30 second time outs

Friday, December 03, 2010

Ray Lokar's Fundamentals Factory and Practice Planning Set

From Championship Productions web page:

Ray Lokar's Fundamentals Factory for Youth Basketball
with Ray Lokar ("Coach Lok"),
30+ year basketball coach at the youth, high school and college levels;
Positive Coaching Alliance/Stanford University - Lead Trainer;
Director - Basketball4All,net Editor - Basketball-tips.com

Ray Lokar presents his "Fundamentals Factory," a place where developing basketball players go to build their game in a competitive, fun environment!

Coach Lok simplifies the fundamentals of basketball, highlights the key points, and leads the demonstration of fun and effective drills, competitive contests, and short-sided games to benefit any youth basketball team. Prepare to encounter fresh and innovative concepts and insightful teaching points from a basketball coaching veteran that will help you improve all of your players, on both sides of the ball, in all areas.

Learn about:

The "Golden Triangle"
The ball-man-line
Why you need "your feet to your responsibility"
Unique thoughts on shooting
Why it's OK to sprint/slide on defense
Lokar's 5-Out Spots Offense
Pay special attention to Coach Lok's coaching style - giving receivable feedback and making corrections in a constructive, positive way and get his "5-Steps to Being a Better Player - RIGHT NOW!"

Fundamentals Factory for Youth Basketball is an amazing series of teaching points, drills, exercises, life lessons, coaching tips, team building and more. Coach Lok is terrific in his approach; he works with a group of young kids--most of whom have never worked with him before--and transforms them over the duration of this DVD, into a team-like unit capable of great potential.

A great DVD for every youth basketball coach and youth basketball program director!

"Ray Lokar is a fantastic Double-Goal coach - he wins on the scoreboard while using sports to teach life lessons to his players. Ray Lokar knows a lot about coaching basketball. Every time I talk to Ray I learn something new about coaching so I know you're going to enjoy this DVD and learn a lot from it!"
Jim Thompson - Founder and Executive Director, Positive Coaching Alliance

276 minutes (2 DVDs). 2010.

Ray Lokar's Building an Effective Youth Basketball Practice

Learn how you can consistently build effective and efficient youth basketball practices.

Ray Lokar, a 30+ year veteran youth basketball coach, discusses everything to take into consideration leading up to the first practice, and then goes ahead with full detailed descriptions of every element of an effective youth basketball practice. In addition, he shares how he utilizes his "Fundamentals Factory" approach within the framework of his practice planning structure. (NOTE: if you already own the "Fundamentals Factory" DVD, this will help you design great practices!)

Building an Effective Youth Basketball Practice provides a cumulative framework with which any coach can adapt to his or her team's practice sessions immediately. As a special, incredible bonus - Coach Lok has included downloadable PDFs of:

Practice Structure - Coach Lok's very own plan for every situation and every part of the practice
Fundamentals Packet - Eight pages of tips, drills and skills that will help every player!
"Special Situations" list that you can make into a mini "tournament" in practice!
Sample Drills packet - contains detailed descriptions of every drill done in the DVD series and many more (over 100+ total drills!)

A great DVD for every youth basketball coach!

"Ray Lokar is a fantastic Double-Goal coach - he wins on the scoreboard while using sports to teach life lessons to his players. Ray Lokar knows a lot about coaching basketball. Every time I talk to Ray I learn something new about coaching so I know you're going to enjoy this DVD and learn a lot from it!"
Jim Thompson - Founder and Executive Director, Positive Coaching Alliance

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

LeBron's Return

Has there ever been a team covered with as much scrutiny at the beginning of a season than the Miami Heat has at the dawn of the 2010-11 NBA season? I would only say... be careful what you wish for, you just might get it. The scrutiny has been brought on by their actions and now that they've made their own bed, they must lie in it. So is it justified? Lebron has been set up for this scrutiny since high school, some he brought on himself, some of it no fault of his own. The national media exposure (TV games, books, documentaries, etc) was not his fault, although those around him allowed it to happen and benefitted from it is well. However Lebron contributed to it as well as he embraced the MJ comparisons while saying he wanted to be "a global icon." That will turn up the expectations, across the board, for sure. At that point you better play, and act, accordingly. Jordan was the first real global basketball player and in such made the largest impact on the game today. LBJ was expected to carry the torch. Instead he may have taken the baton from Wilt "nobody loves the giant" Chamberlain. Wilt had the ability to be the greatest, but for a myriad of reasons played on a number of teams and had the misfortune of playing in the same era as Bill Russell. By changing teams, Lebron tried to avaoid the plight of Oscar Robertson, playing in a small-market with limited resources, and never getting as much credit as he may have deserved.

I'm not certain I've ever heard anyone dispute the fact the players had every right to choose their team, based on the free agency that they had earned. In fact I don't hear anyone being very negative about Bosh joining the Heat, and I certainly hear nothing negative about Wade re-signing. HOW Lebron made The Decision and the ensuing dance party in Miami to introduce the players is what really turned fandom against them.If LBJ did everything the same but chose to stay in Cleveland it would have been a love-fest. The fact he essentially broke up with his girlfriend on National TV it turned him into the villain in the general publics eyes. Imagine calling a big party to announce whether you're going to marry a long-time fiancee - or break up with her. You could name it "The Disaster." Especially after pledging lifetime allegiance, as LBJ did when he was quoted as saying he had no interest in "...chasing rings, he The Decision was Lebron's version of The Bachelor..."Miami...will you accept this rose?" When that happens on the TV show, there is always nationwide sentiment for the lover scorned. This is no different. A simple press-conference (like every other free-agent in the history of sports) would have tempered much of the anger.A disaster of equal proportions was the ensuing dance party in Miami to introduce "The Three Kings." The rock-star entrance followed by the on stage interview was filled with bulletin-board fodder for all. From the moderator saying "visitors beware... enter at your own risk!" to Wade saying they are "...arguably the best trio to ever play the game of basketball" might cause those of us that remember some great trios of the past to take pause and also cause comedians to joke about "Two-and-a-Half Men". Following that up with saying "I feel sorry for the team that's gotta guard both of us" might have been enough bulletin board material to last a career. That is, until Lebron spoke, saying that after practice "once the game starts things are gonna be easy" and talking about the number of expected Championships "not 4, not 5, not 6 ..." which immediately set the Heat up as the team everyone loved to hate. The perceived arrogance to believe that a simple accumulation of "talent" could produce those kind of results has been the cause for piling on after every loss.

