Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Time Management For Coaches

As coaches, we always stress the importance of time management to our players.  We tell them they need to balance their daily schedules of classes, study, homework, meals, weightlifting, practice, individual workouts, rehab, etc....and we expect them to do all of these things to the best of their ability.

But what about the coaches?  How are we doing with time management in our own lives?

I'm not going to lie.  Being a basketball coach is the greatest job in the world.  Not only do we get to wear t-shirts and sweatpants to work, but we are able to watch a lot of basketball and get paid for it!

However, there are a lot of responsibilities that come along with being a coach.  We all want to lead and impact the lives of our players and those around us, but sometimes it feels like there is just too much going on in our lives.  If we do not manage our time well, our obligations as coaches can begin to negatively impact our health and our families at home.  We have a responsibility to lead others, but do not take on so much that you will not be able to give your best at everything you do.

1. Plan your day the night before.  Set goals and establish a vision for the next day.  Give yourself enough time in between tasks to process thoughts and begin preparation for the next task.  Keep a clear schedule of your meetings and allow time to prepare for those meetings.  Make sure not to schedule too much throughout the day so that you leave enough time to build sincere relationships with the people around you.

2. Limit your use of technology.  Our smartphones and tablets are amazing tools that can serve us well, but they are also a hindrance to our ability to manage time.  Be conscious of how often you use various technologies (phone, tablet, computer, TV, etc.) throughout the day so that you can properly commit to your other responsibilities.  If I'm being honest, this is one of my biggest struggles in managing my time.

3. Family always comes first.  Never sacrifice the needs of your family so that you can fulfill the needs of others.  Obviously as coaches we have hectic schedules and are often away from home, but that doesn't mean we should expect our families to be perfectly fine with that.  We need to invest the time we do have with our families and make them a priority in our lives.  Be concerned if your job becomes more important than your family.  If you don't have time for your family then you don't have time to lead effectively.  Sometimes less is more.

Although there is a lot more that goes into effective and efficient time management, I hope these thoughts help you take an honest look at yourself as a coach.  We expect a lot from our players, but we should expect a lot from ourselves as well.  This is humbling as a leader and I'm going to do my best to work on my time management skills so I can give 100% too all of my responsibilities!


Monday, August 31, 2015

NITE - Keys to Great Communication

A few years ago I attended a clinic and heard PGC Basketball's, TJ Rosene talk about communication and the acronym NITE.  Ever since then, we have adopted it within our program and use it daily with our players.  It has been a wonderful addition to our success and has helped improve our communication both on and off the court.

Anytime we communicate with another person we should always include their name.  Not only does it confirm whose attention we are trying to get, but it also gives affirmation to the other person that what we are about to say is meaningful.  Receivers of our communication are much more likely to listen if they hear their name associated within the context of the message.

Words and/or actions should always carry meaning.  It is always easy to convey information over a long period of time, but it takes a special skill to communicate important information with as few words as possible.  Whether it's a timeout or during play on the floor, there is limited time to communicate what needs to be communicated.  We need to work on simplifying our words so that we can give necessary information in the allotted amount of time.  This information should be direct and to the point, allowing the receiver to process what needs to be done quickly.

The way we say something is just as important as the actual words being said.  A monotone or lackadaisical voice conveys negativity and a lack of trust.  Our tone of voice should be enthusiastic and energetic, which allows the person you are talking to to establish trust and a sense of urgency in the situation.  Positive words will encourage a positive tone of voice.  Always keep your attitude upbeat and optimistic, even when adversity is present.

On the court during play, eye contact cannot always happen (such as playing defense).  But anytime you have the opportunity to look someone in the eye you must take advantage of that and do it!  The eyes are associated with the ears.  When you establish eye contact you are accomplishing two things. 1. You are letting the person you are talking to know that you care and you mean what you say and 2. You can be confident that the other person is listening and hearing what you say.  People who maintain eye contact are perceived as being confident and trustworthy.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Coaching Up a Championship Culture

As coaches, we are tasked with the responsibility of impacting the lives of our players and everyone around us.  We are expected to have a positive influence on our players and give them the necessary tools to graduate in order to become great at whatever they do in life.  Coaching is not merely about wins and losses, nor is it about how many sprints we can make our players run.  Instead, coaching is a call to disciple and teach young men or women to be the best that they can possibly be.  The culture that we demonstrate through our words and actions will be the example in which our players will learn to live their lives.  There are three areas that are crucial in evolving a championship culture and we need to consider developing our culture each day. 

