Thursday, May 28, 2015

#46 The Argument for Socrates In Your Program

True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I had the pleasure of spending a number of hours with my new neighbor who happens to be a PhD Professor of Medical Ethics at a very prestigious university in Colorado.  We spent a good three hours talking about how to get students and future professionals to learn how to think on their own...and maybe more importantly, how to be able to consistently adapt to conflict, change, newness, etc. when life throws them curve balls.

The longer we talked, the more we came back to the ideas of a philosopher who lived 1600 years ago: Socrates.  Whether we are talking about teaching future doctors medical ethics or teaching the pick and roll to basketball players, the Socratic Method is one that all coaches/teachers should consider making a bigger part of their day to day lesson planning. Maybe a better thought would be using the Socratic Method to train yourself to be less of a coach and more of a sharer of knowledge.

For those of you not familiar with the Socratic Method, it is the simple idea of two (or more) people asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas.  So, how does this work in coaching?  Here is a good example of utilizing the Socratic Method in your coaching:

  • Your player asks you "Coach, how many shots should I get up this summer to become a better shooter?"  
  • The coach believes the premise of this player's question not to be true, and says "Repetition is a fine thing, but could repetition alone also make you a worse shooter?"
  • The player then reflects and says, "I guess, yes, if I don't shoot game shots with proper technique and consistent speed.  What should my repetitions look like then?"
  • With both you and your player coming to the same conclusion through asking questions to stimulate each other's thinking, the coach can now present simple guidance and challenges to make that players repetitions more significant.

You might be thinking, "That is really quite elementary.  I already use the Socratic Method in my coaching."  The real truth is that you probably think you do, but if someone surveyed your players, would they agree?  I think most coaches would have simply given an arbitrary number. For example, "I would like to see you shoot 200 shots per day as often as possible.  Shoot 50 free throws, 50 3-pointers, and 100 shots off the dribble from all parts of the floor."  This is far from a bad answer, but did it make that player see how to develop himself better?

While choosing to have Socrates as your assistant or mental guide, you are choosing to be a coach who doesn't just tell his/her players how to play the game in one scenario.  You instead are teaching your players how to think and react no matter the scenario.  There's an old proverb that goes something like this that most people have heard dozens of times, "You can give a man a fish and feed him for a day or you can teach him how to fish, so he knows how to feed himself forever."  I'm not sure Socrates, the coach, would have argued that line of thinking.

Ask questions.  Expect questions in return.  In the scenario above, the coach made the player better by leading him to find a path to make himself better.  Are you putting yourself in a position for your players to lead you to becoming a better coach?

Put 10 minutes into researching Socrates and his "method", and you may find that you have only just begun to unleash the wisdom that lays dormant in your program.
Have a great day!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiaryEmail:  coachrogers12@gmail.comLinkedin:

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 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, May 18, 2015

#45 Why Families Should Use NCSA

I'm an idealist. I don't know where I'm going, but I'm on my way.  --Carl Sandburg

As I tell families, I was born in the middle of a cornfield in a tiny town in rural northern Illinois. Neither of my parents went to college, so we were, quite frankly, clueless to not only the recruitment process but to the plethora of opportunities in the country that I was capable of attending and playing sports.  The love and support I had from my family was invaluable, and I truly believe that I received a great education from my seasoned teachers.  However, college athletics was something that seemed unattainable to someone like me, and no one in my hometown knew any different.  Sound familiar?
Since I started coaching at the college level in the early 2000's, I began to utilize NCSA Athletic Recruiting for their expertise in helping me find young people around the country that fit my program and helped make my process of filling my roster with talented young people from around the country/world a much more efficient process.  See Post #43.  

Now that I scout full-time for NCSA, I wish NCSA would have been around 25 years ago when I was going through this scary journey.  So many families come to me and our team every day from around the world [We will evaluate close to 1 million student-athletes world-wide this year alone] feeling just like my family and I did.  They are lost.  They are not even sure college athletics is possible for their child.  They are searching for answers and clarity.  Most have heard 20 different things from 20 different people and no one seems to have the right answers for them.

NCSA takes politics, HS/Club reputation, geography, economics, and relationships out of the equation.  We care only that we educate families on the facts, and in the meantime, find great young student-athletes that fit the qualifications/criteria of the 40,000+ coaches we recruit for who demand outstanding young people from us.

Why should your family choose to be evaluated by an NCSA Head Scout?

1.  You will be evaluated by college scouts/former college coaches/athletes FOR college coaches
2.  You will have national exposure to every college program in the country
3.  You will learn your value at the college level and be taught how to create leverage for your future, so you have choices to where you play and go to college
4.  You will be treated as an individual, and your individual preferences will always be our priorities
5.  You will have the BEST tools and resources on the planet to get matched with every coach in the country
6.  If you are qualified (.See Post #41), you will begin communicating with those coaches immediately.

