Coach Like A Champion

By Joe Haefner

While on Twitter, I saw some tweets between Rick Allison and Sefu Bernard that referenced “Teach Like A Champion.”

I pre-ordered the book before it was released a year or two ago. Actually, I bought it for my wife, but after it was sitting on her nightstand for a week, I asked her if I could read it and she let me. I loved it. It reinforced a lot of great things I already believed in and it will surely add great teaching techniques to your coaching arsenal as it did to mine.

The premise behind the book is that Doug Lemov studies teachers that are outliers. Basically, he studies teachers that greatly exceed their expectations based on certain criteria like poverty level and location. After studying the outliers (teachers), he puts together 49 teaching techniques that were quite common among the teachers. Not all 49 teaching techniques apply to coaching basketball, but most of the techniques were still very helpful.

They focus on the little things that engage students and enhance learning. Something as subtle as the way you ask questions. He uses techniques such as “right is right” and “cold call”. After you implement their strategies, you can see the progress with your athletes or students.

Due to the reminder on Twitter, I hope to re-read this over the next month and post some articles with the tips and techniques I learned from the book.

Another bonus is that the book includes a CD that has short video clips of the teachers using the teaching techniques in action.

I advise you pick up a copy if you have not already!

Newsletter Issue #51

By Joe Haefner

Here is our latest newsletter: Issue 51

Here are some of the new articles:

The Ultimate Team Defense Drill That Your Players Will Love!

What Are Your 7 Core Coaching Values?

“Sneaky” – Simple End of Game Play Against Man and Zone Defenses

3 Tips On How To Choose the Right Basketball Drills for Your Team

Breakthrough Basketball News – Don Kelbick Mentioned on ESPN!

How Using Weird Starting Times Can Help You Coach

By Ken Sartini

There are times when your players forget the time they are supposed to be at practice or a meeting… here is something that we started doing….

Use weird starting times… we started practice at 3:16 ….. pre game meetings at 4:33 etc. …….doing things like this makes the time stick in a kids head rather than 3 or 3:30 – the usual stuff.

I think they were saying to themselves, “what’s with this goofy time?”
But it does sink into their minds.

Important tip to design end of game plays

By Jeff Haefner

When you choose your EOG plays, choose/design plays that work against both man and zone. (Sneaky is an example). That way if the coach changes defense during a time out, the play you drew up still works. Plus it takes you less time to teach them (because you have fewer plays).

Newsletter 50 – New Drill, New Play, New Defense, and more new Articles

By Joe Haefner

In our recent newsletter, we have some new drills, plays, and articles. Here are a few:

How To Plan For Success In Youth Basketball!

2 Competitive Drills To Improve Perimeter Play

New Play With 3 Variations To Confuse Defense

State Championship Game Defense -The Rotating Diamond and One Zone Defense

Do You Think Too Much When You Play?

By Don Kelbick

I am a huge proponent of leaving your brain at the door when you step on the court. I believe that over-thinking produces the most deadly of all game killers, “Analysis Paralysis.”

Just by looking at the words (a good English project for players) “analysis paralysis” means what it says, you are unable to take action because you are examining your action so closely that it forces you to freeze.

I also believe that coaches, in our desire to create the best players that we can, foster analysis paralysis by our teaching coaching methods. Insisting on attention to the minutest detail, focusing on the tiniest minutiae when performing skills, such as shooting, while well-intentioned often produces a result that is opposite of what we intend.

When shooting, concentrating on elbows, launch angles, aim, etc. places emphasis on the wrong priorities. Shooting is a skill of kinesthetic sense and feel. Anything that gets in the way of that feel, diminishes results (have you ever tried to aim a shot with a 6′ 10″ athletic monster with the wing span of a 747 running at you?). When a player misses a shot and goes back to the minutiae for correction, odds are his shot will get worse, not better.

I find analogies in the strangest places but I am easily able to relate them to my teaching. When I find something that I think will support my coaching philosophy, I integrate it into my teaching. My latest discovery comes from watching football player Plaxico Burress.

If you have never seen the TV show “Sport Science,” you owe it to yourself to search it out and watch a few episodes. “Sport Science” looks for scientific reasons behind many sports phenomena, it even creates some itself. Some examples of the show include a scientific study of who is more accurate at 25 yards, Drew Brees of the New Oleans Saints in the NFL or an Olympic Gold Medalist in Archery (it was Brees), who has faster hands NBA guard Jared Bayless or a rock and roll drummer (Bayless) or what is the most effective distraction on the foul line (it was not physical distraction of people acting crazy behind the basket or the sound of 20,000 people booing). It is truly fascinating stuff and it might blow away some of your theories behind your playing or teaching.

In the episode featuring Plaxico Burress, I don’t know if it was BP (before prison) or AP (after prison), they were studying the effect of pass patterns and timing on completion rate. They asked Burress to run multiple pass pattern; buttonhooks, in patterns, out patterns, slants; and simulated when the ball would arrive. I don’t know how they come up with this stuff, but they scientifically measure things like deviation, probability, etc.

Here is the payoff. After having Burress run patterns and measure them for accuracy, consistency, speed, etc., they had him run the same patterns blindfolded. BLINDFOLDED! These were the results, when blindfolded, there was LESS variation in his pass patterns then when he could see. In addition, the variation between the patterns with and without the blindfold was less than 1″ vertically and less than 2.5″ laterally. That means he was able to virtually duplicate his patterns whether he could see or not.

Both Burress and the Sports Science people attribute this to the huge amount of repetition he has had in running these patterns.

I believe that repetition is the key to becoming proficient with any skill. When it becomes an unconscious action, it gets better. If you do the same thing over and over and over, accept the little variations as being human as opposed to being failures, eventually you will get good at what you do. That is not to say that there aren’t more efficient ways than others, but the search for efficiency should not overcome the search for effectiveness.

Don’t think about what you do, just do it over and over again until it becomes an unconscious action, like walking. You don’t think about putting one foot in front of the other when you walk, yet you still get to where you are going. Don’t think when you play. You might be surprised at the result.

To view coaching products from Don Kelbick, go to Don Kelbick Products.

For more information on Don Kelbick, go to