Sunday, February 24, 2013

Speak Up! Talk to Take Your Team & Your Game to the Next Level

There are two skills in today's game that are diminishing. Passing is the first. The dribble has become more powerful these days. Power can be good or bad. I see a lot of over dribbling. Penetration & Kicking has led to some poor passing habits.
The second skill I think that has diminished might surprise you. Talking. How or more importantly why would I consider talking a skill? Skill, by definition, is "the ability, coming from one's knowledge, practice, aptitude, etc., to do something well. We all know how to speak. I'd wager none of us remember being taught how to do it but we all do it. It is a diminishing skill in society. If I'm standing with a stranger, I will smile & say hello then it's right back to texting or tweeting. Technology has allowed us to be connected with anyone, anywhere. "Small talk" doesn't exist. On our bus trips, players will text each other seat to seat versus talking. I'm guilty of that too. That's enough sociology.
Talking is a high level skill. It separates great players. It is required to achieve greatness as a team. Here are three reasons why I think talking is so important.

#1 For Yourself As A Player

Talking keeps you mentally engaged. Jimmy Dykes says "If you can't say it you can't do it." If your mouth is moving your mind is working. You are mentally in tune with what you are doing or about to do. I want players having meaningful communication. I wrote a post on communication earlier. Players should be saying (1) what they are doing & (2) what they will do! "Mike I'm here, I have help on your left." Talk for yourself.

#2 For Your Teammates

When things are going good everyone has something to say. What about when things go wrong? A player who is comfortable talking all the time will know what to say in this situation. This doesn't have to be yelling. There is nothing more disheartening to a team for a teammate who just made a mistake to be the one yelling. A leader will point out their mistake first, then try to help fix the problem. When you're talking for yourself, you're talking for your teammates. It gives them confidence in their job that you're doing your job. If an on the ball defender hears you have help, they are less likely to feel like they are on an island. Knowing you're there is good, hearing you say you're there is better. Talk for teammates.

#3 For Your Opponents

Talking intimidates. I'm not talking about talking trash although I don't mind a little chatter but I'm talking about having to listen to your opponent talk on defense. It is a sign of a well disciplined team. They know what they are doing. It rattles weak teams. When screens are being called out early, constant talk between teammates, it's hard for an offense to work. Same for the offensive end. When teammates are talking to each other on both ends. There is a bond & sense of confidence. Talk for opponents.

Here are also a couple of thoughts on talking:

Volume of talk has to be that of the loudest gym you'll play in once DAILY. - Jimmy Dykes
Players don't talk for 3 reasons: scared, stupid or selfish
Talking makes you Faster. - Shaka Smart

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Protecting Your Player this Spring/Summer

If you have read any of my posts here or on twitter you know that I coach High School and I'm involved in AAU. I also coach a 9 year old team which is a totally different animal. As the high school season is winding down for us the spring and summer evaluation periods are just around the corner. AAU programs are evaluating and contacting players, however the best programs are not interfering with the High School programs. Players shouldn't be attending workouts or practices until the end of their season. If a spring coach is requiring that there is your first warning: It's about him, not the kids. Here are a couple of thoughts I have to protect your player this spring and summer.

1. Where is the Money Going?
The Spring and Summer circuit is expensive. Teams are traveling Coast to Coast. In most instances money is raised to help fund these teams. First of all, it's your time and money. You should ask where the money is going and how is it being spent. Our organization, the Arkansas Wings, is as clear as glass as to where our money goes; to the players. We cover everything from uniforms to food and travel. If you are being asked for money and it doesn't cover everything then where is it going? Is it to pay for the coach? I know time is valuable but if you're asked to pay ask what for.

2. You Don't Have to Play every Weekend
There are two reasons I believe in that statement. First of all because of the money involved and also Players need skill development and rest. The evaluation period is the only time Coaches can attend games so what is the purpose in playing every weekend? A few years ago the thought process was more games. Now, thanks to guys like Ganon Baker and Drew Hanlen and Nike creating the EYBL player development is a major push.

3. Too Many Teams
It seems now that everyone that wants to play can play. That's fine, but when you attend some tournaments and you're seeing 80-20 pool play scores who is benefiting from that? The EYBL assures that every game is competitive with top-notch players. I watched a highlight video of a high level player but the first thing that stuck out to me was the level of competition. The top players should be playing vs each other. The next tier the same thing. That is what AAU and Nike have done that is so great. If you declare D1 then you'd better be ready for D1. D2 you'll have a couple of teams that "sandbag" for a better chance at winning.

And 1: Not All Teams are AAU teams

When a car breaks down, you don't say that Ford broke down to describe every car. That's unfair to that manufacturer. Same thing can be said for summer basketball. There are tons of tournaments and teams everywhere. They are all not AAU! AAU is a great organization that runs first class tournaments that require coaches to be PCA certified and also have background checks. Please don't call any team an AAU team.

I hope that informs you and helps you make the right decision.