1. TRUST – This may be the most difficult character trait to cultivate within our programs.  With factors such as playing time, academics, athletic ability, relationships, etc., it almost takes a magician to establish trust among every member of our programs.  I’m sure everyone has heard the saying, “It takes years to build trust, but only seconds to lose it.”  I think that quote is fairly accurate and we need to take our relationships with our players very seriously.  We also need to make sure that our players are doing things that enable their teammates to trust them.  Kevin Eastman, Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers, made a comment on an Entre Leadership podcast about establishing trust with his NBA players or else he would lose them for two weeks.  Trust needs to be a priority in our programs if we want to have a healthy and championship caliber culture.  Everything we do and say is under a microscope and we need to be aware of the affect our actions/words have on others.

2. RESPONSIBILITY – The ability to hold our players accountable is of the utmost importance, but it is even more important that our players hold each other accountable.  All of us have been irresponsible at some point in our lives and we need to communicate the significance that responsibility has on the overall success of our programs.  If we don't, our players will not learn how to be responsible.  So many young players struggle with responsibility not necessarily because they are lazy, but because they have never been taught how to get things done consistently and on time.  When our players fail to act responsibly we need to come alongside them and disciple them through the process and teach them how to do the right things.  Once we demonstrate how to be responsible and communicate expectations, our players begin to collectively hold each other to higher standards and the fruits of our efforts will begin to show.  When everyone takes care of their responsibilities it communicates and establishes trust.

3. SERVANT LEADERSHIP – Being a servant leader requires humility.  Humility is something that is demonstrated by placing the needs of others before my own.  It isn’t natural to be a servant and it isn’t natural to put others first, but when we make an effort to do the unnatural we see positive impact.  Obviously, as coaches we need to serve our players and lead them in a way that will help them become great men.  The hard part is teaching our players how to serve others and put others first.  Our examples of servant leadership may be the only example that they have ever seen in their lives.  We live in a generation where it’s all about “what can I get?”  If we allow that mindset of selfishness to infiltrate our program, we will never be successful.  Servant leaders are people who always care more about the guy next to him and constantly think of ways to help make them better.  When we decide to serve and help others we will begin to see success through our humble service.  Responsibility and trust are more easily cultivated when everyone in the group has the other person’s best interest at heart. 

Although there are many more characteristics and qualities that make up a great culture, I believe these three are a solid foundation.  A championship culture can only be realized when every member of the program decides to be a “Champion Today.”  They decide to do what they are supposed to be doing and be where they are supposed to be on a daily basis.  Once we start living these habits, we will see positive change within our culture that will eventually lead to success.  When we SERVE – we inspire others to take RESPONSIBILITY.  When we are RESPONSIBLE – we enable others TRUST.  When we TRUST – we desire to SERVE others.  The circle is endless and is a great foundation in coaching up a championship culture!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Champions Today

In our program at Bob Jones University, we have focused our attention on becoming #ChampionsToday.  This mindset comes from a talk that Adam Bradley of the Hardwood Hustle gave to our team this past January as we were visiting Washington DC.  By focusing on building championship habits in everything we do, we began to see positive change within our team both on and off the court.

Our motto is "Live Christ."  We are a Christian university and our main goal is to glorify Jesus Christ in everything we do.  We want people to see Jesus through our daily actions and words.  The mindset of being #ChampionsToday has given everyone in our program an opportunity to give praise to Jesus by the way we do everything.  The way we workout, pay attention, study, behave in the dorms/hotel room, behave on the bus, practice, take notes, etc. are all indications of us being champions and living the way Christ would live.  As we bring the summer to a close and begin focusing our attention on academics and basketball, we are striving to carry out the mindset of being #ChampionsToday and ultimately bringing glory to Jesus through the way we do everything!

Follow our program on Twitter & Instagram @BJUBruinsMBB

Monday, July 13, 2015

Persistence Is Stronger than Failure

"Abraham Lincoln is acknowledged as one of America's greatest presidents.  Here is a brief summary of his career:

1831 - Failed in business
1832 - Defeated for legislature
1833 - Failed in business again
1834 - Elected to legislature
1835 - Sweetheart died
1836 - Had nervous breakdown
1838 - Defeated for speaker
1840 - Defeated for elector
1843 - Defeated for congressional nomination
1846 - Elected to Congress
1848 - Defeated for Congress
1855 - Defeated for Senate
1856 - Defeated for Vice President
1859 - Defeated for Senate
1860 - Elected President of the United States

The model Mr. Lincoln gave us with his persistence is one we can remember in the face of our own setbacks.  And what is most wondrous of all is that persistence is a quality that we ourselves control.  You, and only you, can decide whether you will stay the course."

Excerpt taken from "Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court" by John Wooden

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Northland Changed My Life

I've been away from Northland for 5 years, but I realize that a piece of my heart will always be there.  There have been so many people from that place that God has used in my life to change my heart and help me grow as a follower of Jesus Christ.

I came in as a freshman in 2006  with a bitter heart and a lacking desire to be at a "Bible College."  I had the opportunity to play golf for Coach Dennis Scott and I did everything I could to be the best golfer I could be.  Health issues and a bad attitude kept me from being the best, but Coach Scott was always there to encourage me and point me in the right direction.  He was a great coach and a great adviser throughout my college years.  I'm thankful for Coach Scott.

