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Jason Mejeur

Summer Camp Case Study

By | Baseball, Basketball, Coaches Resources, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling

Building a Successful Camp Program

We recently sat down with Jason Wolfard, Head Coach of Lindbergh High School Basketball for the last 12 years. He has built a successful summer camp program for his community with record 150 kids 2nd-8th enrolled in 2016. He was gracious enough to share some of his experience and advice with us as we gear up for this summer.

Quick Facts:

2nd thru 5th Grade

1 Week

75 kids

3 ½ hours / day

Monday-Thursday

$80/athlete

6th thru 8th Grade

1 Week (different week than 2nd-5th)

75 kids

Runs 3 ½ hours / day

Monday-Thursday

$80/athlete

Q: Coach, you have built a successful summer camp program over the last few years. Has your program been building every year? What do you think keeps the kids coming back?

A: Our program has grown every year since I have been here. My goal has been to build a culture and community around the fun of basketball all the way down to the kindergarten level. I want to send every kid home with a smile on his face and the memory of this week being one of the best of his summer.

 Q:  What do you campers do while they are with you? How do you make it fun?

 A:  We introduce and build on the fundamentals of basketball, but we do everything we can to make the experience fun for the kids. Everyday we have a 1 on 1 competition, a 3-point contest, and we make sure that at the end of the camp every kid takes home a camp t-shirt and basketball. We want everyone to have fun but also to learn that fun can be achieved through hard work and competition.
We give out 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies for various competitions. I don’t believe in participation trophies; it is not the reality of life and not the reality of the game of basketball that everyone wins every time. The campers arrive with all different levels of ability, so in order to keep everyone working hard, we also give away hustle awards everyday. If I see someone taking charges, diving on the ground, hustling and giving it all, I recognize and award with a ‘hustle award’ t-shirt at the day’s end.

Q: In the beginning you said your goal is to build a culture of basketball. What does that culture look like in a perfect world? 

A: Good question. I guess in a perfect world I want this to feel like a family. We help grow and develop children from 2nd grade through high school, and at the end of the day, I want these kids to walk away having learned a lot of things, including teamwork and how hard work and achievement and enjoyment can go hand in hand. They might not all play at the Varsity level, but they can all learn that sports and competition are fun. As part of this, we try to instill our 5 Core Values to all the campers.

Q: Tell us more about your 5 Core Values.

A: That’s easy. 1) Team First.  2) Hard Work (we call this and strive for “Perfect Effort”). 3) Resilience (Don’t Give Up). 4) Humility. 5) Pride.

Q:  How important is camp revenue to your overall program?

A: Camp revenue really keeps the program alive. We are a public school with a small budget. Camp not only kicks off our year, but it helps us be a better program all around. If getting new warm ups or uniforms helps athletes feel good about themselves and brings a little pride to the program, I am all for it, and camp revenues help make that happen.

Q: How much do you charge?

A: $80 per athlete

Q: Every coach wants to build a successful camp. What advice would you give them?

A:  Don’t be afraid to steal and copycat from the coaches you have worked with or admired in the past. I copied a lot of drills from my coaches Joe Holladay and Scott Padek at Jenks High School in Oklahoma, and I guarantee he is still doing those drills. Take what you like and be creative, ask for advice from other coaches and try new things.

Q:  Do you run any conditioning at your camps?

A: No. We play basketball and work hard. I want the kids always moving from one place to the next. Avoiding boredom is very important to me, and to the kids that means movement. At the end of the day, they are all tired and ready for a rest.

Q: What is the biggest personal challenge for you with the camp program?

A: Not being stressed. Getting through the first day is the hardest, but after the first few hours, I begin to relax and enjoy the process, and everything else is a breeze. Before I know it, the week is over, and I’m handing a basketball to every kid on their way out the door.

Q: How do you know you’ve run a successful camp?

A: If I have zero complaints at the end of the camp, I feel like it’s been a good camp.

Q: If you were to capture the style of you and your program, what would it be? 

A: Extremely competitive and wanting to make the most out of every moment while remembering this is just a game. Games and competition are fun; this should never be lost to the athlete or the coach.

Q: How do you use your varsity athletes during your camps?

A: I usually have about 4 older athletes at every camp, and 1 or 2 of them manages a grade, which we call leagues. My assistant coaches are also there helping the entire time. Everyone is always very busy, never wanting anyone to get bored.

Q: Sum up your secrets to running a successful camp.

A: 1) Be organized. 2) Have a purpose. 3) Make kids feel like they are a part of something bigger.

Q: How do you organize your program and your camps?

A: I use MaxOne as the central hub of my program and camps. Parents like being organized online, paying online, and the way I communicate with them through the app via text and email.  I have my entire program streamlined from 2nd through 12th grade in the app, and it is key to building my program’s culture and success. I love it.

Q: Thank you, coach. Any final thoughts or advice to share?

A: I think we’ve already covered it pretty well, but always remember to have fun. It’s about the kids and their experience and building our community at the end of the day. And using tools like MaxOne really takes a lot of the administrative stress out of the picture so you can focus on what’s important.

