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The Panthers and the Zen

Category: Uncategorised
Published: Monday, 08 February 2016

I have been reading with interest as much as I can about the Panthers over the last two weeks. I have read interviews from Coach Ron Rivera, and the general manager Dave Gettleman. Both men, being humble and thankful were keenly aware of their journey and good fortune. They both attribute part of their rise to the Super Bowl to LUCK. That’s right; they both said they got lucky.

Dave credited his predecessor with providing useful parts for the team’s success, both on and off the field.  One of the things he stressed was how fortunate he was to be in this position. Ron talked about the journey. He had been passed over for head coaching jobs on 7 occasions. He talked about his aha moment when he felt the team turned the corner towards success. He gave his players freedom.

Now last night’s game was not pretty by any stretch of the imagination. A couple of things caught my eye. First the Panther players were not so inclined to give up a ball to a fan when a great play was made. I understand that. It was the Super Bowl. They seemed to have lost some of their strut. The last fumble when Newton seemed to make what one announcer called “a business decision” to not go after the fumble was quite revealing to me.

Peyton Manning on the other hand was humble. The 15 yard down and out pass was no longer thrown with force and zip. It was obvious that this was not his team. He handled it with class. The constant yelling at the line of scrimmage before each play was for the most part gone. He had been told not to do it and he listened.

The speech he made the night before was forgotten after the first snap of the ball yesterday. Players like to talk about that after the fact, but in reality, the cant think of it while they are playing. It was recounted and remembered after the game, only because they won. He did manage to get in a plug for Budweiser twice. But, mostly he was thankful, appreciative and humble.

I have never been a fan of SWAG. Too many things have to happen out of your control to go around showing off or strutting.  It does work for some people, but not nearly as many as people seem to think it does, and certainly there are repercussions and accountability factors in play. If you want to celebrate, show off, and prance, so be it. It’s not my cup of tea. BUT, when games like this happen, and days like yesterday happen, I sit back, smile and am amused.

No one talked about the Zen yesterday after the game.

One of my favorite expressions is…..

Peace of mind is victory


The 5 Kids Sitting on the End of the Bench

Category: Uncategorised
Published: Monday, 01 February 2016


I broadcast another high school varsity game on the radio. I got there early because I wanted to see the JV game. One team played lots of kids. They subbed in early in the first quarter.   At the 3 minute mark this coach subbed in 3 kids. By half time all the kids had played. The kids on the bench were engaged in the game and cheering on their team mates when they weren’t playing. They had fun.

The other coach did not sub until late in the first quarter. He only subbed in one kid. He was up yelling instructions for most of the game. They had brought a chair from their school, with their school colors, that was taller than the ones provided by the host school, and the yelling coach used it for timeouts. It was awkward to say the least.

If you have been following my program and blogs you know how I feel about constant instructions being yelled at the kids while they are playing. It does not work.  It is called bottle necking in Psychology. The kids have a hard time retaining the instructions because they are overwhelmed with data and can only process a little at a time in their brains while they are playing. (Parents this goes for you too!)Plus, you are telling the other coach what your team is doing wrong.

My broadcast location was on the floor in the middle of the gym directly across from the two teams. What I want to stress to you today is the last 5 kids on the losing team bench for both the JV and Varsity game. They were totally disinterested. Even if the coach needed them to play meaningful minutes they were not prepared to do so. What if a player got hurt? How about an academic problem? Why not play these kids?

 These kids needed to know math to play for their team. They had to divide the score, by the time left in the game, calculate this with the coaches’ ego in managing a game to win to see if they might get a chance to play.

 Next they had to then either root for their team to play poorly if they were losing, or want them to run up the score if they are winning. Neither trait is going to help these children later in life.

It was remarkable to me to see their negative body language in warm ups and sitting on the bench during the game. They knew they weren’t going to play. What was stunning to me was that neither the JV or Varsity coach on the LOSING team noticed these kids except when he yelled at them for something that was going on in the game while they were sitting. Relationships, the key component to successful coaching was missing.

One last note to give you a concrete example as to the cause and effect of this kind of coaching. One of the kids who did not play got into an argument with his mom after the varsity game was over. It was loud and he was very agitated. Whatever the problem, was, it was surely exasperated by the athlete not playing.

What is the Cost of your 15 Seconds of Fame?

Category: Uncategorised
Published: Monday, 18 January 2016

What is the cost of the new 15 seconds of fame?

Scenarios are playing out across the country with kids and families devoting themselves to get those 15 seconds of fame. They don’t think that is what it is going to be, but for most kids, and that is 99% of them the dreams of the DI scholarship and pro career come down to this.

What if an athlete gets to play 15 seconds in one game at one hallowed stadium, arena, or court? What if those 15 seconds is all he gets? What if he only got those 15 seconds because the assistant coach told the head coach to play the kid so it would help him get another walk on to commit? The assistant explains to the coach that maybe they can find that late bloomer if they keep doing this and get their own “BIG” before he becomes a “BIG.”

Let’s take this concept and extrapolate it across the country to all sports. There could easily be 100,000 kids and families going through this scenario each year. They have invested all the time, money, and mental stress to get their child to this one point in his continuum. This child then uses social media to tell all his friends and kids he played with that he made it to the Promised Land. He has to be careful though, not to upset the other scholarship players on the team or the coach with his story as to jeopardize his spot  on the team.

What if other kids he played with did not make it this far? What if they are playing, maybe even starting, on a lower level college team and resent this event? What if they meet back at the old high school and have to face each other?

Back in my day we would be thrilled for the kid. We would take joy in his success. We would not use it for our own status and benefit. We would still play pickup games and have fun and genuinely share in the good fortune?

But what about the parents connected to this player? What do the parents of the kid who didn’t make it that far say to their own child? How does the snubbed child rationalize and justify being bitter? How does it affect his future playing, coaching, work, and relationship skills? He too spent his whole life trying to get to the DI Promised Land. He may even have had more accolades that the player who made it.

Who does the coach favor when they both come back to one of his practices?

How does the coach handle it? Does he brag to all he knows that one of his kids “made it” and played at a hallowed venue? Does he use this with players coming into or up to his program as an “attainable carrot?”

What are the long term ramifications of this kind of journey for our children, parents, and coaches?

A True Coach is a Teacher for life

Category: Uncategorised
Published: Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Winning is something you have little control over as a coach unless you play weak opponents or stack the deck. I watch coaches and organizations schedule weak opponents or avoid tough ones when they schedule. Managing games over developing kids undermines the team concept.Play lots of kids in all situations.

I just met with a young boy last night. His coach wont play him much. I asked if he wanted to play . His eyes lit up. YES he said! He is 14. No one knows how good he is going to be if he doesn't get to play meaningful minutes in games.

No one gets better sitting on the bench. Why practice hard if you know you wont get to play in a game.You only get better playing in tough situations.

That leads to more championships than any other coaching way

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