Wednesday, February 8, 2017

#66 Building a Basketball IQ

The world is not limited by IQ. We are all limited by bravery and creativity. --Astro Teller

I'm sorry if these blog entries often ask you to be my very inexpensive psychotherapist, but I feel like I am usually venting to those who can relate to me as a coach, parent, present or former athlete or maybe just an aspiring one of those.  Any way, I appreciate that so many of you come back and listen and sometimes share your thoughts or own experiences.

I will paraphrase Matthew McConaughey from Dazed and Confused, but the older I get, the younger [my players] seem to get.

It is amazing to me how little basketball a group of young men aged 15-18 actually watch.  When I was their age, I knew every player, what college they went to, their stats, their height and weight, their favorite moves, etc.

I memorized the details because I wanted to be those guys playing D1 or in the NBA, so I would not only learn about them as people, but I would go outside and mimic every move I learned the night before.

I don't think I was born any different than the average Joe, but I worked terribly hard to soak-up every ounce of wisdom from any person I looked up to.  I don't know when that changed or if it changed, but of the 15 young men I coach day in and day out, I only see 1 of the 15 as having the desire to grow and engage with anyone older than them that may be able to steal something to make their future brighter.  This young man is not the fastest or quickest.  He is probably the worst athlete in our program.  However, he is far and away the one with the brightest basketball future with real potential to play on TV some day and make money dribbling, shooting and passing a basketball.

What makes this young man "special" you ask?

The answer is not what you would expect, but it is the thing I cannot get past:  "His eyes."

His eyes are so very humble.  Without saying a word to me, I know he is listening; he understands; he is hungry for more; and he is very much appreciative of the information the coaches have to share with him.  Isn't that amazing?

I have been coaching for over 25 years.  I have been a Head Coach at some capacity for that long, and this is the first time I have truly understood why a kid will thrive or won't thrive on the court.  Many kids have those eyes every once in a while, but this young man shows those same humble eyes whether I am chewing him out or praising him in front of his teammates.

The big question comes back to #14 Significance vs. Success.  How do we teach kids to grow or build their basketball IQ, so it truly becomes a part of who they are?

You may write me (and I hope you do) with a much different perspective, but I have boiled it down to 4 major components:

1.  EARLY FAILURE;  Too many of us parents don't make our kids try new things.  We don't challenge their self-worth and then allow them to fail.  If a kid fails enough at something, they begin to realize that the failure isn't the end of the world.  And, if they keep trying, they learn from their mistakes and begin turning those failures into successes.  If we don't learn to fail, we can never really learn to succeed.

2.  HUNGER:  The great Hall of Fame college basketball coach, Al McGuire, once said "If they have grass on their lawn, I don't want them."  He was referring to kids who didn't know when their next meal would be or if they would have a place to sleep next week.  He knew that kids who knew what it was like to be hungry would work harder than anyone else because they never wanted to be in that position again.  I have learned that philosophy does not need to be as extreme or absolute as Coach's perspective.  A hungry kid could just be one that has such a big dream that they don't see obstacles in their way of achieving it.  Those kids will do anything to get better and fight for the next opportunity that presents itself.  How do we create that?  If your child says that they really, really want something, show them how to earn it.  If you just give it to them, they won't find a way to earn it when they can just come back to you each time.  [See signs in the forest that read "Don't Feed the Animals"]

3.  OPPORTUNITY:  If you take a dry sponge and throw it in a sink of water, it will quickly fill up and ingest every ounce of that water it can take.  Kids need the same.  Put your kids in situations where they can ingest.  This happens not only by putting them on teams and in leagues, but by taking them to games (HS, college, pro).  Show them what the best looks like.  Give them a chance to be inspired.  Put them in front of people who have done what they want to do.  Teach them to ask questions and expect answers and fight for those answers.  Be a sponge!

