Arrogance--not an attractive quality

Arrogance and conceit in a person may be recognized by three signs: 

  1. When alone does he feel gloomy and in company feel happy?
  2. When people praise him, does he perform more and better work?
  3. When people speak badly of him, does he perform very little work?



Teams Go to Go-To Players

Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.—Wolfram Von Eschenbach

Dependability is more than ability alone.—John C. Maxwell

Dependability is important to every team's success. You know it when you have people on your team upon whom you cannot depend. Everyone on the team knows it. Likewise, you know the ones you can depend on.

The essence of dependability:
  1. Pure motives. When it comes to teamwork ,motives matter. Aristotle believed that "all we do is done with an eye to something else." Evidently he believed that you can't trust anyone's motives. I don't agree with that. Most of the time I give people the benefit of the doubt. I try to keep my motives right, and I encourage my teammates to do likewise. However, if someone on the team continually puts himself and his agenda ahead of what's best for the team, he has proven himself to be undependable.
  2. Responsibility. New York Times best-selling author and former editor Michael Korda emphasized, "In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have … is the ability to take on responsibility." While motivation addresses why people are dependable, responsibility indicates that they want to be dependable. Dependable team members possess the desire to do the things that they are capable of doing.
  3. Sound thinking. Dependability means more than just wanting to take responsibility. That desire must also be coupled with good judgment to be of real value to the team.
  4. Consistent contribution. The final quality of a dependable team player is consistency. If you can't depend on teammates all the time, then you can't really depend on them any of the time. Consistency takes more than talent. It takes a depth of character that enables people to follow through—no matter how tired, distracted, or overwhelmed they are. As Britain's eloquent and steadfast prime minister of the last century, Winston Churchill, said, "It is not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required."

Never underestimate the long-reaching benefits that being dependable can bring. 

Adapted from the book The 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player By John C. Maxwell & an
Old Dominion Basketball Mailer



Power Thoughts

The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you start doing the thing, that's when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep on doing it.
--John C Maxwell

Every noble work is bound to face problems and obstacles. It is important to check your goal and motivation thoroughly. One should be very truthful, honest, and reasonable. One's actions should be good for others, and for oneself as well. Once a positive goal is chosen, you should decide to pursue it all the way to the end. Even if it is not realized, at least there will be no regret.
--Dalai Lama

One very important aspect of motivation is the willingness to stop and to look at things that no one else has bothered to look at. This simple process of focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity.
--Edward de Bono

There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it.
Dale Carnegie

Every evening, write down the six most important things that you must do the next day. Then while you sleep your subconscious will work on the best ways for you to accomplish them. Your next day will go much more smoothly.
--Tom Hopkins

People waste most of their waking hours every day going through the motions, chatting idly, shuffling paper, putting off decisions, reacting, majoring in minors and concentrating on trivia. They spend their time in low priority tension relieving, rather than high priority goal-achieving activities.
Denis Waitley

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
 --Mark Twain

The best motivation is self-motivation. The guy says, I wish someone would come by and turn me on. What if they don't show up? You've got to have a better plan for your life than that.
Jim Rohn

To dream anything that you want to dream. That is the beauty of the human mind. To do anything that you want to do. That is the strength of the human will. To trust yourself to test your limits. That is the courage to succeed.
--Bernard Edmonds

One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon—instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
--Dale Carnegie

I've never known a man worth his salt who in the long run, deep down in his heart, didn't appreciate the grind, the discipline. I firmly believe that any man's finest hour—this greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear—is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle victorious.
--Vince Lombardi

Practice Organization

Here's a handout received many years ago from Jerry Wainwright a coaching lifer & terrific person! Even though it s written with basketball in mind it is very relevant for any sport. 

  1. Set a specific time for players to be on the floor ready to go. Punish those who are late.
  2. Allow no one to miss practice without your expressed consent in advance.
  3. Issue basketballs to players only after they are dressed and ready for practice.
  4. Practice is a time for work. Do not permit horseplay.
  5. Players should stop at once whatever they are doing when the coach calls for their attention.
  6. Players should report any sickness or injury to the coach at once.
  7. Displays of temper will not be tolerated.
  8. Cursing will not be tolerated.
  9. Coaches should dress the part during practice sessions.
  10. Each practice session should be planned to the minute and kept for future reference.
  11. Have a system for issuing and caring for equipment.

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Learn to Welcome Differences

A story is told about a soldier who was finally coming home after having fought in Vietnam. He called his parents from San Francisco. "Mom and Dad, I'm coming home, but I've a favor to ask. I have a friend I'd like to bring home with me."

