaning that they didn't take the time to call and say they couldn't be there.  Now you can imagine how frustrating that is, but I am sure we have all done it and I am sure that most places of employment and business are used to it. 

My comment about this was "I bet the same person would also be the person who is mad because you guys were taking too long in here and wasting their time".  The dental assistant laughed because that is usually how it works.  Which allowed me to talk for 5 minutes about the Mall Parking Lot Mentality.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Our Rules on Motion Offense

Offensively, our beliefs are that the best offensive players should get the most shots, and we will try to put them in positions to use their skills.  That is, more often than not, by running a quick hitter set that allows for our top 1-3 offensive players to get a good to great shot.  When that set falls apart or is unsuccessful, we fall back into our 3 out, 2 in motion.  I think it is pretty much just playing basketball using your basketball IQ to score.  This offense allows for all 5 guys to feel a part of the offense.  It allows for all 5 players to possibly touch the basketball in making passes, shooting, or offensive rebounding.

We have many drills that we work on to incorporate the offense starting with 1 on 1 drills and building to 2 on 2, then 3 on 3, 4 on 4, and then ultimately 5 on 5.  Here are 9 rules that we believe are important in running our "motion" offense.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Soul Surfer: The True Story of Pro Surfer Bethany Hamilton

I went to watch this movie, Soul Surfer, the other night http://youtu.be/MWeOjBCi3c4 and it was an inspirational story.  It was not exactly my first choice when we went, but it ended up being a great movie. 

Bethany Hamilton is a pro surfer and while in the water one day, a shark attack left her with one fewer arms than the rest of us.  Her composure and strength and her belief in God that Jesus Christ helped her through this ordeal was moving.  I am a perspective guy and it helped put into perspective my "problems", and in the movie something she did (going to Thailand after the tsunami) put her problems into perspective.

Here is her website: http://bethanyhamilton.com/ 

I highly recommend the movie!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Execute Perfectly or Fewest Mistakes Wins

There are two ways of thinking when it comes to coaching and how you get your team to play when it comes to mistakes or lack of mistakes.  I think, however, that they are the one and the same.  I guess it depends on how you see the cup, half empty or half full.  Or maybe it is experience and reality that has guided me into my thinking.  Or is it because I realize it isn't what I say, but what they hear that matters.

When I was younger, I preached execution, execution, execution.  I wanted perfection.  To me, and I still believe this to some extent, that you want to pursue perfection.  Because by persuing perfection (which is unattainable) you will get closer to as good as you can possibly be than if you just accept mediocrity.  But what kind of pressure does that put on the average person or kid?  Do they sometimes let one mistake become a second, then a third, then a fourth and then they are finished?

For the past few years, I have stopped saying that as often.  It is something that I will still say because I think it is a valiant endeavor.  But I have pushed more and more that we make the fewest mistakes possible.  It is trying to accomplish the exact same thing, but it concedes that mistakes will be made.  By bringing the two ideas together, pursue perfection and making the fewest mistakes possible, you can reach different types of personalities that are on your team.

Let's be honest, the team who plays the closest to perfection is making the fewest mistakes.  And the team which makes the fewest mistakes usually does win. 

Perfection is unattainable, the fewest mistakes possible is perfectly attainable.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Stress, Anxiety and a Half Day Off Work

Most people are under stress and anxiety every single day of their lives.  Something is affecting them.  It can be work, it can be your children, your relationships, your friends, hard to work with administrators...anything.

I am a Type A personality.  I am my mother's son.  The only way I can explain it is that there seems to be something inside of me SCREAMING ALL THE TIME!!!!  I have a real problem in dealing with situations or people that aren't the way I think they should be or act the way I think they should act.  I have come very far in my 41 years.  I have learned to let go of much and I have learned to keep things in proper perspective, in fact, many people think I am pretty easy going...most of the time.  But I often wonder if all the stress and anxiety I am under, even though I don't show it outwardly all the time, that it isn't going to show up in some way.

I had something that scared me pretty good today happen.  My heart has had some palpitations, but nothing I haven't felt before and nothing I hadn't told my doctor about which he brushed off as natural.  This morning, my blood pressure was high, from what I was told later, too high.  I had it taken three separate times in spaced intervals and it hadn't gone down.  So with the palpitations and the high blood pressure, I called my doctor and wanted to get checked out.

As I was talking to a friend of mine in the hallway prior to one of our classes, I started to feel funny.  I went into my classroom and sat down, and at that moment, I thought I was going to pass out.  I got up, told the students to call the office, I was on my way and that I might pass out.  As I got to the hallway, I was fine, but about halfway to the office, I started to feel that I might go down again.  So now I am scared at what is going on and confused...am I having a heart attack?

I went to the elementary nurse, and my wife came and took me to the emergency room where I was checked out rather thoroughly and sent home wearing a heart monitor.  So what happened?  To be quite honest, I think I have arythmia or high blood pressure, they are both genetic as are panic attacks.  In my self diagnosis I think I had a panic attack in my room and the hallway.  I am not sure, and I am not ashamed if it is because many people suffer from it. 

I am pretty mentally tough and to suffer something like I did today and to think it might be psychological is somewhat troubling to me.  What does it mean?  Why did it happen?  Is my thinking and blogging about it making it worse?  Who knows?  And I am not trying to worry about it.  My only concern is that my children are taken care of and happy, I have a wonderful, loving wife and many good friends.  Yes, there are going to be some things that drive me up a wall, but I need to let it go even more, I guess.

