You’ve Got Bigger Fish To Fry

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

This article is from Radius Athletics, a basketball coaching consulting firm that exists to serve, grow and develop basketball coaches at all levels. 

You’ve Got Bigger Fish To Fry

I am a product of The South. I was born in the Mississippi River Delta country of Eastern Arkansas.

My grandfather grew up working in the cotton fields of Northeastern Arkansas and the Bootheel of Missouri before joining the Navy, fighting in World War II, then making a career repairing air conditioner compressors for the civil service while tinkering with lawn mowers as a side hustle.

Like many Southerners, my grandfather was known for his repertoire of colorful expressions. He was a character.

My grandfather, Drew (1925-2007).

One of his favorite expressions was “You’ve got bigger fish to fry.” He would use this when he wanted someone to know they had bigger problems than the small problem they were initially worried about. You are worried about the wrong thing(s).

A church-member would bring by a lawnmower that would not start, thinking they needed the spark plug replaced. Drew would take a look and often tell them “you’ve got bigger fish to fry.” Perhaps there was a much more serious issue – the engine needed to be replaced, for example.

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry” meant that we’re wasting time on small stuff instead of big, important things. We’ve got more important things to do. We need to fix the big problem, then the small problem.

In the hundreds of hours I’ve spent counseling coaches, the expression “we’ve got bigger fish to fry” has been useful.

  • You want to install a 150-page playbook, but you only have one player in your program who can shoot above 33% from three? You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
  • You ask tons of intricate and technical questions about defending rare and complex actions you might face, but you struggle to get great effort from players on defense? You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
  • You spend endless hours producing a thick scouting report while your team struggles to even break a press? You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
  • You want your team to play great in games, but you do not have a high-energy, competitive practice culture? You’ve got bigger fish to fry.
  • You are trying to win in a physically demanding sport with players who are unfit, oft-injured and weak? You’ve got bigger fish to fry.

This list could continue…

Often the small, immediate problems get our attention. But they only exist because we’ve got bigger fish to fry. Ignoring the big fish we need to fry does not make them go away.

Coaches try to solve big, systemic issues with small solutions. You think you can “coach” your way out of it. Too often we seek micro solutions for macro problems. Why?

Because frying the big fish is hard. It takes time and we want our teams and programs to win and be competitive before we are good. Too often coaches think little things are why teams win when big things are why they win. Little things do not matter until you have your big things in order.

Also, often frying the big fish is confrontational and uncomfortable therefore we avoid it.

My grandfather taught me this lesson using this colorful expression and the lesson stuck. Edge cases and minutiae do matter, but not equally. And they certainly do not matter as much until big things are in order.

Ask yourself if you are tackling the right things. Are we caught up in small things when we have bigger fish to fry? What are bigger fish we need to fry as a program before we can become competitive or reach the next level?

Chances are you are devoting time to low impact tasks, when there are bigger fish to fry.

Continue the conversation:

For help finding “what bigger fish you need to fry” please reach out and join our community for basketball coaches!

Any questions, contact us. Happy to talk hoops any time day or night! Sign up here for our twice-monthly newsletter for basketball coaches!

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What’s Your Basketball Genre?

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

This article is from Radius Athletics, a basketball coaching consulting firm that exists to serve, grow and develop basketball coaches at all levels. 

What’s Your Basketball Genre?

Counseling Coaches Series: Basketball Coaching, like music, has genres. You don’t have to know or even pretend to care about all of them.

Imagine you have a friend, and this friend is into classical music. He can tell Beethoven from Bach within the first few notes. He has recordings of everything from Vivaldi to Chopin on his favorite listening device. His home is filled with the sweet sounds of classical music every waking hour.

He gets tickets to every symphony performance in his city and even travels to New York or Boston to hear special performances. By any definition this friend is a music lover, right?

But this friend could not tell Jay-Z from Tupac or Luke Bryan from George Strait. Ask him who the best rock band of all time is and he could not tell you if it was the Beatles or U2 because he is only vaguely familiar with either.

Classical music is his genre and to reach the depth of knowledge he has of the classics, he simply did not have the time nor headspace for other genres of music. There is simply too much music being made in genres ranging from Techno to Blues to know it all.

We’d have no problem imagining that our classical music-loving friend would not like nor care about Hip-Hop. He knows what he knows and likes what he likes. He is OK with being a classical music lover. You would not ask him to help you with a music trivia question unless it was about classical music. In which case he would be the only person you would ask.

Basketball and Basketball Coaching also has genres. And like music, there is too much info out there to be an expert on all of it. Developing your “Basketball Genre” is vital.