You can reach Coach Wolfard directly at JWolfard@LindberghSchools.ws or on Twitter at @FlyersHoopsNews

For more info on how to use MaxOne for your camps this summer
 
Or email us at info@gomaxone.com

Words to Leave Them With

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

Zach Sheldon | The Daily Pennsylvanian

Amidst the madness of March, there are numerous story lines that we as coaches can learn from.  The Texas A&M vs. Penn Women’s first round tournament game was one that caught my eye.  Texas A&M ended the game on a 26-3 run to win by two, completing the largest comeback in tournament history. Over the last 8 minutes of the game Penn shot 22%, turned the ball over 7 times, while getting out-rebounded 16-7.  That’s a recipe for disaster.

The tale is told very differently depending on the bench you are sitting on.

We’ve all hung on to that hope before. If everything goes perfectly, we make a few shots and cause a few turnovers, that we can make the comeback. But 26-3 with your season on the line – that’s stuff dreams are made out of.

 

The Last Post Game Speech

On the other hand – we’ve all been up late in the game.  When the players and the fans think the game is in hand, but we have an uneasy feeling as the “what-if’s” scenarios race through our minds.  It had to be one of the toughest post-game speeches that Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin ever gave.

“It was hard to go in that locker room to watch this group, because we had the game won, and they knew that, and it’s gonna be tough for them to process it,” McLaughlin said. “We talked about respecting the team, respecting our opponents, representing who we are at Penn, and we did that really well. The only thing we lost was that last eight minutes, because I thought we were really special for that first 32.”

It’s a defining moment as a coach – how do you pick your team up amidst what feels like utter failure. The words we choose in our last post-game speech of the season are important.  It’s a time remember, to teach one last time, and to speak from our hearts.

 

Boys to Men – Developing Athletes

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

Our basketball strength partner Jon Sanderson has been getting a bunch of press (and credit) for Michigan’s postseason run.  An article was recently published in the Detroit Free Press (Michigan’s Jon Sanderson, John Beilein Development Boosts NBA Interest) giving an NBA scouts analysis of players coming out of Michigan.  He gave a lot of credit to Sanderson for this development.

Sanderson is the second longest tenured assistant coach on the staff – since 2009.  During his tenure Michigan has placed eight players in the NBA including:  Manny Harris, Darius Morris, Trey Burke (Naismith Award Winner), Tim Hardaway Jr., Mitch McGary, Glenn Robinson III (NBA Dunk Contest Champion), Nik Stauskas and Caris LeVert.  Of these players, only McGary was a “bluechip” prospect out of high school.

 

Building a Reputation

The development of players out of the University of Michigan  basketball program is starting to turn heads.  The players come in with some tools, but its the development that happens in the program that is impressive.

“You see them as freshmen and say, OK, they’re talented, they’ve got some skill, they need to get stronger and work on their body,” said an NBA scout, who also is not authorized to speak publicly about prospects and schools. “Then the next year you see them, the first practice and you’re like, whoa. They’re stronger, they’re more explosive.

It’s not all Sanderson of course. Credit is due to Coach John Beilein’s 40+ years in the business of teaching basic skills and a complex system. As Snyder put it:

“Beilein’s players improve rapidly because he spends significant time on skill development and fundamentals and forces them into a mentally challenging offense. Their bodies mature because he has made strength training a priority under Sanderson.”

The Secret Sauce

Why is Sanderson so good at what he does?  One of the big reasons is his background as a basketball player himself.

“Part of that is Sanderson’s background. Many college basketball strength coaches are former football players, so it’s challenging for them to relate to basketball training. Sanderson not only played in the Big Ten on a great team, he played with NBA players so he understands high-level athletes. Seeing (D.J.) Wilson’s stability and jumping — he tied Robinson’s program record with a 12-foot, 3-inch vertical leap, an eight-inch improvement, and is 45.6% stronger than when he arrived — allows him to guard massive Big Ten centers, just two years after getting his shot blocked by a 6-foot-2 Villanova guard.”

To learn more about Sanderson’s strength philosophy – you can purchase his book “Above the Rim – Basketball Strength and Conditioning.”  MaxOne also offers an exclusive 15-week offseason strength program and a 12-week in-season strength program built by Sanderson.  These programs are built specifically for small college and high school level programs.  Check out our basketball page to learn more.

 

Who is the Next Frank Martin?

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

 

Frank Martin has had quite the ride the last month and much has been made of his “Rags to Riches” story. Whether you are a coach who is happy right where he’s at – or if you’re considering the rat-race of climbing the coaching ladder, Martin’s story is inspiring nonetheless.

The article tells of Martin’s humble beginnings at a high school in Miami when he filled in for a JV basketball coach who didn’t show up for a game. He soon found himself leading an undefeated varsity program which propelled him to bigger and better opportunities. Reflecting on his start Martin recently said:

“Those kids needed the kind of guidance, the kind of helping hand, that I’d had,” Martin said of his time coaching JV basketball. “Sure, you watch basketball on TV, you see the coaches, it’s hard not to wonder how they got where they got. But I was doing exactly what I wanted to do. And I was doing it exactly where I wanted to do it.”

CBS Sports also recently published a list of a few jobs Martin has held over the years:

“Martin has been handed nothing over the years: he worked as a change boy at a pool hall; was a restaurant dishwasher; a bus boy; toiled in landscaping; sold newspaper subscriptions door to door. Most famously, his bulgy build allowed him to be a bouncer on the side while he worked toward getting a degree at Florida International so he could, one day, become a varsity basketball coach.”

 

Share The Frank Martin Story

Every coach has to start somewhere and Frank Martins career path, while non-traditional, shows that dreams can come true with a lot of hard work and dedication. I find that young coaches tend to have the widest eyes and the biggest hopes for being the next Frank Martin. If you know some one who is dreaming of D1 coaching – share this article that tells his story and tell them you believe in the coach they are becoming!

