"Swing level," "Swing down on the ball," and "chop wood" are all phrases coaches have used to teach a baseball player the proper swing path. As you can see in the picture to the left, none of those nuggets of advice are the best route to take. Now, you don't want an uppercut swing, but a slight upward swing provides the optimal directionally opposing force to a slightly downward angle pitch. If the swing angle is slightly less than the pitch angle, this contact will likely create the backspin desired.
This page is simply a disorganized list of random coaching notes I've taken over the years. I've filled up many notebooks (I almost always have one with me) from coaching clinics, online research, watching other coaches at their games and practices, and during my own coaching efforts. Some are good ideas, some are what not to do, and some are "wonder if this will work" concepts. Read at your own risk!
Random Points Game - Coach Damien Wong-Ken
- The coach assigns a random point value to accomplishment of a task, winning an event, or anything competitive in practice, and the kids will LOVE it. The points mean nothing, and truly work towards no prize (although you can assign a prize if you want) but the kids eat up the competition.
Winning Youth Coaching Podcast #009
Coach Jared Gilbert
"If the players aren't getting it, the coaches aren't teaching it right." "If it's happening either you taught it that way or you allowed it to happen."
"Other than 'dad' (or 'mom') the best thing you can be called is 'coach.'"
Team compliments after practice
Balloon Dribbling Drill
Toss a balloon up and have the players keep it afloat while dribbling. Add more balloons as the game progresses.
- variation - each player has a balloon and it's an individual drill
Notes from the Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coach course
- use a 5:1 positive to negative comment ratio
- Coach John Wooden was near 87%
- "Truthful and specific praise"
- Culture is defines as, "The way we do things here."
- Create a mistake ritual
- pretend to flush a toilet or wipe it off your shoulder
During the post-game talk, when addressing the team, direct compliments at players and improvements at the team.
"We need to field the ball better."
"We need to rebound better."
"Beckett, you played great defense today."
"Briley, you pitched really well today."
Here's a good list of coaching points derived from conversations with some long time coaches.
always remember you're a role model, whether you want to be or not
no game is worth winning if you have to compromise your integrity to get it
someone will always disagree with you - don't give in
you take the blame, the team gets the credit
do not blame your team publicly for losing a game
don't talk badly about officials to your team or anyone outside the organization
bonus points for praising your opponent publicly
the officials didn't cost you the game
the world doesn't revolve around your team, maintain balance in your life
if an athlete comes to you with a complaint, listen carefully, even if it's about you
don't be a friend to your athletes, this can put you in compromising positions
never date a student
if you get into trouble, you will soon find out who your friends are
pay attention to those who pat you on the back most when you're winning and gauge their reactions when you lose
if someone in the community is openly criticizing you, don't ignore it, meet them face-to-face to clear it up
never take anything for granted when kids are involved
remember that even the best plans go wrong
never allow your athletes to blame a teammate for a loss - this can rip the team apart
lucky breaks are a part of the game - so are bad ones
don't just tell people how they did something wrong, make sure you tell them how to do it right
normally, the team who makes the fewest mistakes wins
athletes win games, not coaches
desire is more important than skill
it pays to know who your gamers are
high morality is essential to a winning team
the best time to scold your team is when they play poorly but get lucky and win anyway
when their spirits are low, don't scold the team - it can wait until the next practice
the best way to teach hard work is by modeling it
as soon as you're bored with, or tired of coaching, it's time to get out
have a reason for everything and be able to explain that reason
take care of the little things
always let your athletes know why
in a deadlock of opinion, the head coach has 51% of the vote, the rest of the staff gets 49% combined
create an atmosphere where students want to be part of your team
your athletes should learn more about life than they learn about the game
be a confidence-builder for your players
the real test of a coach is not on the scoreboard or the winning record - can you get 100% effort out of your team?
never settle for mediocrity; good is the enemy of great
the only happy players on the team are the ones that play a lot
establish good habits and ensure they are practiced consistently
Always remember, winning is a habit, unfortunately so is losing
don't take yourself too seriously
you'll almost always take the game, and the team more seriously than your players
don't interfere with your opponents when they are in the process of collapsing
when it looks like you're going to win, it's time to buckle up
you're never as good as you think you are when you win, and you're never as bad as you think when you lose
the harder the players work during practice, the more difficult it is for them to give up in the games
excellence costs a lot, but mediocrity costs more in the long run
an army of deer led by a lion is more feared than an army of lion led by a deer
what's best for the team trumps what's best for you
During conditioning, towards the end, ask the players to raise their hand when they commit to giving 100%. The next sprint doesn't start until everyone has raised their hand.