4.  FEED THE FIRE:  If your child wants to go to the park or go outside and shoot baskets or play catch, find the time to do it.  You don't have to be an athlete yourself to go for a run or shoot some baskets or just sit down and watch a game together.  When there is a fire in your child, you must nurture it or find someone who will.  I see so many kids with that fire and they quickly see me as the gasoline for that fire, but I can't go home with them.  I can't be their fuel every day.  I wish I could, but my family likes to see me every once in a while (I don't know why, but they do.)  So, bend a little.  Break a bit, but do all you can to feed the fire...no matter how small the flame!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Email:  coachrogers12@gmail.com
Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/rogersmatt16
Blog:  madcoachdiary.blogspot.com
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#65 Three Drills to Create Toughness

Mental toughness is spartanism with qualities of sacrifice, self-denial, dedication. It is fearlessness, and it is love. --Vince Lombardi

There is not a team that I have coached that I didn't love.  I don't have a former player who I don't look forward to our next conversation.  It makes my day every time one of them calls or writes. Although I am extremely proud of all my players, I have had very few kids over the years who came to our program who I would call naturally tough.  Toughness HAS to be taught.

So few kids are raised on farms anymore.  Even kids from the city with tough economic conditions aren't as tough as they used to be.  I can't tell you how many families I talk to who are struggling to pay next months rent, but the 15-year old in the family has an iPhone and a pair of Air Jordans.

Toughness has become how big of a bully we can be on Twitter.

For those of you who are in the same position I am where you are just trying to give those kids who have never been hungry; never been without; have never had to get on their knees and put a hard days work in, here are a couple of drills that I think will help.  I have split them into 3 categories:

WRESTLEMANIA

Have your kids partner up with a teammate who is similar in age, size and strength.  Let them pick their "opponent".  It will be good for you to see what they think is a good match for them.

Have one player hold a ball with their hands to the sides.  Have the other player hold the ball with their hands at the top and the bottom.

Blow your whistle or say "GO".  This is basically tug-of-war with two people and a basketball.  Do a best out of 7, and see who comes away with the possession the majority of the time.  The losers have to do 25 push-ups.

Once you say go, they can use their bodies and arms in anyway, as long as they don't kick, throw elbows, bite, etc.  Let them learn through repetition how to use their leverage to win that ball.

They will hate this drill, but they will learn to crave it.  Take 2-minutes and do it daily for a couple weeks.  You will find that you will stop losing all those loose rebounds and jump balls.

UNBROKEN

This is a great drill that Coach Shiomi taught me a few years back.  I cannot remember what she called it, but to me, the drill reminds me of the movie "Unbroken" because of the resilience it takes to win the drill.

Put one player in the paint as a post defender.  Line-up the rest of your roster at the top of the key.  The first offensive player runs into the paint and receives a post entry from a coach.  The play is then live 1 v 1.  The offensive player only gets 2 dribbles, but the play goes on until the offense scores or the defender gets a rebound or a steal or forces a turnover.

Once there is a score or a stop, the next offensive player dives to the post.  The defensive player stay on until they get 3 stops in a row.  The coach picks a new defender if there are 3 stops before the 10 minutes runs out.

CAUTION:  Start with your weakest kids on defense.  There will be tears.  There will be sympathy.  Don't let your offensive players take it easy on the exhausted kid who has had to play defense 10 times in a row.  Let that kid find their will and might and resilience.  They will get the job done if you let them.  I have done this drill numerous time for 10 minutes and only one player got to play defense the whole time.  They will be the saddest person in the gym, but they will NEVER let themselves be put in that position again.

300

Yes, another one of my favorite movies.  300 vs. 100,000.  Seems impossible.

This is a simple 3 v 3 half-court drills.  However, much like "Unbroken", the first 3 defenders must get 3 stops in a row.  If they foul, the count goes back to zero (same for Unbroken).  Make sure your offense attacks.  Once the defense gets a stop or the offense gets the score, the person closest to the ball must pass it out to the next offensive player at half court IMMEDIATELY, and those next three players IMMEDIATELY ATTACK the 3 defenders.  The offense can screen, cut, dribble, post, shoot however they want, but they must attack.

