So you’ve just got home after a great few days at a conference. You met some great people and got more information than you could have even hoped for. Now what? How can you make sure that you keep the positive momentum rolling and don’t forget all you’ve learned? This is a question I recently asked myself and here is what I’ve come up with as the most effective way to ensure you get the most of your conference experience and don’t allow all those connections and knowledge to disappear to a shelf in a notebook.
Type Up Notes
The first thing you need to do is retype your notes. I suggest doing this as soon as you get home from the conference. This will allow you to review all your notes while it’s fresh in your mind. If you are like me some of your notes are in short hand and the longer you wait to retype it the more likely you are to forget what you meant by that short hand. All those new plays you got draw them out using FastDraw. If you don’t have FastDraw, just draw them back out by hand in a more legible form. By doing this you will be getting the material in many different ways. You will have heard it, wrote it down once, read it, and wrote it down again for 4 exposures to the material. With each exposure you are more likely to remember it.
After typing it all up, read back through it and create a Top 10. The ten most important nuggets you got from the conference, or the ten things you most want to use going forward. Top 10 lists are easy to remember and are also very easy to share.
Reach Out to People You Met
The next step is to reach out to all the amazing people you met at the conference. Everyone has made connections at the conference, whether it be with the presenters or just other coaches. It is important to continue to cultivate those relationships. Like a fresh seed planted in the ground if you don’t water it, it’ll never grow.
For presenters you connected, I suggest a simple email thanking them for their time, and reminding them about whatever you talked about. Remember these individuals likely spoke with hundreds of people over the course of the weekend if you don’t reach out quickly and are specific about what you chatted about they may not remember you. From there you can continue on the path of working with the presenter going forward.
With the other coaches you met, send them a message including your conference notes. Ask them to take a look perhaps ask if they could share any notes they have. You are helping them by sharing your notes and top 10 and you are further fostering that relationship. I would also consider creating a coaches accountability circle with this group. Everyone shares the actions they plan on taking and then you can check in regularly going forward to see how everyone is doing. This will also give you a group to bounce ideas off of if you are having trouble with implementing something from the conference. It is also good to get people outside of your immediate circle to help hold you accountable. Those closest sometimes are blinded to the truth and someone on the outside is much more likely to be objective with you.
Schedule meeting with important parties to share your knowledge
Now that you’ve got your notes organized, gotten notes from other coaches, and come to a plan it’s time to bring in the parties who will be involved with your changes. This may include your other coaches, the administration of your school, parents and players. Getting all these parties involved early in the process and getting feedback will help strengthen any changes you do make. This is especially true if you are trying to change the overall culture. It is important to get buy in from all these parties as dissent from any one could ground your initiatives before they even take off.
Add all that up and you’ll have had at least 10 exposures to the material within the first few weeks of learning it. Hearing it, writing it down, reading it, rewriting it, scanning it and creating top 10, sharing it with connections made, sharing it with your staff, administration, parents, and players. This ensures that the information becomes ingrained in you and doesn’t get lost.
Develop a Final Plan
After going through all those meetings with the parties involved now it’s time to develop a final plan. What action steps are you going to take and when are you going to take it. Write all these down and once again share them with all involved. Got new plays or offense you are going to adopt? Send it out to players to start reviewing over summer to get a jump on it before the season starts. Going to impart some new team rules to change the culture? Let the parties know now so they aren’t surprised when the season begins. This will be your road map to success.
Have any other suggestions? Please reach out and share with me. Also if you are interested in being a part of a coaching accountability circle let me know. I’d love to work with as many other coaches as I can to make each other better.
What a great first day at the PGC/Glazier Clinic here in Detroit. This is my first PGC coaches clinic and I can already say its already the best clinic I've ever attended. So much knowledge under one roof. If you are a coach reading this who hasn't attended a PGC Clinic get out the the closest one to you ASAP. You will not regret.
Before a quick recap of the day, I want to spend another minute talking about the importance of development. As a coach it is important that we are willing to put in as much time if not more than we ask our athletes to do. So I ask you this, how much did you ask your players to practice this summer? Did you ask them to commit to something as little as 30 minutes a day of either dirbbling or shooting? Maybe you asked them to do an 1 or get up a minimum amount of shots but I'm going to guess you assigned them something. Now ask yourself this, are you spending that same amount of time perfecting your craft? IF the answer is no get on it. There are so many great materials and programs out there to help expand your coaching knowledge.