As to their early season on-court woes "The Big Three" might be a bit of a misnomer. While Bosh is a nice player, he still is just a skilled, face-up 4 man that piled up a bunch of stats on a bad team. In my opinion he is no more worthy of being called one of a "The Big Three" than is Lamar Odom to go with Kobe and Gasol. He certainly isn't an inside presence that will live up to Pat Riley's mantra - "Rebounds Win Rings!" With all their resources going to three players, the rest of the TEAM is seriously lacking in point guard play and any sense of physicality inside. As the roster evolves - this could change, but the Heat need to learn to use each others talents to create a bit more synergy, and at the moment they are simply limited.

While Wade and Lebron are two of the most gifted players in the NBA - they also possess similar skill sets. In the half-court system they are presently playing, they are simply taking turns "doing what they do" while the other one watches and awaits his turn - while Bosh just "chills." If Wade and James were not each others teammate they might just do the same thing - just twice as often and still be as effective. Every once in a while it seems they remember Bosh was in on the deal and throw him bone too, while they watch him do his thing. Having both Wade and LBJ does not necessarily cause an additional quandary on defensive matchups because you need to use different size players to guard them anyway. The braintrust of the Heat, whether that's Spoelstra or Riley, really need to do some work to find a way for the players to complement each other and find some more complimentary players.

If anything, this proves how difficult it is to blend talent and mesh personalities. It makes Pat Rileys accomplishments with the Showtime Lakers (who actually DID have a "Big Three" of Hall of Famers) and Phil Jackson's run simply amazing feats they don't get enough credit for. It's not so easy coaching great talent, is it? Organizations that are successful understand that (Spurs, Lakers, Celtics, etc) and others may learn from the Heat. I hope it makes an impact all the way down to the youth level, where "great coaches" are considered those that assemble the most talent - not those that get the most out of their talent.

Miami's first visit to Cleveland, marking Lebron's return the region in which he grew up and built his reputation really "turns up the heat." How will everyone react? Will Lebron throw the powder? Will the fans boo? Will LBJ play well? Every angle will be covered by possibly more media than ever for such an early season matchup in the history of sport. We should all keep things in perspective and remember to Honor or Respect the Game. Respect is a word oft used in sport, but not always understood. Player use being "disrespected" to justify their unsportsmanlike acts and ask for "respect" from management, when they really mean a higher salary.Positive Coaching Alliance (http://positivecoach.org) says we need to respect the ROOTS of the game and gives us a framework in which we can do that. We need to respect the Rules, Opponents, Officials, Teammates, and Self. Everyone involved needs to respect the fact that Rules were followed when free agents signed with the team. No "lack of respect" occurred there there and we all need to respect their right to do so.

One of the biggest downfalls in sports today is the lack of respect for the Opponent. A player doesn't need to hate their rival to "get up for the game", but this is often fostered when the other team is painted as "the enemy." Unfortunately, this is present in youth and high school sports far too often. Lebron set a bad example with his behavior after his loss to the Celtics when he stormed off sans handshake. It will be interesting to see is interaction with his former teammates (and they to him) during this first returnto the place he said he'd always call home. Much of this lack of respect also comes from fans. Fans feel they can have an impact on the game by negatively influencing the other team, when the reality is they can make a bigger impact by supporting their own. I don't expect fans not to boo LBJ, but the excessive vitriol should be avoided. A great Opponent is a gift that creates an amazing opportunity to shine. The Cavs, and their fans, should look at this as a great opportunity to compete and try to defeat the Miami Heat and do so with class.

I appreciate the effort on the part of the NBA to clean up the excessive whining at the Officials. As we find a happy medium, young players and coaches will see the type of behavior that will shape the future of the game. At all times those involved should think about their actions and realize their actions are being emulated in gyms around the country. I expect the Officials to call this one closely due to the high emotions. We'll see how players react and if that affects the game.

Players so desperately want their respect, but how do they show they respect their Teammates in this "get mine" industry... and world. Not only with their play and their attitude - but how they go about their business. That's what shows true leadership. I'm consistently impressed with the leadership shown by athletes like Donavan McNabb who always try to say and do the right thing, with class and integrity, even in the toughest circumstances. How a player behaves during tough times or after a loss shows a lot about the man. If reports are true, I think Lebron has a ways to go in this category. Teammates include all those in the organization - owner, GM, locker room attendants, and ballboys. Refraining from "throwing them under the bus" and taking some personal responsibility is the sign of a true leader. A huge lesson to be learned from Lebron is to be careful what you say, it may come back to haunt you. When you say your are loyal (as emblazoned on his chest) and say you are going to get it done in Cleveland without chasing rings, you need to be expect to be called on it when you prove that not to be true.

Finally, the most important thing to have is respect for Self. This takes time to develop and the culture surrounding elite level youth sports that Lebron grew up in does not, typically, foster that respect. Corners cut, promises, made and broke, rules violated, jumping from team to team and, yes, even accumulating talent rather than developing it. We often hear coaches tell superior athletes "Don't play down to the level of your competition" - but the same must be for the manner in which you conduct yourself. Set high standards for yourSelf and refuse to lower them... even when those around you do. I believe Lebron is still finding himSelf. He may mature... other pros did, as they went through rough times when they were doubted as well. The problem is the system enabled him along the way. If young athletes, through sports, learn to perform their best at all times in everything they do - even when facing inferior opponents AND act to their high standards when those around them are encouraging them to do do otherwise, those habits will build to the point they know no other way - and it will be a life well-lived.

THAT is the power of sports.

Monday, November 29, 2010

What can be gained by reading "Play Their Hearts out" by George Dohrmann ?

