Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Game Day Shoot-A-Rounds: What You as the Coach Need to Consider

I hate Game Day Walk-Throughs and Shoot-A-Rounds. The name Walk-Through itself sounds lazy and Shoot-A-Round sounds like something you'd find at the County Fair instead of before a basketball game.

I use to get mad, who am I kidding, I still get mad every game day for the same reason: It doesn't mean as much to them as it does to you as the Coaches. Today's Players are different. They have the ability to be connected to the rest of the world WHILE they are basically doing any activity in their day. They have the ability to have their music on them while they are doing anything. Can you imagine trying to shoot with a disc-man in your pocket? It was almost impossible on a bus trip.

Examine your pre-game strategies this week starting.

Here are 3 thoughts on how to handle Game Days.

1. Don't do anything "serious". 
Take care of the serious work the day before. If you don't have time to, (tournament setting) then find a way to minimize the time spent on it.
                     Teach it. Demonstrate it. Teach it. Do it. Answer questions.

2. Let them ask questions-guide them if they don't ask any.
This way, they are the ones who dictate what the focus on. You are allowing them to pick the part of the scouting report that they feel needs more time.

3. Keep it light
Divide teams, Coaches included, and do shooting games. Shoot 3s, Free Throws and Half Court Shots. When we are out of town for games, we do this and the winning team gets extra dessert after the game. This makes it fun, competitive and stress free for the Head Coach.

Game Day Shoot-A-Rounds are one of those things that Coaches do and a lot of us don't know why we do them. Usually because our Coach made us do them. Some because your opponent is doing them so you have to. Some because we feel the more we prepare the better we can handle the results.

Regardless if you have a structured practice or a "get moving" session, the last thing you want to do is leave or get ready to play upset with your players. The biggest thing I can tell you is "KNOW YOUR TEAM" and "KNOW YOURSELF". Find what works for each team. Sometimes you'll find it changes.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Is Winning Really Important?

I have been thinking about this topic a lot lately. I have been fortunate to talk at two coaching clinics and been the guest on 4 podcasts discussing what I've been doing the last 890 days. As most of you know or if this is your first time coming across this website, I was hired to be the first Head Coach in school history.
Fast Forward to today. We are entering our third year. We have had success that for most people probably is a surprise considering we opened without a senior class and with only 2 players that had been on a Varsity roster.

Understand this;

I know a lot of successful programs that don't win. I know a lot of programs that win that aren't really successful. Success can be defined a lot of ways.

My definition of success is this checklist: 

Which gets me to my question, is winning really important?
At any school across the nation, I often wonder how much emphasis is put on winning? If you are the Head Coach of any sport, is winning part of your job?

We all know of jobs where it doesn't matter who is coaching, for whatever reason they just can't win. We all know of jobs where as long as the bus arrives they are probably going to win, even if a toddler is in the first seat.

Here are some reasons that Winning is becoming harder and in one case a must for your job.
Coaches are getting out of Coaching for a three main reasons: Finances, Parent Problems & Unrealistic Expectations.

1. Team sports have become individualized
There are three words that get abused in sports. They are Coach, Exposure, and Elite. Two of those are easy to define. Not everyone is a Coach and not everyone is Elite. Exposure is the buzz word as to why your child isn't getting a scholarship offer. "They haven't got the exposure they need." Then that falls onto playing for the wrong Coach. blah blah blah...I could go on and on.  Here is the truest truth you'll hear about a Basketball Parent.
If you're a parent, read that and said "not me" you are lying. Parents are paying their child to score points. It happens on every level. Parents tweet their child's stat line and attach every team, scout they can to get a click. (weird how when they go scoreless in a game that doesn't get tweeted)
Parents want their kid to be a star. They want the pride that goes along with it. It's a tough situation for Coaches on every level. Coaches want winners. Helping your team win is a great way to gain exposure. Parents and Players have to be willing to sacrifice a little to gain a lot.

