Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If You Don't Talk You Don't Play!

The quote above comes from the first chapter of the book Pursuit of Perfection from UConn Women's Basketball Coach Geno Auriemma. This certainly tells of the importance of the topic of communication at any level in basketball. It's discussed by many and preached by all. The problem is players often hear just that. Meaning that communication is demanded, but reasons for this function are often not vocalized enough. Seeing how much of a role communication plays on the court will help you hammer home your point!

- Promotes Team Building - When teammates are communicating with each other it increases the sense of a common goal. Cohesive individuals make for a well-balanced team.

- Reduces Individual Errors - It's hard to think about making a mistake when you are constantly encouraging and supporting your teammates. Less worry means less anxiety. This means your body can relax and perform at it's optimal levels.

- No Mental Lapses - Communication helps players stay focused on the game. More focus means increased awareness. Plus with communication, if someone does have a mental lapse, the talk and directions from the other players on the court help guide this player to the correct spot lessening the chance that a lapse turns into a costly error.

I myself love the intricacies of defense. Despite any special formulations or break downs nothing is as key for execution on the defensive end like talk. Communication here does three things:

- It makes our defense faster because our kids know exactly what their assignment is without any hesitation (who has ball, shooter, non-shooter, coverages). They don't have to hesitate or guess as to what their teammate is doing. Instead they know what everyone on their side is doing, allowing them to not think but instead react.

- Here we like to pressure the ball. With efficient communication our on-ball defender can be more aggressive. This is because it's essential that our on-ball defender trusts that our weakside defense is in proper position and aware of where the ball is. The best way to trust your teammates is to hear them communicate their responsibilites and what they are seeing. Knowing this our on ball defender can concentrate on his job knowing his teammates are there should he need help.

- The key word in all of this is trust. Communication fosters trust therefore aggressive teams are dependent upon their levels of accountability. Communication can make a half of second difference which on a pass in college the college level is the difference between an open space for a shooter and the ability to recover for the defense. Team's that don't trust foul more, teams that foul more, lose more!

Taking the time to explain the reasoning behind communication and implementing this into your program philospohy and drill work will give you an edge in your daily development!

"I make sure I practice all that I preach. If I make good communication a point of focus I make sure I'm a great communicator myself." - Pat Summit

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Power Of Words

“The Difference Between Praise and Flattery Is The Amount of Sincerity Present”

Something that has crossed my mind recently is the terminology used by the average person. Time after time people use the same words over and over. While this may seem practical and an efficient way to communicate it can also lead to words losing meaning. Case in point would be the words coaches use to praise their athletes. I have been a part of many teams that have a huddle at the end of each practice to bring the team together. Often this ends with a comment of “good job” or “great work today.” Now this is good in its own right, but I have often thought these messages get drowned out by the number of times athletes have heard these words over time.
To compensate this I am working to make sure I address what specifically make the workout or effort superior during that time period. I might mention how outstanding our transition defense was today or find a kid after practice to make sure they realize how far their ball handling has come throughout the last two weeks. To me this feels like we are noticing their individualistic abilities and not just their effort overall. In the same way there is no faster way to frustrate an athlete than to give a generic response for why they are not playing as much as they would like. To say “we just don’t feel like you give us the best chance” or “she has stood out to us more in practice” is a useless for both the athlete and the coach. Not only does the athlete not have any idea of what specifically they need to improve nor does it give the coach a believable reputation for their attention to detail.

As I mentioned in an earlier post athletes and peers really do appreciate it when you put yourself on the line and say exactly what you are thinking provided it’s true and delivered in a respectable way. I don’t mind doing this same thing when I am writing letters to recruits or having discussions with players. Using real genuine words that reflect your feelings and the way things are allow followers to relate and connect with their leader. I feel too often it seems that there is a template out there that 90% of coaches use to handle different situations and it makes me sad to see people use powerful action words that are generic and well known to try and inspire a connection when in reality they are missing the link between vision and action.
As I just read in an excerpt by leadership expert John Maxwell stating that “followers must buy into the leader before they can connect to the vision.” Your actions and ways you react to the words you use and preach are therefore either flattery or praise depending on the sincerity behind them. Speaking from your heart has not become completely acceptable still in our business based society, but provided you approach it correctly people will connect to this form of communication and judge you as a person accordingly.