Something to ask the parents regarding coaching from the sidelines - Are you effective when you're on the phone and 3 or 4 kids are screaming in the next room, the television is on loud, one kid is crying, and there's music coming from the computer?
Ask your players:
Would you rather win the game by displaying unsportsmanlike behavior or lose the game because you showed class and good sportsmanship? A good idea not to make them answer the question to you (they'll know what the obvious right answer is) but this exercise can be powerful for introspection.
The way we compete won't change despite the actions of the other team.
Ask open-ended questions during teachable moments. This forces the player to think instead of relying on the direction of the coach.
"What could you have done in that situation?"
- this helps the player work through the answer
- builds confidence
- creates a habit of solving problems on their own
One question a coach must know the answer to before chewing out a player - "What did you see?" Without knowing what the player saw from his or her perspective, the coach is providing a direction from his own or her own perspective. That teaching point will be lost on the athlete if the athlete's perspective differs from the coach's perspective.
- in basketball, a point guard makes a pass that results in a turnover
- the coach just thinks it was an errant pass and chews out the player for it
- the player saw an open lane, but didn't see the defensive player moving into position
- since the coach thinks his answer solved the problem, he has no further action to take. However, a perceptive coach will understand the real training that needs to happen - the point guard needs to see the floor better.
First, let me say, any coach can provide quotes and that doesn't make him or her a good coach. However, if any coach can have quotes, then shouldn't the good ones have them?
John Wooden Quotes and Concepts
“Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.” – John Wooden
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” – John Wooden
“Make each day your masterpiece“ – John Wooden
“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden
“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.” – John Wooden
“Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” – John Wooden
“There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.” – John Wooden
“If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” – John Wooden
“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” – John Wooden
“Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” – John Wooden
“Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.” – John Wooden
“In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.” – John Wooden
“Just try to be the best you can be; never cease trying to be the best you can be. That’s in your power.” – John Wooden
“A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.” – John Wooden
“The best competition I have is against myself to become better. – John Wooden
“The most important thing in the world is family and love.” – John Wooden
“I had three rules for my players: No profanity. Don’t criticize a teammate. Never be late.” – John Wooden
“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” – John Wooden
“The worst thing about new books is that they keep us from reading the old ones.” – John Wooden
“Passion is momentary; love is enduring.” – John Wooden
“You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.” – John Wooden
“Friendship is two-sided. It isn’t a friend just because someone’s doing something nice for you. That’s a nice person. There’s friendship when you do for each other. It’s like marriage – it’s two-sided.” – John Wooden
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.” – John Wooden
“Adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.” – John Wooden
“My eyesight is not nearly as good. My hearing is probably going away. My memory is slipping too. But I’m still around.” – John Wooden
“There’s as much crookedness as you want to find. There was something Abraham Lincoln said – he’d rather trust and be disappointed than distrust and be miserable all the time. Maybe I trusted too much.” – John Wooden
“Young people need models, not critics.” – John Wooden
“You can lose when you outscore somebody in a game. And you can win when you’re outscored.” – John Wooden
“I am just a common man who is true to his beliefs.” – John Wooden
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
“I think the teaching profession contributes more to the future of our society than any other single profession.” – John Wooden
“Never mistake activity for achievement.” – John Wooden
“What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.” – John Wooden
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”– John Wooden
“I think you have to be what you are. Don’t try to be somebody else. You have to be yourself at all times.” – John Wooden
“Be true to yourself. Make each day a masterpiece. Help others. Drink deeply from good books. Make friendship a fine art. Build a shelter against a rainy day.” – John Wooden
“It isn’t what you do, but how you do it.” – John Wooden
“Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.” – John Wooden
“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” – John Wooden
“Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.” – John Wooden
“Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters.” – John Wooden
“Consider the rights of others before your own feelings, and the feelings of others before your own rights.” – John Wooden