2. Did you just sign your last Coaching contract?
The top ten mistakes Coaches make is a list put together by Don Showalter. It came up as a topic at a 11pm Coaches Clinic at Snow Valley one summer. "Taking a bad job" is one of the ten mistakes and could be the biggest. 
DO YOUR RESEARCH. Look past the money. Is this your last job? Why did the previous Coach leave? I'm all for Coaches being confident but I know there are places you don't go if you're a basketball Coach in Arkansas. I know the football jobs you don't take either.
Taking a bad job can end your career. You have to understand the situation going in. Are there Administration problems? Parent Problems? Does this job come with a Principal, Athletic Director or Superintendent that interferes with your ability to work? How is the community support? School Board?
Some places expect you to compete for titles when you barely have enough talent to win an inner squad game. You aren't going to win the Kentucky Derby with a Donkey. EVER.

3. Winning with the right Players
Sometimes winning isn't enough. You have to win with the Right Players. You know, the School board member's kid, The parent that is the loudest in the stands. They are "happy" the team is winning but would be happier if the team was winning and their child was the star. 
 (maybe the reason the team is winning is their child doesn't play much or isn't the star?)
I know of a Coach who's team won the state title and when their contract came up the vote was 3-2 to rehire. Guess who the 2 No Votes came from? Board Members whose kids didn't play much. 
Side note: That Coach left and that team has only been to the State tourney once since.

4. Winning doesn't Pay
In a lot of districts, winning is expected but not appreciated. Appreciated monetarily that is. A lot of that is districts are financially unable to do it for a multitude of reasons. Education is the one profession where you are rewarded for longevity financially instead of current productivity. Think about the time spent, divide your salary....actually don't because it's going to depress you. 

What I'm getting at is use YOUR time wisely. Keyword is YOUR. Coaches are paid for days, not HOURS. The reason your team is losing has nothing to do with the fact you aren't working 22 hours a day. I know a lot of really good Xs and Os Coaches that lose to a Coach with better Johns and Joes who is posting pictures enjoying their weekend while you're in an office trying to figure it out.
Let me solve it for you: THEY HAVE BETTER PLAYERS.

So how do you find out the value of winning at your job? Be Truthful. Ask questions. Be prepared for tough answers and be prepared to give tough answers too.

For me, I can answer the question like this. 

My answer is yes. I believe you are expected to win games. My hope for you is that you have administrators that (1) help and not hinder you in your mission and (2) understand not overlook your situation.

 Winning is Really important to me as long as...
(1) I can win with good kids
(2) a clear conscience about our program 
(3) still enjoy my life outside the gym 
and the most important 
(4) not sacrificing my love for the game
     -meaning when this feels like a "job" it's time to either change locations or maybe professions. 

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Organizing Your Fast Draw Library

Ever come across a piece of paper that has a play or drill drawn and you have NO IDEA what it is? Just me, hmm, well then you're all better than me and can stop reading now. If in the slim chance you are like me and write down plays without writing descriptions and worry that you just wasted the greatest play ever you need Fast Draw. Want to know an even worse feeling? Losing a game because you didn't have a play and then finding it the next day in your Fast Draw Library.

I'm going to talk to you today about how to organize your Library. Granted, I'm passionate about this. That's a nice way of saying I'm obsessive about it.

Fast Draw already organizes by season which I love. My library is broken down like this. I have 31 Teams. Teams are the Coaches I've gotten things from. If I have multiple things from you like Don Showalter or Tates Locke you have your own category. If I have just a few things you are grouped into Various Coaches.

My Series are a little more detailed. I have 115 Series, with the plans for more. This is where you can really get control of your library. <WARNING> Do not start on this process unless you have time to complete. This is a great pre-season or post-season activity.  My series are broken down like this: 41 for drills, 64 for offense, 6 for scouting, 1 for clinic notes, 1 for miscellaneous and 2 for defense.

Here are the three things that I feel are important with your Fast Draw Library.

1. Talk to yourself
When you diagram a play, talk in out on each frame. Be detailed. Think about explaining to a 9 year old. Don't assume that you will remember it later. Better to type now than to try and figure it out later.

2. Copy Plays
If you open my library, you'd see something like this.
Offense- M2M Set- Ball Screen Wing

What I'm doing now is copying that play and adding a RESULTS series. Looking for a 3 point shot in the corner? Copy every play you have that finishes with that and put in that series. I will have a RESULT - Corner 3 - vs M2M, 1-3-1, 2-3, etc... This will eliminate so much time later and get me and you what you are looking for.