Imagine for a moment that all the written and digital information out there on different basketball strategies, offenses, defenses, drills, plays, sets, zone offenses, man-to-man offenses, full court presses, half court traps and BLOBs and SLOBs were all in hard copies and stored in one single place. How big would that facility need to be?!

If we stood in front of this facility and I said, “To be a good coach you have to know all this stuff.” What would your response be? Impossible.

Here’s something that may sound shocking – not only do you not have to know it all, you don’t even have to pretend to care about it all. You are not missing out.

Coaches often feel like they are falling behind their peers if they do not know it all (Or pretend to be trying to know it all.) In actuality, you will fall behind your peers if you endeavor to know it all.

Pick a genre, a more manageable sized slice of all this information and know it well – very well. And more importantly, be able to teach it to your players very well (which only comes from knowing it well).

Your “Basketball” genre – ball screen offense and man defense, for example – now serves as your filter. It helps you focus on applicable material and tune out info that is not applicable. You no longer have to buy every new instructional DVD or attend every session of the next clinic you go to. You cannot know it all and you most certainly cannot use it all anyway. So you can ignore non-applicable material stress free!

But you may well want to consume any and all materials that are in your genre. You study coaches and teams reflecting a similar genre as the one you have chosen. You develop a network of coaches who share the same genre. Deep knowledge of your chosen genre is the goal.

In counseling coaches, I often receive emails from coaches seeking resources on basketball tactics. Some of these emails are asking about tactics I know little to nothing about. My reply is “I don’t know, but here’s the email address to someone who does.”

This may seem crazy for someone who is branding their services as “a coach to coaches.” I am supposed to know it all, right? False. I know the things I know very well because I don’t know it all. Better stated, I know the things I know well because I didn’t try to know it all. There is not enough time. Giving planned neglect to much of basketball is exactly how a coach gains deep knowledge of a particular basketball genre.

One last analogy. In your first two years of college, you study many subjects at an introductory level. You take a semester of Biology, a semester of Government and semester of History. General knowledge of many subjects is a good thing.

But to graduate from the university you have to pick a major. In your final years, you study one subject deeply. Then you may go to graduate school and receive a master degree in that subject and some even go deeper and receive a doctorate.

Our friend has a doctorate in the classical music genre. He does not have to care about the new Brad Paisley album or wait in line for tickets when the Dave Matthews Band rolls through town. But he would not dream of missing the opening night of the symphony.

What’s your Basketball Genre?

Continue the conversation:

For help finding your basketball genre please reach out and join our community for basketball coaches!

Any questions, contact us. Happy to talk hoops any time day or night! Sign up here for our twice-monthly newsletter for basketball coaches!

Connect with Radius Athletics on Twitter

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Basketball Player fighting for an offensive rebound

Offensive Rebounding Concepts

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

Basketball Player fighting for an offensive rebound

This article can be originally found on Positionlessbball.com. Positionless Basketball provides elite level basketball training and camps for youth players all the way to college and professional. This article breaks down four different offensive rebounding concepts…

Offensive Rebounding Concepts

Offensive rebounding is something coaches are always preaching.  Whether it is about not giving up offensive rebounds or having players crash the glass.  Coaches have a lot of different philosophies regarding offensive rebounds and they often depend on the personnel. Below I will discuss 4 different offensive rebounding concepts…

Weakside Flood

In a weakside flood, players flood the weak side of the lane for the offensive rebound.  The post player or player on the block goes to the weak side block when a shot goes up.  The next two players crashing the glass flood the weak side with one player in front of the rim and the other on the weak side.  The point guard retreats for transition defense. This is a concept that has been used by Illinois coach Brad Underwood. Below is a diagram of the weakside flood concept.  ​



The triangle concept is a classic concept to fill all sides of the basket for the rebound.  The point guard and shooter (or any players that are designated) get back on defense when the shot goes up.  The other three players fill the strong side block, weak side block, and middle lane to form a triangle. Below is a diagram of the triangle concept.



Top Back

This is a popular concept among pro and college teams.  Players who are below the free throw line can crash the offensive glass.  Players who end up above the free throw line on the shot must get back on defense.  Below is an example of the top back concept.




This is a concept that coaches use who believe that transition defense outweighs the possibility of an offensive rebound.  When the shot goes up all 5 players abandon the offensive glass and get back on defense. Coaches may also send their best offensive rebounder to try to get an offensive rebound and the other 4 players get back on defense.


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Building a Culture of Trust

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

This article was originally written by Wes Simmons from @3DCoaches and it can originally be found on 3Dinstitute.com, a website dedicated to providing a framework for coaching built on a foundation of purpose and delivered through workshops and online learning. In this article, Wes discusses building trust within your program.

