Friday, December 27, 2013

#38 The Parent Plan, Part I: Paying For College

Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.
Malcolm X

The goal of this series is to not only help parents develop a long-term game plan toward getting their child recruited, but to help them be proactive and realistic toward their child’s collegiate recruitment. Most families think there are unlimited amounts of athletic scholarships available but have no idea how much competition there is for each dollar nor do they understand how unbelievably dynamic and athletic those qualifying for those scholarships have to be.

This will be a three part series and include how to prepare financially, maximizing talent, and maximizing recruitment in order to help parents give their child the most choices for college by making it as inexpensive as possible.  Parents, and especially student-athletes, need to understand that their future is in their hands and their hands alone.  It is not the high school or club coaches job to get them recruited.  It is theirs.  College coaches just don’t find athletes randomly.  Families need a plan and to be proactive about gaining exposure.
If you are a parent with young children, the prospect of retiring with a strong portfolio and sending your child to a good college may seem like an unrealistic goal, if not a very daunting task.  Tuition costs at colleges across the country seem to be growing at uncontrolled percentages year after year.  With public schools struggling to keep up with so many states facing financial difficulties, public tuition is following the same path as its private college brethren.  Every school is competing for the top faculty, the biggest potential donors, and the development of academic programs that interest the present generation of computer wizards (at least from the perspective of a guy who didn’t grow up with computers, cell phones, etc.).
You and your parent peers are no dummies.  You hear about your neighbor’s kid getting a full-ride to play volleyball at a local Division I state school or a cousin signing to play football at a junior college for two years tuition free, and it is hard not to get serious about getting your child serious about developing their athletic prowess.  The problem is that your kid isn’t terribly tall or athletic; even though, they love playing.  How do you make your child’s dreams of going to college a reality?
Step 1:  Early Investment
Whether it is $10 per week or a couple hundred dollars a month, don’t waste another day putting money away for your child(ren)’s college tuition.  Whether you put the money into an interest-based savings account, bonds, a money market or a CD, as long as you are making interest on that money, you are doing well.  There are great plans out there that will help you grow your investment, but I highly recommend talking to a financial adviser about a 529 plan.  Most states have one, and you usually have the freedom to invest with your state of choice or multiple states if you choose.
The great thing about the 529 is that the money invested and earned can be used in any capacity to help for college.  If your children end up getting a full scholarship and not needing that money, you can use the money toward just about anything including going back to school yourself or for a younger sibling or to put toward a new computer, books, housing, etc.  To get the full details, definitely reach out to your local financial adviser.  The link to understanding the 529 is below.
Step 2:  Academic Commitment
What most families don’t understand is that only 6.7% of the 7.5 million high school students playing high school sports right now will play in college.  Less than 1% of that 6.7% will get a NCAA Division I scholarship.  The chances of your child getting a full D1 athletic scholarship are just a little better than the chances of your child becoming an astronaut [sarcasm], but you catch the drift.  Division 1 scholarships only account for about 20% of the athletic scholarships given each year.  The other 80% come from NCAA Division II, NAIA, and Junior Colleges.  NCAA Division III institutions are not allowed to give any financial aid based on our child’s athletic prowess…only academic success earned.  [Don’t let that deter you from DIII schools.  They are some of the best schools in the country and often will compete financially, even without athletic scholarships.]
With that said, it is important that your child makes a commitment to their academics early beginning no later than their freshman year of high school.  Most Divisions (except D1 football and basketball) allow the Athletic programs to stack academic scholarships with athletic scholarships.  This means that the better your son or daughter’s GPA and SAT/ACT scores are, the more attractive your child is to a college coach.
For instance, let’s say that I am a NCAA Division II basketball coach.  I have one $35,000 full scholarship left, but I need a center and a point guard to commit in next year’s class.  I have two point guards that I like a lot.  One is your son.  The other player has a 2.9 GPA and an 18 ACT.  Your son has a 3.5 GPA and a 25 ACT.  My University only gives academic money to students who have a minimum GPA of 3.2 and a minimum ACT of 22.  The other player is a little bigger and more athletic than your son, but both have the abilities and basketball IQ I am looking for.  Which player do I offer a scholarship to?
If the talent is that balanced between the two young men, I am giving an athletic scholarship to your son.  I know my University is going to offer him $18,000 in academic scholarship and University grants (all gift aid that doesn’t need to be paid back).  I now can give your son a $17,000 athletic scholarship, and we will call it a full-ride with the academic money stacked.  If I chose the other player, I would have to give my entire $35,000 in scholarship money to give him a full-ride.  With your son committing to me, I now have $18,000 left in athletic money to go get the center I need.
So, to sum up, the higher your child’s cumulative high school grades (FR-SR) and the higher the test scores (ACT/SAT), the more money a University is going to give him.  The more money the University gives him, the less athletic scholarship money the college coach needs to give your son…making him that much more attractive to the college coach.
Step 3:  Create Recruitment Competition
The real key to a strong financial recruitment plan is to create a competition for your child’s skills, abilities, and academic prowess.  The more college coaches that want your son/daughter, the harder they will work to make their school look more attractive ($$$$).  How do you do this?  I call it the three E’s:
Exposure:  Get your child’s performance in front of as many college coaches as possible.  On-line video is the best way to achieve this and the least expensive.
Evaluation:  Make sure you have edited/verified video that can be sent to hundreds of coaches who fit your child’s academic/athletic profile.  Coaches are NOT showing up at your child’s games randomly.
Education:  It is imperative that your child learn early on how to communicate with coaches and learn how to build relationships with those coaches.  Coaches love kids who handle their business instead of mom and dad serving as their agents.  Too much parent involvement can destroy your child’s recruitment efforts.
There is no better resource for creating that competition than NCSA, the National Collegiate Scouting Association (   They have strong relationships with over 42,000 coaches nation-wide at all levels and with 29 sports, and they have a proven formula to help you develop a strong plan toward creating competition for your child, and therefore, scholarship opportunity.
For those of you who like to do your own research, I highly recommend the following sites.  Don’t wait until it’s too late.  Invest a dollar today and save ten dollars tomorrow.
If you would like a formal evaluation of our child’s athletic and academic potential, feel free to reach out to me directly at my information below.
Good luck!  Get aggressive and stay aggressive.  Your child controls their own future!
Recommended Websites:
Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Matt Rogers is an 18-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 for 9 years. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout for NCSA Athletic Recruiting where he has helped hundreds 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 17 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.