A good friend of mine on Twitter is Clarence Gaines, a former scout and front office exec with the Bulls in their heyday. Clarence also the son of Clarence "Big House" Gaines, Hall of Fame coach at Winston-Salem. @cgrock24 , as he is known on Twitter, offers some great insight on the book "Play Their Hearts out" by George Dohrmann.

@cgrock24 said:

"Finished "Play Their Hearts out" by @georgedohrmann What can be gained by reading this book? If you're a parent of a talented basketball player, it's a must read. You'll learn a lot about the pitfalls of youth basketball and the importance of shepherding your child through this maze of deceit, corruption and confusion.

Hopefully, readers will understand the folly that is grassroots basketball and how it's not a necessity in the middle or early high school years to expose your child to the endless stream of games that are a part of travel team basketball." ...read the rest here

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hula Hoop Offense

When I used to coach my daughters youth team , we ran a 5 out offense with alot of give & gos, pick and rolls, and backdoor cuts. I used an interesting teaching technique with this young team that provided a nice visual guideline for spacing.

To teach them proper positioning and spacing I put 5 "hula hoops" on the floor (point, 2 wings, and 2 short corners) and made a girl stand in each one. The object would be to have the hoops next to the ball filled at all times.The girl with the ball would pass and then cut to the basket, looking for a give & go, thus leaving her "hula hoop" open.

The player closest to that open hoop must v-cut and fill that hoop, leaving her hoop open. The player next to an open hoop must fill that hoop. Eventually the 1st cutter ends up filling an open hoop in the weakside short corner. All the players have to do is look around for the closest "open hula hoop".

If you have a cutter that is especially adept at inside play, they can pause in the post and really "post-up" for a count of two before looking to fill the open hoop. Teammates should be encouraged to pay attention to this situation and be a little more deliberate on the perimeter while trying to post a player who has an advantage.

If you did not catch the ball by the count of 2 in a hoop the player should cut to the basket (backdoor) and then the same rules apply. The player with the ball should look for the 1) shot, then the 2) drive, then 3) cutters, then 4) the next open player.

Another "pressure release" that can be added is if a ballhandler dribbles AT a teammate - that teammate cuts backdoor. There will always be a cutter to the basket, and an open hoop somewhere to fill

As they got better we allowed them to go ball screen and run pick & rolls using the same rules - the only difference is the dribbler replaces the screener, the "roller" to the basket is the cutter - and the sequence continues. Or you may leave that part out entirely.

I guess chalk marks or poly spots would work but the hula hoops got the girls attention and did provide that really obvious visual. I've since used them in some elementary PE classes and it has been a big hit.

This 'Hula-Hoop Offense is featured in a segment on "The Fundamentals Factory" DVD set, available at Championship Productions.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Phil Jackson on Building Teams

This is a great podcast featuring Jim Thompson, who talks with NBA coaching great and Positive Coaching Alliance National Spokesperson Phil Jackson, who shares his insights on how to build a true community within teams, finding voice for star players
while encouraging role players to embrace their vital place on any successful team. Phil also shares his philosophy on balancing talent versus effort, the role of rivalries to motivate teams, and how to extend the lessons of sports beyond the court.

You can download the podcast or the transcript of the interview here:

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Spurs SLOB

( That's Sideline Out-of-Bounds )

It's always a good idea to keep a pad & pencil handy when watching a game. As I was cleaning out my desk, I came across an old pad of paper. Here's a Sideline Out-of Bounds play I jotted down while watching the Spurs this past season. They are one of the best teams in the NBA with Special Situations after time-outs.

Monday, July 05, 2010

"Can I have a penny?"

I remember a comic strip, I think it was Frank & Ernest, where one of them was praying and said "God,how long is a million years? "A voice from above said, "To me, it’s about a minute." The man asked, "God,how much is a million dollars? "The voice bellowed, "To me, its a penny. "In the next frame the man smiled and asked, "God, can I have a penny? "God answered, "In a minute."

I think of this all the times when something doesn't seem to be happening on MY schedule or as fast as I want it to. In the coaching profession so many coaches are looking for that next job, or how to "move up". Life's not always on OUR schedule. Keep working. Do the right thing. Make the big time wherever you are. Be patient. Have faith.
An often overlooked feature of John Wooden's Pyramid of Success are the sides of the Pyramid - which is the mortar that holds the 15 blocks together. Notice the mortar at the top of the Pyramid is "Patience" and "Faith"

Saturday, July 03, 2010

My take on 86,400 Seconds

People all around the world have different lives, different, jobs, different cars, different homes - but we all have one thing the same and that is TIME. Every day- everyone has the same amount of time. 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. 86,400 seconds. How those 86.400 seconds are used often defines ou lives.Now, one of Coach Wooden's most famous quotes is,"Don't mistake activity for achievement." Many folks get caught up in going, going, going and "appear" really busy. Often times those people are in a a hurry - and we all know to "Be Quick - but Don't Hurry". I See people rushing around all the time because they are in one of two extremes. They either lack planning or preparation and "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." At times they are at the other extreme where they micro-manage and work far harder than they need to. The key is to work smarter, and that often involves organization.

Sometimes it is important in the organization process to stop and think. Take the time to develop your thoughts and plan accordingly. Slowing down to think makes some people uncomfortable because they feel like they aren't doing something. Many times when I'm reading, browsing, or even "tweeting" I'll be asked what I'm doing. I do those things because I like to know stuff. I guess formally they'd call that learning and education. That accumulation of knowledge, while folly to some, is preparation to me. I'm not always sure what - but I have faith that someday - that knowledge, however trivial it may seem, may come in handy at some point and I want to be prepared for that. Abe Lincoln said
"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe."
I look at these times simply as "sharpening the axe". If more people spent time "sharpening the axe" it might be easier to "chop down their tree". Metaphorically speaking, of course. So we need to train ourselves to accept the fact that just thinking is good. There have been plenty of recent studies that show this may be your most productive time.One of the most oft-repeated quotes comes from Bill Bradley, star NBA guard for the Knicks and American Politician who quoted in his book Values of the Game,
Somewhere someone is practicing. If you're not and you meet them in competition, all other things being equal, you will lose!