Building a Culture of Trust

Building a culture of trust is imperative if we want our teams to reach their fullest potential. Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. Any sustainable success we achieve is directly related to the processes we conceive. Good processes are what drive good results, so we need to help athletes learn to TRUST the process.

To build extraordinary teams, our team members must learn to TRUST in extraordinary ways.

To establish a culture of trust, it’s helpful to think about how trust needs to work for an athlete in 3 directions: upward, inward and outward.


First, athletes must trust US as their coaches (upward). As those in authority over our teams, we should regularly look in the mirror and ask ourselves questions like, “Do MY attitudes and actions breed trust or do they undermine it?”

As leaders, it’s essential that our words and actions line up. As athletes learn to trust us, they will become much more likely to trust the PROCESSES that we lay out for their development as individuals and as teams.


If our processes are right, and athletes buy into them because of their trust in us, their confidence will be on the rise. With hard work, repetition, and patience, our athletes will begin to trust in their OWN ABILITIES at a new level as well.

In other words, their trust will not only be UPWARD toward you as a coach but INWARD toward themselves. This is an essential character quality that will empower them to not only face adversity in pressurized sport situations but in the pressurized situations of life. If we can establish this type of confidence in our athletes, we set them up for success on and off the field.


Athletes need to trust UPWARD in you as the coach. They also need to trust INWARD in their own developed skill-set. Finally, they need to trust OUTWARD toward their teammates.

When you have a team full of individuals who trust that everyone else on the team will do THEIR job, great things begin to happen. And when it works in all 3 directions, UPWARD, INWARD, and OUTWARD, our culture begins to permeate with trust.

Where To Start

One of the best ways to GAIN trust is to GIVE trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated.

Remember, it starts with US. First and foremost, we need to demonstrate ourselves as being worthy to be trusted. One of the best ways to GAIN trust is to GIVE trust. When we show our athletes that we trust them, that trust will begin to be reciprocated. Here’s a short clip from a 3D Coaching Workshop where I was sharing along these lines:

When we’re intentional about giving more trust to our athletes, it should cause us to think carefully about the role of rules on our teams. Team rules are important, but we must always be willing to (re)evaluate our team rules in the light of relationships. Besides protecting people from various forms of harm, I believe rules should mostly exist to protect relationships.

If we want to build a culture of trust, we need relationships to flourish in every direction.

If this is our desire, as Joe Ehrmann has convincingly demonstrated, we really only need to enact 2 primary team rules:

  1. Coaches love your athletes
  2. Athletes love each other

If these rules define the boundaries for our programs, relationships will thrive, trust will skyrocket, and we will be well on our way to creating great team cohesion.

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What do YOU think?

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

This article is from Radius Athletics, a basketball coaching consulting firm that exists to serve, grow and develop basketball coaches at all levels. 

What do YOU think?

In the summer of 2015 some coaching friends encouraged me to begin sharing basketball info on social media and in blogs.

This information was well received and thanks to some hard work and strategic affiliations, Radius Athletics was born and I began offering my time to help coaches.

At first I thought this was going to be all about sharing X’s & O’s, drills and diagrams, but soon I realized some real and bigger needs had to precede that. We needed to have “macro” level conversations before any “micro” level conversations.

One day, in one of those micro-level conversations, I was leading an online clinic with a coach about man-to-man defense. We were making our way through technical matters such as stance, positioning and help rotations.

Throughout the conversation the coach kept interjecting with counterpoints to what I was sharing along these lines:

“I hear you coach, but I was at a clinic one time and I heard Izzo say…”

“I have the defensive DVD series from Geno Auriemma and he says…”

Growing frustrated, I stopped and asked the coach, “What do YOU think?”

The coach was a veritable encyclopedia of information on what the “big name” coaches thought about defensive matters but did not have thoughts of his own.

Coaching is not a trivia contest. Before you put the whistle around your neck and walk into the gym to run your first practice as head coach make up your own mind about how you want to teach things.

Sure, your ideas and teaching points may mirror those of a “big name” coach, but they will also run counter to the opinions of others.

I get it. There are insecurities at play here. You want to make sure you are teaching what is “right” or “best” and studying the teachings of prominent and accomplished coaches is a way of seeking validation.

But Izzo and Geno are not coaching your team, you are. Your players will not be asking Geno and Izzo the why’s and how’s of defense, they’ll be asking YOU.

It is not a waste of time to study the game and the teachings of others more experienced and accomplished, but you will run into conflicting information.

Prominent coaches and non-prominent coaches alike will have differing thoughts on the exact same matters. There will be no consensus.