Monday, December 2, 2013

#037 The Gift of Thanks

"Sorry means you feel the pulse of other people's pain as well as your own, and saying it means you take a share of it. And so it binds us together, makes us trodden and sodden as one another. Sorry is a lot of things. It's a hole refilled. A debt repaid. Sorry is the wake of misdeed. It's the crippling ripple of consequence. Sorry is sadness, just as knowing is sadness. Sorry is sometimes self-pity. But Sorry, really, is not about you. It's theirs to take or leave."  ― Craig SilveyJasper Jones

For those who know me well, you know that I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I am quick to laugh out loud, and just as easy, will a tender moment bring me to tears.  I have always been somewhat of a nomad socially.  I easily drift through the world of diverse and eclectic souls, and I have always quickly made friends...often times with those much older (in years) than I.  I find all people fascinating, and I have found very few who do not hunger for comfort, peace, joy and tenderness.  Most people I have found simply want a connection to others, so they feel less small in our very big world in an even bigger universe of uncertainty.  I am quite confident that churches across this land remain full because of this need to know that others feel their uncertainty or simply for the lessons of hope and wisdom that often comes from gospel that has stood the test of time for centuries. 

If it has lasted this long, it must be significant.

One of my former players lost her father the day before Thanksgiving.  He was a great guy and an even better father.  He and his wife were at every game and never said a peep to me that wasn't completely positive and supportive.  Even after he got sick for the first time about a year ago, his sense of humor and love for watching his daughter play basketball was ever present.  I am thankful for John, and his most wonderful wife and family, because he taught me to be present.  He demonstrated in all that he did that the world around him was not bigger than the spirit inside him. 