To save time you have to spend time.

3. Scout Your Opponents
I have 6 series set apart for scouting. I haven't found very many Coaches that scrap everything. Coaches are always adding but rarely do they not keep something, especially something that worked. If you watched the NBA playoffs, Coach Brad Stevens used a sideline play with the Celtics he ran at Butler.  Coaches change jobs, they don't change who they are that much.  I scout like this.

Team Name - Coach's Name - Name of Play (If I know it) or Description (Box Set)
Play Details - Game it came from , Film time, Result of play

We create a playbook for each opponent. We have a copy with us on the bench. Some Coaches I have multiple playbooks on. If they get us on a set play at halftime, our staff looks for it in the playbook and we try to not allow it to happen again.

If you have any questions about how I use Fast Draw and Fast Model please contact me at

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Anatomy of a Perfect Timeout

We all do it. We've all done it. We will all do it in the future. We waste a timeout. Waste in the fact that we don't get the information we need to get to our players. A lot of this can be because of various reasons. Would you believe me if I told you it could be avoided? You can actually script how a timeout should go? Let's breakdown a timeout from 30,000 feet and then take a closer look.

What's the purpose of a timeout? The simple answer is to stop the game. But what is the purpose? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to make a point to your players, the officials or even worse the crowd? Is it strictly for show?

Now ask yourself this. Are you a time out hoarder or a spender? Ever lose a close game and had 2 timeouts left? Ever lost a game because you were out of timeouts with 4:00 left?

There are 2 types of timeouts.
They are: Angry or Strategic. Inside those two types are subtopics.
Angry - At Players or At Officials
Strategic - Make a Change or Stop Momentum

Types of Timeouts:

The Angry Timeout
We've all seen it and some of us have done it. Something bad happens and the Coach calls timeout with no other intention except complaining. Heck, I've done it so I'm talking to myself too. I'm also not promising I will stop doing it. But really, what does it accomplish? Did it help? Sometimes anger is like vomit. It only helps the one doing it. Sometimes it makes it worse. Like pouring alcohol on a scrape.

When you're angry at a player, why not just substitute the next dead ball? I know someone of you just said to yourself "Because I want them out of the game right then!" Some of you are thinking "Yep, exactly what I was thinking." Now you're wondering how I'm in your thoughts. Wouldn't it be cool if Morgan Freeman's voice was the voice inside your head. After reading that, the voice you're reading this to yourself in now is Morgan Freeman's voice. HA!  Alright-back to basketball.  When we spend a timeout on removing a player we've got to make sure we get a positive out of it. That's the hard part.

When you use a timeout angry at an official, one of two things are going to happen. You're either going to get stuck with a technical or the next call is going against you because you tried to show them up. I'll address how to handle this later.

The Strategic Timeout
Make a Change
Rarely are we as Coaches successful with a whiteboard to court change that hasn't been addressed in practice. I can think of a handful of times it worked and hundreds of times it didn't. If you're fortunate enough to have a great staff working with you, have them be working on the plan while you're coaching the game. Then at a timeout or between quarters you can make your adjustments.

Momentum Swing
What is your stoppage point? Do you have one? We have a 6-0 play. Something we feel we can get a layup or fouled to stop a 6-0 run. If it goes past that we will call a timeout. I HATE calling timeouts here but I'm getting better about it. We all know it's a game of runs and they will happen. I'm trying to keep my stubbornness from letting a 8-0 run turn into a 14-0.

During those timeouts, You have to know what your team needs. Do they need an a@* chewing, do they need reassurance, maybe even a joke? Know your personnel (another topic) and what they need.

Alright, so now we've defined timeouts, lets breakdown a perfect timeout. In order to have a great timeout, I believe you have to have roles and spots defined. Who's doing what and where everyone is standing & sitting.

In a :30 second timeout, You have time for few precise instructions. Make a sub. Call a play. Not draw one up. You don't have time.
Here's a tip. In a :30 second timeout, the players on the bench can't come to the floor. It doesn't mean you can't bring your huddle to them. This way if you make a call for the next few possessions and know you might have to sub your subs know what is going on.

