Thursday, March 4, 2010

Successful Coaches Part III

For those of you keeping score at home, here is a quick Montrose update:

After weeks of adversity, an emotional team meeting, and then the subsequent best practice we have had all year… our team played pretty well last weekend, as we won the 54th Annual Sleepy Thompson Invitational Championship in Alexandria, VA. We beat Fork Union Military Academy, St. Albans, and Episcopal. We still aren’t playing as well as we are capable, but we did take a giant step forward and are very thankful for the wins. We finally got back to playing hard, playing smart, and playing together.

Our final game of the season, which will be senior night for our two seniors, will be this Tuesday. Then we have to sit tight to see if we will be invited to the 2nd Annual ESPN/Rise National High School Invitational which will take place the first weekend in April and will be televised on the ESPN networks. Four of the top 15 teams in the country are expected to participate in the 8-team field: #4 St. Benedicts (NJ), #9 Montverde Academy (FL), #10 Findlay Prep (NV), and #12 Oak Hill (VA). If we are fortunate enough to be invited, it will give us one final chance to rectify this turbulent season, end on a high note, and prove we are one of the nation’s top programs!

This is the third and final segment of “Traits and Habits of Successful Basketball Coaches.”

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you go back and read the last two posts before reading this one.

In the first segment of this series, I offered to send out several powerful “coaching nuggets” to anyone who emailed me. The response was overwhelming and I received a ton of positive feedback. Several of you actually sent me a few of your own “coaching nuggets.” I saved those, as well as added a few more from my own archives, and have compiled a second batch of More Coaching Nuggets.” If you are interested, simply email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com and I will happily send them to you.

As a reminder, this series is the edited transcript from a phone interview I did this past December with my friend Andy Louder from Hoop Skills Academy (www.HoopSkills.com).

Andy Louder: What do you think is an appropriate way for a coach to handle a loss?

Alan Stein: There are 3 things you need to do after a loss in regards to your team: know why you lost, look at how you lost, and handle the emotions of disappointment. How you handle each of these issues depends on what level you’re dealing with. If you coach a U-12 AAU team… or a high school JV team… you should handle the loss differently than if you are a college coach because of the age and maturity of your players. First of all, you need to establish why you lost. Did you lose because of a lack of effort? Or lack of execution? Or was the other team simply better? It is very important to give your team an honest evaluation so they can learn from it. Next, especially when dealing with junior high and high school age players, you need to evaluate how your players handled the loss. Did they lose with class and good sportsmanship? Or did they act like jerks? Did they “lose together?” Or did they start pointing fingers and blaming each other? Did they hold themselves accountable or did they make excuses? Lastly, you need to do some damage control if things get emotional (especially towards the end of the season and in the playoffs). Being upset, even shedding some tears, is not necessarily a bad thing. It means your players care and that they’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and love into your program. When they don’t win, there should be disappointment! But you have to teach them how to learn from it and quickly move past it. You can’t dwell on a loss. Your players need to learn how to use it as motivation, for either the next game, or for the off-season.

Andy Louder: So would you say it’s important to balance the disappointment with optimism to make sure you don’t ruin their self-esteem?

Alan Stein: Absolutely! You don’t want a loss or a couple of consecutive losses to destroy their confidence. That is why honesty is so important. If they played hard and played well and still lost, they need to know that. If they didn’t play hard or didn’t execute, and actually deserved to lose, they need to know that as well. Give it to them straight. Even if it stings, they will respect you for it and appreciate it over time. Another thing to consider, that I learned from Coach Rick Pitino, is you can be much more critical of your team after a win, rather than after a loss. When you win, your team’s collective confidence is sky high and your players are more apt to accept and internalize constructive criticism. You should be much more careful after a loss because their confidence is lower and they will begin to second guess themselves. That is why giving your team a verbal blasting after a bad game is not always the answer (although sometimes it is). After a loss, unless they absolutely deserve to be reamed out for a very poor effort, you have to choose your words carefully. Many times it is best to sleep on it and wait until the next practice to address your concerns because they will be in a better emotional state. And you will be too!

Andy Louder: What is the difference between your pre-game speech and half-time talk?

Alan Stein: Regarding preparation, we really believe in being a 24-hour program. Very little new information is given to our team right before a game, almost everything we do, is done ahead of time. We believe preparation for every game starts the night before with eating a good dinner, getting a good night’s sleep, visualizing success, and waking up and having a decent breakfast. At our level, we scout every team we play, either on film or in person so that we’ve got a really good idea of their personnel and tendencies. We give this report to our players the day before each game. We review it again right before the game, but at that point, if they don’t know it… they never will! Also, we try to motivate our players constantly. We don’t usually get into the big rah-rah pre-game speeches. We review the scouting report (and establish who is guarding who), go over our “keys to the game,” say a quick prayer, and then go out and play! Our half-time talk is basically an evaluation session; we let them know what things they’re doing well and what things they’re not. Obviously to be successful in anything you need to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not, and half-time is the perfect time to deliberate. Half-time is also a great time to get the players’ feedback. They see things differently on the court than we see them from the sideline. Half-time should be about making corrections (minor or major).

Alright, that’s the end of “Traits and Habits of Successful Basketball Coaches Part III” and the conclusion of this series. I hope you found it helpful.

Next week I will post a must-read blog about the off-season and will include my thoughts on AAU, setting priorities, evaluating weaknesses, as well as will give an update on my two up-coming YouTube promotions (“Can He Dunk?” and “100 Exercises in 100 Days”).

I will also give insight into my soon-to-be released downloadable 12 Week Off-Season Basketball Strength & Conditioning Program. I plan to have this available for sale in early April. This program will outline exactly what needs to be done this off-season – exercise by exercise, day by day, and week by week. It will include dozens of digital pictures and exercise descriptions, all of which utilize standard equipment (DBs, free weights, bodyweight, etc.) to make sure the program is easily adaptable to everyone’s respective situation. There will be a strength/power component as well as a quickness/agility component (each sold separately). The program will be available online as a downloadable PDF; so you will be able to save it to your computer as well as print copies. I am projecting the sales price to be around $39.99 for each component. It will be sold at http://Shop.StrongerTeam.com.

As I mentioned earlier in the blog, I have put together a follow-up collection called More Coaching Nuggets.” Just email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com and I will gladly send. If you missed the first batch, you can still email me for those as well (please specify in your email exactly what you want!).

Please check out (and subscribe to) www.YouTube.com/StrongerTeamDotCom. My friend and colleague, Paul Ricci, does an outstanding job as the strength & conditioning coach for the University of Maryland’s men’s basketball team. He has been kind enough to share several outstanding videos with me. I just posted Maryland Basketball Post-Game Workout which features former Montrose players Adrian Bowie and Greivis Vasquez. Even though the workout is optional, nearly every player has “bought in” and gets in a quick full body lift immediately following all home games. Great stuff!

If you need anything else, or if I can be of service in any way, don’t hesitate to email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com. I will respond as quickly as possible.

Play hard. Have fun.

Alan Stein



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