There is no better day than game-day!

I still get nervous; butterflies are likely the only thing I can guarantee prior to tip-off. Yet, for some reason as soon as the National Anthem finishes a sense of calm briefly takes control.

I have this self-prescribed rule where I have to start every quarter sitting down. Sometimes, I have our assistant take note of how long it takes before I get up. An ideal time is somewhere between the entire 1st possession of play to the entire game. If I were to make it an entire game without getting up either check my pulse, or it is likely time to call it a career.

I am a high energy, high blood-pressure kind-of coach. So, those brief sedentary stints on the bench gives not only my athletes, but my heart a much needed break. My objective during any game is to keep everyone connected – mentally, competitively, and schematically. This is hopefully accomplished by being engaged in the game with as little interference as possible. But more important than anything, I want my guys to know I’m here to compete with them. This is #InGameCoaching, so let’s go get it!

Head Coaching Responsibility

The majority of my focus during a typical game:

  1. Team evaluation – Monitoring collective execution/flow of the game & individual activity levels
  2. Opponent observation – Ballscreen coverage; Offensive tendencies; In-Game adjustments
  3. Substitutions – Situational, rotational, endurance, or performance

One of the biggest challenges that I have found transitioning from assistant coach to head coach is seeing the entire game versus getting tunnel vision per instruction. As an assistant the tendency is to fulfill a role per the head coach request to chart or observe a particular aspect of the game. Games where I feel at my best are when I had sensed a more comprehensive eye for my surroundings. This is why the contributions of an active assistant is invaluable. No doubt I miss intricacies of a game. The input of our staff is central to any of our success.

Assistant Coach Responsibilities

Top Assistant – Head JV Coach (Good Cop & Positive Reinforcement Role)

  • Charts Time-Outs & Fouls (Opponent/Ours)
  • Diagrams Sets Observed
  • Stats Turnovers & Kills (3 Stops in a Row)
  • Notes anything from Head Coach observations
  • Has official’s names prior to game
  • General observations & suggestions during the game

2nd Assistant – Freshman Coach (Bench Coach)

  • Stats Paint Touches & Conversion Efficiency (Opponent & Ours)
  • Stats 2nd Chances (Offensive Rebounds & Loose Balls)
  • Bench Mob Manager
  • General observations & suggestions during the game

Beyond timing how long I can keep my butt in a chair; the assistant coaches earn their paycheck. Due to travel obligations on road-trips we only have our top assistant because our freshman coach has to go back with the team, while home games we have a full staff. For games where we don’t have a full staff JV players will keep statistics based on our “Four Factors” that we look for during the game.

Outside of having a keen eye for the flow of the game, one of the most important aspects of being an assistant is reinforcement – echo scout to personnel, keep the bench involved, and help be the angel on my shoulder when I am ready to lose composure.


How Have I Looked to Develop?

Strictly speaking from a head-coaching standpoint here are 3 conscientious changes that I have attempted to make as I progress:

  1. Staff Communication – Staff conversations are a constantly updated in-game scouting report. I have a tendency during time-outs prior to speaking with the team to ask our staff, “Do you have anything? or What do you see?” This is where our staff sheets should come in handy to draw from anything that may have mentioned to keep an eye on, or something that the staff caught during play. Dead-ball dialogue allows our staff to draw from things that we may not have been able to speak in length during play, but can look to illuminate during time-outs or dead-ball situations.
  2. Speak Less – Seems contradicting to the aforementioned emphasis on communication with staff. However, there is something to be said when it comes to saying less as a coach. Condense the conversation to speak with substance only providing necessary instruction or guidance. I also have a tendency to seek feedback from our guys; first-hand perspective of playing goes beyond a spectators observation. If there is something to be said, share it – our staff will decide if it merits adjustment or implementation. But, if I do all the talking we will never know.
  3. Lay Off the Refs – Our focus throughout any game is selective. Coaches have choices where to best allocate their energy in attempt to win. Worrying about the refs can absorb a lot of mental energy that could better be spent elsewhere. Despite the incremental growth of technology in sports, our game still revolves around human elements of error, judgment, and skill. I truly believe games are decided beyond calls, and more importantly players feed off of your energy. While I still seek to have “conversations” with officials I’d rather expend the majority of my energy supporting something more controllable from our team.

We have done our #PreseasonPrep. The scout is complete. No better day for a win than game-day!

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