Thanks to everyone who was concerned, but I am all right.  I plan on being around for a long time, but I can't guarantee it will happen.  I will TRY to let more go, and TRY to enjoy the moment more, and TRY not to be frustrated at things I can't control.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Player, then Coach, now Parent of a Player

When I played (I hate it when I say that), I didn't know much.  Many people thought I was a "smart" player, but actually all I did was play.  That is until I got to high school and then I just did what my coach said to do.  It wasn't because I knew or understood the game any better than anyone else, it was because I was coachable...I did what I was told.  Okay, so maybe I was a "smart" player just for that.  I often heard parents yelling at officials, coaches, and, unfortunately, other players both on my team and on other teams.  You sometimes don't understand everything going on as a kid, but you soak it in.  You think some things are incorrect, but you respect the person yelling like a wild person, so it must not be too bad to act that way...?  Thankfully, I had my parents who would correct me (even though my mom could be a wild person..."love you mom").

Monday, May 16, 2011

End of an Era; Beginning of a New One?

When I was younger, full of myself (more than I am now), cocky, arrogant, whatever you want to call it, I would work hard expecting compliments.  I had a varsity basketball coach tell me at the time, if you are working hard expecting compliments, you will be let down.  And of course, being young and knowing everything, I had to learn the hard way.

I will say this, I feel that people are pretty much appreciative what we do.  The players, the former players, some of the fans, the administration, other coaches, etc, but if you expect to be complimented or thanked, you are coaching for the wrong reason.  Many people either don't know or don't care (they expect it to be part of your job) about the effort you put into a job.  In fact, many people will gladly allow you to do their job while it is inconvenient or difficult.  As soon as they deem it convenient or not as difficult, they will take that work away from you and expect the benefits.  Of course, you will be fully expected to bring them up to speed, forget about a learning curve that they should have to endure if they want the benefits of that job.  And they very likely will not say "thank you" for all you have done.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What Makes a Great Player at the High School Level?

A few of us have had a debate going on recently about what makes a great player at the high school level.  Is it that individual who is has the potential in the future to play at another level?  Or is it a player who gets it done, noticeably, right here, right now?

In this debate, many people argue that the player who has the most potential in the future is the greatest player at the high school level.  They are a very good, if not great...yes, let's use the word great, they are a great high school player.  They are a high school player that can make huge differences in a game with their individual skills, but they are not playing what might be considered the most key position.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Alzheimer's

My father wrote a book about his and his mother's experiences from the beginning of her illness until her death.  It is peppered with poems and his experiences.  If you have dealt with it in the past or currently are, you are not alone.  Go to this blog: http://thedaymymotherleft.blogspot.com/ and read a wonderful and terrible story.

My plan is to include the pictures from his book once I scan them into the computer, but I felt it was more important to get it out now than to wait until I thought it was perfect. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thank you

I just finished the book Cardboard Gods by Josh Wilker. Great book. Let me type that again, Great book. Thanks to Providence head coach Lou Lefevre for the gift for perceived help that he thinks I gave him recently (that's what friends are for Coach). To give you some insight on the book, Wilker writes of his youth and growing up with his baseball cards as the focus. Again...one more time...great book!

Reading it helped me remember many things from my youth, some things I didn't probably care to remember, but things that influenced me, made me who I am. As I have thought about these times and places who made me who I am they are invariably tied to people. People who helped me along the way. I don't know if they did it for themselves or for me or some combination, but they deserve thank yous. I can't write every single one because I will forget, but I will try and hit the major people.

Elizabeth and David Hunter, my parents...thank you. You were patient with me as I grew up, making mistakes, finding my way. You were probably too easy on me in my early 20's and should have just thrown me in the lake and said "sink or swim", but you didn't and you knew I would figure it out. From my mom I get my competitiveness and lack of patience against how things should be. From my dad, I got my love of reading and the understanding (eventually) that there is something greater in life than baseball or basketball (by the way, it took having children to fully understand this dad). If it hadn't been for them, I would not be where I am and I lean on them often. They may not always realize it because they raised me to be an independent person, one who only calls when something is wrong with my car (I know nothing about automobiles).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Presenting at a Coaching Clinic = Reflections on Life

I have never given a coaching clinic in the United States. Not in southern Indiana, central, northern Indiana...anywhere. It may be because of the lack of resume when it comes to wins that no one wants to hear what I have to say....maybe not.

Last summer in Serbia I gave one clinic on court and then headed to Junior in Macedonia and gave one on court and two in class clinics. They can be nerve wracking in that you want to give the coaches something new...one thing at the least and you want to come off that you do know what you are talking about.

Heading to Iceland this summer, I will be giving two clincs along with other coaches and I will be speaking about the organization of our practices and run the players through a HHS practice, but I will also be speaking about our "motion" offense. How we work on it, how we get into it, how we practice it.

It is interesting in showing what you do because you want to make sure you do things professionally and in an instructional way. So what it has done is it has made me think critically of what we do in practice to teach our 3 out 2 in "motion" offense. This is a very good thing because I wonder if we do that enough. I wonder if we worry enough about what we do on a day to day basis in teaching what we coach to sit and look at it through some one elses eyes but our own.

What I mean is this, I know what we are doing, I know what we are doing in practice, but am I doing it so that anyone can see and understand? I want to make sure that when giving a clinic on this subject that I make it complicated yet simple, I want to make sure that my verbage is correct and understandable. I want to run our stuff and teach it as if we were in my classroom learning about the fall of the Soviet Union or the Kennedy Assassination and that the coaches/students understand.

I love clinics and I love being asked why we do what we do. It actually makes me think and pick apart my own brain as much as it does in explaining it to others. That self-reflection is important in coaching, but more importantly self-reflection is important in life.