Will you drown while swimming in the sea of conflicting information that exists? Going too far down this road or depending on validation from others is a slippery slope due to the vast amount of conflicting information in the basketball universe.

Coaching is about decisions and tradeoffs. Decide what you want to teach based on the tradeoffs you can live with. It is about instilling your vision on your team.

YOU will have to decide what you want to teach on matters big and small. Not easy. And what is even harder is then tuning out the abundance of conflicting information that runs counter to what you have decided.

Part of what we do with coaches is help them articulate their thoughts and beliefs. We help them spell out how they want their programs and teams to play the game. Of course, they may be influenced by other coaches and standing upon the work of others is part of coaching.

But first form your ideals, then second commit to them even in the face of well-reasoned disagreement.

It begins with the question, “What do YOU think?”

Continue the conversation:

For help with articulating what you want for your teams and programs please reach out and join our community for basketball coaches!

Any questions, contact us. Happy to talk hoops any time day or night! Sign up here for our twice-monthly newsletter for basketball coaches!

Connect with Radius Athletics on Twitter

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Better Coaches Mindset: Feedback, Criticism and Trust

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

December 5, 2017 - Piscataway, New Jersey, U.S. - Michigan State's head coach Tom Izzo talks with guard Cassius Winston (5) during NCAA basketball action between the Michigan State Spartans and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, New Jersey. Michigan State defeated Rutgers 62-52. Duncan Williams/CSM(Credit Image: © Duncan Williams/CSM via ZUMA Wire)

This article was written by Doug Brotherton, a writer for FastModel Sports. Doug is a seasoned coach, as well as an NBA scout. Through all of his experience, he has found the importance of trust and communication in basketball, which he discusses in this article.


Feedback, Criticism, and Trust

If you attend any basketball practice around the world, you are likely to hear the Coach stressing the importance of communication. It might be talking on defense, echoing a play call, or two players interacting. If you really want to learn about the communication of a basketball team, watch the players and coaches when there is a breakdown on the court. Do the players take the time to communicate through the challenges, or does one player bark instructions at the other? Do the players demonstrate respect for each other, or do they settle for negative body language? Does the coach worry about blame, or finding a solution? Does the player respond well to the coach’s feedback? In most cases, this depends on the culture, trust, and experience of the team involved. Great players and teams have a growth mindset. They are constantly seeking information, which can help them improve and get better.

So, what is the difference between criticism and feedback?

To make it easy for our basketball team to understand, we have used the following to demonstrate the difference between criticism and feedback.


Communicating a problem, which has already happened, and cannot be changed. Offering nothing to allow the person to improve or adjust their behavior/actions.

We want our team to avoid these messages.

EXAMPLE: “Becca, you have like eight turnovers. What are you doing!?!”



Communicating a problem in a way that allows someone to fix the problem moving forward.

This is required for Championship level communication.

EXAMPLE: “Becca, we can’t win the game if we keep turning it over. If you feel sped up, jump stop, and be strong with the ball.”


Another perspective, which comes from Tim Grover, who became famous as Michael Jordan’s personal trainer, “the only difference between feedback and criticism is how you hear it.”

As a coach, the most powerful way to control what your players hear, is to develop trust. Players will take every message as feedback, if they trust you, and believe that you have their best interest at heart. As the saying goes, “Players do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” As a coach, there are few things that are more important than establishing trust with your players.

Trusting people is easy. Whenever a person says, I have a tough time trusting people, they are wrong. We all trust people, every single day. Let me prove it. When you get behind the wheel and drive on a two-lane road, you are trusting a total stranger to control their vehicle and stay in their lane. In reality, you are trusting a random stranger with your life. When you get sick, you are trusting a doctor to prescribe you the correct medicine, to help you get healthy.

“As humans, we do not have a tough time with trust. We have a tough time trusting people, who have the ability to emotionally hurt us.”

This is where players, and parents, have a tough time trusting some coaches. They worry about being emotionally wounded, by the coach. They worry that the experience of playing basketball, which players love, might be damaged. This is the power that a coach must realize, and then use to their advantage. Going back to the earlier message, if a player knows that you care, they will not have a difficult time with trust. When a player trusts you, they will take any message, regardless of the delivery, as necessary feedback. Most importantly, if there is consistent trust throughout the program, then a setback can be viewed as an opportunity to learn and grow. This mindset will develop a team that is consistently improving and is bound to play their best basketball late in the season. Trust is a powerful tool. It helps players eliminate criticism, accept feedback, and is a necessary ingredient for a Championship team.