I’m wondering if MAYBE the following statement is just as true...
Somewhere, someone is resting and recovering. That will revitalize them to the point when they take the court again, they will work harder, longer, and with more focus . This periodization of training leads to a more productive practice regimen. And when and you meet them in competition, all other things being equal, you will lose!

I think the same thing applies to our work and our everyday lives.

The key may be to look at work just like training. You can't go 100% all the time. There needs to be some "periodization" involved. So whatever you're doing, whether it's working, recovering, or "sharpening the axe" - do so with a purpose. And put all 86,400 seconds to good use.

"If you can fill the unforgiving minute, With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it..." --Rudyard Kipling's "IF"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Coach Wooden: One-on-One

Need a summer improvement program? Do mine w/me in honor of Coach John Wooden. Pick up a copy of Coach Wooden:One-on-One. It's a 60-day devotional reading.
Each day starts with a 1-page Guiding Principle presented by Coach Wooden and a supporting scripture from the Good Book Coach drank most deeply from. A former UCLA assistant, and co-author of the book, Jay Carty then presents a 1-page message.

I hope it will be a discussion starter for the rest of each day on how it impacts our coaching, our daily lives, and what we can do better. Beginning Saturday July 3rd I will start every day at 6 AM PST and Tweet the subject and the scripture Coach & Jay have chosen, maybe followed by a commment/question. ( you can follow me at http://www.twitter.com/CoachLok )

I'll create a list of everyone contributing so you could follow the list too. If we "hashtag" each "tweet" with #JW1on1 it will create a searchable database of related posts.

The rest is up to us.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Coach John Wooden 1910-2010

If you haven't picked up a Los Angeles Times today (6/13/10) you are missing out on a great John Wooden commemorative section.Take a look.

View this gallery at The Indianapolis Star: The life of John Wooden, 1910 - 2010

John Wooden: Before UCLA

The early Years

Martinsville, and a star forms

Nell, Purdue, and a coaching career begins

South Bend, pro basketball, and the war

Indiana State, breaking the racial barrier and farewell

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

John Wooden Reading List

At almost every speaking engagement I have I find myself asking the room full of coaches, "are their any John Wooden fans in the room?" Invariably I'm shocked that everyones hand does not skyrocket upward immediately. In the years that number is dwindling. I'm hoping that with Coach's passing, younger coaches will be called to do some research into the best coach of all-time, in any sport.

You can start with this reading list of books by, and about, Coach John Wooden.

A Game Plan for Life: The Power of Mentoring
Adventure Underground (Inch and Miles) D2 Children's book
Be Quick But Don't Hurry
Coach Wooden One on One: Inspiring Conversations on Purpose, Passion and the Pursuit of Success
Coach Wooden's Pyramid of Success: Building Blocks For a Better Life
Coach Woodens Leadership Game Plan for Success:12 Lessons for Extraordinary Performance & Personal Excellence
Fiesta - Children's book
Heroes of Beesville - Children's book
Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success - Children's book
John Wooden's UCLA Offense: Special Book/DVD Package
My Personal Best : Life Lessons from an All-American Journey
Practical Modern Basketball
The Essential Wooden: A Lifetime of Lessons on Leaders and Leadership
They Call Me Coach
Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections on and Off the Court
This one will be released in SEPTEMBER!
The Wisdom of Wooden: A Century of Family, Faith, and Friends

This one is not by Coach Wooden, but it is a collection of his quotes and "Wooden-isms"
Quotable Wooden by John Reger

John Wooden Tribute

FoxSports West has a nice compilation of articles, videos, and galleries you can view here, with the topics below
John Wooden's legacy has been a great weight on his successors - LA Times
Video: Wooden: Much more than just a coach
Above all else, John Wooden's selflessness stands out - LA Times
Denny Crum: He Was My Coach, Mentor, Brother, Father...
Dan Guerrero: Remember His Humility, His Integrity
Dick Enberg: Wooden's Greatness Exceeded by His Goodness
Video: The Wizard preached loved and patience
Video: Stars stand in awe of the legendary coach Wooden
John Wooden was a man of his time, and for all time
John Wooden was a man of his time, and for all time - LA Times
Readers pay tribute to John Wooden - LA Times
John Wooden's championship years at UCLA - LA Times
Mark Kreigel: Integrity R.I.P.
Bill Walton: Coach Made the World a Better Place
John Wooden was an icon to ex-Mavericks assistant Del Harris
A blue streak: When UCLA won 88 consecutive games - LA Times
Wooden could touch lives over coffee and eggs
John Wooden's words live on in the hearts of his admirers - LA Times
Former players, including Walton, Hazzard and Goodrich, release statements on passing of Wooden - LA Times
Bill Macdonald: Fortunate to Have Been Touched By Greatness
Reaction to John Wooden's death
Matt 'Money' Smith: Wooden Was True Measure of a Man
Wooden Was True Measure of a Man
John Wooden dies at 99; UCLA basketball coach won 10 national titles - LA Times
Quotes: 'Woodenisms' from the legendary coach - LA Times
Video: Wooden made players better men
Video: Wooden breeds success
Video: Wooden Was a Coach, Teacher and Friend
Video: Wooden Was Greatness that Intersected with Goodness
Video: Wooden Made Each Day His Masterpiece
Video: No Wizard, But Wooden was Magical
UCLA students mourn John Wooden's death - LA Times
Timeline: John Wooden, 1910-2010 - LA Times
John Wooden's pyramid stands test of time - LA Times
Legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden Hospitalized in Grave Condition - LA Times

Saturday, June 05, 2010

A Lifetime of Learning with Coach John Wooden

I ran into Ernie Vanderwegh, Kiki's father, at a basketball camp a while back and mentioned to him that I had wanted to send a message to Coach Wooden for quite a while and he encouraged me to do so. I was always concerned with the time Coach spent on matters such as this and felt needed to have some time to himself just to concentrate on his declining health. I never sent that message that would have been one of hundreds like my own - although now I suspect he knows the draft has been on my computer for some time.This is the Wooden I grew up with, giving instruction, with rolled up program, to players listening intently in a huddle - and the team then proceeding to execute to perfection. I graduated from an L.A. area high school in 1976 (go ahead - do the math), so my entire basketball youth was during the string of UCLA championships from '64-'75. The first basketball game I remember seeing on TV was a televised Bruin game from the Astrodome when UCA took on Elvin Hayes and the Houston Cougars. Later I remember a game on ABC vs Purdue, starring Rick Mount that was Alcindor's final game when I was 9 years old. As a freshman point guard in high school I wore #43 because I loved the way Greg Lee would pass to Bill Walton (although I snuck in some baggy socks to pay homage to Pistol Pete). We ran a play called "UCLA" based on their High Post Offense and ran our version of their vaunted 2-2-1-1 Full-Court Zone Press. UCLA's final championship in Wooden's last season occurred as I was preparing for my final year of high school basketball. Coach Wooden and "the UCLA Way" was imprinted in my basketball DNA.