 

Call Timeout or Play On?

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

The Madness has ended and whether you watched as a fan or as a student of the game, there was a lot to take in the last few weeks.  One of the biggest topics of conversations always ends up being end of game situations.  Whether it be Coach Few’s decision to call timeout and tell his team to foul in the semi-final game or the Florida buzzer beater that went the length of the court without a timeout.  

The question remains:  Call timeout, or play on?

We came across this article that outlined the perspectives of top college coaches and found the variety and insight to be interesting for coaches of all levels.  

 

What coaches say:

Matt Figger, Associate Head Coach at South Carolina said, generally speaking, 12 seconds and under is usually a let-the-kids play scenario for South Carolina.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said often his first instinct is to refrain from calling timeout and see what develops.

”I’d let it go and watch and then be ready to scream timeout if it looks ugly but I want them to just play on and that’s what we practice,” Calipari said. ”I like to go home with timeouts. I like the players to work through their issues.”

South Carolina coach Frank Martin said he does have a few basic end-game guidelines.

”Any time we’re tied, I’m not calling a timeout. If we’re down one, probably not calling a timeout,” Martin said. ”That’s kind of the way we rehearse. If we’re down three, we’re going to foul, inside of 7, 8 seconds to go.”

Which brings up another point: It’s not just the team with the ball that has a decision to make. Wisconsin had a timeout Saturday night and maybe the Badgers would have been better off using it after Nigel Hayes’ go-ahead free throws and setting up their defense.

Florida assistant Darris Nichols said the Gators scout opponents’ offense tendencies well enough to know the ones that thrive on inbounds plays.

”A team that’s really good in that situation, why would you call a timeout and let them do what they’re really good at?” Nichols said.

In the end, though, all the strategy and planning often goes out the window.

”Sometimes you get a broken play and a guy jumps sideways off one foot and throws it over his shoulder and it goes in the net,” Martin said. ”You can rehearse a lot, but at the end of the day things have to go your way and breaks have to go your way. All of sudden we look a lot smarter when that happens than we really are.”

Defensive Game Planning

By | Coaches Resources, Football

Below you can listen to one of Joe Daniel’s weekly podcast focused on Defensive Game Planning. The offseason is a good time to reflect on the systems you have in place and have conversations with your coaching staff about how you can get better.

Defensive game planning could could probably make up a month’s worth of podcasts. This episode focuses on two key questions around scouting:

 

  • How much time should you spend scouting?  Scouting is a black hole. There is never an end to the amount of information you can gather on tendencies of an opponent.
  • How much information should you give to your players in a scouting report? Doing this well can create a huge advantage for your team.

 

Joe talks about what information the football coaches need to know and, more importantly, how much your players need.

 

How to Hire a Coaching Staff

By | Coaches Resources, Football

The following article was published by Coach Chris Fore on coachfore.org.  As many coaches work through the offseason one of the most challenging aspects can be hiring your staff.  Coach Fore offers some great tips by sharing a real conversation with a Head Coach who was looking for advice.

 

Hiring Dynamite Assistant Coaches

I love helping programs hire coaches. I especially enjoy helping new Head Coaches figure out the process. I had a conversation via Twitter with a Head Coach here in Southern California about hiring a new Defensive Coordinator. I thought you might like to read it.

 

HEAD COACH: Hey coach, hope all is well! I’m in the process of finding a new DC. I’ve already had a few very qualified guys get in touch and I’ll be meeting with them this week and next. Any advice on how I make sure to hire the right guy for my program?

I’ll have my two right hand guys with me to interview. I want to take my time with the decision, but I also don’t want to drag things on. What are your thoughts on a reasonable timetable for the process?

 

FORE: That’s the million dollar question coach! Making sure you make the right hire.

When I was a HC (and I followed this when I hired HCs as an AD), I followed the premise to “hire slow, fire fast.” I only had to “fire”/let go one coach in 8 years of being a HC. And I never fired a HC that I hired as an AD. So, I felt pretty good about hiring great coaches.

First thing is: Cast a wide net. Cast as wide of a net as possible. CIF website, FootballScoop, etc. etc. Whatever job boards you can find. That is IF YOU HAVE THE TIME to deal with the response. But I always thought that time, especially when hiring a DC is WELL WORTH it!

When I hired a DC, I would interview 10 guys. And I would do that with another member of my coaching staff or two.

hiring coaches for footballThat would be a 30-40 minute “Get to know you round of interviews.” Just lined them all up in one day. Bam, bam, bam, bam.  Having the other guys in the room from my staff has been good feedback to me.

I will narrow those 10 interviews to 3 guys we really like.

Then, I will contact their references, etc. I LOOK for red flags. I also work hard to call guys who they didn’t list as a reference. I call those “unsolicited references.”  You can find out more stuff from those guys that they DON’T list than the ones they do, as you can imagine.

Reasonable timetable – I would collect resumes for about 3 weeks.

Then have first round of interviews.  Then have the second round 4-5 days later.  You should be able to make a decision within 24 hours of that second interview coach.

 

HEAD COACH:  How are your questions/interviews different from round 1 to round 2? I put together a list of pretty wide ranging questions I plan to use (with 1-2 of my go-to assistants there). I might have too many though

Do you have a go-to interview question that you feel is a must ask?