If you have questions, thoughts, or would like to further discuss this topic, you can reach Coach Doug Brotherton via email at: CoachBrotherton@gmail.com

He can also be reached on Twitter at: @CoachBrotherton

For more content from Doug Brotherton, follow him on social media @DynamicCoaches


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Jay Bilas Skills Camp: Top 5 Takeaways for Coaches

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

This article was written by Doug Brotherton. Doug is now in his 14th year of coaching basketball. He is also a regional advanced scout with the Chicago Bulls. In this article, he talks about the Jay Bilas Skills Camp for basketball, and the takeaways for coaches he got from the camp.


5 Takeaways for Coaches

The 2018 edition of the Jay Bilas Skills Camp continued to provide both coaches and players exceptional opportunities to improve.

The Jay Bilas Skills Camp is quickly becoming one of the best basketball camps in the entire country. At the camp, players are split into teams, which are each led by a full coaching staff. The Head Coach of each camp team is a current college head coach. The three Assistant Coaches are a part of the camp’s Coaching Development Program.

Coaches in the Coaching Development Program range from College Head Coaches, to Graduate Assistants, Student Managers, and High School Coaches. The Coaching Development Program featured a tremendous lineup of speakers, including Don Showalter, Alan Stein, John Shulman, Jeff Lebo, Kevin Eastman, Mike Dunlap, Paul Biancardi, Bart Lundy, Grant Leonard, Bob Richey and, of course, Jay Bilas himself. I was also lucky enough and honored to give a short presentation to the coaches on how to maximize FastDraw to not only enhance your playbook, but your overall program as well (photo above).

By far the most impressive part of the Jay Bilas Skills Camp is the quality of on-court teaching that takes place. Players are treated to a crash course of “how to play basketball,” which featured skill development work, progressions, and special situations. The key however was that this section moved at a pace that resembles a college basketball practice. The progressions included different ball screen actions, off-ball screening actions, post splits, and more, and was all geared towards ensuring that the competitive games segment of camp featured high quality basketball.


1 – “If you think that a task is below you, then leadership will be beyond you.”

Jay Bilas Skills Camp staff featured former NBA coaches, College Head Coaches, and yet there were absolutely no egos. Everyone bought into the example that was set by Bilas, which was to serve others and pour everything into making the camp a tremendous experience for all involved. I felt like this phenomenal quote by Bilas had to be shared.

2 – “Relationships are the life blood.” 

This was a line that was shared by Alan Stein, but it was a theme that was echoed by all of the speakers in the Coaching Development Program. You you want to maximize your impact as a coach, then you had better learn to connect with your players.

3 – Two Types of People: ‘Know-it-alls or Learn-it-alls’

Kevin Eastman dropped this knowledge during his presentation, while Mike Dunlap was a living example of a “Learn-it-all.” Coach Dunlap is the Head Coach at Loyola Marymount, and has been an NBA Head Coach as well. He is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent basketball minds in the business, and he chose to be a part of the Coaching Development Program. This example, from an extremely successful coach, just hammered home Eastman’s point about being a “learn-it-all.”

4 – Communication Circle

Coach Showalter shared this pre-practice exercise, in which players must hold hands, look each other in the eye, address a teammate by name, and then share information. This focus on communication builds team chemistry, teaches communication, and has countless other positive impacts on a team. Check out this video that demonstrates how Coach Showalter uses the “Communication Circle” with his teams.

5 – Do NOT delay gratitude.” 

Bilas gets a second mention in this top five list, and not just because his name is on the camp. This was a line that he used multiple times, but it was also a theme for the staff. Everyone was excited and thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow. This “attitude of gratitude” fostered a fantastic environment and atmosphere, and we all got better in our time spent at the camp.

It was truly an honor to present to the Coaching Development Program at the Jay Bilas Skills Camp. On the last day, I wrote a hand written note to thank John Searby (Camp Director). That note was written on the cardboard backing to my note pad. In all of my years of attending practices, camps, and clinics, it was the first time that I went through an entire note pad at one event. The amount of quality information that was shared by the speakers was incredible, and I am already looking forward to being a part of next year’s camp!

If you want to get involved, you can find information about the Jay Bilas Skills Camp via its website, and follow on Twitter at @JayBilasCamp.

Follow @CoachBrotherton on Twitter and view all of his submitted sets on the FMS PlayBank here.

More posts by Coach Brotherton: 5 Scouting Tips for HS Coaches | Better Coaches Mindset


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Keeping Your Perspective as a Coach

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources, Uncategorized

This article was originally written by Scott Rosberg for FastModel Sports. Scott has been a teacher and coach for the past 30 years and is also the creator of Great Resources for Coaches. This article underlines the importance for coaches to keep things in perspective.


Keeping Perspective

As coaches we have a variety of responsibilities that we must be aware of, especially when it comes to the kids we coach. One element of our responsibilities is to keep things in perspective. This post discusses the idea of why it is important for coaches to keep our perspective.