So point is: don’t be afraid to communicate exactly what you are feeling and reflect your values as a person. Do it in a respectful way that has a thoughtful purpose and remember that people take messages in altogether different ways. Following this guideline can not only help you become a more effective communicator, but it will also inspire commitment as a leader and give your messages more meaning and influence. Be yourself, speak from the heart and you will never look back with regret, which as a speaker pointed out recently is the key to a successful team. High achieving teams that fill potential often look back with no regrets while a team that is filled with regrets and questions on the season make their work become unsatisfying and less than expectations were projected.
Follow Your Heart Through The Struggles And The Reward Will Be There To Comfort You
Coach Rohr

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hard Work Leads The Way To Success

"The Price of Success Is Hard Work"
- Simply put, any individual who makes a commitment toward applying their time and energy towards becoming better can reach their goals. Now, the important thing to realize is not all goals will ever be touched nor will they happen in a shortened time frame however, the chase towards these ambitions are well worth the pain and turmoil they are often accompanied with.
- The reasons why chasing something with a high failure rate is very simple. Collegiate sports are in themselves a reward for the efforts and dedication of the past. The satisfaction an athlete receives from the effort to improve every single day are inglorious, but indescribable. Three or four years of hard work really can come together in one single performance and make it all worth it. Finally without the help of others (teammates, mentors, assistants, family) you could have easily strayed off path and this allegiance with people close to you give you a powerful perspective on the power of teamwork.
- As a coach one of the most inspiring things to see is an athlete chasing their dream despite the constant struggles and physical toll they may be taking on the individual. Especially at the Division III level where athletic scholarship money is nonexistent and the high publicity and spectators seen at the high school level are nowhere to be found. In my eyes this is one of the purest forms of sport. Individuals doing something requiring a high labor that offers few materialistic rewards. This labor of love is almost a requirement as 6 a.m. runs and late night practices can test the patience of someone with outside interests.
- While there are many different variables in motivation for the collegiate basketball athlete hard work plays a key role in connecting what they want and what they get on the court. Meaning if you want to be the go to player on your team or just a consistent starter, put yourself in a situation that allows you to be prepared (to the best of your ability) to perform when the opportunity is put forth. No excuses can be made for those who don't and the time will ultimately come for those who do.
- Let this belief lead your actions whether it be in your job, academic endeavors or athletic conquests. I too must make sure I not only preach this philosophy, but give myself a chance to move myself up in my passions by living this same message. All of the great coaches in the game today have made this commitment, so have the players you see on Sportscenter, join them today and feel the satisfaction and possibilities it provides.
- Follow Your Heart Through The Struggles And The Reward Will Be There To Comfort You!
- Coach Rohr

Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Power of Belief

"Hold Fast In That Which Is Good"
-- Thessalonians 5:21 --
Today I found myself watching the Women's U.S. Open between 17 year old Melanie Oudin and Maria Sharapova. What was interesting about the match is that the winner (Oudin) is just 17 years old while Sharapova is a former Olympic medalist and winner of 4 Grand Slam Titles.
When Oudin was asked what the key was to her upset win she simply responded "I proved that I can play with the top girls in the sport, and if I believe in myself and in my game I can beat any of them." This is an outstanding story to me not only because it happened on such a grand stage but the lessons it gives us.
Anything Is Possible
-- Perhaps the 17 year old wasn't the most talented person on the court but by applying pressure, staying poised, competing hard and having faith in her ability she walked away with the victory. Execution must accompany any belief, but as we all know the chances of performing any task is increased when we want to be in that situation. It's amazing to see the number of upsets that take place regularly in sports however, it's very easy to focus on the struggles of the past rather than the possibilities of the present. As coaches we must teach our athletes to let go of daily miscues and bad games and focus on their next opportunity with confidence and purpose. It's also important we share that same mindset. Leadership provides the foundation for the attitude of the team. Believe early and believe often.
Passion Equals Performance
-- Although I have previously mentioned the need for a positive attitude towards your role on the team I want to reemphasize the fun you can have competing in sports. Yes, it is hard work and even the best go through their share of tough days, but the satisfaction you feel when you accomplish a goal or a big win is impossible to describe in words. In basketball you not only receive that joy yourself but you experience it as part of a family. That family of course being your team. It's at that point when you understand the value of hard work and teamwork. It's at that point when you are truly grateful for the support of your family and friends. More importantly you remember why you love playing the game of basketball and the difference you can make in doing so.
So I ask you, do you walk into situations with belief and hope or are you filled with doubt and worry??
Love what you do and trust in your abilities!
Coach Rohr