 

FORE: Coach, the very FIRST thing I do in the first round is put them on the whiteboard! First thing I do. If they don’t impress you on the whiteboard, cut the interview short, thank them for coming.

Since hiring a DC, ask them what their philosophy is on how to defend a few different schemes.

And the main thing that you’re looking for here is “Can they communicate? Can they teach?” That’s one of the most important things in a coach right, the ability to teach. Not does he know the Xs and Os, but can he TEACH that to 14 year olds?!

So, first interview, that’s the first thing I do. Probably spend 10 minutes on the board. I’m not trying to outsmart him, or prove I know more or that stupid stuff that coaches do. I’m just picking his brain, to see if he can teach up the game. You can usually get a great feeling for that in 10 minutes.

I’ll ask what a practice week looks like for him as the DC, what kind of time does he need. I’ll ask him to walk me through a week of prep time. How does he work with his staff, how does he install, etc. etc.

There, I’m looking to see if his philosophy matches mine. Can his idea of teaching and preparing the team fit in with what we do, does this match my philosophy.

That’s what you’re looking for during that time of the interview. And that’s a 5-10 minute thing.

So, that first interview, BIG picture.

Second interview, SMALL picture. A lot of companies, schools do that backwards in my opinion. They want to get to know the applicant in a more intimate way the first time, I think that’s backwards. And a waste of time to be honest. So, you like the guy, you like him as a person, that’s great.

But what if the second round, you find out his philosophy and mecahanics won’t work with your philosophy? Wasted time.head football coaching interview questions and assistant football coach interview questions

I really, really like this question I came up with years ago, a different twist on “your greatest strength and weakness.”

I ask “how do you OVERCOME your weakness?”

That shocks them usually. Again, you can find out a lot, just sit there, Uncomfortable silence is good.

And then, I ask them, How do you use your strengths as a positive in this program? Again, different take on the question. I don’t care about your strengths really. I care about how those are going to make US better. Make sense?

That second interview is going to be more about the nitty, gritty. Tough situations you’ve had to deal with as a coach, put those in front of him, ask how he would handle them.  Tough situations your school deals with, the roadblocks your school presents, how does he deal with those.

I think that so many schools, companies really fail to make their interviews PERSONAL.

 

HEAD COACH: This is fantastic! Right now I definitely have a mix of rd 1/2 questions. Hadn’t thought of it that way, that I should learn their teaching ability before really getting to know them. I did it the other way around with that other coach I had to let go…I really liked him, but he wasn’t the type of teacher the boys needed

 

FORE: Coach, I think 95% of companies and schools out there make this mistake. They waste a LOT of time. I learned the hard way, as an AD

 

HEAD COACH:  What do you think of looking at/breaking down film? Having him teach up a position group?

 

FORE:  Really spent a TON of time with my second HC hire, getting to know an applicant. Came highly recommended, etc. Last thing we did was put him on the board.  A basketball coach.

Really liked the guy, spent probably 4 hours with him. 2 in an interview, 2 at lunch. Spent probably 3-4 hours talking to others, doing research, etc.

We were set to hire the guy. Then, last thing in the interview, put him on the whiteboard.

Said “you have 2 second left in the game, down by 1, you have the ball under your own basket, timeout, draw the game winner.

 

HEAD COACH: Great prompt

 

FORE: He could NOT do it Coach. Dude totally froze up. Started asking questions about the situation, got all nervous.  He was a head jv coach, varsity asst.

There were just three of us in the room.

So, I gave him another scenario, real life basketball one. He started drawing that up, but simply could NOT teach it.

Then, I asked him to write out his practice schedule. And you would have thought that I asked him to write a book.

My superintendent and I had this thing, where if he moved him cup to the other side of the folder, interview was over. That’s when he moved his cup.  It was wild.

He just couldn’t handle pressure.

 

HEAD COACH: Makes a lot of sense. I was thinking I would have him teach me day one of the base D. Then go over some of our rival top formation/plays and see how he defends and teaches how to stop them

This is great advice, I’m already tweaking how I’ll meet with s coach today.

What if you’ve got a guy you like and meets your expectations but you know he’s got other offers/options? Id hate to lose a great coach but I also don’t want to rush with this.

 

FORE: That’s a good question on the timing of things Coach.

If you’re positive that he has another offer, don’t let your arm get twisted to make a quick hire. I don’t ever think that is a good thing.  That’s why I set up a timeline on paper, with the job announcement.

If you didn’t do that this time, you’ll know for next time. That just is a guide to keep everyone on the same page.

That way, a prospective coach knows what he is getting in to, and if he does try saying “I’d love to be with you, but I’ve got this other offer,” you can just let him know that you want to stick to the timeline.

And, I would say that you also have to go with your gut Coach.  Trust your gut too, but sometimes that gut, when we haven’t been through these processes, lies to us. Make sense?

 

HEAD COACH: Ha,ha ya I gotcha. Sometimes my gut doesn’t look at the big picture!

I’m definitely gonna learn about their coaching style/philosophy and then get into seeing how they teach me and plan practice. For round 2 I will get into more of the our specific situations I came up with.

What do you think about having them analyze film?

 

FORE: Analyze film not a bad idea either coach, maybe just 4-5 plays. That would be really good

4 Keys to Coaching Productivity

By | Baseball, Basketball, Coaches Resources, Events, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Soccer, Track, Volleyball, Wrestling

“The One Thing” by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan

This article was originally posted on Beyond the Ball, a football coaching blog focused on the mental aspects of the game.  These four secrets to productivity are applicable to coaches of all sports and are great areas of focus for off-season reflection.  One of our missions at MaxOne is to empower coaches to be more productive – check out our demo videos to see how we can help.