Once the 3 defenders get a stop, the coach picks 3 other defenders and you go again.  Coach Brase made us to do this at Coe the practice before every game, and I have used it ever since [I think Coach actually called the drill "Warrior"].  It is a great drill to build toughness, but it also builds teamwork.  The 3 defenders must work together or they will play defense for the full 10 minutes and be exhausted at the end.

Good luck with the last few weeks of the season!  I hope these three drills can help give you an edge your teams have been missing.  As always, please call with questions.

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Email:  coachrogers12@gmail.com
Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/rogersmatt16
Blog:  madcoachdiary.blogspot.com
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

#64 Let's Get Serious About Rotations

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller

For the strength of thepack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.  --Rudyard Kipling

There was a big college basketball game Saturday night with the #2 team in the nation battling the #4 team in the nation.  Both teams played exactly 8 players with the 8th player playing exactly 4 minutes for each team.  That means that in all reality, both of these future HOF coaches used only 7 players for the 40-minute game.  

I don't think either team pressed full-court for any real amount of time.  Neither team broke 80 points on the board.  Neither team had more than 80 offensive possessions.  So, the pace of the game was not abnormally fast in any way.

Most of you reading this do not have D1 workhorses on your roster.  If you do, you are lucky if you have one.  The D1 kids practice year round and have elite facilities, trainers and preparation.  Most of us cannot provide a glimmer of those types of resources or ever coach that kind of athlete.

Why is it that I continue to see high school coaches and small college coaches use only 7-8 players in a game like those elite D1 programs?

Let's talk BIG picture.  You are a high school coach or a small college coach.  You are lucky if you make enough money to do much but to make sure your tank is full of gas.  You have 12-15 young men or women on your roster (who you CHOSE to be on your team) who come to practice every day; give you everything they've got; commit to 70+ practices and 20+ games; and for their efforts, they get to sit and watch during games.

What are you naturally creating?

1.  Unhappy kids
2.  Unhappy parents
3.  Unhappy administrators
4.  Smaller crowds
5.  Tired kids at the end of games
6.  Exhausted kids at the end of the season

I was a college coach for a long-time, so I get the need to tighten up the roster for conference and important games.  I understand the value of a possession; let alone possession(s).  What I cannot understand is why coaches work to create conflict when they don't have to

You don't have to be Loyola Marymount or Grinnell or my old Maryville and La Verne teams and play 15 kids a game.  Those teams pressed for 40 minutes and had 6-7 second offensive possessions.  No kid could have played 40 minutes in those types of games without being a world class marathoner.  

However, I encourage every coach to not only think for the good of your kids, but to think of the good of your job.  If they were good enough to make your team or good enough for you to recruit them, don't you owe them and yourself the opportunity to prove their worth or lack of it in some quality game minutes?

In late 1990s, we had a high school program with 5 future college players, and 5 kids who could have easily been the 3rd place intramural team at a local liberal arts college.  They were great kids, but were extremely deficient in size, speed, ability or all of the above.  The 5 college-bound kids played for 3 minutes at a time, and then they were subbed in for those 5 "not ready for prime-time" kids for a full 5-for-5 substitution.  Those subs knew they were only going to get a  minute and a half opportunity, but they were fully committed to making the most of that 90 seconds.

Our first group pressed and ran and executed with high ability.  The second group was sloppy and out of control and rarely executed anything with precision.  The first group would score 80-90% of our points every game in about 22-24 minutes of play.  The second group would give us the rest in 8-10 minutes of play.  Most coaches look at those numbers and say, "We could score so much more if that first group wasn't giving away those 8-10 minutes."

We looked down at the other teams bench and said, "Wow, there's 6 minutes left in the first half, and that coach hasn't subbed yet and his kids on the floor can barely walk because they are so tired."

We were in very few close games, but when we were, we almost always finished victoriously because our starters were fresh at the end of the game, and the other team was having to sub kids in for their starters who had fouled out. Our elite best was finishing against their weak, worn-out and inexperienced bench.  The other team never had a chance.

By utilizing the "pack" as our strength, we made the "wolf" that much more effective and efficient.