I was fortunate enough today to spend time with 4 great minds. By volunteering to be a room moderator I got the opportunity to spend a little extra time with each one picking their brain and didn't they all have some phenomenal stories and insight. Day started with Stephanie Zonar. I was particularly interested in what she had to say as she has been the official leadership count for over 60 NCAA basketball programs. As you all know I think the importance of leadership can not be understated. If you want more information about Stephanie check out www.lifebeyondsports.com . Notes from her sessions on the Easiest Method to Better Team Communication an d Three Keys to Building a Winning Team Culture.
Next I got to spend time with Sue Ramsey and let me tell you I'm not sure you can be in the same room with Sue without smiling. She has an infectious loving personality and it made the whole room feel more like home. It was like everyone that walked in the door was walking into her National Championship locker room as part of the team. Sue challenged us all to work on developing our Transformational Purpose statements as coaches and ask ourselves tough questions like, what will my legacy be? Notes from her sessions on 3D Coaching and Untold Elements Behind Winning a National Championship.
TJ Rosene was the next presenter I got to spend time with. Many of you may feel like TJ has been part of your coaching staff all year if you've subscribe to PGC Coaches Circle and listened to his weekly videos. I know for me it felt that way. TJ brings a great energy to the room engaging all who are there to listen. I got to sit in with TJ for 2 quick hitter 25 minute sessions that seemed like they were even shorter due to the energy in the room. TJ shared insight into how to create a great communicating team and mastering late game situations. Notes
Lastly I got to sit in on Rich Czeslawski's session about creating better practice plans. As you may have seen I tend to think I do a pretty good practice plan but Rich opened my eyes to so many more things I could do to improve. This is what's so great about these clinics, even when you think you are pretty good at something you get around people who have different experiences and ideas and you realize there is so much more to learn. Rich did a great job detailing out the process and giving us personal examples and even though we had the last session of the night ending at 10:05 he stuck around talking with us coaches long after, saying he knows he was blessed by the game of basketball to have the opportunities he has had and he wants to give back to the game by helping coaches. Here are his notes.
That's Day 1 in a nutshell. Hope you found this recap and its attached notes helpful in your journey. If you are reading this as an attendee of the current clinic I would love to hear about your experience and see what notes you came up with. If you are reading as a non attendee I hope it convinces you to come to a clinic in the future.
As always leave me a comment or reach out to me on social media to let me know what you think.
I was recently listening to an episode of the Secret to Success Podcast with Eric Thomas and his cohost CJ and CJ said something that really resonated with me. If you aren’t familiar with Eric Thomas, stop reading the blog now, open another tab and Youtube him. Watch any of his T.G.I.M (Thank god it’s Monday) series or one of his speeches and then come back.
Did you do that? Are you now pumped to finish this blog? Alright, let’s go then.
CJ was talking about what it’s like to be around ET and whether he was always as energetic as he is during his speaking engagements. He would go on to say ET was like a cell phone battery. You see AA batteries are great, they are universal, go in many electronics but as they wear down they don’t give you the same results. We’ve all had that moment with the TV remote where we are hitting it, switching the batteries around or pushing the buttons harder in an effort to change the channel. A cell phone battery in contrast gives you the same production at 100 as it does at 1. Even at 1% you can still do everything on your phone from Facebook to Angry Birds. That battery gives full function until it hits zero.
I thought what a great analogy to use on the court. In practice, how often do you give the same level of energy to each drill? Are you running lines at the same speed at the start of practice as you are at the end? How about your effort, is it the same throughout, or is it more like the AA it comes and goes and as you get more fatigued your effort wanes?
A championship level practice requires players to bring Cell Phone Battery energy every time. By giving that 100% effort regardless of your level of fatigue you are not only pushing yourself to be better you are pushing your team to be better as well. Then when it comes time to perform in a game situation you are better prepared.
