Competition, Trust and Fun
“The most important words an athlete can hear from his parents, “I love to watch you play.”

“Culture is formed by the positive things we celebrate and negative things we tolerate.”

Culture = Values + Behavior

Passion Integrity Respect Toughness Accountabilty Excelllence

The Culture

The best teams are player led and the best programs are player driven

We need players to buy in so much they don’t need us there by the time they are upperclassmen in high school

Culture of:

1)Competition 2) Fun 3)  Trust
Enjoyment, learning and growth are intrinsically linked. Success and defeat are both foundational for learning so build both in


Learning to compete is the most important skill we can teach

The team that wins the majority of the time is the team willing to make mistakes-Jerry Donahue

Put kids in positions to fail, finding a way to struggle and swim in practice. Sink or swim. 

If guys aren’t put in uncomfortable positions constantly in practice how will they handle the uncomfortable situations in a game? Have to enjoy bad practices as learning opportunities.  We have to embrace failure as an opportunity for young kids: an opportunity to learn, explore and grow. Freedom and failure are linked. Overload guys at times so they're destined to fail. Give restraints where failure at certain things will be encouraged. Give kids the “defense mechanisms” needed to compete in life and on the court. 

Questions to consider: 

Do we give the kids the freedom to grow? Or do we box them in? Do kids have the freedom to express themselves, and the freedom to make mistakes? 

Fun: “Fun isn’t something you add to the process — fun is the process. Fun isn’t the sugar that gets sprinkled on top of the work — it’s baked into the work itself. Fun isn’t really about parents or teachers or coaches at all. It’s about creating a space where learners can experience the deep fun of discovery and improvement.”

Daniel Coyle 

Joy drives learning.  It’s impossible to be great at something if you’re not having fun doing it. We have to redefine fun. It’s not frivolous. It has to be connected to competition and a desire to get better. For our players skill will be the foundation of fun. Our first responsibility as youth coaches is to give  ways to love the game. Kids won’t spend time developing their skills unless they love the game so let’s be intentional about the feedback we give to the kids. They need to have the requisite skills so they can be creative and make plays

Questions to consider:

Are we connecting fun to competition? Have we properly communicated what fun is in our program? Do our kids have the necessary skill to enjoy basketball at the high school age? 

Trust: “Players won’t learn to love the game until they have learned to trust you as their coach.” -Don Showalter

As leaders, we must always deliver on what we say. Trust is established through our non verbal and verbal communication. Our communication must be clear, concise and consistent. We must clearly communicate roles and expectations to players. We need feedback from players and others to know how kids are hearing us, that they are able to apply what we’re teaching. Elite coaches are able to put complex ideas in succinct, action words and connect language to action. 

Do we have a culture of trust? Are we relational and demanding? Do we care and have high standards? Do guys know you care about them on and off the court? Do you coach the why? Do we over control with rules? What are our non-negotiables as a program? “If you hold a dove too tight you will kill it, and too loose it will fly away.”


Passion, Integrity, Respect, Accountability, Toughness, Excellence 


“Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.'A Passion Is Developed More Than It Is Discovered” Angela Duckworth-Grit


Passion involves your emotions but more than emotions, your will, your mind and body and it evolves over time. We want to cultivate sparks into flames via fun, competition and trust. Passion is cultivated in the right competitive learning environment. It is contagious and involves commitment and emotion over a long period of time that gets you from Point A to be B. 

What does passion look like in basketball? It looks like guys competing to gain an edge. Guys striving to get better. Looking for an edge in the small things: cutting hard, setting good screens, cheering for your teammates, celebrating daily wins in practice. 

What is foundational to you that is spurring you on? To have a passion that will grow you have to be grounded in what really matters. 

What are your non-negotiables as a person and team? Everyone has to do the hard work of looking deep inside themselves to to device what really matters to them. Then be intentional about doing things that really matter to you. 

What does this look like for us? 

As a coach: 

Coach with conviction, purpose and plan. Know your why! Celebrate your players. Give them a roadmap for success. Fight for buy-in because we”re part in on the players as athletes and people. 

Coaches are we showing enjoyment? Can the players see, feel and hear it? What are you communicating to your players? Do we have a passion for winning? For development? For players? For people? Can’t just love winning. Have to have a servant attitude, a passion for players to help them to be the servant leaders they need to be on and off the court. 