I know I don't always do a good job of clearly transitioning the title of my blogs to the quote at the top and then to my words.  My flow of consciousness has always worked that way.  My dad taught me to be a point guard who saw the play happen 5 steps before it actually happened, and my mom taught me to visualize my future and my dreams.  When you put the two together, I sometimes forget to fill in the blanks, so please bare with me in those moments.  I'll get to the point soon enough.

So, how does "the gift of thanks" relate to "sorry is a lot of things" with the loss of a good man thrown in the middle?

To say "I'm sorry" or to say "thank you," it is the receiver who makes it genuine.  It really has nothing to do with the person speaking the words as Mr. Silvey so eloquently stated above.

Here's an example of what I mean.  My daughter loves looking at all of the pictures on my phone.  I have hundreds of them and probably 75% of those pictures are of her and her brother.  However, it is the other 25% that merges thank you and I am sorry together for me.  The other 25% are predominantly pictures of my former players' children.  I look at them often, and I take great pride in those pictures the same way I do when I look at the pictures of my nieces and nephews and my great-nieces and nephews. 

I am thankful for the memories they represent, and I am sorry I am not able to give those people (who I love dearly) more...more love, more attention...more reassurance that no matter what, they will always have someone in their life that believes in them more than they could ever imagine.  Most of us are lucky if we have parents and families who provide that support.  However, when we have someone who has no blood-relation to us to give us that backbone of support, it completely changes our view of the world and inspires us to be that for someone least it does for me.

I have really great relationships with about 95% of my former players.  We talk on the phone, through email, Twitter, Facebook, etc., and I am always thrilled that they still want me to be a part of their lives...even if it is just a text at the holidays once or twice a year with a "thank you" or a picture of their babies.

It is the other 5% that I often day-dream about, though. I failed that group.  I didn't treat them any differently, but I didn't find the key to unlocking their hopes and dreams, and I regret that.  As I get older, more and more of that 5% has started to reach out to me for some reason or another.  I think we are maturing (them faster than me probably), and I think we both are searching for a way to say "I am sorry" and "thank you" all at the same time.  That's tough, but I am always praying for it to happen. 

What that 5% doesn't understand is that they have never done anything to me to be sorry about.  They were young and finding their way, and I was passionate and ornery, and I didn't do a good enough job of making sure they heard the words "I love you" and "I believe in you."  I say these words a lot to people in my life, but I have learned that is not always enough.

As we celebrate the passing of another Thanksgiving Day, I know I am thankful for the opportunity to receive thanks from those I have coached, but I will be even more thankful when they are able accept the shared sorry...for whatever that means to them.

Keep making your moments count and your true feelings heard. 

Best regards,

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#036 Raising Daughters

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. — Anna Quindlen
My wife and I talk a lot about how we want to raise our kids.  Sometimes we disagree, but for the most part, we usually have very similar values and want our children to have the choice to share those values.  Obviously, we are biased about the things we believe in because of our experiences and education, but we try hard to plant seeds of wisdom instead of demanding protocol of action.
With that said, we have spent a lot of these conversations of late talking about how we want our daughter to feel about herself.  We have been very conscientious about when and how often we compliment how pretty she is.  [Neither of us is perfect in this wife much better than me.]  I am her daddy, so I think she is beautiful, but she also hears it a lot from our friends and family members and even total strangers when we are out and about. 
Our thought process is that we don't want her to value herself based on her appearance.  We want her to be proud of who she sees in the mirror, but we don't want others opinion of her appearance to dictate how she feels about herself.  At 4 years old, she is extremely impressionable, but she is also very much her own person with her own sense of style, fashion, and beauty.  It is scary and amazing all at the same time to watch her grow into this person who can now feed herself, dress herself, and perform her own make-up tutorials in the bathtub:)  We will obviously continue to set boundaries and talk about self-respect, self-worth, and valuing her spirit, mind, and soul over her outer beauty.
The idea of raising daughters has been top-of-mind for me as of late for a number of reasons.  First of all, I just came off a 3-year stint as a Women's College Basketball Coach.  I remain close with most of my players from those years, so I am always curious to how they are doing while monitoring their well-being (like a surrogate father) from a distance.  I also continue to work with a group of high school girls at a local school near where we live.  They are a great group of young women, and I am always curious to where their respective gaps are between their personal insecurities and self-worth.  In each of these cases, I am always thinking about how to help my daughter traverse the waters of growing up and being a girl.  I know.  I am way out of my depth here, but my wife is a very solid compass for me when it comes to the development of our daughter and the young women I have the honor of working with.
With that said, today's blog really happened because of a TED presentation I stumbled upon on YouTube last week.  Here's the preface of the talk:
Cameron Russell admits she won “a genetic lottery”: she's tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don't judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16-years-old. (Filmed at TEDxMidAtlantic.)
I have been watching a lot of these TED talks as of late, and I find them enlightening on a very broad spectrum including sports, science, politics, and yes, modeling.  This particular presentation was one I was most glad I watched because it helped define my philosophies on how I want to raise my daughter, as well as opening my eyes to the obstacles my wife and I are sure to face as she gets older.  Here's the link to Miss Russell's speech:
After watching the talk, I tweeted this out to my followers.  I hope you feel the same after watching it.
Every young woman should watch! Every man who cares for a young woman should as well!
Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary


Saturday, November 16, 2013

#035 What Drives Winning?

My schedule continues to get more busy, but I wanted to keep talking about basketball, coaching, and building stronger relationships each week.

I am lucky enough to have good friends in coaching who never let me stop thinking about being better.  Coach Todd Wallace sent me the below link this week about the characteristics of winning.  It is a speech given by Brett Leadbetter, the owner and lead trainer for the Leadbetter Academy; one of the top basketball training facilities in the world.

Brett interviewed a couple dozen of the greatest college basketball coaches on the planet and asked them about goal setting, the qualities that make a great player, and the characteristics they look for in players.

I think you may be shocked with some of the provocative answers he received, but I think they will all be enlightening.  Enjoy!

Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

#034 The Entitled Generation

“Everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstance, to choose one’s own way.”
--Viktor Frankl in Man’s Search For Meaning

Is anyone over the age of 30 as sick of that new moniker as I am?  The Entitled Generation.  I read a lot.  I read a lot of magazines, books, websites, and blogs and so on.  Sometimes I think I read too much. You really cannot go ten feet anymore without someone complaining about the entitled group of young people who have overtaken the world of education.  It seems that many have just thrown their hands up in defeat because the idea of entitlement is so over-powering.
I prefer to look at this perception from another angle.  I talk to a lot of kids and a lot of families every day.  I hear about their hopes, dreams, obstacles, frustrations, etc.  I don't hear what can you do for me? as much as I hear what do you care?  In reality, I think the parents are a helluva lot more entitled than their children.
The generation that I am witnessing isn't as focused on why others aren't giving them more as much they are focused on what to do now that they have given up on the hopes of anyone ever being honest and genuine with them.
The 12-17 year olds are the brightest and most confounding group of people on the planet right now.  Most are 100 miles ahead of their parents in regard to technology, information collection, and creativity.  It is not so much that they are entitled as it is they are bored.  It is really hard to challenge someone who is always 10 steps ahead of you.  It is tough to discipline someone with conviction when they don't do something exactly the way you did or want them to do it.  How do you get mad at a kid who figured out how to solve a problem more efficiently and effectively than you ever hoped you could?  So, when a parent or educator or coach asks them about their hopes and dreams or even their fears and concerns, the look on their face and the tone of their voice often sounds and looks like What do you care?  Are you honestly going to listen to what I have to say and respect how I truly feel?
So how do we deal with the Smart As Hell and Bored to Death Generation?  LISTEN!!!  Truly listen without judgment, contempt, and doubt.  I know how hard that it me, but, a 20 minute conversation where you allow them to fill the golden silence with their thoughts will pay mountains of dividends toward the relationship you are trying to build.
I can hear all of you coaches.  I know these kids are quiet, immature, introverted, and seemingly over-confident all at the same time.  Sometimes you just want to shake the nothingness out of their eyes.  The problem is that the perceived nothingness we see is a deep-seeded fear of the power of all of that knowledge they have received at such a young age.
Sex, crime, corruption, war, poverty, death, the devastation of the planet...they have gotten their eyes on these major adult issues well before any of us born before 1980 ever did.  On top of that, technology has given them the ability to never have to face any of their concerns or fears head on.  We can tweet it, email it, blog it, facebook it, and then hide behind the computer after we state it with utmost confidence.  These young people end up asking the questions and having the conversations with each other that they should be having with us.  The problem with all of that information on the interweb is that 90% of it is pure opinionated bullshit...see Diary of a Mad Coach ;).
Kids don't go to the library and open up an encyclopedia to get their information anymore.  They Google it and usually end up at Wikipedia for their answers to their most intimate problems and questions.
As I type this, I know how impossibly hard it is to do, but I hope you will try.  Sit down with your players, children, students and try and ask at least one genuine open-ended question each day.  Something like:
How does the thought of losing affect your preparation?
When you play poorly and the team wins, why is it hard to be excited?
If you could make what we are trying to do as a team easier, what would you advise and why?
The coach who takes the time to allow silence after those questions while encouraging those young people to speak their minds with conviction in front of their peers will end up being a hero to those young people.  They want so badly to have a real voice and a real conversation.  As much as they love to tweet and instagram each other, there is nothing more invigorating than speaking with conviction in front of those they respect.
What is the result?  Well, it may not come in the timely manner you hope, but what you are building in each of them is something no one will ever take away from unbreakable self-worth!
Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Monday, November 4, 2013