“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” – John Wooden
“I worry that business leaders are more interested in material gain than they are in having the patience to build up a strong organization, and a strong organization starts with caring for their people.” – John Wooden
“I’d rather have a lot of talent and a little experience than a lot of experience and a little talent.” – John Wooden
“Well, if you’re true to yourself you’re going to be true to everyone else.” – John Wooden
“Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.” – John Wooden
“Defense is a definite part of the game, and a great part of defense is learning to play it without fouling.” – John Wooden
“Don’t give up on your dreams, or your dreams will give up on you.” – John Wooden
“If I were a young coach today, I would be extremely careful in selecting assistants.” – John Wooden
“Teaching players during practices was what coaching was all about to me.” – John Wooden
“Discipline yourself, and others won’t need to.” – John Wooden
“If a player’s not doing the things he should, put him on the bench. He’ll come around.” – John Wooden
“The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.” – John Wooden
“Well, your greatest joy definitely comes from doing something for another, especially when it was done with no thought of something in return.” – John Wooden
"We can have no progress without change, whether it be basketball or anything else.” – John Wooden
“When you hurry you’re more apt to make mistakes. But you have to be quick. If you’re not quick you can’t get things done.” – John Wooden
“Somebody asked me – you know, how come it took you so long to win a national championship? And I said, ‘I’m a slow learner; but you notice when I learn something, I have it down pretty good.’” – John Wooden
“Ability is a poor man’s wealth.” – John Wooden
“I don’t believe in praying to win.” – John Wooden
“You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.” – John Wooden
“Just do the best you can. No one can do more than that.” – John Wooden
“It’s not so important who starts the game but who finishes it.” – John Wooden
“I think that in any group activity – whether it be business, sports, or family – there has to be leadership or it won’t be successful.” – John Wooden
“I’m not going to say I was opposed to the Vietnam War. I’m going to say I’m opposed to war. But I’m also opposed to protests that deny other people their rights.” – John Wooden
“Be prepared and be honest.” – John Wooden
“If I am through learning, I am through.” – John Wooden
“Love is the most important thing in the world. Hate, we should remove from the dictionary.” – John Wooden
“Earn the right to be proud and confident.” – John Wooden
“I think permitting the game to become too physical takes away a little bit of the beauty.” – John Wooden
“I don’t think I was a fine game coach. I’m trying to be honest. I think I was a good practice coach.” – John Wooden
“I don’t believe in fate.” – John Wooden
“You can do more good by being good than any other way.” – John Wooden
“If there’s anything you could point out where I was a little different, it was the fact that I never mentioned winning.” – John Wooden
“I’m no wizard, and I don’t like being thought of in that light at all. I think of a wizard as being some sort of magician or something, doing something on the sly or something, and I don’t want to be thought of in that way.” – John Wooden
“No one can really honestly be the very best, no one.” – John Wooden
“Never lie, never cheat, never steal.” – John Wooden
“I talked to the players and tried to make them aware of what was good and bad, but I didn’t try to run their lives.” – John Wooden
“I like to spend time in the past, with the things that have been important to me.” – John Wooden
"I was built up from my dad more than anyone else.” – John Wooden
“It takes time to create excellence. If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.” – John Wooden
“The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” ― John Wooden
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” ― John Wooden
“Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” ― John Wooden
“Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them and your foes won’t believe them.” ― John Wooden
“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.” ― John Wooden
“It is amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.” ― John Wooden
“Don’t let yesterday take up too much of today.” ― John Wooden
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” ― John Wooden
“It is the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden
“Happiness begins where selfishness ends.” ― John Wooden
“Players with fight never lose a game, they just run out of time” ― John Wooden
“Listen if you want to be heard” ― John Wooden
“Never try to be better than someone else. Learn from others, and try to be the best you can be. Success is the by-product of that preparation.” ― John Wooden
“Nothing will work unless you do.” – John Wooden
“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating…too often fathers neglect it because they get so caught up in making a living they forget to make a life.” ― John Wooden
“Tell the truth. That way you don’t have to remember a story.” – John Wooden
“If we magnified blessings as much as we magnify disappointments, we would all be much happier.” – John Wooden
“You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes” – John Wooden
“Although there is no progress without change, not all change is progress.” – John Wooden