 

Coaches, Fight to Be Productive!

For the professional coach, the offseason is spent finding ways to improve himself and his team. Personally, this causes me to assess the things that are going well and scrutinize my weaknesses in an effort to continually get better.

This pursuit leads me to a lot of reading in the offseason, largely because I don’t have the time to do a lot of reading in-season. My most recent offering was The One Thing, by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. It has pushed me to address one of my most urgent convictions: my productivity. Our days require us to plan, script, watch film, draw cards, print plans, post information, notify staff members, brainstorm for creativity, care for our players, handle recruiting, communicate to parents, answer e-mail…and the list goes on. And we love it.

We all know and understand the commitment and joy that comes with the coaching profession. Few people understand that we don’t finish our work based on the time on the clock, but based on the completion of the task at hand, however long that may take! Walking away before the job is done is never an acceptable option.

This being the case, I realized that I should seriously be analyzing how I harness my time to maximize my productivity. Inefficiency in this area doesn’t just hurt me; it hurts my family and my staff. I needed to find ways, not simply to do more, but to do more of the things that matter, each and every day, without cutting corners. I want to do more of the things that will make a difference in my areas of influence. In this case, in coaching. Here were a few items I took away:

 

Keys to Productivity

  • Be intentional with your time. Leave nothing up to chance! You wouldn’t roll out to a practice without drawing and scripting plays. You have to think of your day like you think of your practice. There must be a plan and you need to stick to the plan. Which leads into…
  • You must protect your time. Fight for your time! Everything in the world will work against you to knock you off course. But the more you stick to your plans, the more people will understand and respect when you are actually available. This single action, though challenging, will keep you on task and assist in making you more productive.
  • Narrow your focus. Not everything can matter equally. You must develop the skill to ignore that which can afford to be ignored. Otherwise, you become like a dog chasing a squirrel where everything steals your attention and drains you of your energy. We may feel and be busy, but we aren’t producing that which is valuable.
  • Know your purpose. This is more than motivational a pep-talk. This is a guiding principle to prioritize the things that deserve most of your attention. If you know your purpose, you can prioritize your tasks appropriately. If you can prioritize your tasks appropriately and do them, you can become uncommonly productive.

Great organizations, great football programs, are built one productive person at a time.

Offseason Exercise: “Self Scouting”

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

The NC State huddle during a timeout during the NCAA College Basketball game between the Miami Hurricanes and the NC State Wolfpack at PNC Arena on February 4, 2017 in Raleigh, NC. Jacob Kupferman/CSM(Credit Image: © Jacob Kupferman/CSM via ZUMA Wire)

 

This article was originally written by Randy Sherman and was originally published by FastModel Sports.  Coach Sherman does a fantastic job of outlining some key questions to help coaches evaluate their system and overall program in the offseason.  We at MaxOne believe that champions are made in the offseason – both by training our athletes and growing as a staff.  Read the article below and check out our basketball page to how MaxOne can help you lead your coaching staff and your players this offseason.

 

Self Scout

Tough questions to ask of yourself, your coaching staff and your process before heading into next season.

If you are reading this at or near the date of publication, my hope is that the following questions do not have to be answered for a few more weeks!

If your season is over and the sting from coming up short of that state, conference or national championship is still fresh it is time for some self-scouting. Next season starts now.

Basketball coaches have no problem with critiquing their players, their administrative support, their opponents or the officials. Can we critique ourselves or allow a peer to critique us and our performances with equal scrutiny?

At this point in the calendar some introspection before next season and off-season workouts begin can be helpful.

 


 

Three Pillars – Who Are We?

Here is an exercise: think of the best high school programs and perennial powers in your state or in your collegiate conference. Think of some of the traditional powers at the high major or NBA level. Think of some traditional powers in other sports such as NCAAF, NFL or MLB.

There is something they have in common. They know who they are and they have intentionally cultivated this identity. The players may come and go. Some go on to play at the next level while others simply graduate and move on.

In the professional ranks, players may retire, leave via free agency or trades. But in all of them, no matter the level of play, there is still a certain “sameness” to the way they play. Year after year, despite the departure of experienced players, not only do they win, but they do it in a similar fashion.

Take time to ask yourself and your staff:

  • Who are we?
  • What are we “known” for?
  • What is most identifiable about the way we play?
  • In a perfect world, how would we like to play?

An exercise we do with head coaches is the “Three Pillars” session. In this session we brainstorm some things with coaches about style of play, then whittle them down to three (no more, no less) pillars of play for their programs. These three pillars then become the guiding light for their programs.

These are not “back of the T-shirt” intangibles such as “Heart, Hustle and Togetherness.” Those are admirable qualities and every coach wants his/her teams to display them.

Rather, these are tactical decisions that we can begin planning workouts around. They drive every decision in practice planning, drill selection and scrimmage situations.

Here is an example of Three Pillars to use as a template:

  • Run hard and seek advantages off of every opponents’ FGM & FGA
  • Run exclusively read-based, conceptual offense
  • Make them dribble to their shot

Those three items help a coach plan every practice. They tell him/her what emphasize and prioritize on a daily basis. Everything we do in practice ties into these Three Pillars.