#033 Being a Pro's Pro

In the past two weeks, I had the great pleasure of sitting down and talking with Coach Bob Chmeil.  If you don't know that name, it's okay.  He's not a household name.  However, you have probably heard the names of the three Head Coaches he served under as Assistant Coach and Head Recruiting Coordinator:  Lee Corso (Northwestern), Bo Schembechler (Michigan), and Lou Holtz (Notre Dame).  I am not the type of person who is easily impressed by someone's credentials alone, but how many people do you know who have recruited and coached TWO Heisman Trophy Winners and helped lead multiple teams to National Championships?  Yes, Bob Chmeil is pretty famous in the NCAA Division I football community.  He's darn good at what he does, and I learned a lifetime of information from him in a very short amount of time.

Bob is a new colleague of mine in my new role as Head National Scout for NCSA Athletic Recruiting.  Bob is one our national speakers who travels throughout the country motivating young men and women to reach for their potential in order to make their dreams of playing sports at the collegiate level come true.  In my job, I am doing the same thing but with individual families who reach out to us for help and support.

I could write a half dozen blogs about the lessons I learned from Bob and the stories he shared with me, but I am going to focus today on the three elements Bob shared about what every young person needs to truly reach their potential while becoming a great teammate along the way.  They are the key elements to what I call being a Pro's Pro:

1.  Attitude
2.  Loyalty
3.  Enthusiasm

When you simply read those words without putting much thought into them, the list does not sound like an earth-shattering revelation.  You might even be saying "Well, duh Coach, of course those three elements are important!"  I'd feel the same way if I just read them.

Fortunately for me and my new colleagues, Coach Chmeil, is a natural motivator.  When he told us those three words, he did so in the context of what a wonderful gift we've been given to be able to change the course of a young person's life.  In my role as Head Scout, I can just as easily positively affect a 17-year old for the rest of their life as I could make them give up on their dreams in the course of one conversation.  Attitude, Loyalty, and Enthusiasm are not just words a coach uses as props.  They are the characteristic differences between doing a job and changing a life.  Quite a significant difference...I think.

One of my former players just recently signed a contract to play professionally in Portugal.  He's been there about a little over a month, and he recently mentioned some struggles he's having in one his emails to me.  I could tell by his words that he was having trouble walking the fine-line that American players often have to walk when going to a new country to play.  He likes his teammates and coach very much, but he doesn't always understand why decisions are made on the floor during games.  He's not the most confrontational person in the world, so he often will stay quiet before speaking up and maybe addressing a concern directly.