In college one of the biggest Influences on my style of coaching was one of the very first papers I wrote as a Physical Education major on an article by Tharp and Gallimore titled , "What a Coach Can Teach a Teacher". The article was in Psychology Today and Tharp and Gallimore were Educational Psychologists - so it didn't have a typical "jock" spin to the research. It contained a chart of over 2,000+ observed acts of teaching, verbal and non-verbal, during the '74-'75 season (of which no one knew it would be his last). I then took that chart and recorded my own coaching techniques to develop a similar set of statistics for comparison. BOY, did I have a long ways to go!

However, it gave me some guidelines - a template of what a Master Teacher on the basketball court would look like. The importance of providing information, the concept of scold/reinstruct, and the technique of praise-reinstruct-motivate stuck with me for a long time. My son became a coach and in college wrote a paper on Tharp & Gallimore's follow up 25 years later. I picked up a 1st Edition copy of Coach's book "Practical Modern Basketball" and became a student, which is still applicable today -although some terminology has changed a bit. I've developed quite a collection of Wooden's books, which I'll highlight sometime in the near future.

I eventually was fortunate enough to have worked Coach Wooden's final basketball camp at Cal Lutheran University, when then owner of SportsWorld Camps, Max Shapiro, coaxed him into "one more", from what I remember, in order to start a trust fund for a soon-to-be-born grandchild. Of course the first thing Coach did at camp was to have the kids (and Coaches) sit down and teach them how to put on their socks and tie their shoes - with a full explanation of why it is important to do so. As I watch the Lakers on TV now, I remember Luke and Nathan Walton as youngsters and Bill limping around after one of his many surgeries to fuse an ankle. Because I wanted to soak as much of greatness in as I could, I would walk with Nate's camp coach (who was in our division) and we'd accompany Bill to the dining hall. So I was always last for every meal - but to hear Walton talk so glowingly about Coach Wooden was priceless.

Because my goal was to make the most of the week, it was imperative to take Coach Wooden up on his offer of breakfast with the staff every morning in the dining hall at 6:45 AM. Coach would tell all the stories we've read in books, but it was something special to hear him tell them in person, just dripping with wisdom. Most of the "seasoned" coaches led by Mike Kundstat and our camp director, Tom Gregory worked Coaches camp year after year and would be there every morning. I wonder if that's what guys call me now... "seasoned? I digress. Kundstat, from Texas, and others from out of state would bring their entire families to stay in the little dorm rooms. The families enjoyed a California vacation while the coaches enjoyed camp and learned so much along the way. Of course, us younger coaches also had to enjoy the "night life" in the area. The week really drove home the adage "you cant hoot with the owls, if you want to soar with the eagles!"

At the end of camp Coach Wooden took time with every camper and coach to take photo's and sign memorabilia. It wasn't until this final day that I realized that after this whole week of giving so much to the campers and coaches - Coach Wooden had been retired from UCLA for 17 years and was 82 years young! Coach signed my copy of "They Call Me Coach" with the inscription,
"Thanks for taking an interest in this coach"
The humility and gratitude behind his "..taking an interest" inscription has been a cornerstone of my approach throughout my 25+years. Of course I would take an interest. Since then there is nothing like being around wise people. I'm hoping some of it sunk in at least through osmosis.

Coach also signed two copies of the Pyramid of Success one for me and one for my son, coming with the inscription,
"Shawn, Best Wishes. John Wooden"
At age 10, it was nice for Dad to bring something home but it lived on a shelf surrounded by Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Now, as a high school basketball coach himself, it hangs framed near the entry way of his house, as he and his wife expect their first child.

Of course the Pyramid has been a guideline for every team that I've ever coached. After winning a CIF Championship at our Ring Ceremony, each of the 15 members of the team received a copy and their own corresponding "block" of the Pyramid representing which characteristic they contributed to the group. Each coach was "awarded" a quality from the mortars, which I believe are all too overlooked by others, in your Pyramid. Amazingly we had members that covered all of the qualities in the Pyramid, and that is what contributed to our achievement.Now, as the Lead Trainer for Positive Coaching Alliance, we teach the principles that Coach Wooden lived by. He was truly what we call a Double-Goal Coach - one who prepares his team to do their best in the quest for victory, but never forgetting the larger goal of teaching life-lessons along the way. We talk about the "Magic Ratio" of 5 positives to every 1 criticism or correction. While coach wasn't prone to lavish praise in it's most simplistic form, the research of Tharp and Gallimore proved that all of his negative "criticisms and/or corrections" totaled 17% - precisely 5:1. Coach Wooden explained this during some conversations and interviews by pointing out he would "praise" his substitutes" more than his starters - "they get enough praise in the newspapers" and pointed out every time they heard their name announced in the starting lineup or hear the cheers of the crowd it "Filled their Emotional Tanks", if I could use PCA lingo. Coach also said, over one of those early morning breakfasts in the Cal Lutheran cafeteria that, "Teaching a student (or a player) gives an implied confidence that you have the belief that they can accomplish the task." So Coach taking the time to give information was a "Tank-Filler" in itself.