These are an example of one coach’s Three Pillars. Yours may be very different as you want your team to play a style that may differ from the pillars above. These three are not “right” or superior to any other three. You do not have to select these three, but select three.

More tough questions to ask yourself:

  • How do we want to win?
  • How are we willing to lose?
  • Am I comfortable and are we as a staff comfortable with the trade-offs inherent in the decisions we make about our identity?
  • What do we devote more time to, enhancing our strengths or addressing our weaknesses?
  • Do our practice plans and everything in them address these pillars?
  • If we were being scouted by an opposing coach, would he/she easily pick out these three items as our strengths?
  • If my grandmother watched us play could she pick out these three items as our strengths?

The first step towards having an identity on par with the premiere programs you compete against is uncompromising commitment to your Three Pillars.

 


 

Inside The Numbers

Perhaps the most influential innovation in the basketball world of late is the proliferation of analytics. Statistics can reveal some areas in need of emphasis in the off-season.

Scout your numbers and see what they reveal about your team. Begin to look at the game through a “per possession” lens and ask yourself how can we win more possessions?

Basic analytics can shed light upon shot allocation, efficiency as well as the performance of opponents.

Abundant information can be derived by looking back at your season statistics. Some of these measures may require you make a commitment to tracking new things for next season.

Here is a short list of the many statistical questions that can asked of your team that may expose some new points of emphasis going forward:

  • What were our Point Per Possession? (PPP)
  • What were our opponents’ PPP?
  • What line up combination had the best PPP? The worst?
  • What players had the best PPP? The worst?
  • What does our shot chart look like? How close are we to 40-20-40 (see graphic above)?
  • What value are we getting per shot from our three-point, two-point and free throw attempts?
  • What percentage of our total points come from three pointers, two pointers and free throws? Or opponents?
  • Do the shots generated by our offensive approach square with what analytics tell us?
  • Are we willing to let numbers influence playing time decisions?
  • Can we dedicate a staff member to a deeper study of the numbers?
  • What do our Four Factors numbers look like? Our opponents?
  • Are biases influencing our decisions?
  • What are we emphasizing that may run counter to the analytics approach?
  • How do we use analytics to help better inform and teach our players skills, system and tactics?

Turnovers are the undoing of many teams. You do not need the stat sheet to tell you that. They are the main detractor from PPP. Go back and look at every turnover and see if there are common themes.

  • Are there repeated situations we can recreate in practice that would help decision making?
  • Are our turnovers self-inflicted?
  • Are our turnovers a function of position and vision? Strength? Balance? Footwork?
  • Conversely, what can we do defensively to impact the position and vision of our opponent thus increasing their turnover rate?

Coaches can fall at different points on the analytics spectrum. Some are naysayers who dismiss analytics while others shape an entire program around the numbers. But a possible way to find a competitive edge for next season is to more deeply explore the numbers and their impact on play.

 


 

Subtract. Don’t Add.

Become the editor of your program. Did you know that about two-thirds of the Best Picture Oscar winners have also won an Oscar for Film Editing? A masterpiece does not become a masterpiece because of what you put in. It becomes a masterpiece because of what you leave out.

Often coaches seek something else, a new offense or an additional defense, during the off-season believing that if they just add these new wrinkles all of their team’s trouble will vanish.

With the advent of social media, YouTube and blogs (like this one) coaches are bombarded with X’s & O’s and drills and it’s easy to be distracted by the things we see other coaches doing.

But most of it is just “stuff” and the fallacy of “if a little is good then more must be better” is a pathway to mediocrity.

 

Coaches must come to terms with the idea of trade-offs. When you add, you must subtract. Practice time is the finite resource and adding another set play, continuity offense or quick hitter comes at the expense of something.

When you rehearse those routines in practice you are making the choice with that time that comes at the opportunity cost of the myriad of other things you could be working on. Too many coaches fall into the “we can have it all and be good at everything” trap. As a result they bog down in plays and easy-to-install patterns that do not truly advance the basketball know-how of their players.

So before you download a new X’s & O’s book or purchase another instructional DVD hoping that within lies a secret tactic that will cause your team’s troubles to evaporate, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does what we are thinking of adding advance our players understanding of the game? Or is it just another “play” or “offense” in the traditional sense?
  • Are we adding something better or something else?
  • If we add this, what are we taking out?
  • What can we delete from our practice plans and drill library that does not fit with our pillars?
  • What are our “clown drills” that we are wasting time on that have no correlation to in-game performance?
  • Can what we are contemplating adding be taken away by opponents via scouting?

Leave out the clutter and simplify. Groupthink leads coaches to believe that the better coach has the thicker playbook. Some are impressed by complexity but all are dazzled by well-executed simplicity.

The Blackberry has buttons and gadgets all over it, the iPhone has one button. Which one are people sleeping on sidewalks outside of retail stores to get their hands on the moment it becomes available?

 


Next Steps

It is not too soon to begin addressing needed change. Begin formulating a plan for the evolution of your program.

  • Gather your staff and talk through each questions in the bullet points above.
  • Have a “Deletion Party” where you gather your staff and clean out the playbook and drill library of “stuff” and clutter-causing clown drills.
  • Make a move to a more conceptual style of play that advances basketball skill and decision making.
  • Visit the practices of some coaches you admire and observe, take notes and ask questions.
  • Find a unbiased and objective mentor to bounce ideas off of and seek unfiltered feedback from.
  • Study and read up on the ideas you think it is time to implement.
  • Investigate many things, but invest in and commit to few.