A :60 second timeout is a little different. I like a chair. I read something about being eye-level when speaking so this puts me eye level with the players.
Here we go...
Time out called
Chair placed.
Coaches talk 7:10 seconds AWAY from the huddle
Decisions made
First Horn

Depending on where you are I like Players in different areas. If there is room behind the bench. I want players or a buffer from the crowd for different reasons. Assistant Coaches on the ends of the huddle to keep eyes engaged and to have input.

Take some time to talk about timeouts with your staff and your team. Practice them before the season.

What I learned in August

I had a great month of August. It is my birthday month. It is the month Hayden moved into his dorm for his Freshman year. I got to speak at another USA Basketball Academy, this time in Cleveland, Ohio. Here are a few quick thoughts from the month...

  1. 41 was pretty easy. I had a great surprise dinner with friends and a pretty relaxing month.
  2. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a must see. I was delayed leaving so I took an Uber over and spent 2.5 hours. I could have spent 8 hours in there. 
  3. Got to meet Pop Kwasniak and hang out with him and my buddy Babe. I love talking to older Coaches. Guys that paved the way for us. Tedd has coached 51 years. Seen a lot. Great time with them.
  4. Listened to some great speakers and saw some friends. The game has brought a lot of great people into my life.
  5. Leaving your son 4 hours away is a weird feeling. Sad, Proud, Excited. He's a good kid. Going to do great things.
  6. Professional Development is a lot like taking a shopping cart to the shin
  7. Trying to Change the way people think is exhausting.
  8. I fall in love with what USA Basketball is doing more everyday. 
  9. I've had more phone conversations with H since he left than we had in the previous 3 years.
  10. Focus your energy. 

Sunday, August 12, 2018

What I learned in July 2018

I'm stealing an idea for Zak Boisvert and I've started a monthly "What I Learned" file. If you don't follow Zak and Pick and Pop.Net you are missing a TON of information. Zak provides so much to the coaching fraternity and is a great resource.

July was different for me. It was the first year in a long time I didn't get to attend Snow Valley. Instead I spoke at the USA Coaching Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. I will be speaking in August in Cleveland and would encourage you to make one of the three left this year or definitely plan on making one next year.

Here are a few things I learned this past July.

  • Frank Martin is a real guy. Like a Guy's Guy. Smart. Passionate and can relate to anyone. 
  • Vegas is hot. Don't let them say "Dry Heat" is different. 115 is 115 regardless. 
  • Don't let people say that NBA guys don't play hard. They compete and are amazing at what they do. Best of the Best. 
  • Jay Wright is a great communicator. He is also a great ambassador for the game. He left the National Team practice, hopped in a car for a 30 minute drive to speak at the Academy. The National Champs' Coach didn't have to. Recruiting was taking place but he did it. Earned a lot of respect from the Coaches in attendance.
  • Coaches want to learn. There were Coaches from the youth level to small College present.
  • USA Basketball has a vision that I wish everyone would adopt. 
  • Matt King's statement "Stop Selling Elite" has really stuck with me as we look to change our youth program. 
  •  As bad as the culture of our game in the summer seems, It's not that bad. The "AAU Bingo" types are out there but there is a growing number of people that want to change it. 
  • Danielle Viglione is brilliant. She is an outstanding teacher of the game
  • Rob Brost can flat out teach and coach. 
  • Chris Holtmann is a Coach that if you don't already keep up with, you should.
Those are just a few thoughts from an incredible month of basketball for me. School starts here tomorrow so it's back at it.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

The Things I'd Do Everyday in Practice.

I talked with some Coaches last week through email about this and so I wanted to share with you the things I feel are important enough to do everyday. Last season, we went on a 4 game skid. The game that we broke it with we didn't do anything extraordinary, we just went back to some things that I had gotten away from.

Tates Locke is a friend and mentor of mine. I've learned more from him than anyone. He is the absolute best teacher I've ever been around. He told me one time "Stop trying to reinvent and start reinvesting." So the practice after the 4th loss, we reinvested. We got back to our DNA.

