The #1 recruiting mistake that players & parents make (And what to do)

By Joe Haefner

The #1 recruiting mistake that players & parents make (And what to do)

I recently asked Jim Huber about recruiting mistakes that players often make. Jim spends a lot of time helping kids with the recruiting process and also explaining what college coaches look for at our Elite Guard Camps. He said the number one mistake is that they don’t develop…

Helping Others On and Off the Court – Do You Have Any Ideas?

By Joe Haefner

Helping Others On and Off the Court – Do You Have Any Ideas?

One of our team’s core values is to “help others”. As a coach, you find lots of opportunities to reinforce this core value in practice and games…

4 Recruiting Tips For Players To Get College Scholarships

By Joe Haefner

4 Recruiting Tips For Players To Get College Scholarships

First of all, when even trying to be considered an athletic prospect for any college for any sport, players need to remember…

Does Simplifying Your Coaching Get Better Results?

By Joe Haefner

Does Simplifying Your Coaching Get Better Results?

As I look back on my career, both as a player and a coach, the thing that amazes me is how things have come almost full circle…

Ball Is NOT Life – How This Mindset Can Improve Your Game and Life

By Joe Haefner

Ball Is NOT Life – How This Mindset Can Improve Your Game and Life

Coming from a basketball junkie like myself, it’s hard for me to post this video, but it’s the truth…

From 0 PPG to All State Team to College Scholarship in 1 Year

By Joe Haefner

From 0 PPG to All State Team to College Scholarship in 1 Year

Joe Lendway averaged 0.0 PPG and 0.8 RPG during his junior year for the varsity basketball team in Lansing, Kansas. And he saw limited time in 6 games. Even Joe wouldn’t believe what he would accomplish 12 months later…

Can Golfer Rory McIlroy Help Your Basketball Game And Shooting?

By Don Kelbick

I am a big golf fan. Not only do I love to play, but I am always finding lessons in golf that I can use in teaching basketball. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go the other way. I have not found anything in any other aspect of my life that will help me with golf. If you have read anything else that I have written, you will notice there are a lot of golf references. I even recommend the book “Zen Golf” to all of my basketball clients because I believe there is a great carry over in the mental aspects of golf that can help in almost any other situation.

Golf is the ultimate individual mental challenge. Everything about it is counter-intuitive and makes no sense. If you want to make the ball fly further, swing easier, if you want the ball to go higher, strike it on the downswing, etc.

While reading the June 30 issue of Sports Illustrated, I came upon this article, by Brandel Chamblee, about Rory McIlroy. If you are not familiar with McIlroy, he is a 21-year old Irishman who crushed the field while winning the U. S. Open after leading the Master’s for 3 rounds and imploding on the final 18 holes. He is widely considered the next great player in golf.

The story appears below.

“Rory McIlroy’s swing—a combination of perfect positions, tempo and balance—makes comparisons with the great Sam Snead inevitable. Meanwhile, McIlroy’s surrounded by technique-addicted golfers who have been stack-and-tilted, golf-machined and one-planed to death. Rory (below) is dismissed as a natural by those who think that the swing should be more complicated. Teachers who preach a series of static positions over a fluid motion and scoff at the word fundamentals are the root of the problem. Until 30 years ago golf was taught by former Tour players who talked about grip and grip pressure, stance, posture, ball position, tempo, rhythm and the waggle. These are the fundamentals. Recently I read a blog by a teacher who said that I was reaching when I used the word fundamentals, to which I say he is reaching if he doesn’t.

What makes Rory’s swing perfect is not the positions he hits, but an approach that allows him to achieve those positions. His posture is relaxed and poised for athletic movement. By comparison, his fellow competitors look as if they are trying to achieve prescribed angles at address and straining to do so. Rory’s grip is perfect, but the lack of tension is the best element, because it allows him to hinge the club perfectly and unhinge it properly.

Some will use his swing as a model and show their students the positions he gets in and make it a goal to copy the original, but the genius of Rory’s swing is its simplicity. Simplicity that’s born out of fundamentals, which sadly are considered antiquated in today’s world.

Brandel Chamblee is a 15-year PGA Tour vet and Golf Channel analyst.”

Some may read this article and think it is about his swing. That may be, but I see it as about his mentality. It is not the swing, but how he gets to the swing. It is not where he puts his hands, but how his hands work. It is not about where he stands, but how.

How does this help us in basketball? Well, I get hundreds of emails, I read thousands of questions, “Where should my thumb be when I shoot?”; “Should I flick my thumb down or inside?”; “Should my elbow be at a 60 degree angle or 90 degrees?” I see comments such as “The optimal arc for a shot is 137 degrees, strive for that when you shoot,” and “Make sure your knees are directly over your toes and your back is at 90 degrees to your waist when you play defense.”

I don’t believe that is any way to play basketball. When I teach the game, as I have for 30 years and to thousands of players, I have learned that they will figure out what is best for them by themselves. Throw in too much technique, it gets harder, not easier. Too much science in this game of art makes it worse, not better. Computer analysis, hours of film study, statistical analysis does not, in my opinion, make better players.

It is not necessarily what you do that predicates success, but how you do whatever it is you do. Some of the best shooters in history (see Reggie Miller) have shots that look like they have never been on a basketball court. I defy you to teach someone how to shoot like Shawn Marion, but he is an NBA Champion. Give players the idea, the basic concepts and then give them confidence and encouragement, correct don’t criticize and enough repetitions, the players will figure it out. As they figure it out, they will gain confidence and will acquire a relaxed approach to their skills and the game. Once they have that, their enjoyment of playing and their enthusiasm will grow.