Whether your team met all of their goals or fell short, do not remain idle this off-season and expect improvements to come. Be intentional, introspective and thorough in your evaluation of yourself, your staff and the state of your program.

“Winning the Offseason”

By | Coaches Resources, Football

The following research is an excerpt from X&O Labs’ bestselling book, The High School Program Development Study.  MaxOne believes in the power of building a program and nobody offers better resources for this than X&O Labs.  This article is a great off-season read that includes best practices from coaches just like you.  For more information on this book, you can visit the X&O Labs here.

 

“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”  We’ve read this mantra in too many weight rooms, meeting rooms and practice facilities.  While it may be trite, it is profoundly true.  Successful head coaches master the art of preparation and this case is devoted to preparation.  It’s focused around off-season development of a football program, from strength and conditioning to developing team building to conducting practice.  We knew that many coaches were interested in this facet of the game, because it relationship to success is evident.  Here, we present our research on what makes those coaches “win” in the off-season and how they prepare themselves to win during the season.

But before we present our finding, it’s important to note we did something else that was totally different than previous reports – we segmented our research into separate areas.   We wanted to target successful head coaches in this research and while we’re quick to point out that success is not all about wins (there are certainly too many other variables that add into that equation) winning is truly the main benchmark that we used to separate our readership.  We decided to segment our research into the following groups:

  • All Groups- All Head Coaches that took our survey.  Naturally, this equates to 100 percent of those surveyed.
  • Group 1- Head Coaches that have won at least 75 percent of their games over the last three seasons.  This equated to roughly 33 percent of those surveyed.  These coaches have won at least three-quarters of their games as a head coach since 2011.
  • Group 2- Head Coaches that have won less than 25 percent of their games over the last three seasons.  This equated to roughly 13 percent of those surveyed.  These coaches have won less than three-quarters of their games as a head coach since 2011.
  • Group 3- Head Coaches that have won between 2-5 championships (at the league, county or state level) in their careers.  This equated to roughly 31 percent of those surveyed.
  • Group 4- Head Coaches that have won between 6-10 championships (at the league, county or state level) in their careers.  This equated to roughly 11 percent of those surveyed.
  • Group 5- Head Coaches that have never won a championship.  This equated to roughly 29 percent of those surveyed.

Question:  How do you handle the strength and conditioning program at your school?

When surveying all groups, 47.5 percent of coaches say the head coach (themselves) handles the majority of strength training responsibility.   This was pretty consistent among all our groups- both successful and unsuccessful.  Many programs did not have a separate strength and conditioning coach, the largest group that did was a 20.9 percent response rate from those in Group 1- coaches that have won at least 75 percent of their games over the last three seasons.

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Question:  How many days per week does your team work out during the off-season?

It seems that four days per week seemed to be the majority response-with over 52 percent of coaches from all groups selecting this response.  We did find that 40.7 percent of those coaches that won 25 percent of their games or less over the last three seasons lift three days per week during the off-season (below).

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Question:  Do you conduct off-season mat drills in your program?

We defined mat drills as agility or plyometric drills done usually early in the morning to train discipline, speed and agility.  We found that 59.8 percent of all coaches are using a mat drill program while 40.2 are not.  A couple of interesting tidbits here.  Only 60.9 percent of coaches that have won at least six titles conduct mat drills during the off-season.  What was interesting here was that 67 percent of coaches from Groups 2 and 5 (those that have never won a title or won less than 25 percent of its games the last three seasons) do conduct mat drills.  Perhaps, the answer lies in the way in which these mat drills are conducted that equates to success.

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Question:  How many days per week does your team work out during the season?

The majority of coaches in all groups- 51.8 percent- said they work out two days per week during the season.  However, we found that 52.2 percent of coaches  from Group Four (coaches that have won between 6-10 titles) lift three days per week during the season.

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Question:  What is one thing you’ve established in the strength program that has made a tremendous difference in your program?

We focused this question around Group 1, or programs that have won at least 75 percent of its games the last three seasons.  Below are the responses we garnered.  We’ve also included coaches contact information in case readers are interested in following up.

Group 1 Responses

“We time every lift so each player is accountable to themselves and each other.”- Matt McLeod, Grafton High School

We have been able to convince our principal that the strength program should be done inside the school day as a class. No longer are we burning coaches or players out with before school workouts and it encourages students to play multiple sports.  – Brian Crum,  Head Coach, Mt. View High School Bend Oregon

FAST program was designed by our track coach. F=Flexibility A= Acceleration S=Speed, T=Training. We do this 2 days a week in the summer and 2 days a week in the winter. It takes about 20 minutes in our gym to get our 30 guys thru a 6 station 3 minutes a station circuit. Speed kills. – William Magnusson, Head Coach, Firebaugh HS

Incorporated stretching between our lifts. Helped reduced injuries. –  John Magistro, Head Coach, Westerville Central

We do a more single leg lifts, plyometric and lunge variations than the majority of teams. Football is all about change of direction and that comes from the amount of force you can generate from one leg on the ground. – Matt Hagebusc, Head Coach , Nowata High School

The best thing we have ever done in our program is to encourage our former players, who are college athletes, to come back and be positive mentors to our current players. We are very careful who we allow in, and they are aware of our strict expectations. This has really been a major plus. We have the older guys “adopt” some young guys to be their workout partners for the summer. This has  been building some pretty strong long-term friendships between the older and younger players. – Ron Jones, Head Coach, Hoosick Falls Central School, NY