We have to believe in our guys before they’ll believe in themselves

For players: 

Know your why! Know the difference between competing and working hard. Competing is hard work with intent. It’s turning disadvantages to advantages because you have deeper meaning behind what you do. Do we celebrate daily wins for us and our teammates? Do we have  passion for the results or are we grateful for and celebrating daily opportunities set before us? That’s the only way passion is sustainable. 

Ideas: Acknowledge guys when they do well, not just made baskets. Show your emotion. Let people in on your struggles. 


“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.:” Johaan Wolfgagn von Goethe

“As the Zen Buddhist saying goes, how you do anything is how you do everything.”-Unknown


Do people trust you? Are we honest with ourselves and others? Your integrity speaks directly to the ability of others to trust you. Our integrity is tied directly to how we serve others. Servanthood is the path to greatness. Integrity is what protects and guards our passion. It’s the glue holding us together. Don’t chase winning, don’t take shortcuts. You don’t win with the guy who works the hardest or the most talented guy but the talented guys who do it the right way. We have to do it the right way, over time. When things get hard, what kind of person will you be revealed to be? A selfish player? Or a guy who’s willing to lay his life down for his teammates? Are you the kind of person other people want to go to battle with? Selfishness takes shortcuts and bails. People with integrity. Integrity is humble enough to be honest. 

Questions to consider

What is our intent? 

Did we do it the right way? 

-With our body language, our cuts, screens, how do we carry ourselves? 

Are we the type of people that others trust? Are you the type of person others can lose with? 

For coaches: “Pause is the one of the best words we can use in coaching.” -Dave Smart

For players:  

Individuals make decisions all day every day, “life” affects players daily before

they show up to the gym, need to strengthen mentally to strip away the

emotions of moments and minimize distractions.

"Every day is a player development day...every player gets better." 

Ideas: For any given practice, focus on doing the details the exact right way. Scrutinize the nuances of a drill, taking shortcuts. Evaluate body language and where we’re taking shortcuts for players, coaches and parents. 


“Any new quest, even one that is ultimately successful, is going to involve failure. Big changes come from a succession of small changes. It’s OK if the first changes seem almost trivial. The challenge is to get the Elephant moving, even if the movement is slow at first. And Failing is often the best way to learn, and because of that, early failure is a kind of necessary investment.”Chip Heath, Switch

“As all human beings are, in my view, creatures of God's design, we must respect all other human beings. That does not mean I have to agree with their choices or agree with their opinions, but indeed I respect them as human beings.”-Stockwell Day


We have to respect 1)ourselves:  our limitations and  gifts, 2) others: with their limitations and abilities, that includes peers, those below us and over us, Those who have gone before us and will come after us. 3) Time: the process of getting better.  

It’s much bigger than us. There are those who have gone before us who have paved the way and those who will come after us that will carry the mantle forward. We respect the contribution of everyone who has gotten us where we are today and the role we have to play. We’re a small but valuable piece of the puzzle. When we put the pieces together, we can create something special. 

Success has footprints: Find them, follow them, and fit them-Kevin Eastman

Let’s respect the vast knowledge out there

Let's find out what fits with who we are and what we want to accomplish

Respect the role we have to play on the team! The good and bad

Respect time: 

Learn from the past, produce in the present and plan for the future. We only have so many opportunities, we have to seize them. Our opportunities are limited. 

For coaches: Respect the players, their individual differences and what they bring to the table. We get to mind by getting to their heart. Invest in relationships. In an age of distraction do we occupy a piece of their minds and heart? 

Invest in relationships-little a bit at  a time. 2 types of coaches know it alls and learn it alls. Who are you?  Will players receive hard coaching from you because they respect you? Have you clearly communicated players' roles? 

For players: 

Are you the type of player others respect? Do your coaches respect you? How are you respecting the amount of time it takes to get better and the limited opportunities you have? Have you embraced your role? 


Point out progress in players. Recognize and appreciate people, give them a boost of confidence and let them know you value them. 

Chair questions: What's your highlight, hero, and hardship? 


"On good teams coaches hold players accountable, on great teams players hold players accountable."  -Joe Dumars

“Words are noise.  Group performance depends on behavior that communicates one powerful overarching idea: We are safe and connected. At their (highly successful groups) core their members are oriented less around achieving happiness that around solving hard problems together.”- Daniel Coyle, Culture Code


Clearly communicate roles and expectations to everyone on the team. Clearly do this throughout the season. 

