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Sunday, April 15, 2012

15 Best Books for Coaches

"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."
John Wooden

In a previous post, I talked about some of the best books for leaders, whether you are a coach or not.  Today, I will recommend the books that will help a coach in nearly any sport at any level.  A couple of the books may seem sport specific, but contain information and insight that can help you regardless of what you coach.  Even if you are not an avid reader, flip through some of these books and steal one or two ideas to implement with your teams or to strengthen your coaching philosophy.  These are 15 books that are different than my list for leaders.  However, I would definitely suggest looking at those books as well.
  1. "A Season on the Brink (John Feinstein)
  2. "The Bowden Way: 50 Years of Leadership Wisdom (Bobby Bowden)
  3. "Coaching Team Basketball" (Tom Crean)
  4. "The Men of March:  A Season Inside the Lives of College Basketball Coaches (Brian Curtis)
  5. "Runnin' the Show:  Basketball Leadership for Coaches and Players (Dick DeVenzio)
  6. "Catch Them Being Good"  (Tony DiCicco & Colleen Hacker)
  7. "Education of a Coach" (David Halberstam)
  8. "Sacred Hoops:  Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior (Phil Jackson)
  9. "Inside Women's College Basketball:  The Anatomy of a Season(Richard Kent)
  10. "Five Point Play (
  11. "The Winner Within (Pat Riley)
  12. "How Good Do You Want to Be"  (Nick Saban)
  13. "Raise the Roof (Pat Summitt) 
  14. "They Call Me Coach"  (John Wooden)
  15. "Practical Modern Basketball (John Wooden)

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

    Are You Growing?

    “Do or do not...there is no try” the Jedi Master, Yoda, said to the young Luke Skywalker. I was a youngster when The Empire Strikes Back was in theaters. I loved that line then and I love it today. It can be used in a variety of settings.  However, as I have been thinking about leadership the last few weeks, it has become apparent that some of us get stagnant and don’t really commit to growth as leaders. We say we’ll try, but we don’t really.

    I recently gave a copy of a leadership book by Doug Dickerson “Leaders Without Borders” to my boss. He is quite busy , yet he read the book within the next week. He didn’t even say he’d “try”...if said that he’d read it on his next trip while he was flying. If we have committed to being leaders then that is a lifelong commitment that requires lifelong learning. Because I read a John Maxwell book years ago or earned a leadership award or received a promotion does not mean I am growing as a leader. You never arrive as a leader. Fortunately, we do not have to reinvent the wheel. Leadership growth, leadership models and leadership examples exist nearly everywhere we look. You may have role models. You might have a mentor. You may just soak in the readings, videos, and seminars of those that can provide insights. Regardless, I encourage you to avoid complacency and instead, latch on a lifelong habit of continual learning. Do you care enough to grow today...tomorrow...and in the future?

    This article was written for the April 2011 issue of "THE ENCOURAGING LEADER".  To see more issues of the newsletter, go to www.U-Leadership.com

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Greener Grass?

    In his book WINNING EVERY DAY, the former Notre Dame football coach, Lou Holtz, tells the story of the Trappist monk who was allowed to say only two words every three years. After the first three years, he met with the his order’s Brother Superior and  said, “Bad bed!” 3 years later, he came back to say, “Bad food!” After 3 more years of silence, the monk said, “No TV!” Another 3 years passed. This time, when the monk met with Brother Superior, he handed him his robes and sandals and announced, “I quit!” Brother Superior said, “Well don’t expect me to try to dissuade you. You’ve done nothing but complain since you got here!”
    Complaints, excuses, envy, ambition...we’ve all been there.  Unless you are in a perfect place (which would make you an Angel), the grass may appear to be greener on the other side of the fence. The truth is that every job, every person, every situation has some flaws.  Until you own your circumstances, you will never truly maximize the potential of your situation.
    Coach Holtz repeatedly has commented, “Make the big-time where you are at.”  Your job isn’t as good as another?  Your department doesn’t have what another has?  Your budget is too low?  Maybe you should start watering the grass on your side of the fence a little bit more.
    Success and happiness are not always about resources but rather being resourceful. Andy Carter,  my athletic director when I was at Newberry College,  used to say “If it was easy we wouldn’t need you.” If you complain too much or make too many excuses, then you are indirectly saying that you are not the man for the job.
    The late, great UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden, used to say, “Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do”.  Yes, he had all-time greats Bill Walton and Lew Alcindor.  However, one year he also had the shortest team to ever win a NCAA basketball title.  He was forced to find a way to win without height, thus bringing the game of basketball the 2-2-1 full-court trapping defense.

    As Albert Einstein used to say, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” You are in your position for a reason.  Own your situation.  Make it perfect for you.  How will you take advantage of your opportunities?  How will you make your grass greener?  Each of us has a water hose...the question is “will we use it”?

    Thursday, April 12, 2012

    What's Important to You?

    In light of the recent Bobby Petrino debacle at the University of Arkansas, I thought it would be appropriate to reprint an article I wrote for the May 2011 issue of THE ENCOURAGING LEADER.