A short time ago when I was working out at the fitness center in my town, an older gentleman (70’s?) said to me, “I wish I was as physically fit as you are.” Now understand, I am no specimen of physical fitness – far from it. I look in the mirror and see a somewhat overweight, out-of-shape, 55-year-old guy looking back at me wondering where his physical fitness went. I think of when I was 35 and wonder why I am not that guy still. However, this older gentleman sees me and sees someone who is physically fit. And it hit me right between the eyes (and unfortunately in my too large gut!) – it’s all about perspective.

This man does not know me. He knows his level of fitness. He knows what he is capable of and not capable of. He knows what hurts when he works out. He knows the pain he is in the next day.

Different Realities

But he does not know me. He does not know that every step I take has pain in it due to years of basketball, running, hiking, etc. that has led to three knee surgeries, two hip surgeries, multiple ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis, and a tendon that is coming loose from the bone on the bottom of my right foot. He does not know that I don’t have full extension or rotation in my shoulders due to three rotator cuff surgeries. He does not know that I can’t play basketball anymore (my favorite recreational sport to play) due to all of these ailments. All he knows is he is seeing a guy 15-20 years younger than him who looks like he is in reasonable shape, and he thinks, “I wish I was as physically fit as him.”

I look around the gym and elsewhere and see other people, and I do the same thing this older man did looking at me. We all do. Our perspective skews our reality, but more importantly it skews other people’s realities in our minds. I see the person driving the Mercedes and think, “Must be nice. If I only made the kind of money s/he makes.” Yet, I have no idea how much s/he makes (or even does for a living), and I have no idea how hard or easy of a life s/he has. I just have my perception of what I think his/her reality is, and I make all kinds of assumptions about it, just because of the car s/he drives.

This is how stereotypes of people affect our thinking. We put someone into a certain class of people based on a stereotype of our perspective of what we “think” their life is like. However, we ultimately have no idea what their life is like. We are not them. We can no more understand all that they are going through than they can understand all that we are going through.

Get to Know Your Athletes as More than Just Players

So what does this have to do with teachers, coaches, and athletics? It is critical that coaches understand this concept of perspective. We teach and coach young people. These young people come to us from all walks of life, all kinds of circumstances, with all kinds of positives and negatives happening to them. Some of them are carrying around a lot of heavy baggage, much of which they had no part in creating. They just happened to be born into some tough stuff. Others are carrying around very little baggage, and life has gone fairly smoothly for them. They are fairly happy with their circumstances and the elements surrounding their lives. Most people fall somewhere in between, with varying degrees of baggage.

However, no matter where they fall, we ultimately do not know their situation. For us to project our perspective onto their lives and assume things about them is not fair at all. We must be careful not to make judgments about our kids, their parents, fellow staff members, and anyone else we come in contact with without knowing as much as we can about them and their situation. This requires teachers and coaches to establish positive, open relationships with these people. We must get to know the people who we lead and who we work with.

I cannot just focus on my players as “players.” I must focus on them as people. The more I come to understand them, the better I can serve them. That must be a leader’s guiding force.

It’s About Our Kids, Not Us

Coaches must also understand perspective in another way. We must keep our job and our role in people’s lives in perspective. We cannot take ourselves too seriously. This is not about us; it is about the young people we lead. We must also understand that the vehicle by which we work with them is sport. It is young people playing games. When we take ourselves and our importance in the world too seriously, we lose perspective. This is one of the few times that I consider the phrase, “It’s only a game,” appropriate. The playing of games portion of our jobs is something we need to take less seriously. I am not saying the games, preparing for them, and competing in them are not important. However, I am saying those are not the most important facets of what we do.

However, at the same time I am saying that we must take our jobs and our roles as leaders of young people extremely seriously. We are trying to help young people learn all kinds of things about life while providing them the opportunity to have a positive experience through sport. The life lessons that kids learn from us will inform so much of who they become. That is an extremely important role in our world, and we must take it very seriously. This is where we cannot accept the idea that “It’s only a game.” What we are doing for kids is so much more than a game, and we must treat it with the importance that it deserves.

Be a role model. Be a teacher. Be someone who keeps his or her perspective on what it is that you are doing as a teacher and coach – instilling in children the life lessons necessary for them to go out into the world and live positive, productive lives. Oh yeah, and one more thing – stay in shape, so that when you are 55 and someone older than you thinks you are physically fit, their perspective is not warped. Believe me – your 55-year-old self will thank you!

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Coaching and Visualization (Imagery): See the Coach You Want to Be.