As a coach, it is not my job to get players to do what I want them to do. It is not my purpose to get them to fit some type of ideal. It is my intention to try to teach players to enjoy the game and allow them to become the best players they can be.

It remains to be seen how Rory McIlroy’s career will progress. But, if you watch him play, it is easy to understand how he has accomplished so much at such a young age. I believe using the same thoughts and philosophies in basketball can lead to similar results.

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

For more information on Don Kelbick, go to

Importance of Communication With Your Coach & How It Helped the Villanova Wildcats Reach the Final Four

By Joe Haefner

If any of you have followed the Villanova Wildcats, you’ll know that Dwayne Anderson has played a huge factor in Villanova’s run to the Final Four this year. Despite being an impact player averaging 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season, Dwayne barely played in his first 3 seasons at Villanova.

Alan Stein is a Strength & Conditioning coach for the perennial powerhouse Montrose Chrisitan and has trained NBA players such as Kevin Durant and Michael Beasley. One of the many players he has trained and developed at Montrose has been Dwayne Anderson. Alan recently wrote an article about Dwayne Anderson and the reason behind his sudden success this season.

“He worked brutally hard every off season and exercised great communication with the Nova coaching staff on not only his desire to earn playing time, but exactly what he needed to do to earn it. He basically worked as hard as he could to fix the areas he (and the Nova staff) found weak in his yearly evaluation. In other words, he didn’t make excuses or point the finger and he didn’t feel entitled to more playing time… he rolled up his sleeves each and every off season and put in serious work. He was focused and determined.”

So many players want instant gratification and would quit within 1 or 2 years if they’re not getting playing time. This happens because a lot of these players have never faced adversity and were “The Star Player” throughout their whole playing career. When they’re not getting big minutes and scoring a lot, they quit.

Players are not the only ones guilty of this. The North American culture is obsessed with short-term success and has forgotten the long-term approach. Dwayne could’ve easily transferred to a mid-major and been an impact player, but he stuck it out and worked his butt off to get to where he’s at. He didn’t take the easy way out.

John Wooden once said, “Don’t look for big, quick improvements. Look for the little improvements one day at a time. That’s the only way change happens. And when it happens…it lasts

If you want to play, if you want to improve, and most importantly WANT TO WIN, you need to communicate with your coach. You need to put your ego aside, improve your game, and do whatever your team requires you to do to win.

If that requires you to score 0 points, make the good pass (notice, I didn’t say assist), dive for the loose ball, take the charge, and stop the star player on the opposing team, DO IT!

If it requires you to be patient, work hard in the offseason, sit on the bench, be a great practice player and challenge the players who get the playing time like Dwayne Anderson did for Villanova, DO IT!

If you have this mentality, you’ll not only be successful in basketball, you’ll be successful in the most important game…



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How Do You Always Keep a Positive Attitude as a Coach?

By Joe Haefner

One of my weaknesses as a person is that I can be a perfectionist and be a little too critical sometimes. This is something I have to be very aware of as a coach, because if you are too critical and always pointing out your players’ mistakes, they are going to lose confidence and play scared. As Don Kelbick has told us over and over, you want to “reduce the fear of failure” in your players. That’s the best way to get them to play to their potential.

This point leads into a story from Thanksgiving Break this year. I made the drive up 35 North from Kansas City to Iowa this year to go home and visit the family. My dad told me my old high school coach Kevin Barnes, who is now coaching his son’s 8th grade boys basketball team, wanted me to stop in for a practice and help out. This really got me excited, because I hadn’t talked to Coach Barnes for awhile and I love coaching kids and just being around basketball. I hadn’t been around the coaching atmosphere for almost a year, because I took last year off of coaching in an effort to build this website with my brother. I also wanted to pick his brains about his experience coaching his son’s team.

Anyways, one of Coach Barnes’s greatest qualities is his ability to remain positive. Even when he corrects a player, he has an uncanny ability to make a joke about it and get a laugh out of the player. When you walk into his practices, you can just feel the excitement and the positive vibe.

One time during the scrimmage at practice, a boy led a 2 on 1 fast break and got a little too deep under the hoop. He stopped and attempted to pass the ball, but it was too late. Another defender had hustled back and stole the pass.

My initial thought was “You probably should have passed the ball earlier or just attacked the hoop. If you are going to stop like that, you need to be aware of your surroundings so you make a good pass.”

Coach Barnes’s reaction was “Great hustle, Bobby. Way to get down the court and break up the play.” He didn’t say one word to the boy who made the bad pass.

Now you may be thinking, “Well, how does the kid know what he did wrong?” or “You should correct that bad play right away.” I used to have the same mentality that you needed to correct every mistake the second it happens. What I learned relatively quickly is that if you correct every mistake, you get a player who is SCARED TO PLAY, and that’s the worst kind of mentality for your players to have. You want your players to be fearless. They also tend to think too much which causes them to freeze up instead of just reacting to the play. Not to mention, the player never learns how to think for himself if he is always corrected and misses out on self-discovery which can hurt the child from a development standpoint.

Most of the time, you’ll find that the player will make the mistake a few times and correct it himself without you even saying a word.

Now, I’m not saying that you should never correct the player. If the player consistently makes the same mistake, then you should correct him in a positive manner. I like to use the sandwich technique from Morgan Wooten. Which is positive statement, correction, positive statement.

Positive: “Hey Jimmy, way to hustle to start the break. You always do a great job of that.”

Correction: “But next time try to make the decision a little earlier.”

Positive: “Keep playing hard, buddy. Love the way you always seem to be there on the hustle plays.”

Remember, the younger they are, the more time you should give them to discover the mistakes that they are making.

Do you have other methods of staying positive? If so, what are they? What are your thoughts?