Friday, September 4, 2009

Goal Setting Power

Our Goals Can Only Be Reached Through A Vehicle of a Plan,
Which We Must Fervently Believe And Upon Which We Must Vigorously Act"
This quote by Stephen Brennan encourages the link between mind and body. Giving ourselves something we can visualize and strive for makes it easier for us as individuals to find a way to get there. Especially true in a sport with an especially long season like basketball (5 months for Div. III). If you don't have a vision and a plan it's easy to get lost in the daily grind. Not only does goal-setting give you a approach to competition it holds you accountable for your actions. This is because if you really are serious about setting goals it's paramount that you not only write them out, but you must also:

- Write steps for getting you to those goals

- Post in a place you see everyday

- Tell friends and family about what you want to accomplish

- Read the goals daily, evaluate your actions accordingly and believe in yourself

I read recently that slightly less than 3% of all adults in the United States have written goals that they follow. Although no statistics are available it would be interesting to see the progress of that 3% as I'm guessing their achievements are very noteworthy. It seems every biography or motivational book I read these days mentions somewhere a correlation between who the person is today and how they had that vision for a long period of time. People such as this are no different that you and I. They are skilled, motivated and carry a great belief with them. It doesn't mean you can't achieve without setting goals, but it dynamically makes the process easier. Goal setting gives you a support system and it also helps you stay committed throughout the challenging times.

Within the last week we had our first team meeting of the season and in that time we discussed important concepts like team philosophy, academic standards, locker-room and court rules. We try to lay out all of our expectations and give them a plan for staying ahead in the classroom and throughout the preseason. To help them commit to this process we created a personal goal sheet that guides them toward high achievement and belief. In the document there are three different areas that one must balance and commit towards to have a fulfilling and productive time here as a student-athlete.

- Academic Standards, Basketball & Their Personal Life (family, friends, faith)

Below is a sample of one of the aspects and how we expect them to fill them out.
Notice everything is defined and examples and guidance are provided to encourage them the process.

ACADEMIC GOALS (Specific School Related Objective With A Measurable End Result)
EXAMPLE: Receive A’s in Natural Science & Speech (Classes I don’t enjoy) at end of semester.

Goal One:_______________________________________
Goal Two: ______________________________________

Purpose of Goal (Reason Why It’s Important, Purpose Behind It)
EXAMPLE: Helps me build confidence, become more well-rounded and increase future opportunities.

Purpose of Goal One: ______________________________
Purpose of Goal Two:_______________________________

Steps To Attain Goal (Series of Actions, Processes or Measures Necessary to Grow & Achieve)
EXAMPLE: Make it to class on time every day, study subject first, Write notes and review every day.

Steps Goal One: __________________________________
Steps Goal Two: __________________________________

The important thing to remember is that as I talked about with my first post you must make sure you teach your athletes how they can use this tool, the importance of it and keep it relatable throughout the year. This allows them to put a focus on it and use it during the year instead of many (team) goals you see that tend to disappear throughout the year. A coach's leadership is so important on what the team takes away from any situation.

Aim High In Your Intentions.