You don't have to use whole-sale substitutions.  Heck, you don't even need to give kids consistent minutes, but if you make your team rotations a part of who you are and what you do, you may find that those 6 problems you were creating above turned into opportunities that look like this:

1.  Happier, more committed kids
2.  Happier families who leave you alone
3.  Happier administrators that like the energy your team creates
4.  Bigger crowds because they love your pace and the fact that all their friends get to play
5.  TV, Paper and Radio stations show up to see this unique style
6.  You are happier because all of your kids are invested and care about the bigger picture
7.  More wins because your kids are healthy and strong when you need them the most

You can question this philosophy.  You can doubt its validity, but I can show you on film and in the record books that good, bad and ugly high school teams, college men's teams and college women's teams can all make this a reality.  How do I know?  Because I've done it with all 3.  Give it a shot.  Be happy.  Make your kids happy.  Enjoy the game!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Email:  coachrogers12@gmail.com
Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/rogersmatt16
Blog:  madcoachdiary.blogspot.com
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

#63 The Contagion of Rebounding

The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.  Wilhelm Stekel

It's that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so 'don't fuss, dear; get on with it'. ― Audrey Hepburn

I chose two galvanizing quotes about selflessness because I am writing about a topic that requires young men and young women to fully embrace the ideas of selflessness and humility to truly see the individual and group fruits of the topic:  The Contagion of Rebounding.

Contagion is a word that usually is associated with the spread of disease, but it also can mean the spread/transmission of an idea from person to person.  Rebounding is just that type of idea because it requires an individual to buy in whole-heartedly to not just the effort required but to fully understand how that effort translates into confidence for one's teammates.

If you ask most coaches how rebounding affects shooting, you will usually get a long pause before an answer because most have never really connected the two.  Most would even tell you there is an extreme disconnect or opposite correlation.

"Rebounding relates to a person missing a shot, so how does one help the other?"

The biggest problem with most young people is that they are in constant worry of disappointing their coaches and teammates.

"I'm wide-open, but if I miss, I will have let my team down and my coach may remove me from the game."

I can actually see those thoughts in the eyes of players in every game I coach or observe.  Now, the great scorers the world has seen (i.e. Jordan, Bird, Iverson, Curry) didn't have those thoughts...and if they did, they were quickly eradicated once they learned how detrimental they were to their personal gains and their team's success.

These are special players.  1 in a 100 maybe.  Whether they understand that their special, personal confidence comes from the "contagion of rebounding" or whether they just have innate confidence in their own ability is not here nor there.  These are not the players that any of us coaches have to worry about.  Most of us are not blessed with a 1/100 player in a career, let alone a season.

The contagion of rebounding is how we, as coaches, have an opportunity to enable those other 99 to learn how to discard that fear of letting their teammates down and just shoot the ball.

The contagion of rebounding really has 3 different perspectives that need to be taught, modeled, and then supported.

1.  Offensive Rebounding=Scoring Opportunities:  "If my coach is not running the offense through me, or I do not have built in opportunities to score, or I am not expected to score, I must use the opportunity to take advantage of missed shots to create my own opportunity."

2.  Defensive Rebounding=Offensive Possessions:  "If we don't have the ball, my team does not get the opportunity to play on offense.  If the other team can get as many shots as they like every possession, my team will never be able to catch up."

3.  Offensive Rebounding=Confident Shooters:  "When I am open, I am going to set my feet and take a good shot.  If I miss, I know my teammates will get the rebound, and we will have another opportunity for me to shoot again or for my team to score again."

As a coach, you don't just have an opportunity to spread the "disease" of rebounding; moreover, you have an obligation to create the contagion of that disease.

Think about it.  Who are the teams you hate to face the most?  This should be a unanimous answer...the teams who play the hardest and are relentless and demonstrate the most consistent desire on defense and on the boards.