I had just met with Coach Chmeil before reading his e-mail, so I took advantage of my new knowledge by writing an e-mail back with this question: 

On a scale of 1-10, how would you evaluate your relationship so far with your club, coaches, and teammates from your perspective in these three categories:
1.  Attitude
2.  Loyalty
3.  Enthusiasm

What I really wanted to find out was if he thought about how much he had demonstrated to his new family that he wanted to be there.  When we got a chance to talk on Facetime a few days later, and I reminded him of that question, I could tell that he had put some genuine thought into the answer.  He wanted to say that he was a 10 in each of those efforts, but he knew the truth was far from a 10.  He's one of the kindest and most generous kids I have ever been around, so the idea that we always personally have more to give to those around us was a good reminder to how he could do more to overcome the challenges he was facing.

As I could look back at my former and present jobs and relationships, I know that most of any frustrations about others I had often stemmed to my lack of genuinely expressing and acting with loyalty, a positive attitude, and enthusiasm.

So, the next time you are having a frustrating day, take a second and rate your loyalty, attitude, and enthusiasm before you judge someone else.  I think you may find that your next course of action will be greatly changed in a good way.

Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Friday, October 18, 2013

#032 Movie Review: Gravity

Gravity.  It is far and away the closest any of us Earth-bound people will ever get to experiencing space in all of its realities.  Director Alfonso Cuaron takes film making where it has never gone before while changing the possibilities of movies for all future productions.  It is simply breath-taking.  I had to keep reminding myself that the actors were not actually hundreds of miles above the planet in space.  It was that real to the point of surreal...almost like you are having a vivid dream; especially in 3D as we watched it.

If I could use one word to define the movie, it would be "hopelessness."  That is how you feel for an hour and ten minutes of the film's 1 hour and 31 minute run time.  If there are young people out there dreaming of being an astronaut, this film will either change your mind forever or solidify that your dreams are truly significant and a tad bit crazy. 

Sandra Bullock's performance is her tour de force.  Every emotion she experiences, you will experience right along with her.  And because I don't want to give too much away if you haven't seen it, just know that George Clooney's role is not as large, in terms of screen time, as you might think.  Nevertheless, his performance is very strong as well.  He takes on a much more unique role than fans of his are used to.

Overall, it is a very good movie.  Oscar worthy?  Considering that very few movies have blown me a way so far this year, it has a good shot in my eyes.  If Castaway and Apollo 13 had a baby, this movie would be it.  Go see it.  Maybe keep the pre-12 kids away for some very scary scenes and some awful violent visuals, but I think it is a must see for those who like Bullock and Clooney and like to go to theatres for suspense and drama.  3 1/2 dribbles out of 4.

[I will be traveling for my new job next week, so I will not be able to create any new posts.  This will be my last post until Oct. 28th.  Beginning the 28th, I may have to pull back to 2-3 entries a week based on my job needs, but I will continue to talk hoops and coaching on a weekly basis.

In the meantime, please pass along any comments, concerns, disagreements, etc. about any of my past posts.  I am always looking to make the site better and my writing stronger.  I encourage you to follow me on Google+.  You can do so to the top right of this page.]

Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Thursday, October 17, 2013

#31 Diversifying Your Practices

"I like a teacher who gives you something to take home to think about besides homework." 
                                                                                                                                         --Lily Tomlin

What's keeping you from creating fresh practices?

As my financial advisor always tells me, diversification is the key to a long, prosperous, and healthy retirement.  The same could be said for diversifying your practice plans.  Instead of a healthy retirement portfolio, you get happier, healthier and more adaptable players over the course of a long season.

I know a lot of coaches who have Practice Plan A and Practice Plan B.  Every other day, they print out the same thing they did yesterday or the day before.  Diversifying your plans doesn't mean you can't stick to a system and have continuity.  In reality, the more different ways to teach means the more different ways your players are learning to learn.  That can't be bad.

I had a conversation the other day with a good friend of mine who I think is one of the top college coaches in Division III.  He was explaining to me his conference's recent discussions to allow media time-outs at all games whether the game is being sponsored or broadcast or not.  As long as the game is being streamed over the internet, that school may insist on media time-outs.