Accountability starts with leaders: the parents, coaches and best players. You can’t give away what you don’t possess. As a coach you take responsibility for most of your team's struggles whether they’re your fault. As players you own your mistakes. For sustained success we have to have accountability all the time: for our actions and our body language. We can’t pretend things are going well when they’re not. We have to get feedback. Accountability stats with leaders who are accountable including coaches and parents. We have to be honest we don’t have it every day, we make mistakes. We have to be actively giving and receiving feedback because we all have blind sports. 

Great players crave criticism/feedback but average/poor players shrink back under critique. 

We just don't belong to ourselves but a team, a family, a community and a program. We have to build into our program the regular, hard conversations. Be transparent and have conflict. That’s where we grow. That’s how guys are prepared for an environment of competition. 


Do we have a culture of truth?  Can we give and receive hard truths without taking it personally? 

For coaches: 

Are you holding your players accountable to their role? Who is your mentor giving you feedback and insight? Are you giving players specific criticism, feedback or generalized feedback to the whole team? We have to embrace conflict in order to grow. Look for teaching moments on and off the court. Do we know the struggles of our players on and off the court? Do we take different personalities into account?

Coaches, are we honest? 

Do we coddle? 

Do we berate? 

Are we truth tellers?

Do we care? 

Faux leaders are afraid of conflict and accountability 

How do we let guys know they’re not meeting expectations, fulfilling their role?

How we say things is important

Know your guys and how they respond to criticism

Clarity proceeds accountability 

Don’t have  a right to hold players accountable until we’ve clearly communicated their role

For coaches: How are you evaluating yourself? What feedback? What are you reading, learning and how are you continuing to evolve? How are you communicating? What are kids hearing from us? Are you admitting you’re wrong? What is your non verbal communication? What messages are you sending? Are you admitting when you’re not living up to the Standard? Do you have the ability to not have all the answers? 

How are we accountable to the unique makeup of each team? Their personalities? How do you adapt to your guys? 

3 questions: 

Do I need to say this? Do I need to say it now? Does it need to be said by me? 


Outside assessment, clinics, and mentors. What are your biases? Find a mentor who will challenge and share truth with you. Attend practices of other coaches. 

How does your personality affect your team? Both good and bad? Your language, tone. Self evaluation and accountability. 

How do your players feel about you? 

Coaches have to know and be applying the standard? What is the end result that you want things to look like? If it’s not good, look in the mirror first before taking it out on the team. If players aren’t getting it, take responsibility 

Do we ask for players' opinions? Other coaches? Surveys? 

Do we have regular tough conversations with players? Normalize it. Be transparent. Prepare players for the environment of competition. Bridge the gap between reality and ideal. 

Who can we push? Push harder? 

What am I giving my guys? What are we developing: motivation, confidence and skills? How do they need to grow? Observe body language

Are we giving players the tools to grow their confidence? 

Watch your team and they’ll tell you what you need to work on. 
We have to coach behavior
Have a culture where we’re  working together towards a same goal so we can be honest and have hard conversations
Create an ecosystem of understanding  and accountability. Push with high standards, but don’t make personal

What are the consequences in the program? Extrinsic or intrinsic? Consequences: What are yours? That you won’t improve, get better, or win? Let teammates down? Push ups? Running? Extrinsic and intrinsic? 

If we always have physical consequences we’re not making the connections for players. See value and why. Coach the why!

For players: are you holding yourself accountable to getting better? Are you holding yourself accountable to your role on the team?  Don’t be sensitive to criticism. Use criticism from yourself and others to grow. Players, are you owning your confidence? Confidence comes from preparation? Are you holding yourself accountable to standards and the work you put in?  To your teammates and coaches?  Being a great teammate is part of being a winning player. 

Accountable for the work you put in? Do you have fake confidence? A plan for success? Are you coddled and told it’s ok? 

Do you blame? Point fingers at the coach or refs? 

Do we get fake confidence from parents, coaches and ourselves? 

For parents: 

Do you have blind belief and loyalty to your kids? Do you coddle? 

Ideas: Normalize self and peer evaluations for players on the team. Coach for the win. What’s the win for today? Allow good plates to be attacked by bad players


Struggle is not an option: it's a biological requirement. The road to success is paved with mistakes well handled-- Daniel Coyle

If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”-John Wooden


Toughness is the test of our passion and integrity in the face of adversity. Anyone can have a plan, dreams, goals but what happens when fatigue, adversity and losses strike? How uncomfortable are you willing to be for yourself and others? What sacrifices are you willing to make? Tom Izzo says “Players play but tough players win.” That’s true on the court and in life. Are we still willing to do the little things like setting screens, making good cuts and be coached when things are going against us? 