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources, Football


This article was originally written by Wayne Goldsmith with WG Coaching. Wayne has 25 years of experience with olympic and professional level teams. Visualization is used by many athletes to optimize their performance and coaches should be doing the same. 


Many athletes incorporate visualisation (imagery) into their training programs and their preparation for competition.

Usually visualisation involves athletes using their minds to “imagine” (visualise) situations and how they would or should manage those situations when faced with them in real life.

For example, an athlete training for the Olympic Games might visualise the sights and sounds of the Olympic final so that they become familiar with that performance setting.

Visualization can be a powerful tool in athlete preparation but what about using Visualization to improve your coaching?

Coaching and Visualization….See the Coach You Want to Be.


So what is Visualization (or Imagery)?


Every body dreams.

Everyone has an imagination.

Everyone has laid back in their bed and dreamed about becoming a “Jedi-Knight” or a Formula One racing driver or a world famous actor or of scoring the winning goal in the World Cup Final or winning the lottery. Dreaming and imagining what could be is something all us humans do.

Visualisation is using the power of your own imagination to see, feel and experience something in your mind without actually experiencing it.


So why is this important?


Success or failure in sport is often determined by experience.

Experience is prized above all other things by recruitment agencies, HR departments and other sporting leaders who hire and fire coaches.

Experience, i.e. having proven that you can do the job is what job interviews, job descriptions and sports recruitment is all about.

The problem is that often you don’t get the actual experience you need until after you need it!

How many times have you coached athletes who have failed at their first attempt to win an important race due to their lack of experience at that level of competition?

How many times have you seen teams fall at the final hurdle due to a lack of experience of performing at their best in important games.

Experience is a determining factor of success in every sport and every field of endeavor.

Yet, for many athletes, coaches and teams, you only get one chance: only one opportunity to realise your dreams.

What is needed is a way to live the experience, to feel the experience, to “see” the experience without actually doing it so that you are prepared to manage the emotion of moment when it comes for real.

And that’s where visualization comes in. You can see it before you have to be it.


Visualization – how to do it: Making it real.


First of all, learning to visualize is not a big deal. You don’t need to spend a lot of time and money learning how to do it: after all, it is just tapping into the power of imagination that we all have but have lost touch with.

But, the key to doing it effectively is making it real, i.e. making it seem and feel real.

Mastering visualization means arriving at the big game or the big race or the major event with the calm, composed, confidence that only experience can provide.

Before you commence your visualization session, do your homework. Talk to people who have experienced the event or game you are targeting and which will be the focus of your visualization practice.

If possible, get a video of other games, other races and other events held in the competition venue where you and your athletes will be performing. If you can, go to the competition venue, look around, sit in the change-rooms, walk around the warm-up area etc. Take some deep breaths and immerse yourself in the environment where you and your athletes will be facing the pressures of performance.

The more real, the more accurate, the more you can experiencevisualisation (i.e. as opposed to just seeing a vague image in your mind) the better.


Visualization: Relaxation and Breathing.


Visualization is a simple mental skill to learn and master.

Find a nice quiet place and relax. A simple way to relax is to concentrate on deep, slow breathing. A great guide for relaxing breathing is to aim for 5 breaths in one minute by breathing in for a four count, breathing out for a four count and just remaining still and relaxed for a four count before breathing in again (i.e. 12 seconds per breath cycle).

After one minute (i.e. 5 in and an out breaths), begin imagining the situation, the settings, the sights, the sounds and the smells of the target of your visualisation.

Imagine every aspect of the event. The noise. The competition arena. The crowd. Experience the entire experience in your mind.


Here are some practical Coaching Visualization Exercises for you to try:


  1. If you are in a competition with a “finals” series and your team is knocked out and doesn’t make the finals, use Coaching Visualization to imagine what you would do if your team had actually made the finals. How would you plan your week ? How would you select your players? How would prepare for each training session? How would you address the players before they run out for the big game? Spend time visualizing how you would coach at your best during the finals series and then next season, when you have to do it for real, you will have no surprises and perform magnificently;
  2. If you have a big event coming up and you need to be calm, composed, clear and confident for your athletes, try some visualization. Imagine yourself on the sideline or in the coaching box. See yourself as being calm and composed. Feel your body language as being positive and powerful. See your athletes performing and imagine how you will respond, i.e. with clarity and confidence.




  1. Experience is such a precious commodity in sport, that it make sense to try and find ways of fast tracking it and gaining the experience you need before you actually need it;
  2. Visualization (imagery) has long been a tool that athletes have used to help them see and feel the competition environment prior to the actual competition to help them deal with the stress and anxiety which often undermines successful performance;
  3. However, visualization (imagery) is just as effective with coaches who, with a little patience and a little practice can use visualization techniques and their imaginations to learn, grow and win when they need to win.