He and I both agreed that media time-outs at the DIII level greatly hurts a coach's ability to control the tempo of the game.  However, I explained to him that I had a team 10 years ago who went the entire regular season without ever having to deal with media time-outs.  Sure enough, we advance to the National Tournament that year, and we have to deal with media time-outs.  I had no idea how much those built-in breaks in the action hurt our fast-breaking, heavy rotation system.  Normally, we just ran teams off the floor because most teams didn't play 12-15 players deep like we did.  Those built-in media breaks gave our opponent's starters all the rest they needed, and unfortunately, it took this young knucklehead coach an entire half to make the necessary adjustments.

So, in short, I told my friend that the media time-outs might be a blessing in disguise in preparing his team for the realities of the National Tournament.

What does this have to do with diversifying your practice plans?  Everything.  I love talking to DI coaches because they do not leave a stone unturned.  They prepare for every defense known to man, every possible offensive structure and movement, every possible end-of-the-game situation, and are constantly putting their players in a position to deal with the stresses and complexities of playing in front of a huge crowd every day of practice.  There's no way to get all of that in two or three different practice plans.

As I stated above, you can have continuity in your practices and accomplish all of this, but you must keep an open mind about your opponent, time-allotment, and team strategy and fundamental needs. Build a weekly plan around your priority needs and work to accomplish those priorities through different drills each day.  By simply making a list of all of the things you want your team to learn over the course of the season, you can begin building practical continuities into your daily practices.  Once I have my list, I begin to prioritize the most important aspects to the least important.  I then try and highlight the top 5 things I want to get done on a daily basis.  Those things become my foundation of my practice.  In no particular order, these are usually my 5 priorities:

1.  Defensive Shell Drill -  I can manipulate a shell drill 50 different ways to focus my teams energy and needs.
2.  Rebounding -  I cannot preach to my kids every day the importance of defense and rebounding if we don't do both.   I have about 20 rebounding drills that we use in stations each day.  4-5 kids with a coach at a basket working on different rebounding components/competitions.  Every 3-4 minutes rotate the groups to work with another coach.
3.  Ball-handling and passing - I make it imperative that we start every day handling the ball and working on moving the ball up the floor with balance and strength.
4.  Shooting - It may not seem like a lot, but I want each of my kids to get at least 50 jumpers up within the practice drills (not counting scrimmage shots).  We use individual workouts to get a lot more up each week.
5.  Press Work - Whether my teams are pressing 40-minutes per game or only pressing when necessary, I always like to work trapping and pressure in every day to build up patience and composure.  You can never give your kids enough of either.  I often will work end-of-game situations into our press work to kill two birds with one stone.

You might be wondering why offensive strategy and scrimmages are not foundation points of my practices.  In the first two months of a season, I really only care about our ability to become better individual basketball players who learn how to play fundamentally sound.  I have a tendency to stop scrimmages way too much to fix little things, so when we do scrimmage, I try my darnedest to get out of the way.  If my kids can dribble, pass, catch, cut, shoot, rebound, and defend, I know we have a chance to win every game.  As the season progresses, those two hour practices laced with fundamentals and breakdowns become hour and half practices laced with scrimmages and situational development.

One way or another, I want to have fun.  I know the kids want to have fun.  Why not keep the practice moving and keep the practices fresh and new? 

Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#029 Motivating Your Student-Athlete