All I know, is that anytime I'm walking anywhere and greeted by students, players or colleagues, past or present, I think of Coach Wooden whenever *They Call Me "Coach"*.Coach Wooden - Thanks for everything - you've made so many of us what we are. I'm sure as you got to the Pearly Gates to be with Nell, their first words were "Well done."
And I will always try to live by another "Wooden-ism"
"I'm not what I should be, I'm not what I want to be, I'm not what I'm going to be, I'm not what I could be, but I am better than I used to be."

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vintage Hoop Notes

Here is a new feature that should be interesting. From time to time I'll scan some old hoop notes and post them. One - it will be fun to share and two - it will force me to go over some of my old stuff. If you've been coaching for a while you probably have a veritable clinic in your file cabinet. Take out a folder now and then and "re-learn"
Alvin Gentry Conditioners
(from Self-Improvement Clinic, 1987)
If you have any questions about the individual drills go ahead and comment and I'll explain.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Zone defenses, at times, are our biggest nightmare. I heard Larry Brown (College and NBA Head Coach) once say that when he plays a zone defense he feels the other team will make EVERY outside shot, and when the opponent plays a zone he thinks his team will NEVER make an outside shot. I feel the same way sometimes. Players need to understand WHY they are attacking a zone in a particular way. Concentrate on the SKILLS of the game, not just SYSTEMS. Understand these "principles" not just running "the play". A good grasp of some of the following zone offensive "habits" will put your mind at ease. A little bit.
To start your zone offense it is a good idea to get in a "GAP ALIGNMENT". Against an even front zone (2-1-2, or 2-3) get in an odd front set (1-3-1,1-2-2 or 1-4). Against an odd front zone, get in an even front set. This is to make two defenders think about which one should guard you. If a defender is in a direct line between you and the basket-MOVE. Basically, put players where the defense isn’t.

Try to get some GAP PENETRATION. Dribble into a gap, dish to the basket or kick out to a shooter but look to pass to where the defender comes from. Only dribble to improve a passing angle into the post. The second time a player touches the ball on a possession is a good time to look for this type of penetration.

Move the ball and move players to DISTORT THE ZONE. Dribble drag a defender, drive a gap, improve passing angles, screen, skip, swing, cut, flash, or overload to shift the zone. FREEZE THE ZONE by taking 1 or 2 dribbles AT a defender-pass or kick it to the perimeter. After the zone has shifted-use pass fakes & shot fakes.

Remember the 3 D’s-Drive, Draw, Dish. Inside players should look to SEAL THE ZONE. After the zone has shifted the posts can seal high or low IF the defense is INSIDE the offense. Reseal the next man in the zone after the defender BREAKS the seal.

MAKE THE ZONE RUN via the PASS, move the ball quickly-don‘t hold it any longer than a ball fake, seal, skip, and swing. Show some PATIENCE AGAINST THE ZONE. Move the ball, move players, look for cutters, check all options-in order. Take the high percentage shots that you want to take WHEN you want to take them.

However, the best way to combat a zone defense may be to BEAT THE ZONE UP THE FLOOR. Defensive rebound & run your fast break and attack on offense before the zone even gets set.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Respect Yourself

Players should Respect Themselves by living up to their high standards of performance & behavior-even when others aren't http://is.gd/ck6GqSat May 22 07:12:28 via TweetDeck

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Vintage Hoop Notes

Here is a new feature that should be interesting. From time to time I'll scan some old hoop notes and post them. One - it will be fun to share and two - it will force me to go over some of my old stuff. If you've been coaching for a while you probably have a veritable clinic in your file cabinet. Take out a folder now and then and "re-learn"

If you have any questions about the individual drills go ahead and comment and I'll explain.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Tribe Has Spoken

I'll admit it - I'm a "Survivor" junkie. First of all, I'm a sucker for any kind of competition, and the team and physical challenges are usually pretty creative and typically quite grueling. As exciting as the challenges are the group dynamics and social interaction is just as intriguing. Plus - there's always a "basketball type" challenge every season.
The fact that you compete against a group that determines who might be sent home then have to decide who to vote off all while creating alliances that could help you now - or later in the game. Winning individual challenges down the stretch gives survivors immunity from being voted out during crucial "Tribal Councils." The irony is that the competitors that you vote to send home are also the ones that sit on a jury that decides the ultimate winner. While some players resort to lying or going back on their word during a vote to advance in the game, the trend has been for the jury is to vote for the player that played the most "honorable" game. This has created some winners that haven't necessarily "played the game", but have flown under the radar, ridden some coattails and essentially... "Survived."

Now the motto of Survivor is to "Outplay-Outwit-Outlast"and while the first two are important, I suppose the last one is the most important. What concerns me a lot after the last two seasons is the public's voting on their "Favorite Survivor." The past two seasons the public's vote has NOT recognized those that have played "honorably" and have instead awarded a Survivor that has deceived, lied, threatened, and verbally abused tribe members. I hope it is not a trend in society that we respect those traits and poor sportsmanship... or maybe he was just a player "you loved to hate."

Friday, May 14, 2010

Vintage Hoop Notes

Here is a new feature that should be interesting. From time to time I'll scan some old hoop notes and post them. One - it will be fun to share and two - it will force me to go over some of my old stuff. If you've been coaching for a while you probably have a veritable clinic in your file cabinet. Take out a folder now and then and "re-learn"

If you have any questions about the individual drills go ahead and comment and I'll explain.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Just like fashions and furnishings, certain basketball strategies travel in cycles and make a comeback every now and then. In the 60`s the Boston Celtics (and even the Harlem Globetrotters) made the dribble weave a very popular offense. With the advent of the passing game dribbling was discouraged and the weave went by the wayside. When defenses started to really pressure passes, dribble penetration became a major strategy again - hence the return of the dribble weave and the importance of the Dribble Handoff. Dribble Handoffs (DHO`s) when properly executed, are very similar to the pick and roll. The major difference is that the "pick" is essentially being executed by the player with the ball. What makes this most effective is how do you call an "illegal screen" on the player with the ball?