Sure," they replied, "we'd love to meet him." "There's something you should know the son continued, "he was hurt pretty badly in the fighting. He stepped on a land mind and lost an arm and a leg. He has nowhere else to go, and I want him to come live with us."

"I'm sorry to hear that, son. Maybe we can help him find somewhere to live." "No, Mom and Dad, I want him to live with us."

"Son," said the father, "you don't know what you're asking. Someone with such a handicap would be a terrible burden on us. We have our own lives to live, and we can't let something like this interfere with our lives. I think you should just come home and forget about this guy. He'll find a way to live on his own."

At that point, the son hung up the phone. The parents heard nothing more from him.

A few days later, however, they received a call from the San Francisco police. Their son had died after falling from a building, they were told. The police believed it was suicide. The grief-stricken parents flew to San Francisco and were taken to the city morgue to identify the body of their son. They recognized him, but to their horror they also discovered something they didn't know, their son had only one arm and one leg.

The parents in this story are like many of us. We find it easy to love those who are good-looking or fun to have around, but we don't like people who inconvenience us or make us feel uncomfortable. We would rather stay away from people who aren't as healthy, beautiful, or smart as we are. Thankfully, there's someone who won't treat us that way. Someone who loves us with an unconditional love that welcomes us into the forever family, regardless of how messed up we are.

Tonight, before you tuck yourself in for the night, say a little prayer that God will give you the strength you need to accept people as they are, and to help us all be more understanding of those who are different from us!

Kevin Costner--What I've Learned

  • You can learn a lot more by what a man does than by what he says. I just watched how my father did things. He worked for the Southern California Edison company, and often when it stormed, the lines would go down. The phone would ring at two in the morning. And my mom, knowing that he'd been out working for two straight nights, would tell him, "I can say you're not back yet." And he'd say, "No, hand me the phone."
  • If you want a job, and you're not as good as the next guy, then work longer than the next guy. Work faster. Be there before him — because talented people show up late, and sometimes shit needs to get done.
  • People see me as very successful now. They aren't willing to put my life in reverse. They don't want to know that on the construction site I had to choose between the Ding Dongs and the chocolate milk. Every day the lunch truck came by when I was framing houses. I wanted the chocolate milk. But it cost more than the plain milk. So if I chose the chocolate milk, I didn't have enough money to get the Ding Dongs. If I have one carryover from those days, it's about food and having to choose based on money. Somebody I'm dining with will look at the menu and not be sure which of two entrĂ©es to order, and I'll say, "Why don't you try them both?"
  • I like the fat in life, not just the lean storytelling. I think the fat gets you through the winter. I love subplot. I love extra rabbit holes you can go down. Sometimes, if we give things time, they reveal themselves to us. Look, everyone has sat around the campfire and seen somebody talk too long and not get to the point, and there's this silent humph. But there are other people who talk around that campfire, and right at the end of their story it all ties together. And you think, My God, that was a story! And I needed to go to every place the storyteller took me to get the full impact.
  • If you're going to tear down a hero, you should never forget that you're tearing down someone else's hero. You're tearing down somebody else's son. You might have to face her one day.
  • You've got to understand. I'm a public-school guy. Sometimes you have to push somebody up against a chain-link fence if you feel they've done you wrong.
  • You have to try to dismiss the loudness of cynicism. It's certainly going to come.
  • Your dad knows everything. Then, somewhere along the line, you inherit that manner. Your kids think you know everything. And everybody ends up with this deep, dark secret that there are so many things you don't know.
  • I know what I know and it's not enough. I know that when I die, I'm going to miss a lot of great books and a lot of great music that I'll never hear. I'm going to miss seeing my children's children. I'll miss boyfriends and husbands who I'm going to be absolutely dependent on to treat my children with respect and grace, and take care of them and honor them. That's what I'm going to miss.
  • But I do know fresh water is everything!
--Adapted from Esquire May 2012 issue

A Season In Words by Dan Spainhour

General Traits of Most Successful Coaches

  • They have an excellent understanding of tactics but they have the ability to synthesize complex ideas into simple concepts easily understood by their players.

  • They possess outstanding communication skills which are used both to express clearly team and individual player objectives and roles but also the sense to listen to players with respect but not necessarily letting rudder the ship.

  • They have the ability to get everyone on the same page and realizing that the sum of all the individual parts are greater than any individual part alone.

  • They use words cautiously and judiciously when communicating within team members and with all the people who interact and serve the team from outside the immediate team family.

  • They have a steely will, unfettered determination to everything possible to prepare the team to win, and fortitude under duress when the team isn't going well.