There was one golf trip that Coach Scott couldn't go on, so  coach Pete Wehry took us instead.  Coach Wehry was the Dean of Students at the time and I was lucky enough to draw the short straw and share a hotel room with him.  The first night I was reading a coaching book called "Wooden" and that was enough to spark a conversation with this Peter guy.  Ever since that trip, Coach Wehry has been one of my best friends and wisest mentors.  I couldn't even count the number of times that he opened his office door to me just to hang out or do homework.  Many of those times turned into discipleship sessions where I was struggling and cried my heart out to him.  He just listened and then would point me in the right direction and pray with me.  He gave me my first coaching "job" and has been there for me ever since.  A group of us basketball guys used to skip "freshman seminar" and go over to Joel Widmer's house and watch TV.  One day we skipped and Coach Wehry was speaking that day.  He talked to us - we never skipped again.  He was the true definition of a coach.  I'm thankful for Coach Wehry.

In 2007 Coach Wehry took over as the head men's basketball coach and athletic director, thus leaving his post as the Dean of Students.  The guy that took over for him was Paul Whitt.  I am the luckiest student alive to have had these two men as Dean of Students because there is no doubt in my mind that I would've been kicked out of Northland about 20x if it wasn't for these two guys believing in me. No one else could have understood why we had to miss 7 hours....on our way back to campus from the Sweet 16 in Detroit.  He also had this amazing "man cave" at his house and I'm not sure if there is a person I have watched more sporting events with than this man.  His family took me in and made me feel like their own son.  I can't even express how grateful I am for Coach Whitt and his family.  I'm thankful for Coach Whitt.

At Northland, I built relationships with people who are my lifelong friends.  They grew with me and challenged me in every aspect of my life.  My best friend, Nathan Pettit is getting married in July.  He was the best man in my wedding and now I am honored to be the best man in his.  I still remember the first time I met him, but I'm going to save that story for my best man speech.  He is the true definition of a friend.  I'm thankful for Nathan.

These stories could go on for ever because there were so many amazing people at Northland.  The people there are what made Northland special.  I could go on and on about the countless people that have impacted my life and remain close friends.  All of us were challenged by the word of God every day by people who genuinely cared for us. We were around gospel-centered people constantly and were loved by everyone on that campus.  My life changed because of Northland and the people that were there.  It's hard to hear about the adversity they are facing right now, but I'm thankful that the heart of Northland will never be closed.  That university loved and served me well and in return I was taught how to serve and love others.  I'm thankful for Northland.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

3 W's of Relationships

In most cases, players have to walk together and work together before they can win together.

Walking relationship - Initiate a walking relationship with your teammates.

This is generally done off the court. What do you know about your teammates? Their families? Their likes and dislikes? Their struggles? The benefits of walking with your teammates include the biblical admonition of "bearing one another's burdens." For you to know how to encourage your teammates, you need to walk with them. Criticism requires no relationship with the one you are targeting, but if you walk with someone, you will be inclined to encourage him rather than criticize him. In addition, those who walk with someone else will also be inclined to pray for him.

Working relationship - Cultivate a working relationship with your teammates.

A walking relationship with teammates facilitates a working relationship with them. This dynamic generally happens in practices, in the weight room, on the track, and wherever else you work together. How much more inclined are we to work hard with our teammates when we first walk with them? Working together builds unity, establishes trust, and defers our own interests to those of the successes of our team. Do you like to go to work? If you say "yes," you like the players around you and are willing to be patient with their weaknesses and embrace their strengths for the benefit of team success.

Winning relationship - establish a winning relationship with your teammates.

Contrary to "bottom line" enthusiasts, the scoreboard is not the end-all in athletics. We are obligated in obedience to "run, that we may obtain"[the prize]; however, many "wins" exist apart from the final score.

Team goals that preclude a winning score are often "small wins" that, in time, accumulate and ultimately translate into wins on the scoreboard. These "small wins" share a common characteristic: teammates. A winning relationship with fellow teammates happens because the walking and the working relationships have already been established and are continually being enriched.

Now that we are in the off-season (on-season), individual workouts take center stage. As you hone your skills, eliminate weaknesses, and strengthen your body during these months, consider what steps you will take to walk and work with your teammates. Have you thought about initiating those first two w’s – walking and working - with your teammates? Imagine what could happen if a team was already walking and working together going into next season! “Small wins” would undoubtedly produce wins on the scoreboard. More importantly, the team would be able to fulfill its true mission better than ever before: to use the platform of athletics in ministry opportunities all around us. And it would be a true team effort!

This article was written by former BJU Bruins Assistant Coach, Larry Hunt.