Teams who are driven in practice every day on defense and rebounding to play their hardest for long periods of time can create this.  Teams who are given drills that are competitive in nature where scoring means nothing, but offensive and defensive rebounds create points for the win can create this.  However, it is the coach who preaches "Shoot when you are open," and "Attack the defensive rebounders shoulder to create a 50/50 or better offensive rebounding position," and "Crash the glass like a pack of wild, starving wolves" will create this every time.  This cannot be a once per week ordeal.  It has to be a daily and ever-present voice and message that rebounding on both ends of the floor will not only create a positive end result, but the tenacity of our rebounding will eventually break the spirit of our opponent.

You can keep on believing that your well-thoughtout offensive magic and your dynamic 1-3-1 swarming amoeba defense is going to win you a State or National Championship.  I wish you luck with that.  However, I hope you don't face the team during that run who has been infected with contagion of rebounding.  I would put money on the possibility that you may not be carrying that trophy home.

It's not to late to start the infection.  It will take more than one injection of that virus.  It must be infused daily!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Email:  coachrogers12@gmail.com
Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/rogersmatt16
Blog:  madcoachdiary.blogspot.com
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

#62 Advice to My 15-Year Old Self

Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. --Pope John XXIII

I'm a real sucker for any Robert Redford movie.  I guess it is the humanity and humility he brings to every character and every story he tells that gets me.  I am rarely as motivated within my own mortality as I am after watching one of his films.

I watched Lions for Lambs again today for about the 10th time, and I was again overwhelmed with emotion by the story and highly inspired by the message.  It is amazing how his political films going back 40+ years for some (see The Candidate) stand the test of time and are still relative and feel like they could have been written and filmed today without much change to story line.  Mr. Redford knows that history consistently repeats itself and his movies are a swift kick in the tookus as a reminder that we just can't help ourselves to put the brakes on when we have a chance to truly make a difference.

Maybe I am too soft or liberal.  Maybe I am just a Peter Pan who refuses to grow up. Maybe I am naive.  Whatever the answer, I simply cannot turn off my passion for wanting to make the world a better place while helping others take stock in their own reality and capabilities.

Robert Redford sure knows how to do that for me.  You might just say that is the sign of a great movie star or film maker, but I think it is the sign of a great human being.

That brings me to the point of today's blog:  If I could go back in time and sit down with my 15-year old self, what advice would I give?

As I look at the big picture of our world, I am also asking myself if I had the chance to go back and time and give advice to a 15-year old Donald Trump or Barack Obama, what advice would I give them?  I've received some very good answers to that question from some of you, and I will give you the shortened version of some of those:


  • Slow down and enjoy the moment
  • Listen to your [parents]
  • Live every day as if it is your last
  • Take advantage of every opportunity
  • Don't chase love, but don't be afraid of it when you find it
  • Be generous in all you do
  • Stand up for yourself and those you love and care about
  • Speak and act with conviction
  • Treat others the way you would want to be treated
  • "Let him without sin be the first to throw a stone..."
If we have the power to instill any of these messages into our children or any child, I believe that we are helping make the world a better place.  The problem is that these messages have become cliche.  We treat them like something we passed by on a bumper sticker giving it 5 seconds of thought and then moving on to the next thing we see.  How often do any of us sit our children down or our teams or our classrooms and not only express one of these themes, but talk about how we could put action to the words.  How do we practice what we preach?

For most of my young adult life, older teachers, coaches, etc. would often tell me that my passion would subside as I got older...that I would gain perspective, and I would not be so quick to fight for justice and righteousness.

I've been married for 19 years.  I am working on my third mortgage.  I have had a dozen different jobs with 6 different institutions and companies.  I have lost great friends, mentors and family members.  I am raising two children.  I've had to worry where my next paycheck would come from and how I would support my family.

Yet after all of this and a thousand other experiences, I am still disappointed in our world and in myself when we don't speak up and fight for what is right...when we don't stand up and fight for our dreams and our goals.  I still can't get on the phone with a family or watch a kid at a practice and say "Those people need my help, but they will be alright if I don't help them or if I don't give them my best."  I just don't have it in me to give less of what I am capable of.  And, I still get extremely depressed and disappointed when I fail in giving my best to anyone.

So, what would I say to a young Matt Rogers or a young Donald Trump or a young Barack Obama?