    As an avid Michigan football fan, I appreciate the following story.  An Ohio State student and U of M student were taking a graduate school entrance exam.  Afterward, the proctor called both of them into an office and proceeded to tell them that they both missed only one question on the test, but that the Michigan student was receiving an “A” and the OSU student would fail.  When prompted, the proctor replied that the UM student had answered “I don’t know” for one of the questions.  Ironically, that was the same question the OSU student missed.  Except the OSU student answered “I don’t know either”.  Lately, it hasn’t pained me to see Ohio State football in the news for apparently violating NCAA rules. But, I can appreciate Jim Tressel’s success as a coach.  He seemed to be a class leader that did things the right way.   Is Jim Tressel a cheater?  Is he a bad person?  I don’t know for sure.  However, I can say that it appears his moral compass was off, at least for a moment.
    Unfortunately, Jim Tressel is but one name among many that are flooding the headlines today.  Heisman Trophy winner, Cam Newton...former UT basketball coach, Bruce Pearl...USC football and Reggie Bush…former UT football coach Lane Kiffin...to name a few.  It is easy to say that we wouldn’t cut corners or play in the gray area, but the win at all costs mentality or the quest for “success” leads people to do strange things.  Integrity is what each of us has that we can control.  We may not be faced with the pressure of trying to win a national championship or keep our jobs amidst booster pressure.  However, each of us will face choices each day that determines our character.  How do you treat those that can’t “help” you advance your career?  How do you handle your organization’s petty cash?  Those and many other questions can determine your ethical  standing.  Five years from now...25 years...50 years...100 years...what will be more important, climbing the success ladder or changing lives for the better?  Our choices define us.  What kind of legacy or impact will you leave with those around you?

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Another Leader "Crashes"

    Joe Paterno, Jim Tressell, Bruce Pearl, the list goes on and on.  You can now add former University of Arkansas head football coach to the list of great coaches...great leaders, that fell short of their obligations as individuals of character.  As leaders of young men (or women), it is imperative that a coach abide by higher standards.  Character and integrity do go hand in hand with what a college (or high school) coach's expectations should be.  At these levels, a coach is expected to help develop character in their players.  It is a difficult task, made nearly impossible if a coach doesn't model an acceptable behavior themselves.
      Bobby Petrino crashed his motorcycle while he was with his mistress.  Obviously, this is a moral dilemma itself.  However, what cost Coach Petrino his job was his lying to superiors, the public and co-workers, while engaging in questionable ethical behaviors in regards to the hiring of this young woman to his staff, as well as other documented issues.  The bottom line is that we can forgive improper actions as long as their is some sincerity and repentance.  What is difficult to forgive and near impossible to further allow are actions that flaunt and mock the very characteristics that we deem important for student-athletes.  Honesty, integrity, and taking full responsibility for your actions regardless of the consequences never go out of style.  These characteristics help you as a leader and they also allow you to pick yourself up after a crash.  Below are some interesting articles with different perspectives on the recent Bobby Petrino situation.

    According to Randy Smith, Petrino should have learned from Bruce Pearl. Jeff Long, the Arkansas A.D. gave Petrino numerous chances to come clean and take responsibility for actions and disclose the full truth of the incident.

    Petrino betrayed his players by acting like one, according to CBSsports.com's Dennis Dodd.

    Eric Alderson from YahooSports.com says that Arkansas A.D., Jeff Long, reminded us that the University is there to raise standards, not to ignore them.

    Bobby Petrino has lied to his superiors time and time again. His latest scandal left A.D. Jeff Long with only one option, writes Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com

    Gregg Doyel of CBSsports.com thinks that this whole Petrino situation will eventually cost Jeff Long his job.
    Tim Keown of ESPN.com writes that firing Petrino was the right decision when Arkansas was faced with choosing between winning at any cost or firing a dishonest Petrino. 

    In a light-hearted play on words, Steve Greenberg of The Sporting News says that "Karma is a Ditch" after the man that ditched a number of former players and employers ends up in a ditch.

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Defense Wins Championships

    All of us sports fans have heard it said that "Defense Wins Championships".  Though that axiom has a lot of legitimacy, it is hard to say whether it is 100% true.  Lots of things go into winning a championship. However, I must say that this year, it seemed that I noticed more winning coaches praising their team's defensive efforts as the main reason for their success.  This has gotten me to thinking about my team and whether or not we should emphasize defense even more next year. It probably can't hurt. Regardless, here are some of the examples that I am talking about when it comes to defense helping a team win a basketball championship.

    Rob Edmisson, coach of the NAIA championship Oklahoma City University women's team, said "We defended so well, especially on their All-American (Lavanda Ross). We held her (Ross) to very few looks and really made it tough for her to be effective. Defense wins championships, we say that all the time and it proved itself tonight."

    Rick Pitino may not have won a championship, but he did lead his unsung Louisville Cardinals to the NCAA's Final Four before bowing out to the eventual champions.  His team made a tourney run with, arguably, the best defense in the nation.

    Kentucky's John Calipari obviously had the most talented team all year.  They were balanced on offense, exciting in transition and have futures at the next level.  However, in the biggest game on the biggest stage, they brought a suffocating defense.  "They won it on defense,'' said Calipari. "Unbelievable defense to get that 18-point lead in the first half."

    Brittney Griner, the national defensive player of the year, was undoubtedly the most dominating force in women's basketball all year.  At 6'8", she seems to impact every possession of a game.  Combine this with her teammate's defensive tenacity and it is understandable how Baylor University and coach Kim Mulkey were able to take care of some unfinished business and win its' second National Championship this year.

    Sunday, April 1, 2012

    James Justice Wins College Slam Dunk Championship

    Congratulations to James Justice, the 5'9 All-American guard from Martin Methodist College, for winning the 2012 State Farm College Slam Dunk Contest.  He beat out seven NCAA Division I players, including Miles Plumlee from Duke University.  If you didn't see it on ESPN, then I highly recommend it.  If nothing else, seeing the judges (including Bobby Hurley and John Salley) react after James' last dunk is priceless.  Here is the footage (courtesy of SBnation.com).