  • They can remain in control of their emotions under pressure and have the ability to make quick strong decisions based on previous experience, the team's capabilities, and confidence in their players in given situations. 

  • They have an excellent grasp of teaching both team and individual fundamentals   knowing how to build skills and provide simple but effective feedback which gives players confidence in their coaching abilities.  

  • They come to practice and games organizationally well prepared including scouting reports, practicing skills which are relevant to the teams most  critical needs or upcoming opponents and ready to implement and execute team concept in all game situations.    

  • They have the ability to see external influences that can pull energy and focus from the teams performance and assign capable people to deal with these influences to reduce their affect if not handling it themselves.    

  • They take care of their bodies and mind by getting enough rest, get help when and where needed, and interact with their staff to get the accumulation of the best experiential resources and ideas, so that they bring their best performance to work each day and for every game.

  • They are excellent at evaluating players capabilities and being objective about putting them into positions where they can use their strength yet limit the exposure of individual weaknesses to produce optimal team performance.  

  • They are concerned about their players as people and their lives both on and off the court but not to the point where this concern works negatively toward overall team performance.  They do however recognize when a persons individual welfare must take a higher priority than team especially when it comes to family or health matters because of their lasting affect on a players ability to perform.     

Three Pronged Team Leadership

The following was written by a good friend, Stan Jones, associate head basketball coach at Florida State. Coach Jones is one of the top character people in all of coaching. His leadership advice is relevant for any team. 

One of the top principles of our man-to-man defense is ‘fronting the post’. This is an intricate part of our defense leading the country in field goal percentage defense in both of the last two seasons. In addition, Coach Hamilton and our staff also were statistical champions in this area in 1997-98 at the University of Miami. As the old saying goes, “the true test of success is the test of time.” We must be doing something right on the defensive end of the court.

For our dead front principle to work, we always emphasize to our team that this is not just an individual responsibility but it requires a ‘three-prong’ coordinated effort of, 1) the man guarding the ball to apply the right kind of pressure on the ball and in the vision of the potential passer, 2) the man guarding the low post potential receiver must get completely to his position and not allow a bounce pass to be thrown to his man, and the 3) the man guarding the weak side offensive player must be a position to steal or disrupt any pass thrown over the top while not losing vision of the man he is guarding. It takes all three doing their job to make our defense great.

I said all that to say this, for any team to be GREAT, it must have a three-prong coordinated effort within the team’s internal leadership. As coaches, we all work extremely hard to teach our system and the little things that make it effective like fronting the post, where at times we fail to realize that the ultimate key to our success is the chemistry building required within the players on the team.  It has been my experience that all championship level basketball teams have the following three-prong leadership consistently displayed; 1) Spiritual leadership, 2) Exemplary leadership, and 3) Egotistical leadership.

Spiritual leadership comes from those players whose words inspire others. They have an innate ability to know what needs to be said when it needs to be said. They can sense what their teammates need in high-pressure situations and when things aren’t going well, as well they understand the importance of connecting their words with their teammates that lift them up or calm them down. They are willing to bring the group together when they may be tuning out the coaching leadership and take over the ownership of the team by explaining things to their team from a player’s perspective. This is becoming more of a challenge to find on a team as this generation has their mind space and their ear space occupied by so many forms these days that they feel uncomfortable expressing themself verbally or feeling that their teammates aren’t or won’t listen. But the great teams have this person or people emerge over time.

Exemplary leadership comes from those players whose physical efforts inspire others. They never have a bad day energy wise. And it is obvious that they are totally bought into the program because of the energy level that the display every day. They play through pain. They do the little things. They do more than what is asked. On championship teams, you need at least one of these types of players to be talented enough that their role is significant enough that players respect their position on the team as well as their efforts. What becomes even more effective is when the player with this leadership skill also is a player not afraid to add some spiritual leadership to them team by using his vocal communication to challenge his teammates to raise their games and their energy on those days they don’t seem to have it. This player is usually capable of gaining the most followers the quickest because others can see and almost touch the reality of the accomplishments of this player.

Egotistical leadership comes from those players whose production inspires others. This can be the hardest one for others to follow because of the many mixed messages other players will receive from family and friends in relationship to the production and recognition this player gets. As a coach, you must spend time with this player as this talent emerges in his game. When I was a head coach in high school, I was always talking to this player about how he must serve his teammates and he would see his teammates positively respond to his talents. I would share with them that in games where we were superior, he needed to be the best passer on the floor and make sure his teammates had great opportunities but in the big moments, he should want to and I wanted him to decide if we won or lost.

