Month of April

April Agenda:

  1. Program Standards – Rules versus Consequences to Choices
  2. Supplemental Roles – Working in the building or out of the building (High School)
  3. Summer League Rosters – Best approach to year-round development with limited time
  4. Establishing a System

1. Program Standards: Do you apply any rules (non-negotiables) to your program?

Discussion between instilling a culture based on decision-making and consequence, or applying rules to the program that are black-and-white in terms of discipline related to transgression. A culture of a program is only as strong as the leadership upholding program standards. I have always liked the culture vs identity rationale that Archie Miller brought to Indiana. Nonetheless, our responsibility is to foster an environment of character promoting positive decision-making. But we all know that mistakes happen, the challenge comes with our consistency behind the consequences.

Most agreed the rules are meant to be broken mantra. However, a few non-negotiables that (turned out to be simply pet peeves) were discussed amongst the group:

  • Eye Contact
  • Punctuality (“15 Minutes Early or Your Late”) = Culture Run (Entire Team)
  • Body Language – Bench
  • Communication

You can see that there was only one of us that really had a rule in place regarding consequence to mistake. Everything else was dealt with situationally. Setting up a lot of rules for your programs can create an environment of autocracy, which can work if completely transparent. Dealing with each situationally can present challenges in consistency. In the end, most locker room cultures are a reflection of staff mannerisms and interactions with players. The relationship component of culture building remains integral in building a winning locker room.

2. Supplemental Roles Outside of Coaching

Between high school and lower levels of college coaching, financially it is not always feasible to simply work at the office. In some states, it is mandated (public school systems) to work in the building in order to be a coach. Speaking on behalf of the high school level, the difference in experience between working in the building and out of the building is the visibility. The chance to see your kids on a daily basis allows for interaction and accessibility for any circumstances (grades, conduct, etc.). There is the element of being around too much, where the kids may feel as if they are looking over their shoulder a lot, or depending on personality the relationship with player becomes more peer-to-peer as oppose to peer-to-coach.

From a job standpoint, if you were to work out of the building it takes the right fit. Most opportunities that are full-time outside of the building are jobs from home, entrepreneurs, or very flexible in work schedules. These are conversations that have to be had in the interviewing process. Most places of employment where I have seen co-exist with coaches are real-estate agents, insurance agents, AAU Directors, fitness trainers, and freelance.

3. Summer League Participation – Incorporating Year-Round Development

How do you incorporate the opportunity to develop from a year-round standpoint based on imposing limitations? Each state is different. Each institution is different. Each level of amateurism is different. Except every coach has a similar objective to fully develop their roster to the best of their ability during pre-season, regular season, and off-season.

Our conversation revolved around putting together the right personnel to compete in summer leagues. However, in the state of Massachusetts, nobody from the staff (volunteer or paid) can coach their kids during the pre-season or off-season. We have to rely upon former players or outside locker room stakeholders. See the synchronizing a system talking point regarding summer leagues. Summer league exploits vulnerabilities, that is what is constructive about participating in a summer league. It also forces collective competition, despite limited reps or ability to coach who earns the bulk of the reps.

There are packets of drill books to give kids (Drew Hanlen – Pure Sweat) & apps that create a social media attempt to incentivize athletes. At the end of the day, we just want our kids to get together and play. There seem to be fewer pickup games outside and more controlled environment workouts. Largely Division II & III institutions send their student-athletes home, therefore coaches are entrusting individual investment. A lot of the return on investment is based on culture surrounding the program.

4. Synchronizing a System

This is a conversation we would like to carry forward into future roundtables. Establishing a system and synchronizing it through reinforcing drills, terminology, film, and competition. At the high school level (in Massachusetts, as each state is different), summer leagues can provide an opportunity to reveal program concepts. Witnessing underclassmen compete at the varsity level gives you an indication of concept comprehension within your program. What was revealed from our summer league participation last year was the lack of continuity between competitive levels within our program. Therefore, an objective of our staff this season was implementing synergy in the language, base schemes, and a few transferrable drills that will hopefully improve retention considering the limited contact we have with our guys throughout the off-season. From my experiences at different levels with different staffs; the coaches that have a strong conviction in their system tend to have the least learning curve transitioning from off-season to early season instruction.

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