Sunday, October 14, 2012

Program Builders: Defining Your Program.

When the air starts turning cooler outside it means that the temperature is getting hotter inside! While some of you guys still have to wait a few more weeks to begin practice, those of us who can and have begun practice are all looking for that separation factor in our teams. What makes us special or what are we lacking that will make us special?

This past week we gave our players off a couple of days; mainly to get their legs back, it was football homecoming which means we lost our gym (ever wonder how and why football closes a gym?) and to get ready for the start of "real" practice. In our state, we can practice year-round, all-out except for 2 weeks of the year. Since most of our players play through out the spring and summer, we use Aug-Oct 15th as our pre-season. On Thursday I was able to spend most of the day with my good friend Alan Stein. We were able to watch Drew Hanlen and also hear Jimmy Dykes speak on the 20 Truths of Basketball. at the TriLakes Coaching Clinic. (Coach Todd Mercer does a great job putting together a great line-up) If you haven't heard Jimmy speak, you need to make it a priority to attend a clinic that he is speaking at. His passion for basketball, life and other people is inspiring. His contract was just renewed with ESPN which is a win for all of us. Every game he covers is like a free clinic.

One of the twenty that stuck with me this time more than ever before was this: "What in your program is nonnegotiable?" What is a pillar of your program? I've already discussed in a prior post what 3 things I believe  to be Game Changers. Jimmy's 20 truths are a part of that but this one truth got me thinking about it ever more.What is the nonnegotiable part of your program? Is it the foundation of your program or a pillar? In this  post I'm going to challenge you to look at your own program while providing you with some resources to compare and work with.

When you think of a Basketball Coach, for most of us it happens like this. You first think of your Coach, then a couple of great coaches. Most of us would agree that Coach Wooden may be one of  the greatest coaches of all time. His record speaks for itself. His Pyramid of Success has been a doctrine of basketball. While most of us can't name the individual blocks, we recognize its influence and impact on basketball coaches.

One of the recent, great stories in College Basketball has been Coach Brad Stevens and his quick rise to success at Butler. As you know Coach Stevens led Butler to back to back appearances in the National Championship game. I was fortunate to attend a Butler practice last year and meet Coach Stevens. (If you haven't visited Hinkle Fieldhouse, you need to make the trip.) Coach Stevens is the perfect example of efficiency. It wasn't much of a surprise to me when I learned he had a pyramid of his own. (Coach Stevens' Pyramid)

I sat down and developed my own pyramid. Actually it's a "Program Outline". You may be asking yourself why? I would not mention myself in the same sentence with a coach the caliber of Coach Wooden or think that I am on the same level as Coach Stevens. My answer to why is simple. If you want to be "big time", you treat where you are as the "big time". I believe EVERY Coach on EVERY level should outline and know their program standards. What's nonnegotiable? What is the foundation? Whether you coach on a 3rd grade, Junior High, Senior High, Collegiate or Professional level, you should be able to identify and defend your program's standards. Here are 3 of mine from my Program's Outline.

#1 Foundation : ATHLETICISM
It is my belief that improving each player's athleticism allows us to do everything we desire as a basketball team. The goal is to take each individual to their athletic peak. This allows us to perform as a team at our highest level possible. We can't make each player 6'7 but we can take each player to their genetic peak athletically.

#2 Belief: TOUGHNESS
To me Toughness is the bloodline of a program. It's presence or lack there of  is evident in tough times. Toughness allows us to compete versus teams of higher caliber and teaches how to compete. Toughness leads to self-less play and being a great teammate.

#3 What can I control: SKILL-DEVELOPMENT, Xs & Os, GOALS
Skill-development and athleticism go hand in hand but your skill level will not be where it could be if you don't improve the level of your athleticism. Xs and Os are what we all work at but with out a skill set it's hared to run anything!

Goals are our way of rewarding and motivating ourselves. Set a few goals you can achieve to show progress but never loose sight of the big picture goal of absolute success. What is success to one is a failure to some. As a Coach it should always be a goal to win the last game; as lofty as that may be for some.

That is a sample of what I came up with for myself. Again, these are my beliefs. If you'd like see a copy of it email me at and I'll send it to you.

I did want to give you this. Your Program Pyramid Use it to define your program. Use it to define your life. Have your players use it.

I wanted to take time to thank you. I started this blog 60 days ago and have had over 11,000 page views. I appreciate your time so I will always try to put purposeful, practical information out there.