A great example of this came a few seasons ago when we had Toney Douglas as our senior point guard at Florida State. We had struggled with inconsistency as a team during his junior year and had six new players joining the roster. Toney ended up leading the ACC in scoring his senior year and obviously wanted to become a NBA player but he did two things from an egotistical leader position that turned our team into an ACC championship contender. First, he set the tone on the defensive end of the court which is where you have to be the most unselfish. In fact, he was so good that he was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Secondly, in the first half of games, he got his teammates involved and got the ball in strong spots for them and he averaged a modest 6.5 points per game during the initial twenty minutes as he studied what the other team’s game plan for him was. Once he established his team and his defensive energy, he averaged 15 points per game in the second half and delivered so many big moments for our team including getting us into the ACC championship as well as returning our program to the NCAA tournament for the first time in eleven seasons. The best reinforcement of his leadership came during the second half of our season when one of his young teammates was quoted in the media saying, “We know when it is TD time!” Players respect those you produce as a servant to their team. Truly great players make others around them better and Toney truly led our team in this area.

As an authoritarian leader, a coach must put in much work in developing these forms of leadership on their team. I truly believe the elite coaches at every level have a better feel for doing this than the majority of the other coaches. These are ‘musts’ in terms of leadership evolution in your program:
  1. Constantly evaluate and identify those with these potential talents either in your recruiting efforts or through your feeder situations.
  2. Provide leadership materials to your whole team so they may recognize what leadership could look like. They will also learn the importance of a team having it because of your education effort.
  3. Invest individual team communicating one-on-one with players as they evolve with their leadership. The confidence you show in them will grow their confidence and them knowing they have your total support will help escalate their growth as leaders.
  4. Find ways to constantly reinforce and subtlety reward their leadership efforts. This will build a championship culture that can perpetuate itself.
  5. Consistently show what leadership looks like through your example. Your preparation, your mental toughness, your inspiration and how you navigate through difficulties will reinforce those with natural leadership qualities as well as to motivate those who want to learn to become a leader. I remember this wisdom from my father who was a minister who always shared a poem entitled, “I’d rather see a sermon, than hear one any day.” As their coach, show them the way!
In closing, as another season begins, I challenge all of us who have the term “coach” in front of our names to truly try to make a difference in the lives of the players you have the privilege to lead. Our young people need to be mentored more than ever in how to be successful and how to lead. They want to play and even when they are hard-headed, if you keep sharing the message they will eventual get it. Most of us, will never know how good a job we did as coaches until 20 years after we have coached a youngster. Be the difference in the future of your community!

--Adapted from

Coach Yourself: A Motivational Guide For Coaches And Leaders

About This Book
Coach Yourself is a unique book, compiled exclusively for coaches to provide you with physical, mental and spiritual motivation throughout the season. In his follow-up to A Season In Words, veteran coach Dan Spainhour arms you with quotes and motivational ideas to help you achieve peace of mind throughout the season from how to stay motivated to handling critics.


Effective Evaluation Methods for Coaches

  • Sit down at the end of each practice or game and write out notes about what worked well and didn't. These notes become invaluable both in planning future practices and handling specific game situations, and can be used at the conclusion of the season to look for specific patterns that repeat themselves and may have led to your team over or under performing.

  • Check your season goals and time schedule against your practice schedule to see if you are "growing" according to your expectations or not making the kind of progress desired. 

  • When evaluating your practices, check to see if the areas you are spending a considerable amount of time are showing up in terms of  improved game performances. Do not just look at the last game, but look at say 2 or 3 week blocks of time. Are you improving the things you have been spending more time on.  The reason this is important is because if you are spending time in practice and not seeing results, you may seriously need to re-evaluate what or how you are teaching specific skills.

  • Use game and practice films to evaluate your coaching performance. For example how do you and your staff handle time-out situations, substitutions, etc.  If there is chaos you need to look at which members of your staff are assigned what pre-game and game responsibilities.  If  you are constantly running behind schedule in practices filming practice might help you pin-point where you are wasting time, or being ineffective with drills, or time between drills.

  • Don't be fooled strictly by won-loss record.  There are times when a  team is going so well a coach can be lulled into a sense of doing everything right and effort begins to fall off. If things aren't going well be careful to continue to coach and teach and not let issues which may be impeding your team's progress be the main focus of your efforts. 

  • Finally, you as a coach must know you own strengths and weaknesses. You are never as bad a coach as your losses or as good a coach as your wins. Part of maintaining good objectivity includes having a staff that is both honest and fair in providing you feedback on a constant basis. Whether or not you accept all the input is less relevant than you listen and pick out things that you may be blind to seeing about your performance. Perspective is what helps give us the proper angle to make educated decisions and a better chance at achieving success as a  coach.