Maximize Your Summer League - WRITE!

We got off and running last week with our summer league, along with the rest of the state. One thing I am working on this summer is tracking all practices, workouts, and games. Not just what we do, but more importantly the positives and negatives within each session. Tracking our growth will allow me to see what the most important things we need to address going into next season. Summer league is a great way to assess where your team is at, and also where you are as a player. Here are 3 things you can start tracking after each practice/game with your team:


What do you consistently hear your coach saying to you individually and also to your team as a whole? It’s important to know what your coach values and what he thinks will help your team reach its potential.


When you are out of the game, watch your teammates and learn from them. Think about what they are doing to help the team, and what they are doing to hurt the team. Reflect on how you can change your game using what you now know.


Set goals for the next game. Make sure they are measurable, which means you might need to ask someone to track something for you. You can ask your parents, or even an assistant coach to track what you are trying to improve. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a traditional statistic. Maybe your team switches screens and you want to see how many times you are able to deny a pass after switching.


Encouraging Growth Instead of Winning in Young Athletes

I am in the process of converting some VHS tapes to DVD for my brother and stumbled on some old footage from our track meets when we were younger. I think I was in first or second grade. What I realized was that the events I loved the most were actually the ones I was the worst at. I don’t know when, but at some point during my childhood, I stopped doing the sprints and jumps and focused on the throwing events. Most likely because I had success at the throwing events and usually placed near last on the other events. I feel like this is an attitude that is common in athletics, especially at young ages. We tend to lean towards sports that we are successful at, even if we enjoy other ones more. In my mind, this is a huge negative in how we develop our young athletes.

While I may not have been a track superstar, had I continued to pursue sprinting, it could have helped me develop some sort of athleticism at an earlier age and probably kept me from getting as heavy as I did as a young child. There are also mental effects that come with only choosing successful sports and events. As we come into adulthood, it can be scary to try new things. It took me years to finally attempt photography and videography, things I had been really interested in since high school. It was a fear of how I would be percieved.

As I kept watching, I noticed myself getting slower and slower as the years went on (most likely due to the weight gain). I don’t think there were any outside influences that caused me to quit. Even in high school when my basketball coach encouraged me to become a sprinter to gain speed, it was the fear of losing and not being as good as the other kids that made me turn the offer down. How can we as coaches to young athletes encourage growth over success? Is this something that is fostered through childhood and ingrained in our athletes before we even get to coach them?

The competitive aspect of sports is a huge part of this. I go back and forth on how much and how soon winning should be celebrated. I think keeping score is an important part of understanding how the game is played, but it’s a fine line between encouraging competition and celebrating winning. At a young age, growth should be celebrated more than winning. The advancement of skills should be the victory.


Use Your Mornings, Develop Habits

A few years ago, I got to the point where I was tired of saying how much I wish I could or would do certain things. I had to admit to myself that I was all talk. I can remember reading an article from Darren Hardy that talked about bookends. He was saying that there will always be unexpected things throughout the day that might deviate our schedules. But, usually, we can control the beginning of our days and the end of our days. (Maybe different for people with kids) My morning routine is consistent, but I shift a few things around on a couple days. Generally, I begin with meal prep for the day (including a veggie smoothie), get my training in, and then I spend time in scripture and prayer.

I tend to think about things I could have done differently as a young athlete with the knowledge I know now. My senior year, I had late arrival at school which meant I didn’t start class until 9:15 am. Yet, even though I have always been a morning person, I never really took advantage of that time. My opinion is that sleep is crucial to athletic development, so If you are starting school at 7 am, you may not be able to fit as much into your mornings. However, here are a few suggestions that athletes who are serious about improvement should consider:

Foam rolling

Foam rolling allows you to get the stiffness out of your muscles and prepares your body to be mobile.


Drink water when you wake up! You just went 8 hours (more or less) without water.


Don’t go from your bed to the couch. Get your body moving to wake yourself up. This could be as intense as training or as simple as going for a walk.