Our ceiling will be determined by our mind set to compete, face adversity and get better. 

We want to have a competitive culture that competes in every drill. Don’t take easy shots, gets in stance, on D, work to get to your spot. Don't play 3 quarters, half the year. Looks to turn a disadvantage to an advantage. 

Toughness is physical, mental and emotional

What about the days you’re not feeling it? What about the calls that go against you? What about the teammates that are frustrating? 

Are you willing to bounce back? Is your purpose clear and your integrity intact? Are you willing to be coached and held accountable? Your willingness to be coached may reflect your toughness. 

For coaches: How are you asking your players to get out of their comforter zone? How many hard things are you asking guys to do? We compete at the level of our environment so what kind of competitive culture are we creating? 

For players? How are you getting uncomfortable to get better? How do we handle failure, mistakes and embarrassment? Do you know the difference between playing hard and competing? Playing hard is not enough. Can you create an advantage out of a disadvantage? 

For everyone: Are we getting too high or low? Are we paying attention to our body language? Are we making excuses? 

Repetition will give you confidence. Confidence will allow you to control stress in tough environments

Confidence comes from your work, mindset and previous success (habits) 

 Coaches need to prepare their team to face the toughest possible challenges and situations (if a team’s own coach does not provide its biggest challenge, then an opposing coach and team will do it).-Dave Smart

Ideas: Emphasize special situations

Special situations, providing constraints in practice, time pressure, mistake pressure

The goal:
For kids to own their own confidence. Have mechanisms in place. For kids to know who they are, have a foundation. Not a fake confidence, a false bravado, not show offs

“Human Nature is not to be great, it’s to be average”. -Nick Saban

”You get your reputation through your repetitions. You don’t rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your habits.”- Kevin Eastman

Excellence: With precision, execution and communication 

Too often we call what’s actually mediocre great. Average gets confused with greatness

Complicated gets confused with greatness

We see excellence as a result instead of daily standard. 

The standard is the standard, it doesn’t change. 

We want Excellence in simplicity

-Simplicity with execution: Simple, Sound and Solid

Let’s be excellent at the details. The simple things!
Not 15 things, are the 2-3 things we want to improve on and be great at? 
Be great at the things you’re good at!
Repetition will create skills but commitment to detail will grow skills

Success is intentional and deliberate. It doesn’t happen by accident but is formed by our daily habits. 

Our habits tell us who we are and what we value

We have to spend deliberate, intentional time on what we want to be great at. 

What are we doing on purpose to fulfill our passion? Do we just say the words or do we live out excellence in our daily habits? 

Excellence isn't’ the end, it’s the daily choice to hold ourselves to high standards and do the little things right. 

Pursuing excellence means encouraging mistakes and great repetitions. 

For coaches: 

We have to define and set the standards. What are our non-negotiables? 

Encourage both mistakes and precision

Give players the freedom to be creative, fail, try new things and strive for greatness. 

Always be learning, learning is the oxygen for every coach. 

Are you providing solutions for your team? Are you giving them all the answers to the test? 

For players:

Be excellent at your role. What are the good things you can be great at? Are you ok failing in order to be great? Pursue daily excellence but don’t expect to be perfect every day. Excellence will demand the toughness to bounce back and the accountability to admit when you haven’t reached your standards. Pursuing excellence means having the willingness to get it wrong and be uncomfortable. Can you do something until its uncomfortable to you? 

Are you precise with screens, cuts, and your movement? Are you excellent with your habits, our body language, how we treat others, our skills, and communication.

For teams: 

We want to be great at the things that happen a lot. What are our gold standards? What are our non-negotiables? 

For everyone: Don’t be reactionary. Have a plan: for your life, goals, practices, and conversations. 

Ideas: What is the win for today? What intangible or skill do we want to emphasize on any given practice? Have a weekly think tank: or daily think tank where someone on staff brings in  a new idea. 

Chart winning stats: deflections, jasper assist, offensive rebounding attempts, screening assist, cutting assist

Perfection drills 

Have a shooting board. Move up and down ladder-who's made more that's who can shoot in a game

As a team what do you want to be great at? What is your personnel? 

PGC basketball recommendations for championship habits

Stack habits: 

Getting really good, excellent at two or three things early in the year and build off of those. Don’t lower the standards. Instead of a bunch of things. Over coach at the beginning then under coach. Shorten the number of things you do early on but get excellent at them. 

Do something until it's uncomfortable for you

*How will we measure and grow intangibles? How will we implement them into practice and into our drills? Will this be emphasized and talked about?