In the next couple of weeks, I have been given the honor of guest writing on another coaching website:  It is an excellent site for parents and young coaches.  Coach Gray's focus is helping parents understand the gravity of team sports from a coach's perspective.  I will be writing a 3-part series for Coach Gray entitled "The Parent Plan," and I will be giving advice to parents who have children with aspirations of playing sports in college.  The three points of emphasis for the series will be:
  1. Preparing financially for college
  2. Developing your student-athlete's potential
  3. Understanding the complexity of college recruiting
I will make sure to link those articles to my blog when they are published.
In the meantime, with college basketball practice beginning across the country today, I thought it was a good time to write a pre-article to the aforementioned series that speaks specifically to parents in regard to motivating their student-athlete.
This is the time of year where motivation is not hard to come by.  Players are trying to make the team and have high hopes for a new season.  Everyone is excited about the opportunity and the freshness of a new season or experience; especially college freshmen.  It's an easy time for mom and dad to get their son and daughter pumped about the upcoming season.  No one has been yelled at and no games have been lost yet.
I think most parents do a great job of encouraging their child this time of year with great advice:
Do your best and work hard.  Listen to your coach, and do your best to execute what he or she tells you.  Believe in yourself.  Stay positive.  Be a great teammate.  Don't let a bad day deter you from working to be better.  Just be the best you can be.
All of these statements are great advice.  Not only are they great advice for day one, but they are great advice for day 1-100.
It is when rosters are determined and players are cut and starting line-ups are announced for first scrimmages and games when that advice starts to leak away from daily conversation.  That advice starts to be replaced with:
What's the problem?  Why are you not starting?  Why are you not playing more?  Are you asking enough questions?  Are you listening?  Are you doing what you're told?  Your coach said what?
Even with my four-year old, I can quickly assume that she is not doing her best when she comes home sad or frustrated from pre-school.  It is easy for me to fall out of that positive reinforcement and into questioning her commitment and attitude and the thoughts of her teachers.  That only makes her feel worse about something that would have probably been quickly forgotten if I had not made a bigger deal out of it and just stayed positive
For teenagers and college-aged students alike, that positive reinforcement is just as important.  Encouragement that supports a team-first attitude and positive characteristics like humility, perseverance, commitment and desire cannot be reiterated enough over the course of a long-season.
The biggest problem I have faced over the years is very similar to the situation described above with my four-year old.  A player has a bad day:  gets yelled at, makes more mistakes than usual, disagrees with the coach's perspective (right or wrong), and then brings all of those problems home with him or her.
The key for any parent is to not minimalize those problems in any way because they will be serious and important issues  in the eyes of your child...even if they are 22.  Instead, focus on what they know to be true...even if they are doubting it right now.
You have always been a good shooter, don't forget that.  You're nervous.  Time will eliminate that.  The game is faster now.  The talent around you is better.  That doesn't mean that you won't rise to that level.  Keep trying.  Keep listening to your coach.  Don't forget that they put you on the team OR Don't forget that they recruited you for a reason.  You signed up for a marathon, not a sprint.
For high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors and college freshmen, it is this type of motivation that may be needed for an entire season.  Playing time is designated priority-one by coaches for those upperclassmen who have put the time in and committed themselves to the program and personal improvement.  That doesn't mean your underclassmen won't prove to be more valuable and end up playing more, but most coaches will almost always defer to upperclassmen until it affects winning and losing.  It is imperative that parents not only preach that fact, but remind their child of what the future holds:
Think about when you are a junior and senior.  Will you want coach playing a freshman in front of you who has not proven themselves but maybe has more athleticism and potential?  Of course you won't.
From a college coach's perspective, the players who I deem to have been most successful in my tenure are the young men and women who played for me for four years and got progressively better each and every season.  Those kids left an indelible mark on me because they not only grew as players, but they grew exponentially more as people.  For the most part, their parents held firm to the advice "believe in your coach" for the entire four years.  With any good advice, those players began to believe that advice without having to be told it.  Their careers took off when they built a relationship with me that was important to them.  They chose to see me as a part of their solution and not a part of their problem.
In the end, a parent's consistent positivity is the key to a long-term athletic career.  Coaches must be firm, challenging, critical, and they often need to raise their voices.  It is our job to make the game real.  College sports can be brutal.  Players swear, yell, say bad things to each other and their opponents.  They are taught to be warriors and gladiators.  With that comes aggression, physicality, and extreme pressure.  Coaches cannot afford to pamper and be positive and sweet all of the time, or they wouldn't be preparing their teams for the reality of the challenge ahead.
So when motivating your child, remember that it is a game of good cop/bad cop.  The coach will often play the role of bad cop, and it is very helpful when mom and dad are the super positive cops.  In the end, even though coaches play the role of bad cop, our hope is that our dual motivation leads to conviction, confidence, courage, and an unbreakable self-worth.  That should be more important than any start or any championship.
Have a great season!  I wish you all a fantastic experience.
Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary