Measure Your Success By Your Effort

Footwork Makes You Smarter

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Talking On Defense

Talking on defense might be the second most important or effective skill you can use to become a better defensive team. Nothing replaces strong defensive fundamentals, but talk can help your team in at least two ways;

1) Communication between your players will let your players know what is going on behind them, and how they should play their man. If the defender on the ball hears his teammate talking to the ball “I have help at baseline” he knows he can play his man a little closer and force in that direction.

2) There is an intimidation factor that stunts some teams. If a player with the ball hears a help defender talking to the ball “I have help at the elbow”, then they might be less likely to attack the elbow, knowing it’s covered.

However I question the way we teach talk on defense. A lot of noise coming from 5 players to my thinking is not useful. It’s just noise. It’s the difference between hearing and listening.

If the ball defender is screaming “ball ball ball”, can they really listen to their teammates instructions?

Also can they really be effective in covering their man if they are so focused on yelling “ball ball ball”?

If the ball defender is yelling “ball ball ball” and 3 or 4 other teammates are yelling “deny deny deny”, where is the useful information for the ball defender. Do you really think the ball defender can hear and distinguish all the different players yelling “deny” and even if they could, would it be useful information? Would they know where each of their teammates are when they are yelling deny, and would they be able to process that information quickly. Compare that, to these instructions;

Elbow help Sean
Baseline help Eric
Open post Colin

Some will argue that yelling “ball ball ball” will have a negative effect on the player with the ball. I’d like to suggest that, it is really not the case, check your game tape. If it does have an effect, then my guess is your playing against younger teams, and I’ve even seen referees ask teams to refrain from that behaviour, because at a certain age they find it doesn’t fit with fair play rules.

Some will say, yelling “ball ball ball” triggers or initiates the rest of our defenders to play in a certain style or position. I would suggest, that of all your players, playing up on the ball with pressure is the one thing, that we all want as coaches. It’s really a given or a standard, so calling “ball” is more chatter than useful information. The rest of your team are behind the ball. They can see the ball and their man, it’s really the players behind the ball that should inform the ball defender how to play, and let him/her know, that they have support.

I think the key to developing your defensive language is to get rid of useless chatter, and replace it with information packed key words or phrases. John Wooden would run drills in this fashion and I have tried to adopt this behaviour when running drills. Teach the principles you want to be emphasized in your drill, then when the drill is running, you simply call out words that reflect those principles, when they are not being done; “catch two hands”, “run lanes wide” etc. This same principle can be applied to developing a defensive language.

I would suggest the first thing you need to do is develop a defensive language for your team. Short quick phrases or words or sound packets that are rich with information. The language of course should be built to reflect your defensive principles. Whatever you want to do with your defense, then come up with short phrases or words that communicate these principles.

Getting players to communicate! If you have coached youth boys, then you know this is always a struggle. How do I get them to do talk? I searched long and hard for an answer to this puzzle. I went around from sport to sport, team to team looking for players that were good at this skill and asked them how they developed their ability to communicate effectively. Usually what I found out was that player was a coach’s son or daughter, or they were a natural team leader and the concept came easily to them. So I decided to do what I did for any other skill. I scored it and had consequences for not doing it. For e.g. if you are in a shell drill, score defensive talk, as well as rebounds, or paint touches. Apply a consequence for not doing it. Just like in lay-up drills if a player misses, I have them automatically go to a safe place to do 10 push-ups before they get back in the drill. There is motivation to get back in the drill because we are also scoring team makes. Apply the same technique to a missed defensive instruction. I think you’ll find it works.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Are You Getting In The Mental Weight Room - If Buddha Was A Baller Part II

Buddha said “What we think, we become”. Self-talk is the the way our mind does business. This self-talk can be created by you or by others on a daily basis. So why wouldn’t you want to control this process to your benefit?
The latest studies show that the average person has between 2500 and 3500 thoughts per day, each of which is 12 to 14 seconds long. Top athletes have only 1500 thoughts per day. The reason top athletes have fewer thoughts is related to their ability to be more controlled and focused with their thoughts.
These same studies reveal that the average person spends 90% of their thinking on yesterday or tomorrow, where athletes hone their focus on being in the moment.

Learn to script your internal dialogue, but using affirmations. It is important that the affirmations ring true to you.
You can use different methods, or combinations of methods to help influence your consciousness. You could:
1. write your affirmations in a journal
2. you can recite the affirmations to yourself either aloud or in your mind
3. you can tape the affirmations and listen to them
4. write the affirmations on cards and place them where you will read them daily

To make the affirmations even more effective, you should couple the affirmations with mental visualization using as many of the five senses that are appropriate. To really cement the affirmations you should couple the affirmation with emotional feelings. Using both senses and emotional connection can really put you in the moment. If the moment happens to be trying to achieve being in the zone, then you stand a better chance of getting there by combining these methods.

You should create your own affirmations. They should be suitable for your personality and sport, but here are some examples to get you started.
1. I am on top of my game.
2. The more I practice the better I get.
3. I am improving every day.
4. I learn from mistakes.
5. I stay calm.
6. I play from a state of focus.
7. I learn from watching other players.
8. I feel confident during my game.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Are You Getting In The Mental Weight Room - Part I

There is an increasing focus on sports psychology as we look for any edge to become more competitive, more focused, more confident. It is unclear how much of our minds we use, but we do know there are untapped resources. Stories of chips being inserted in to quadriplegics’ brains so they can navigate computers, and stories of the Backster Effect, where a persons emotional state can have an effect on their own cells even after they are removed from their bodies are just a couple of examples.
There is no doubt that emotions and mental strength can separate the good from the great. In the next few blogs, I will explore some of theories / methods that you can use to help you achieve a mental edge when competing.
Just as there are numerous overlapping training principles when building your body;
1. Individual differences
2. Overcompensation
3. Overload
4. Specific adaptations to imposed demands
5. Use/Disuse
6. Specificity
7. General adaptation syndrome
there are equally as many principles to consider when refining your mental edge

1. Drive Theory
2. Inverted U Hypothesis
3. Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning
4. Multidimensional anxiety theory
5. Catastrophe Model
6. Reversal Theory
7. Anxiety direction and intensity

The scope of the following Mental Weight Room Blogs will not go into too much detail of the above principles, but rather try to give some practical approaches to increasing your mental edge.

I think the most important principles to keep in mind are the Individual Differences Principal and Individual Zones of Optimal Functioning. Both of these principals take into account that we all have different genetic blueprints, and therefore we will have different response and adaptations to both exercise and levels of anxiety and arousal. The sports we play or even the position we play may also play a role.

Look for the next Mental Weight Room Blog: If Buddha Was A Baller (What we think, we become)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

How To Get Recruited

If you are not a blue chip athlete being targeted to play at the next level, you have your work cut out for you to get recruited.

You should spend considerable time self evaluating at which next level you can play. It will also be useful to get the opinion(s) of coaches. As part of your development you should always be evaluating your strengths and weakness, so that you can hone your strengths eliminate your weakness. That way you will be bringing something new to the game each season.

Once you have completed your self evaluation, use the following steps as a guideline for getting to the next level.

1. Research and focus on schools where you would like to play
Search the web, news articles, facebook, twitter and any source you can find to learn more about the school. This will help you decide if you want to play for this team, and will also help you demonstrate that you've "done your homework" when you get around to interviewing. This is also another good time to talk to anyone you know that might play or have played for the school and coach.

2. Research the Roster and research the Coach
Make sure the team encompasses a position you can play and contribute to. If you are a PG and the team is already heavy with PG’s and they are freshmen and sophomores, your chances have just gone down. Most D1 schools have the luxury of recruiting to a style of play. As players exit, they bring in players that can fill those spots. Determine if the style of play and the style of the coach is compatible with your personality and style

3. Create a resume
Your resume should include a history of your highlights and accomplishments related to both your academics and your game. There are plenty of free resources for writing a resume.

4. Create a cover letter
A cover letter is a letter of introduction. Your cover letter should be designed specifically for each school and or coach. There are plenty of free resources for writing a resume.

5. Game Tape
Have at least one DVD available to send to prospective coaches. That DVD could be a compilation of good quarters, but should not be a highlight reel. Coaches want to see you perform in a game situation.

6. Knock on Doors
If coaches are not coming to you, you must go convince them that you have flown under the radar and have something to offer to their program.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

52 Weeks A Year

If you are serious about becoming a better basketball player you need to have a year-round training program. That program should include strength and conditioning training, skill development team structured practices, and a rest and recovery phase. These phases are usually defined as;
Each season can be further broken down into cycles.
The true challenge in Canada, is defining when these seasons are. High school ball runs into provincial club ball. Club ball runs into AAU ball, and if you are involved in the Provincial or National programs, these will collide with the above seasons too. The truth of the matter is you have to make choices, about what your goals are and how you can reach those. You can’t do everything at once and hope to gain strength, better your skills, while playing games for all of those teams. One way to make sense of it is to work backwards with this problem. Ask yourself, where you want to play in your post high school career. What level do you want to play at? What venue, will the coaches of where I want to eventually play, see me? If they can’t see me, they won’t know about me, I’ll fly under the radar and miss my opportunity.
Off-SeasonDuring the Off-season, approximately 21 weeks, players should concentrate on building up their body. It should include strength and conditioning program that will not only focus on brining a stronger body to the next season, but also help prevent and protect the body from injuries. The off-season should include speed, quickness, agility drills, and sport specific exercises and movements that help make you quicker on the court. It goes without saying that a proper stretching program should also be part of all phases.
Pre-seasonDuring the Pre-season, approximately 8 weeks, players should concentrate on honing their skills. Strength training focus should change to more sports specific, injury prevention type of resistant training. Conditioning should become more sports specific. Conditioning can all be done with a ball in your hands. Working on skills and conditioning at the same time.
In-seasonDuring the In-season, approximately 19 weeks, players should continue to work on their bodies. Amount of weight, reps and frequency will change to accommodate playing games and team practices. It’s important that an appropriate program is adhered to. If you stop with strength training you will end up being your weakest during play-offs when you want to be strong. Rest and recover play an important role.
Post-seasonDuring the Post-season, approximately 4 weeks, players should take the time to have both a physical and mental break. Your body and mind will need time to recover. At the end of this phase, you can begin to train slowly gearing up for the next Off-season.

If you would like more detail about each of these seasons, please contact me.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Predicting The Future

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior
Author Unknown

The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create it
Author Alan Kay

Unfortunately for most people they can be best categorized using the first quote. They do not use a critical eye to evaluate their strengths and weakness, and move towards having a specific plan to improve both. Players are made in the off-season; teams are made in the in-season. What are you doing to add to your game? These players are destined to bring to the table the same old game they had the previous season. Guess what, it’s so easy to scout a player like that. It’s easy to take their game away.

The good news for you is you can be that second type of player. You can devise a plan to create your future, while others are bound to repeat the past. You can work on becoming a complete scorer , enhance your basketball I.Q., hone your handles, refine your shot, improve your footwork, and enhance your court vision.

But start today! No one is moving the finishing line for you.

If I can help you reach your goals, let me know
Coach Paul

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Geometry Of Coaching

If you are a coach, issues will be unavoidable. You will have to deal with parents, administration, and politics. When you are faced with these issues try to remember that both coaches and those who bring their issue see the team as a triangle. The difference in the orientation of that triangle is what causes the conflict. For argument’s sake lets say the person with the issue is a parent. They will see the triangle upright with the apex of that triangle representing their child and what, they see as the best interest for their child. A coach looks at the team as an inverted triangle putting the needs and best interest of the team first.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the ancillary things that are required from a coach. You can’t go wrong if you put the needs of the team first. It’s one of life’s lessons to learn that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.

Monday, June 6, 2011


How often do we look outside ourselves to find inspiration? It’s pandemic to look to someone else for motivation. Where is the fire in your belly? Where is the intestinal fortitude to work through obstacles? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think it’s a weakness to ask for help, and maybe the term self-made-man or self-made-women is a bit of a misnomer. No one achieves without some help, but in the micro-wave style of society of wanting instant success, it seems rare for someone to sit down without distraction, determine what they want, set their sites on the goal and map out how to get there. Have we all forgotten that working towards a goal is the success?
Coach Paul

Saturday, February 19, 2011

All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up

No doubt that sports provides and emotionally charged atmosphere. Have camera operators become that skilled and crafty they can determine when someone is about to drop the F bomb, or have we become so loose with language that where ever the camera is pointed, we see it. Coaches you can’t expect your players not to conduct themselves in this manner if you don’t follow the same.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Freedom To Fail

Famous football coach Vince Lombardi once said, "If you can accept losing, you can’t win."
This quote must have applied to never giving up in a game. I don’t think the philosophy applies to teaching the game. It is important when coaching and teaching your players that they have your acceptance to make mistakes. They must embrace the freedom to fail, but fail moving forward. They must recognize their mistakes, and treat them with the correct perspective. There are important lessons with failures. Can you learn from them, but more importantly how do you deal with them?

If your players have a fear of failure, it can lead to creative paralysis and inhibited growth. Players need to understand the odds are small that they will perfect a skill absolutely right the first time. Only through persistence and adjustment and the correct attitude can they hope to use the skill in a game.

They need to look at failures as part of the process of learning. It should be thought of as feedback. They don’t need to feel bad and loose focus. I’ve seen players put so much pressure on themselves, that any small mistake, they become frustrated, angry and demeaned the mistake. Their state of mind should be one of being motivated and empowered to learn. They should be looking for a more flexible behavior that allows them to adjust to make a correction and keep the frame of mind that will allow them success on future attempts.

Remember the very best 3 point shooters fail 60% of the time. Do you think they are focused on the misses or the makes?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kicking and Screaming

Coaches who constantly scream do so because they believe it helps make the message clear and will motivate players to improve. They believe it will make their players better. Coaches need to yell simply to be heard over the noises in a gym especially when the crowd can be the sixth man. Under pressure some players loose their focus. Instructions stated firmly in a time out, or while they are on the floor can help them focus on that task, and reduce their pressure.

It’s the content that matters most not the volume. There is a huge difference between calling out an instruction and yelling out insults, or negative comments to players. There is no excuse for berating players and not treating them with dignity. There are always other options.

It is easy to be fooled by the short-term benefits of yelling and screaming at players. But there is a law of diminishing effects with yelling, or berating. The yelling must increase, the insults/threats must become more outrageous and the language must become harsher over time to have the same effect. Ask yourself is this the way you want to conduct yourself?

Don’t tell me you haven’t seen players start to tune this type of coaching out. It has less and less meaning, because, you become a cartoon. I’ll go one further you become a buffoon. Players want to have respect for the position of coach, but become disenchanted with that type of demeaning approach even when it’s not directed at them.

Have you so poorly prepared your teams that you need to draw that type of attention back to you? Do you think your antics of loosening your tie; running up and down the floor, yelling at your bench has anything whatsoever to do with basketball or coaching? Did you not prepare your team for the game?

Think hard about how you want to present information. Don’t leave your feet versus Keep your feet. Do you think the player really doesn’t know he made a mistake when he left his feet? You can reinforce this behaviour with positive messaging and working on it in practice. Coaches find another way!

This weekend I have watched some pretty appalling behaviour from coaches.Conversely, I also witnessed some outstanding coaching and behaviour. Thanks to both groups for teaching me a lesson. Thanks for confirming what I want to continue to strive towards, and what I want to distance myself from.