Coaches are a little like that the History Channel and a little like that game show Super Market Sweep. We hold on to the past in case we might need something later and we are also quick to grab the newest, latest ideas. My friend Mike Neighbors talks about the "Dangers of Clinics" and how we all will try to use everything we learn.

Back to the skid...

So During that 4 game stretch I had stopped having our team do things we had been doing. I'm not sure why but I did. When we had lost 2 in a row I started to panic internally and looking for that new cure. Couldn't find it. Losses 3 and 4 come on and now it's time to decide what to do. The next practice We started with the drills we had done earlier. We found ourselves again. And we will do some if not all of our DNA drills daily.

These are the things that make up our DNA. They mean something to our program. I've found out that they also can match a lot of your Team's DNA.

DNA Drills

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Another Trip around the Sun...

I just celebrated my birthday and I always reflect back on the year for various reasons. I look at areas I can improve on, areas I handled really well and to plan for the next year. I do this in all aspects of my life. I try to have "separate lives" but the truth is they always mix together. My lives are:
Hayden and Evan's Dad, Coach White and Greg. You see, There are certain jobs that you don't get to turn off. I tell people the two most scrutinized I know are Pastors and Coaches. I was at dinner a couple nights ago, without any indication that I was a Coach and the young man waiting on us remembered me from 5 years prior as a student. We kinda laughed about it when he walked off but it is overwhelming at times and can feel like a burden instead of a blessing if you let it. (a blog on this later)

What I (We)Did Well
One of the things we try to be in our program is transparent and truthful. Being a Coach is hard. It's not all fun. At least once a year you break hearts and crush dreams if you are coaching on a performance level that makes cuts to rosters. I spoke about this last month and I will a little this month at the USA Clinic  . I'm not trying to "shame" anyone but we have a conversation with every player we cut, if they want to, about why they didn't make the team. We do this because in our opinion they deserve the truth, not just a posted list explanation.
I tried to enjoy more moments of just being Dad because my oldest son is going to College this month.

What I Can Improve On
Coaching your own child is a difficult task. I don't think I handled it the best with Hayden. People ask me the biggest factor to us having early success at West High and I saw Hayden White. People look at him and think "He didn't start. He didn't play much. How is he the factor for your success?" Simple. He kept a lot of circumstances from happening. Hard to complain about playing time when the Coach doesn't start his son. He was a great teammate and is going to be an incredible Coach, if he decides that is what he wants to do.
I assume too much and expect the worst. I have to let it happen first before planning to fix it. I'm a self-professed over thinker. Got to learn to trust more, let things happen and go from there.

This Coming Year
Patience is my "One Word"  for the year. We just graduated 12 Seniors from our program. We will be returning one starter and no one with varsity playing experience. We knew this was coming so we really invested in our JV team and Freshman. This will be a fun but challenging season.

My kids are both at ages that they are going to make mistakes. We talk about results of these decisions and how they can change their futures. If you paid attention to the NFL draft, a tweet from years ago cost a young man millions. Think, Think about the now and the future so you can't blame your past.

I share this with you because we are all fighting the same fights, just different levels. Hopefully this helps someone and we can check back in a year and see how I did.

Monday, March 12, 2018

My friend Johnny: The Guy I'm always Chasing

We lost on March 2, 2018. Losing sucks. That part isn't going away. But when you lose to a guy you respect and you're always chasing it makes it a little easier. My friend Johnny Rice is the Head Boys Coach at North Little Rock High School. That's who ended our season this year. What he has been able to do in 6 years is amazing. He has turned his alma mater into a national powerhouse.

I sat court side this December and watched his unranked team beat a top 10 program in a holiday tournament. I was in the opposite coaching box and watched his team execute on both ends of the floor. There are a couple things I always think of when I think of Johnny.

Here are 3 of those....

#1 He Can Coach and Build Talent
There are a lot of Coaches that inherit talent and hope to not mess it up. There are Coaches with talent that do that. I see it every year. Coach Rice not only coaches Talent but he develops Players. I always smile when a summer coach or rankings "discover" a kid from NLR. That kid didn't just show up because you heard about him, he's been in the gym with Coach Rice and his staff developing. Players get better playing for him.