We started posting lifting PR’s on a board and the team responded very well. – Keith Herring, Head Coach, Brentwood HS

Plyometric and many rep maxing instead of the old one rep max. – Matt Hunsaker, Head Coach, Central Valley HS

Compete in everything we do….we have weekly competitions between our off-season teams they have. Every things we turn into a competition, this makes it not only fun for the guys but also gets them to compete. This has truly been a big part of our success in the fall, getting them to compete in everything they do.  – David Marean, Head Coach,  Wayne Central

We have a Power Program in the summer three times per week after weight lifting that emphasizes quickness, plyometric and power. It is a great conditioner and confidence builder that our players have really bought into.  – Kim Nelson, Head Coach, Roosevelt High School

We started a Team Competition groups three years ago. Every year we seem to make minor adjustments. This year coaches selected ten captains who actually drafted their teams. It seems to hold more accountability for all involved because they now have ownership to their teams and each other. – Mark Bless, Head Coach, Avon High School

“We stress that our athletes participate in as many sports as they can.  If they can’t participate in an offseason sport we really stress weight room training.” – Kenny Schroeder, Canistota HS (SD) Lenny.Schroeder@k12.sd.us

“We don’t let them lift on their own. It is regimented. We have the 1st group do a set then we blow the whistle and the 2nd group does a set, etc.  It is up tempo and there is little standing around. This saves us time.  We build mental toughness in our weight room. We are up tempo and we go hard for about 1 hour or less. We lift at 6am so it requires a lot of mental discipline to get up and work hard.  Our student-athletes and coaches build their relationships and bond during these workouts. This is where we come together as a team.” – Pat Murphy, Capital HS (MT) pmurphy@helena.k12.mt.us

Question: What is one thing you and your staff has done to establish mental toughness in your program? 

It seems like developing the mental side of the game continues to be of paramount important to coaches.  We wanted to find out what successful coaches were doing- either in season or out of season- to train the minds of their players.  Some significant responses are below.  Again, we addressed this question to those programs that have won at least 75 percent of its games over the last three seasons.

Group 1 Responses

We do a self-inventory each year at camp that makes players take a real look at who they are rather who they perceive themselves to be. – Brian Crum, Head Coach, Mt. View High School Bend Oregon

Our staff is made up of Mentally Tough men who have been involved as competitors at the next level and know it’s demands. We do MTs=which are drills ( Bear Crawls, Up/Downs,or Buddy Crawls ) when we think we need them. We do Team Meals, Camp outs, and fund raisers together. We allow and encourage our athletes to play other sports. Wrestling and Track are great examples of individual sports that make you better at the TEAM sports. We are a D5 school who work together to build a Brotherhood amongst the Coaches and players. – William Magnusson, Head Coach, Firebaugh HS

We have a guest speaker come in each month, along with past football players who played for us. – John Magistro, Head Coach, Westerville Central

We have a Unity Council that is voted on by the coaches and the players. We have lessons on leadership with the unity council as well as the entire team. W also conduct weekly character lesson. For the physical aspect of the mental toughness as it relates to controlling the body and effort late in games, we have daily overtime sessions that we end each workout with. – Matt Hagebusch, Head Coach, Nowata High School

We hold optional meetings once a week to go over leadership, mental toughness etc. We do this in the spring for 10 weeks. Great dialogue and interaction between players and coaches. – Matt Griffis, Head Coach, Broad Run HS

We never specifically talk about mental toughness. It happens by building confidence, remaining positive in EVERY situation and being diligent to squelch any kind of negative or demeaning comment between players. We have a rule that you never yell at a teammate on the field. Our players know we have won the game when our opponent starts to “chirp” at each other. We look for it and feed off of it. It is hard to quit on someone you respect. It is easy to quit on someone who is harassing you. I also believe that the pace of our practice is challenging. We can see our opponents begin to fade in many games. – Ron Jones, Head Coach, Hoosick Falls Central School, NY

Mental toughness for us is rooted in the element of competition. We create the atmosphere that all jobs are always open. This promotes a greater output in the off-season and the ability to play tough during the year.

A couple things we emphasize is that we show no weakness…ever. We don’t bend over and grab our knees during drills. We control our facial reactions during fatigue. If we are banged up, we get to the sideline. After a big collision, we get off the ground before our opponent. I don’t even mind our players helping an opponent off of the ground, tapping him on the helmet, and reminding him that we will be here all evening and we will be meeting again, soon. – Luke Ethington, Former Head Coach, Maurice J. McDonough H.S., MD

The High School Football Program Development Study

With virtually every program now doing the “little things,” those “little things” no longer win championships.

bookcoverDoing the “little things” makes you part of the herd…

But how does this explain a small group of programs winning multiple championships year after year?

The research staff at X&O Labs has found the answer. They’ve discovered programs that win more local and state championships do things differently than those programs that have not found success.

To clarify… you’re probably doing the same things as those championship programs, but they’re just doing them differently.

Every program does a summer workout, but championship programs do one thing slightly different than all the other programs that don’t bring home trophies.

And it doesn’t just stop with summer workouts. X&O Labs identified what they do differently during in-season workouts, and throughout the entire year.

So, if your program can’t get over that hump – or you’re struggling to get momentum in your program – X&O Labs’ High School Football Program Development Study is your best resource to jump-start your program and start winning championships.

For more information on how to purchase this book go here.