Some of the reasons I've heard players choose to take a AA approach: They want to conserve energy for the more difficult drill or timed run they know is coming, they don’t really like that drill, other players on the team are giving low energy so why should they give a lot, among other things. To me these are all excuses. Great players approach each drill with a champion’s mindset of being the best at each drill as possible. They aren’t worried about whether they like the drill or what the next drill will be because they are too focused on “winning” that drill. As for overall energy in practice, don’t let others energy level affect yours. All it takes is one person to start a movement of good energy, take the initiative to be that spark. You, as an athlete, can choose to allow excuses to define your energy level if you are content with being good enough but know that you’ll never be great with that approach.
One of my favorite Eric Thomas quotes is ,”Good enough is the enemy of Greatness.” Don’t settle for good enough.
Take a moment to think back on last season and decide whether or not you were a Cell Phone or AA battery. If I walked into your practice, not knowing you, what would I see?
My challenge to you as you go into off-season training is give each workout that Cell Phone battery energy. Don’t be a AA that only works fully some of the time. Push yourself on each repetition of each drill to do it at your absolute peak ability. Then carry that momentum right into next season. I believe if you do the results will speak for themselves.
As always let me know what you think. What are some ways you can think of to make sure you keep giving that cell phone battery energy?
“I wish my players would talk more.” “I wish we had better teamwork” “Man our team does great until something goes wrong and they just can’t seem to bounce back.” “We don’t have a team leader” “They’ve accepted losing as an inevitability.” Have you ever found yourself saying anything like this? Thinking about your team and just wondering what’s missing. You can see some individual talent and skills but for some reason they just aren’t succeeding in the way you thought they should. If you answer yes to any of that, my next question is, have you done anything to intentionally develop your team’s leadership skills?
If you answered no to that question, don’t worry I don’t think you are alone. I have been involved in the game through playing and coaching for nearly 20 years and none of the teams I played on had leadership specific training and neither did any of the ones I coached or assisted coaching with. Like most of you, I’m sure time is limited. Perhaps you only get 90 to 120 minutes a day to practice with your athletes, 5 maybe sometime 6 days a week during preseason and then once the season begins you only have 2 – 3 days to practice because you are playing games on the other days. That’s not a lot of time to go over offensive sets, defensive sets, rebounding, sideline out of bounds, baseline out of bounds, breaking pressure, applying pressure, late game situations, shooting, dribbling, etc. Trust me I totally get that. It always seems like we could use a little more time to work on something else. Let me ask you this though, what % of the game relates to leadership skills? For the sake of this questions we’ll define leadership skills as the following communication, ability to rebound from adversity, accepting and giving good feedback, accountability and responsibility, empathy, listening, and being a part of something bigger than oneself.
Obviously the abilities to dribble, pass, shoot, and defend along with a person’s athleticism make up a good portion of the success in basketball pie, but how much do you assign to leadership? 10, 20, 30%? With that percentage in mind would it be worth it to spend 30-60 minutes a week trying to develop those skills? For a team who only has five 90 minute practices a week, committing 30 minutes a week towards leadership would be 6.667% of their total time leaving 93.333% for everything else. So I wonder can you afford not to spend that time on leadership.
This past season, I decided I was going to add a leadership development component to our season. Our team had lost all 5 starters from the previous year’s State Championship team and we only had two returning players who played during our payoff run. Over our summer basketball I could tell we were lacking a leader on the team. Speaking with my assistant coach it wasn’t clear who would become that leader either. So we decided the best bet was to work to develop everyone and see who emerged and best case scenario we’d end up with 12 athletes who were all better leaders.
As part of my job I teach leadership skills often. I’ve worked with college students, corporate executives, tissue paper mills employees, grocery store managers, hospital employees and more. I don’t share this to brag but to give you a baseline of understanding about my abilities. Even knowing my own skill and experience in the field I decided to use a program called Lead Em Up. If you are not familiar with it, check out their website www.leademup.com. This was a 12 week program that included leadership topics and relevant games designed to fit the topic and further the growth of your team. It was a financial commitment on my part as our program had no budget for this type of thing, so I paid out of pocket. It was totally worth it.
I could not have asked for better results. Our team grew in leaps and bounds over the year. While our record was much worse than the previous year, what you could see in these athletes is a developed belief in themselves and their teammates. An empathy for their teammates circumstances, an ownership of their success and failures and always focusing on what was next. This was not the same team that I had over summer, this was a group of young athletes growing into men over the course of a year.