So give Coaching by Visualization a Try: See the Coach You Want to Be.


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15 Coaching Tips to Make Next Season More Successful

By | Basketball, Coaches Resources

This article was originally posted by Don Kelbick on Breakthrough Basketball. As basketball season wraps up and the offseason begins, it is important to start preparing early for next season. This article lists 15 surefire coaching tips to make next season more successful than ever. 



15 Coaching Tips

The season is winding down. Routines change, friendships have grown, priorities change. As a coach, what should you do now? When practice time comes and there is no practice, what do you do? When there are no games to prepare for, what do you do with your time?

Coaching is an all encompassing job. It takes time, devotion, and is very crisis oriented. To do it well, you have to plan your year, just as you have to plan your practices. Those outside the profession don’t understand it. Don’t try to explain it to them or expect them to understand. Coaches are a special breed.

Here are a just a few thoughts as to how to recover and prepare for the next season.

1 – 2 weeks post season

  1. Relax – After every season, there are decisions to be made. Whether they are career, personnel, or personal, immediately after the season is not the time to do it. Take some time for yourself, catch up with family and friends and try to settle back to a traditional lifestyle. Let your mind and body rest.
  2. Organize – collect all of your practice plans, put all your game films in order, and collate your statistics.
  3. Make the most of extraordinary clarity that you have after the season — If you’re like most coaches, you’ll have some amazing clarity a few days or weeks after the season is over. It’s very important to document what you’ve learned while it’s still fresh in your mind. You’ll find that this tip alone can have an enormous impact on your team’s improvements next year. You never think it will happen, but it’s amazing how much you forget during the off season. And you’ll be just as amazed how much documenting these thoughts will help you. Document what you’ve learned. Document what you should do different next year. Get those thoughts and ideas down so you can reference them next year.
  4. Be sure your players have their priorities straight. Players often let their schoolwork slip after the season. Be sure they are caught up and on time with their classes.


3 – 4 weeks post season

  1. Begin your evaluation process. Interpret your stats and decide what you feel is important and what you can affect by coaching. Start watching your game films and evaluate what you did well and what you did poorly. Evaluate your practice plans and determine what type of practice flow was most effective. Be sure to include your assistants in this process. Different points of view can be very helpful.
  2. Meet with your players. Discuss their thoughts of the season. What do they feel the team did well, what was done poorly? What do they feel they did well personally and what they need to work on? Discuss your feelings in regard to their performance. Talk about expectations for the next season.
  3. Develop an off-season development program. Rules differ from state to state in regard to what coaches can do in the off season. Many coaches also have other responsibilities (teaching, other sports, etc.) so the program should be simple and self moderating, the players should be able to get through it themselves. At least the first half of the off season should be spent on development as opposed to playing. In addition, if you wish to have your team strength train, maximum gains should be achieved during the first 75% of the off season.


A month after the season you are essentially in the off season. Use this period to recharge.

  1. If you can work with your players on skills, do so.
  2. Start to improve your team’s shooting percentage. In order for you to have a great team of shooters, you must get started right about now. The off season is the time to fix mechanics, start implementing player development programs, and give your players instructions on how to develop their shot. Great shooters become great in the off season.
  3. Sharpen the stone. In other words, continue to develop your knowledge and personal development. Never stop learning. Read books, attend clinics, talk to other coaches, and gather ideas for the next season.
  4. Shore up your coaching weaknesses by exploring other philosophies and teaching techniques. Expand your strengths by exploring additional areas that you can apply what you do well.


The summer months are a great time of the year for coaches. This is the time you begin thinking about next season.

  1. Experiment in summer league with new ideas. Decide what you can live with and what you can’t. Try new offenses and defenses.
  2. Evaluate how your team has improved and how the players have worked on their game. Let them play different positions, allow them to experiment and expand their game.
  3. The summer workout program should be about 50% skills – 50% play. Don’t overload your team with summer league games. Don’t worry, they will get enough play. On the whole, players don’t do enough skill work.


Once school starts again, you have entered the pre-season.

  1. Put together your playbook. Decide what offenses and defense you think you can succeed with.
  2. Build a master practice schedule when are you going to install each aspect of your program. Establish your teaching progressions.
  3. Start your preseason program. Work should be about 25% skills, 75% play. Change your strength training program to one of endurance and maintenance.
  4. Be sure that your players are doing their best in school. They should use this period to try to get ahead.


2 weeks before the season — Start to taper off of your workouts.

1 week before the season — Everybody takes off. Do some things with your family and friends. It might be months before you get to do it again.

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