When the DHO is executed correctly, and most effectively, the dribbler should dribble directly at the defender of his teammate who will receive the handoff. While that is happening the receiver of the handoff should take a couple of hard steps in the opposite direction to divert his defenders attention and "set him up". Prior to any contact, the dribbler should come to a jump stop and execute a 1/4 reverse pivot holding the ball "on a platter"(with the palm up) for the cutter to accept the handoff. The dribbler, essentially, is setting a screen on the defender. As in using a screen, the player receiving the handoff should try to cut very close to the dribbler and leave no room for his defender to squeeze thru.

Accepting the handoff is an art in itself. To avoid any possibility of the ball slipping thru the receivers hand and to be best suited to handle the basketball, the hand closest to the dribbler should be behind the ball. To do this the receivers elbow should be tight to the body and by the hip with the fingers facing upward. Now the player simply allows those skyward fingers to accept the ball off of the "platter".

These skills should not be taken for granted and should be incorporated into any DHO drill that you may do. Common mistakes such as the dribbler "shoving" the ball into the gut of his teammate like a football handoff, the receiver trying to put a hand on each side of the basketball, or the dribbler just leaving the dribble behind to be picked up could result in the basketball being mishandled and lead to unnecessary turnovers.

When executed properly, the DHO can be added to the backdoor and the pick and roll as valuable counters to denied passes and a great misdirection play to incorporate into any offense.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Alvin Gentry thinks "Mistakes are OK"

"Be aggressive. you make a couple mistakes - that's fine... just be agressive!"

Is this the "ME" you want them to see?

Athletes - are we seeing the "ME" you want us to see? http://chir.ps/4SYless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Structuring Your Practice

The will to prepare is more important than the will to win.- - Bob Knight

The following practice structure chart helps the coach cover the all aspects of the game and ensures that they are emphasized accordingly. Listed in columns are things that we do every day, every other day, skills and strategies that are covered weekly, or just occasionally. What the drills are, specifically, isn't as important as having your favorite drills organized in a similar way.

Using a daily practice plan ensures that you’ll be prepared throughout practice. I like something simple with a place to draw diagrams if necessary. Try to adhere to the time as much as possible. Avoid going too long on a drill in an attempt to “get it right”. Sometimes going longer actually makes it worse. At times it’s better to just move on to the next item and come back to the next practice. I’d make a seasons worth of copies, with this Daily Practice Structure on the back. Looking at them in a 3-Ring binder, I’\d have the Structure on one page and the Plan on the other for easy planning. After practice I could then make notes for the next practice

During the PRE-PRACTICE segment, as players walk into the gym they get a basketball and do some individual ballhandling. Once they have a partner, they go to a basket and begin a shooting progression starting from in close.

A WALK-THRU follows going 1/2 speed and working on footwork, timing and execution. This is the time when the players minds are the most fresh and they should be able to absorb more information. This time typically involves more talking and instruction using the time before the body of practice is most efficient. Take precautions that this does not become competitive because players are not properly warmed up.

For WARM UP I prefer to gradually ease into a practice. After the ballhandling, shooting, and walk thru a series of footwork and passing drills is good to get the players moving and ready to compete. By this time players are in a full sweat and should work on fundamentals of offense & defense at game speed .

The FACTORY is where we go to work every day to improve our fundamentals and build our game. We do a variety of 3-5 minute drills in small groups at a very intense pace. This is most effective with supervision at each basket. Coaches should be active and motivating throughout the factory to keep the players working hard and executing properly. Anytime these drills can be made to simulate a game situation the players will benefit.

When SHOOTING, it’s important to shoot game shots from game spots at game speed. A variety of competitive shooting drills is good to keep the players fresh and motivated, but try not to fall into the trap of spending too much time “teaching” drills instead of skills.

During TEACHING segments we stop play for most teaching points and corrections. We really work on execution during these times. Slippage should not be tolerated and perfection is the goal.

The last part of practice consists of a series of COMPETITIVES that simulate game situations. We try to let them play and not stop for corrections too much. If any teaching is needed, we will sub and correct the players on the side. This way there is more continuity and flow. Winners get a drink, others condition.

It may be best to use CONDITIONERS during the body of practice, and with a ball, then players don't "save themselves" for the sprints after practice. Using them after competitive drills tends to make players a little more conscious of the score and provides an opportunity to reward winners with a little less running. Practicing free throws after conditioning is very game like and simulates shooting when fatigued, as in a game.

It’s important to periodically work on SPECIAL SITUATIONS covering various game situations and conditions. That way players are prepared for anything that may occur and be ready for most time and score scenarios.

The single most important thing for a coach to stress on any interscholastic team is the student/athletes’ ACADEMIC PERFORMACE. REVIEW FOLDERS will help keep track of every players progress. Each player could have a personal folder containing information on class schedule, grades and standardized test scores. A coach can update 2 or 3 players folder’s a day simply by asking players about their tests, assignments, projects, attendance, and behavior. By the end of the week each athlete will have had at least one conversation with a coach about the players grades.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lessons from losing

I was watching as an eliminated American Idol contestant in tears says," I don't understand how you could do great, do nothing wrong, and still get let down-I did everything I could"

Obviously the poor 16-year old kid (who was a very talented singer) never played sports. One of the lessons you learn in sports, over and over again, is that it is possible to work really hard, do your very best, be proud of your performance, yet end up disappointed in the result.

Not all of the valuable lessons are "rainbows and unicorns" and some of the toughest ones are the most valuable ones. Allowing young kids to lose and fail in sports prepares them to deal with disappointments in life later.

While counter-intuitive to most parents, protecting our kids from failure is robbing them of the opportunity to learn this lesson.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Where do you want to go?

Change of pace...change of direction....change the rhythm of your dribble - and get wherever you want to go on the basketball court.

My oldest son was very good at this and used angles to get into the lane at will versus some very good defenders. I particularly remember a fairly one-sided matchup between him and a pretty athletic looking defender. After a number of penetrating drives leading to baskets or assists the other coach yelled,
"LOOK AT HIM! ... LOOK AT YOU! ... HOW?!?"
Change of pace...change of direction....change the rhythm of your dribble ... Thats how!

Monday, January 25, 2010


I don't believe in Quantum Physics when it comes to matters of basketball.
While reading - think "Crash Davis " in Bull Durham
(remember - Bull Durham comes with an "R" rating.)