I don’t write this blog to sell you on Lead Em Up. That is the program I chose to use and I am thoroughly happy with it and would choose to use it again in the future. I’m writing this to convince you of the value of committing less than 10% of your total time to develop your athletes into leaders. Whether you choose to use Lead Em Up, create your own leadership program, or borrow from someone else the benefits will certainly show on the court but even more importantly they’ll show off it. And isn’t that why we coach anyway? To develop young athletes into future leaders in whatever path they choose once the sport ends.
Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear what your program is doing to develop leadership. Also would love to answer any questions you have about my experience with Lead Em Up.
Your team is up 3 late in the game, and now you have a decision to make, do you foul or don’t you? It’s a question with no universal answer. Ask 100 basketball people and they’ll likely be split 50-50 on what their philosophy is. Today I want to share my philosophy and reasoning behind it in hope it might help you cement your own strategy.
I’ll start by saying I support the Foul side of the argument. The simple reason is this, if you choose not to foul the other team only needs one thing to go right, a made 3, for them to send the game to overtime. If you foul the other team needs at least four things to go right, a made first FT, a perfectly missed second, offensive rebound, and made basket, to send the game into overtime.
Now ask yourself this, how often do athletes practice shooting game winning 3’s? How many days and nights have been spent with that internal clock running down, counting out 3, 2, 1 swish? Think about your own time as an athlete, how often did you do it? I know for me, as an athlete, from the first time I ever picked up a basketball I mentally practiced that shot. I’d never finish a shooting session without putting up a few “game winners”. It is ingrained in our athletes to want to make that big 3 to win a game. You might never have the athleticism to make the highlight reel dunking or having a monster block but anyone can make that highlight reel with a game winner.
On the flip side, how often do athletes practices missing FT’s? How much time is spent working on offensive rebounding a purposely missed FT? I know for my program it’s something we never work on, and as an athlete playing I certainly never practiced missing shots.
Some of the arguments against the fouling philosophy are; fear that an athlete will foul an active shooter, there is now a possibility you could lose in scenario that tip out after second FT miss leads to 3 for other team, and if there’s too much time your team may have to inbound against pressure and hit their out FTs after. My theory on those things are it comes down to practice. If you are going to have a system philosophy that fouling will occur if up 3 late then you need to practice when to foul and how to foul. You need to spend time everyday focusing on securing defensive rebounds off FT’s, and you need to have confidence in your practice and team that they will execute these things when they matter.
My last argument for fouling is very simple, I’ve never seen a team lose when doing it. Now that’s not to say it has never happened. I’m quite sure it has but I don’t believe it’s occurred at the same frequency as a made 3 has. That is something I’ve seen far too many times to want to take my chances with letting it happen.
Let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you whether you agree or disagree and why you stand on that side of the discussion.
What are you doing to promote your team culture? If you don’t have an immediate answer, you may want to spend some time this off season coming up with a plan. While it is common for most teams to outline expectations at the beginning of season, building the culture you desire takes constant promotion. Daily reminders to athletes to ensure they are staying on course.
My suggestion today is a simple yet effective tool to celebrate athletes who are displaying the characteristics you want in your culture. Rubber Wrist bands. For less than fifty cents a band you can not only recognize positive culture moments at the time they happen but your athletes will then be wearing a constant reminder of what is expected of them.
Imprint something on them that is meaningful to your program. I used two things this past year, BLUE DEVIL PRIDE and SCHAPE. SCHAPE I borrowed from PGC basketball as the guidelines to what we expected of our team. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym it stands for Spirit, Communication, Hustle, Approach, Precision, and Enhancement.
Whenever an athlete displayed one of these traits, whether it be in the locker room, bus, practice, school, or game I would make note of it and at the end of practice (or at the next practice in the event it happened outside practice) we would give out our bands. It was a good way to focus on the behaviors and actions we are looking for in our team. Suddenly you began seeing more and more athletes displaying those same behaviors. They also began to take ownership of the process and were handing out their own bands for actions they observed.
What are some things you use in your program? Let me know in comments below
State championship winning basketball coach, Chris Woodside, shares his journey of going from varsity boys coach, to becoming a men's college coach, to currently coaching girls varsity basketball as well as life lessons learned on + off the court.