#2 He turns Boys into Young Men
I have yet to meet a young man that played for Coach Rice that wasn't what you would expect. In today's day where disrespect is rampant, the young men in his program are far from that. Sure, they are still boys at heart and might make a bone-head mistake time to time but they are ambassadors for his program and an extension of Coach Rice. The night we played them they were gracious, excited but understanding that they just ended a team's season.

#3 Integrity
Success attracts. Plain and simple. Coach Rice does things the right way. In 2014, our team lost to Coach Rice in the state finals 89-81. Months later, it was discovered an ineligible player played and NLR was forced to vacate that title.  MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT: They won the state title. Coach Rice had nothing to do with the circumstances surrounding the player. I hurt for my friend that day because I know he is in the business for the right reason: Changing lives.

Coach Rice has won state titles in 2013,2014,2015 and 2018. He lost in the finals in 2017.
Last Friday, I shared a text with him after the game. My sons got to play together in that game and he acknowledged it and the fight our program showed. I told him I appreciate his impact on me and for being the guy I'll always chase; not just because he's one of the top Coaches I know, but he's also a man you can pattern your life after.

So until next season, I'm still chasing you my friend, just like the rest of the state.

Follow Coach Rice on twitter at @johnnyrice22

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What I learned from Coaching my Son

My first job is as a Father. That's the most important thing I am doing right now. Coaching is what I do, it isn't who I am....for the most part.

 I am at every game, every event and trying to model what being a Father encompasses. My oldest son Hayden is a senior and we just finished up our season. My youngest son Evan is a freshman so I'll have part two to this blog in a few years.

This year I had two firsts. I had a Senior night as a Coach/Father and I also gave that last game speech in the same roles. Senior night is a touchy topic for some because we preach "Team First" all year then one night we change how we do things to honor Individuals. If you're interested in how we do our senior night you can email me at

Every season ends with tears for every team but one. That's the brutal truth about athletics. The finality. There are two things you don't get back up from: Death & your last game as a Senior. I told my Seniors I hoped that today (3/2/18) was the worst day of their lives...because that meant they were going to live really blessed lives.

Coaching your child is challenging but rewarding. I feel like I do a good job of separating the two roles. I have a "Stop sign rule". I stop being Coach White at the Stop sign and I'm Dad to them off campus. Now, if they bring up basketball all bets are off and they know that.

Here are the three things I learned this season about Coaching my Son.

1. He isn't Perfect
Looking back, Hayden took a lot of "cussing and discussing" throughout his career that wasn't his fault. Mainly, because he has an extremely high basketball IQ so I expected him to never make a mistake. The positive side of that was it allowed me to coach our teams harder because they saw how I coached him. The negative was he had a shorter leash than most players. If I could go back and change things I wouldn't be as hard on him.

2. He has to live with the last name
2 years ago we made the decision to change jobs. We were moving to a larger classification. Hayden was giving up the chance to play a major role for 2 seasons to be a smaller part of a bigger picture. The unfair thing for your child in this profession is he is always "the Coach's kid" just like you are always "Coach ____".   I've said before, the only professions that you can't hide from are Coach, Pastor, Doctor and President. Why does everyone expect the Coach's kid to be a star because their Parent is the Coach? Do you expect a Surgeon's child to be able to perform surgery just because of their parent?

Hayden was a good, smart player. He likes basketball. He doesn't love it and that's okay. We both knew going in what that meant. The pressure the Coach's kid is under isn't fair.

3. He knows I love him away from the game
It is so sad for me to watch parents in the crowd. I'm convinced that most of the problems in today's game are caused by the pride of parents. I'm proud of Hayden regardless of points per game, minutes played or anything game related. I enjoy watching him have success in the game but what he has learned from the game is what I am the most proud of.

He's unselfish. He gave up a lot for our family to make a move.
He's a servant. He understands that is how you lead.
He's trustworthy. He knows the boundaries and never crosses them.

I'm hoping that in 3 years I'm able to take the lessons learned from coaching one Son and make the experience better for the second one.