"The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges.”- Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Strength Training For Basketball

I am asked often by players and coaches, if players should be working out with weights during the season. The quick answer is yes. Probably no other sport has the physique of the player changed more drastically in the past 20 years than basketball. I rarely ever get asked if basketball players should lift weights but more when and how. It was once believed that basketball players, boxers etc. should not lift weights. The thinking was it will make them slow, and bulky. Basketball players need to follow a basketball-specific strength training program that will improve their game. You do not want to loose the gains you made in the off-season. If you do not do in-season work, with a grueling season of games and practices you could be your weakest during paly-offs, when you need to be strong.
Player's should have goals in mind when when working out. The sure way to get no where is to not have a plan.

The reasons for strength training for basketball include improving your game by
1.Help ward off injuries
2.Increasing explosive power
3.Improve agility
4.Improve speed
5.Improve quickness
6.Improve your vertical jump
7.Mental toughness. Players that are stronger are more likely to play stronger.

Over the course of a year, strength training for basketball should follow several distinct phases. Each of these phases or periods has a specific objective and helps build the foundation for the next phase of training.

Periodized programs provide a progressive buildup to peak fitness and performance. Programs are often broken into 3 periods, but each of these can be broken into smaller periods or cycles.

During this phase players will focus on building up after the off season. They will first concentrate on strength and hypertrophy. Players will work on power, moving a load at high velocity.


During this phase players should be concerned with the maintenance of Strength and Power gained in the Pre-Season. This can be achieved by alternating phases of strength and power training. Appropriate recovery should be build into the phase to assist with recovery. Players need to be fully functional for competition.


It’s time to relax for several weeks. This is important time to refuel physically and emotionally. Stay fit by having light workouts or cross train.

For more specific details, don't hesitate to contact me.
Coach Paul

Before I'd get in the ring, I'd have already won or lost it on the road. The real part is won or lost somewhere far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." -- Muhammed Ali

Friday, January 21, 2011

Measure Your Success By Your Effort

You can not always win the game. I’ve had the pleasure of coaching a team that went 34 and 0. But our successes were not always measured by the W. There are two things you can bring to the game, without the help of a coach. One is conditioning and the other is effort or heart.

When you try your best you test yourself. When you try your best sometimes great things happen, sometimes mediocre things happen, and sometimes you don’t even come close to the desired outcome.

But your effort is something you can give of yourself. It is something you can control. If you give maximum effort, you will learn something about yourself, your teammates, and your team. You will have already won, because you can look at your effort as your success.

Check point. Did I give it my all? If so, then that is all I can ask of myself.

Ask an older person.. woulda, coulda, shoulda.. few things worse then regret.

Coach Paul

Negative Steps & 3D Space

There is no denying that some of the best athletes in the game of basketball are in North America. I think you could also say that the better skilled athletes in terms of footwork are coming out of Europe. I heard Jasmin Repesa, says at a clinic “basketball is first step”.

I see such a poor understanding of footwork and creating three 3D space in the NCAA. Many players can not pivot off of either foot in any situation. Heck some coaches still talk about dominant pivot foot. I see countless negative steps. Imagine how fast these players would be if they did not take a negative step before moving forward. Taking a negative step (step back before moving forward) is not only inefficient but it makes the defender’s job easy. Firstly, the defender has more time to react, and secondly it’s an easy read. As a defender I know what way you are going to go, if I see you negative step. I know what direction you will be pushing off toward.

You must let your feet get you to a spot where your hands can take a shot. You must not only be able to create space on the floor, but also be able to understand the space you’ll need in the cylinder of air that surrounds you. That is your 3D space.

With all the athleticism in the NCAA, there is a real, push on attacking the rim. Attacking the rim if fine, but watch and see how many shots go unfinished because of a lack of composure. That lack of composure is a direct result of not know how to create 3 dimensional space, lack of being ambidextrous, and what I like to call a lack of ambipedtrous.

It makes you wonder where we will be, when Europe starts producing better athletes, that are also skilled.

If there is anything I can help you with don’t hesitate to contact me
Coach Paul