"Give them the truth.  Give them your best.  If they don't like you or don't like what you have to say, keep being true to yourself.  When you have a chance to do something good, don't sit on the sidelines and wait for your number to be called.  Take advantage of every situation to do good and don't ever let anyone tell you that you are trying too hard or are too passionate about what you believe in."

This one was for Adam - I love you, buddy!  Thanks for the great conversation yesterday.  No matter what I say, you continue to impress me in every way!



Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Email:  coachrogers12@gmail.com
Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/rogersmatt16
Blog:  madcoachdiary.blogspot.com
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.








Thursday, January 12, 2017

Help With My Next Blog

I NEED YOUR HELP!

Over the last few months, all of you have blown me away with your kindness and commitment to the blog.  On average, about 1000 of you read every blog I type and send out into the blog-o-sphere.  It is truly humbling to have so many people reading my blog in about 10 different countries all over the planet.

When I started this blog over 3 years ago, I thought I would be writing for myself and maybe my family and a couple dozen of my former players who are now high school and college coaches.  To say the least, I am overwhelmed with gratitude because all of you with your messages, emails, comments, etc. have kept me inspired to keep giving back as much as I can.

With that said, I would very much like your help in writing my next blog.  I plan on writing it on Tuesday morning, so over the next 4 days, I would like to have as many of you write in my comment section below or to my personal email address the answer to this question:

"If you could sit down with your 15 year-old self, and give that young person one piece of sound advice that you wish someone would have shared with you, what would that advice be?"

My next blog will be entitled "Advice to My 15-Year Old Self"...as you could imagine.  I would like to share as much of your advice in that blog as possible because I know how many parents, coaches, and young athletes read this on a regular basis.  I want to have one blog to share all of our "secrets" to a healthier, happier, and more confident future.

I appreciate your help, and I look forward to learning from you!!!


Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Email:  coachrogers12@gmail.com
Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/rogersmatt16
Blog:  madcoachdiary.blogspot.com
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

#61 Press Breaker Do's and Do Not's

Courage is grace under pressure. --Ernest Hemingway

For the first time in 17 years, I am coaching basketball without a shot clock.  The state of Colorado is a little late to the party of the shot clock, so the need, ability, and execution of the press and the press breaker are a gigantic part of our day to day development because we don't want opponents to hold the ball with a lead and eliminate our ability to use our strength...our deep bench.  Because of that, we press a lot and whether we are up or down late, we win a lot of our late games because the other team simply refuses to use their bench and their kids run out of gas.

I've already put a ton of time in this blog into the defensive side of the press (See Posts #39#25#13), so I thought it was a long overdue time to focus on breaking a press.  Like we try and do with our practice and all player development, below you will see 3 simple Do's and 3 simple Do Not's for whatever you are trying to do against a full to half court trapping scenario to keep it simple for your players.

The DO's


  1.  USE THE ENTIRE FLOOR:   Always have your best shooter in the front court in the deep corner versus a press.  If that person happens to also be your best ball-handler, then put your second best shooter in the deep corner.
    • Why?  To break a press, the most important thing you can DO is pull defenders from the back court, so they have fewer trappers to fill up your creative space.  By sending your best shooter down the floor, you are forcing the defense's hand to keep at least one "trapper" all the way back.
    • Intangible?  Consider putting two of your best scorers all the way back in opposite corners.  That pulls two defenders back and allows you to score quickly from each side of the floor.
  2. WORK INSIDE-OUT:  However you choose to break a press, always work to get the ball in the middle of the floor using the sideline routes as diversions.  Once you hit the middle, you can sprint up the sidelines and throw over-top without worrying about defense over-top.  Once the ball is in the middle (even against a 2-2-1), the wing defenders must pinch to the middle of the floor or they will give up a driving lane to the basket.
    • Why?  The middle of the floor is the worst place on the floor to trap because the receiver can then pass right or left or drive either direction.  You eliminate the sideline as a useful 2nd or 3rd trapper.
    • Intangible?  Put your best passer, decision-maker, and highest IQ guy in the middle.  This may even be your point guard in some cases.
  3. PRACTICE AGGRESSIVENESS:  If you are going to attack inside-out, that means you are often going to be passing middle to sideline.  Make sure you are practicing having your guys and gals getting trapped out of that middle pass, so they learn how to catch, pass-fake, and dribble penetrate to the middle of the floor splitting that next trap before it every gets to the them.
    • Why?  It's the same idea as #2.  The middle is the hardest place to trap and the middle gives you the most options.  So, if your wings know to immediately attack the middle of the floor off a wing catch, you will remove the equation of another difficult trap.
    • Intangible:  Ideally, you want your middle passer (if you are giving them 2 choices up the floor) to attempt to pass to the side with your best slasher.  Now, when that slasher attacks and the defense collapses, that slasher always has the best shooter on the floor to kick to opposite on that drive.
The Do NOT's