Start your day off by paying attention to living a disciplined life. Develop habits that will help you grow.


6 Years

In May 2009, I first inquired about the Graduate Education program at Corban University. Tonight, I finally completed my thesis. I learned a lot in 6 years. During that time, I stopped and restarted the program. I stopped one more time before realizing it would have been harder for me to not finish what I started than to do the work itself. I had to read a lot of books/articles I had no desire to read and spend a lot of time studying when I wanted to be anywhere else.

There were times I felt unproductive while I was being productive. I learned I can still procrastinate with the best of them. I realized I will continue to find things to doubt myself in, and when I conquer those, I will find something else. I also learned I like to doubt myself to create pressure.

In the end, the process of earning my graduate degree coincided with 6 of the most self-discovering years of my life. Whether or not the process actually contributed, I am a better man than I was in 2009. To me this is more valuable than any degree, and makes me happy as I reflect on the entire process.

One of the administrators left me with this piece advice:

pray for your kids before you enter the gym, and be prepared to learn from them.




Steve Nash and the Creative Art of Skill Development

As I get older, it’s harder and harder to claim myself as a fan to many players. I can’t bring myself to buy players’ jerseys or posters anymore. Even in regards to my favorite teams, I can’t find the logic in purchasing branded apparel. With the retirement of Steve Nash, so leaves another player that I watched as a child as a true fan. Someone I would get excited to see when I was a child. I never owned a Nash jersey, but he was definitely someone who I would study as a player. He had an interesting quote in a recent Sports Illustrated article:

“Parents try to buy the 10,000 hours,” he says. “It’s drills and strength coaches and skill development. But you lose a lot. At the park, there’s no instruction, so you create constantly...I want to foster in my kids a passion for sports, but I have to be careful. I can’t do it completely. I can only open an environment and encourage them in whatever they do.”

His statements have meaning. People are naturally creative. It’s not until we get exposed to situations that limit our creativity - whether it be school, athletics, or work - that we come to a point where we find what we do mundane.

Looking back on my childhood, I feel like my dad accomplished this with me in basketball. I remember a huge emphasis on shooting form and being able to dribble and lay up with both hands. Outside of that, most of our time was spent playing against other kids or pretending we were certain players in a game situation (I loved being Terry Porter and Clyde Drexler). Our creativity reinforced our fundamentals and allowed us to see the game as a playground.

I believe fundamentals are important, and skill development is necessary. The one thing that we can not neglect as coaches is the importance of stretching our players ability to see the game in different ways. To be able to improvise within the system we teach.


Proverbs 29 and Effective Leadership

The most important piece for a team to reach its full potential is effective leadership. This comes from both coaches and players. I have been intrigued with leadership for the past couple years and learning about what great leaders do and what horrible leaders do. I continually look at my life and see who around my I value as a leader and who I do not. The most effective leaders throughout my life have made me want to accomplish something for their sake, not in regards to my personal gain. The moments in my life when I feel like everything I am doing is for myself causes me not only to reflect on who I am as a person but also who are the leaders that are promoting this selfishness. I love reading books about this topic (if you have any recommendations, please send them my way). However, I think I have come across one of the highest quality lists of leadership in Proverbs 29. Quality leadership is reflected in the attitude of the people. This is usually described as the moral of the team and translated through team chemistry. So how can leaders get people to “rejoice” (29:2)?


(v.15, 17, 21)

Without discipline, there is no standard which we can hold people to. The opposite of this is spoiling and pampering people. This promotes a sense of entitlement and builds characters who resist correction.


(v. 4, 14, 16, 18)

Justice and fairness provide stability within the team. This makes leadership consistent and constant. With favoritism, leaders will face pushback from people who recognize it.


(v. 12, 23)

This could also be seen as the lack of pride. Being able to humble yourself and recognize that even though you are the leader, you do not have all the answers allows your team to see that you value them. Letting go of pride when you are confused as to what to do builds trust and support for the leadership. An arrogant leader will not have lasting success. A humble leader will admit and acknowledge their faults.