I believe in the basketball.
I believe in running the floor,
the first open man,
the ball reversal,
the open shot,
the jump stop,
and the pivot foot.
I believe in setting screens,
using screens,
dribbling for a reason,
good passing angles,
being "shot-ready"
and catching passes with two hands.
I believe in spacing, court vision, the"assist/turnover ratio", and the concept of "relative motion".
I believe that there oughtta be a constitutional amendment outlawing the dunk and the hand-check.
I believe in a good, defensive stance,
pressure on the basketball,
influencing to the sideline,
preventing penetration,
fronting the post in the "red-zone" and playing behind in the "smile".
I believe in the "ball-man-line",
help-side defense,
checking cutters,
committing to the basketball,
taking the charge rather than blocking the shot,
team rebounding,
and I believe in the beauty of long, solid possesions that always result in a shot on offense and a contested shot on defense.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Runner vs Odd Front Zone

We ran this against all Odd Front zones (3-2, 1-2-2, 1-3-1)

I've found out that the best attack was also the simplest. Here goes:
2 post players at the block-who may flash a step or two when the ball is at the diagonal guard - no farther.
2 guards in a 2 guard front who should not move more than a step or two. Be a threat to shoot off the catch I always told them that "the second best thing that can happen in this offense is that you are guarded!"
Your best player (read "smartest") goes WHEREVER HE SHOULD, basically - "go where they ain't", and the other players need to FIND HIM.
The runner needs to go to the wing, corner, flash in the middle, wherever he needs to go to get open - but KEEP MOVING! The players just need to be in tune with the runner and at least every 3rd pass should find him (or her).

He should be a threat to score, but maybe having good vision, being a good passer, and knowing WHERE to go is more important. Often times the "runner" gets far more assists than baskets. If you choose the right spot and someone steps up or out to guard you - someone is always open! Imagine flashing into the middle and a touch pass to one of the 2 posts if that defender stepped up to defend. Draw it up and see the possibilities.

If the defense stays in their 3-2, being in the gaps and the runner finding a spot should be fairly simple. If the defense "matches up" you've gotten them out of their 3-2. With the runner working to find the "right spot" and the passers occupying their a defender then working to find the runner - a shot will materialize shortly.

How simple was that? Have 4 guys just stand in the right spots and tell your best player to go wherever he should. Seriously.I liked this offense so much that my only problem was that we didn't get to run it for very long. A few possessions and easy shot opportunities and the opponent got out of it !;?)

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Mismatch Etiquette

In light of the 170-35 blow-out victory by Yates High School over Lee High School in Houston, I though I'd repost a newsletter topic I wrote first back in 2004, with a few additions/edits.

Coaches should try to schedule games against teams that will present somewhat of a challenge. While padding the schedule with wins may seem attractive, playing teams of inferior talent will actually hinder a teams development. However, many times in preseason tournaments obvious mismatches between two teams occur or a league may be set up where you have to play someone far inferior. The tough thing for coaches in this situation is figuring out a way for their team to get everything out of the game that they can, without humiliating the opponent.

Coaches, in the 1st half - do your thing, play your game, anything goes. If the lead starts to get real big, your regulars may not be benefiting anyway, so play your substitutes a little more. Mix up some lineups and play a couple of subs with the starters. You may find a diamond in the rough. Try a player at a different position. You may get a pleasant surprise. If you know ahead of time it might go this way, it's not a bad time to reward someone and give someone a start

When playing against teams or players who are not quite as talented, it is still important to play at YOUR best. Do not drop your level of play simply to defeat the opponent. Compete against your own personal best every time out, and try to achieve that. To do that AND respect your opponent, there may be some additional strategies that you employ.

2nd half (or at least the 4th quarter) Adjust your strategy to practice specific situations that you may face somewhere down the line. *The key point is to EXPLAIN this to the players so that they realize that they ARE NOT letting up but actually working on strategies that will make them better.

1) Play everyone and mix up your lineup. Insert a few subs with a couple of starters. The starters work hard and still deserve to get some time. This mixes it up.

OBJECTIVE:you never know when an injury or foul trouble (maybe both) may force those players into an increased role. Prepare them to play with the regulars

2) Don't press full court. I don't care if you are a pressing team and you "need to work on it". What kind of work are you really getting against that type of inferior competition?

OBJECTIVE:pressing bad competition causes players to take gambles that may not work against better teams, and those are the teams that you are supposed to be preparing to beat. Continuing to press may develop bad habits that hurt you down the road. Avoid those bad habits by calling off the press or changing to a different type of pressure.

3) Don't get steals and shoot uncontested layups. Do that in layup lines. Pull it out and work on some sort of offensive set or continuity

this will help you run out the last possession of a game when you have a one point lead. Or better yet when it's tied with 35 seconds to go and you want to take the last shot. And then demand only inside shots. THAT will help you get better.

4) Play a tight zone or a pack m2m

OBJECTIVE: play as if you need to stop some big post player or a team that can't shoot outside, on at least a crucial possession.

5) Don't deny passes and get steals in the half court. Force THEM to take time off of the clock.

OBJECTIVE:play as if you were playing a team much quicker than you that might be able to beat you on some backdoor plays. Against those teams the deeper you get in the shot clock-the bigger advantage the defense has.

6) Block out and rebound - then WALK IT UP!

OBJECTIVE:play as if you were protecting an 8 pt lead in the final minute. At that point in a game you don't want to play a fast pace and create more possessions and opportunities for the opponent to come back.

If a team did that for an entire half using 35 seconds and even assuming that the losing team didn't 'play along' and shot in their first 10 seconds, the team would have to shoot 100% just to score 40 pts in the 2nd half. A more normal 50% and they score 20 pts. Maybe the other team scores a few and you only win by 40.

I loved winning by 15-20. Safe enough lead not to blow it in the last couple of minutes and big enough to get all subs in the game. Does not demoralize the opponent and lets you work on the parts of the game that you need to improve to beat the good teams. Under 10 pts - anything can happen. Who cares what you do against the bad teams, you'll beat them anyway!

Practice what you need not just to win the game - but to beat the best.

Lok's Ledger