  1. (DO NOT) PACK THE BACK-COURT:  I know this a little redundant from #1 of the "Do's", but I wanted to stress the importance of space for your kids.  I know that without a doubt, no matter how good or how poor your ball-handlers are, breaking the press with ONLY 3 guys in the back-court is always going to be your best option.  Teach your kids to seal a defender on each side of the floor to the inside (use the elbows as a viable place to start), and teach them to post up for the inbounder (yes, even your guards!).  The inbounder always knows that they are going to be passing the ball to one of the sidelines.  
    • Why?  The only way to counter this measure is for the defense to "stack" the defense on each side with a guy underneath and a guy over-top.  That means you either have one defensive player on the ball and no one back deep to guard your two shooters, or no one on the ball taking 75% of the pressure off your inbounder.  Either way, it hurts their press and helps your opportunities.
    • Intangibles?  Coaches are going to work hard to eliminate that initial entry to your point guard, so practice daily hitting a big on the other side and then shooting your PG up the middle of the floor (think zig-zag cuts) like you are shooting them out of cannon to the rim.  That sling-shot approach is nearly impossible to guard without creating a 2-1 break for the offense.
  2. (DO NOT) RELY ON YOUR BIG MAN TO INBOUND:  I'm sorry, but I have a real problem with my worst passer and decision-maker being my inbounder.  Now, if your big is a Christian Laettner-type who has a high level IQ, I love it.
    • Why?  That big guy is usually going to be my best finisher and biggest target, and I want that guy closest to the rim and not the furthest.  
    • Intangible?  If you are going to use your big against a press, put them opposite of your point guard to create a big target for your inbounder and then you have a guy who can pass over top of the press a lot easier.  However, don't be afraid to put him back opposite of your shooter.  You just may want him cutting to the rim before he catches the ball.
  3. (DO NOT) WORK BACKWARDS:  I have written many times about 1950's archaic basketball philosophies that still linger today and throwing the ball backwards against the press is probably the one I understand the least.  Always work to cut and position to continually work the ball forward towards the goal.
    • Why?  The more you move the ball back to the inbounder, the more time you are giving the defense to trap you in the back-court while putting more stress on your ball-handlers to get across the :10 line.  If you can pass back to the inbounder, then you can surely pass to him up the floor if he/she will just cut up the middle or up and to the sideline after they pass in.
    • Intangible?  Every coach should be teaching their players the power of passing and cutting.  There is no more valuable skill against a press.  Once you pass versus a press or a zone, all 5 defensive player are now shifting their vision, attention and bodies to the ball.  This gives the former passer and now present cutter an extreme advantage to get to space and get that ball back to be D-angerous.
If you would like to talk through any of this or Skype or Facetime to chalk talk, do not hesitate to give me a call.  Whatever you do, get busy teaching the breakdowns and practice daily, so they are ready when the pressure is on!  Have fun!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary
Email:  coachrogers12@gmail.com
Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/rogersmatt16
Blog:  madcoachdiary.blogspot.com
Phone:  (312) 610-6045

Matt Rogers is a 20-year high school and college coach veteran.  He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship.  His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout/Recruiting Specialist for NCSA - Next College Student Athlete where he has helped thousands of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level.  Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 19 years and his two children. 

To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.