"High Achievement Always Takes Place In The Framework of High Expectation & Belief"

Coach Rohr

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What It Means To Be A Coach

Coaching Is Not A Responsibility Towards Winning, But A Commitment Towards Your Players.

Teach The Right Lessons, Lead With Passion, Discipline, Energy And Purpose Will Follow.

This I believe is where many often go wrong in the world of athletics. They want to take shortcuts to the top, they believe that they can turnaround a team in a week and they want to show off all the work and shortcomings they use to try and make that happen. What they don't realize however, is the value of character, ethics and leadership. I have seen coaches put 15 hours into a scouting report, forget about the development and attitude of their players and think that sole scouting preparation will lead them to a win instead of working WITH their players in practice preparing their minds and bodies and improving what they can actually control.

As a coach you must demand not excellence but purpose. Excellence is expecting perfection while purpose is a positive attitude, good choices and the commitment towards giving your absolute best effort. You must stick to your principles. Teams become closer when they are pushed yet the coach shows them trust, respect and genuine care. If a team sees a coach who just wants to win, or is selfish when receiving a victory, that team will lose its purpose.

This is why I'm so excited to be a part of the program here at Concordia University. Working in a atmosphere that supports your values and coaching philosophy makes it so fulfilling to come to work every day. I strive to make my mark and am excited for the possibilities of the season.

"It is the individual who is not interested in his fellow men who has the greatest difficulties in life and provides the greatest injury to others. It is from among such individuals that all human failures spring."

Alfred Adler used this quote in his book "What Life Should Mean To You." It stresses that concern and sincerity are paramount in the lives of others (including athletes). Show them that and the teaching of basketball becomes a much more understandable process. Show them that and good character and hard work becomes second nature. Show them that and your team, your staff will enjoy the lessons of sport, work hard and together in their daily endeavors, treat others with care, win humbly, lose with respect and most of all take pride in knowing they were a part of something that made it possible for them to live their dreams and become better people.

My question to you is what does life mean for you??

Do you take shortcuts to try and win or do you make a commitment towards others??

Coach Rohr

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Attitude - A Daily Decision

"Never Before Have I Realized The Importance of Attitude In Life. It Alone Can Fuel My Hopes Or Extinguish My Dreams"

Much like the picture symbolizes to the left, a negative attitude holds you back from your true potential as a basketball player and more importantly an individual. I know for myself when I am looking for people to work beside me or perform any type of service the first quality I look for is what type of attitude does the person reflect. I realize that someones energy doesn't necessarily guarantee quality of work, but it certainly means they have the desire and enthusiasm to give it their best shot. I'll put that person on my team any day.

Perhaps Charles Swindoll said it best:

"The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."

Even though I strive to make my blog entries 100% personal and not words copied out of an article I really didn't think my post would mean as much without someone being able to read that memoir. Being a young coach I used this tool as a crutch during my first season as an assistant at the collegiate level. There were times when I did indeed doubt my decision and wondered if I could effectively provide the teaching and skills necessary for the job, but did not one day go by where I was going to let a negative attitude get in my way of trying. I quickly learned that although I didn't always have the proper words or exact solution to a problem being positive with the players and staff sparked enthusiasm and helped in some way for some one.

How You Can Incorporate This Philosophy:

Enjoy what you are doing.

Give your absolute best effort.

Be optimistic about the task at hand.

Carry a cloud of positive energy and belief in yourself and others.

That's it! These four simple rules provide you with a mindset that will make it almost impossible to fail. As in many aspects of life details make huge difference. Walk around with a smile. Look happy to see others and show them you care about what they have to say. Go into a project or job and know that you will meet every challenge that comes your way. Finally, some things happen for a reason but there are times when you have the ability to make it happen yourself. It's not easy as remember Mr. Swindoll made the reference to attitude being more important than MONEY, APPEARANCE and SKILL! Take the circumstance out of every event in your life. Wake up every morning evoking this decision and I promise you a much calmer, focused, productive and enjoyable day!

Coach Rohr