(v. 5)

Sometimes the things that need to be said are the hardest things to say. However, being honest with criticism is more respected that lying to flatter someone.


What I Have Learned in 8 Years of Coaching

Eight years of coaching hoops has come and gone quickly! Not a day goes by that I am not jealous of my players. The thrill of suiting up in your school jersey and taking the court to compete against another team is like nothing else. I truly enjoy coaching, but I grew up wanting to be a player before I started coaching. Playing is always more desirable. However, coaching has been more educational for me. I have spent 6 years as an assistant (1 of those a JV head coach in addition) and 2 years as a head coach. I have been a part of 2 league title teams and 3 last place finishers. My teams have lost close games, won close games, been blown out, and blown out teams. I have gone to bed happy with the job I did, but have spent more nights replaying situations and thinking about what I SHOULD have done. Through experience and being surrounded by great people, I have learned significantly more about the game than I originally knew when I began coaching in 2007.

The most important thing that I have learned is that players are people. In fact, they are young people. They will make mistakes, they will lack energy on certain days, and they will take things personally. People all have their unique things about them that cause different types of reactions. Just because kids play basketball does not somehow eliminate their limitations caused by being human. For the longest time, I thought I needed to demand perfection out of them. One mistake was one too many.

There is definitely an importance to getting the most out of your players. But, as in life, mistakes will happen and failure will occur. In life, I have been told that through failure we find success. Thus, my mindframe has shifted from being negative towards failure to accepting faults as a means to encourage growth. One of my most concerned efforts to improve in my craft is to take away as many “don’t do” coaching cues as I can. Rather than tell players what not to do, I want to be able to give them a solution to encourage growth as opposed to discourage failure.

Turnovers will happen. Bad shots will be taken. There is nothing a coach can do to fully eliminate them. In order to develop my players, I must first understand they are people with a desire to do great things only to be limited because they are human. This is what eight years of coaching has shown me.

I guess I still have a lot more to learn.


Why Leaders Need Discipline - - Proverbs 10:17

Whoever heeds discipline shows the way of life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.

Proverbs 10:17

This is my first time reading through the Proverbs. The reading plan I am following has me reading 1 per day (I am on my second round through). One of the main themes throughout the book is discipline. This particular verse proved discipline to be vital to becoming a successful leader.

When I think of discipline, I think of three ways to define it:

Being disciplined - receiving consequences for actions

Having discipline - being able to do what is needed to be done, whether you want to or not

A discipline, or act - something that is done for growth

Each form of discipline is beneficial to the growth of an individual and also necessary for a leader to be effective.

Leaders must be able to handle feedback while also giving their teammates feedback (leading vocally).

Leaders must be able to do what is necessary regardless of how hard it is (leading by example).

Leaders must do little things on a daily basis that help them reach their full potential (leading by setting the standard).

The outcome of leaderships’ attitudes towards discipline will determine the development of your team. Will you show the way, or lead others astray?


Setback, or opportunity?

I recently received an email from my church that the class my wife and I had signed up for had been canceled due to lack of interest. Apparently, they have a minimum need of 10 people to sign up. While I understand the policy, I question why so many people pass up this opportunity to study and gain more knowledge in a subject they are obviously interested in? Westside A Jesus Church is not a small place. There are four services and each are highly populated. What kind of opportunities are you being given that you are not taking advantage of?

Many times in athletics, we have opportunities that we fail to recognize. In fact, we see them as setbacks. A personal example that I have (and that I see year after year) is being a Junior on the JV team. This can be hard, because players typically advance from Freshman team to JV team then to the varsity team as a Junior. My first reaction was that it was a huge setback and I was getting left behind. Years later, I was able to reflect and realize that I was given the opportunity to play in games more than I would have at the Varsity level, which allowed me to grow as a player.

There is always opportunity to grow in whatever situation you are in. If you feel like something is a setback, find the opportunity in it.