The next question I always get...What does this all cost?  We are the National Collegiate Scouting Association (, so we have to find 10s-of-thousands of student-athletes every year who are capable of playing at the next level.  With that said, we do not charge for any evaluation, nor do we charge qualified student-athletes from having an activated profile in our network.  Therefore, if you are qualified, you can be visible to every college coach in the country.

Granted, most families, after activation, choose to partner with NCSA and invest in a membership with us.  Memberships allow families to use our services and tools to maximize their respective child's recruitment.  We will produce professional highlight films, evaluate athletes and match them with best-fit colleges around the country, educate families on the intricacies of college recruiting in our nightly live webinars, tutor student-athletes in preparation for the ACT/SAT in partnership with world class Princeton Review tutors, and we will even help our student-athletes with their career development and our extremely popular job/internship board.

We even have processes in place that allow us to help EVERY family no matter their financial situation.  Grants and scholarships are available to those who qualify, and with our partnership with the NFLPA, we are able to help thousands of kids and low income families every year make their dream of going to college come true.

I want to help your child play sports in college, and I need great student-athletes to introduce to our coaches.  The great thing about this opportunity is that you can accomplish a lot of your present recruitment needs as a family without having to invest.  Regardless of your needs, we want every student-athlete to find their path to college.

What are you waiting for?  Go make your dreams come true today.  Get evaluated and take control of your future!

Coach Matt Rogers
Head National Scout
NCSA Athletic Recruiting
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary

#44 Creating a Championship Off-Season

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. 
--Calvin Coolidge

A lot is happening right now in most coach's worlds; even though, we are half-way through May and practice does not start for most of you for another 7 months.  However, this is the time where championships can be won or lost.  What are you doing to make sure your team continues to develop the way you want them to; especially if your respective rules do not allow you to work with them until October or November?  Here's a few tips to start building your next championship:

Now is the time to pull out your game film from last year.  Evaluate your talent, your decisions, and your demeanor and start taking notes.  I wouldn't put too much time into beating yourself or your kids up as you watch film, but do start addressing how you want to change your priorities for next season.  Here's 5 things that I recommend focusing on when watching last year's film:
  1. Were your kids in good enough shape?  Were they strong enough mentally and physically?
  2. Were your rotations designed to make every player an impact player or to just rest your best players?
  3. Were you prepared to be the best defensive and rebounding team on the floor?  Did you put enough emphasis on being great at man-to-man pressure and winning the "team" rebound battle every possession?  Were your guards aggressively awesome rebounders or did you put too much pressure on your bigs to own that alone?
  4. How did you handle good runs and bad runs?  Were you the coach you wanted to be on the sidelines and in time-outs?  What can you practice now to help you be more under control; and therefore, keep your kids relaxed when they need you the most?  Were you prepared for every situation?  Trust me, you'll know the answer to that when you watch film.
  5. Did your offensive and defensive philosophies make sense for the talent you had or did you just install the systems you wanted to teach?  Evaluate your kids coming back and ask yourself, what do they need to reach their individual potential?  Position?  Who do they play best with?  That might mean one of your best players needs to come off the bench or one of your lesser shooters who is also a great defender and tempo creator needs to be a starter in front of a better scorer.
I finally reached my potential as a player when I was finally in a position to teach what I knew.  Unfortunately, I was 23 and my college career was over.  Take advantage of your camps or colleagues' camps to get your kids on the floor with younger players.  Make them teach what you know they need to be great at:  shooting technique, defensive positioning/rotations, rebounding technique/instinct development, and managing game situations.  The more they coach those things, the more it will become a part of them and less of something they do because you told them to.

If you have the time, make it a point of emphasis to write each of your players in your program a hand-written letter.  Use the letter as an opportunity to open up to them and express your desire to create the relationship you want to have with them.  If you are proud of them, tell them.  If you expect more of them this upcoming season, tell them that too, but also be humble.  Tell them that you expect more out of yourself, too, and you want a partnership in which each of you will commit to making each other better every day.

Kids don't get letters anymore, so a letter from their coach that is personal, direct, and motivational will inspire them more than you know.  Do they know how much you love them and believe in them?  Make sure they do now.

If you don't have time to write 12-15 individual letters in the next few weeks, start a weekly blog or email to your players.  Use it to remind them about upcoming games, events, etc, but also use it as a way to share tips, thoughts or motivational quotes or stories.  Trust me, the kids will look forward to those emails and will stay focused on the long journey ahead because of them.  I've done a weekly summer newsletter for almost 15 years.  I am happy to discuss your ideas and share some of mine that I have used in the past.

Now is the time to start getting excited about next season.  The 2015-16 season is your oyster.  What kind of pearl do you want to create?  Let go of any disappointments from last year.  Listen to your head and gut and start planning the GREAT season you want to have this winter.  Is it time to be you and throw a wrench into what you have done in the past.  Be creative.  Be different.  Show your kids that you aren't messing around, and you are going to put together the best experience they could possibly dream of.

As always, please let me know where I can help you and your kids.  I look forward to hearing your stories and if these ideas are helpful to you!

Go make your dreams come true!

Coach Matt Rogers
Twitter:  @madcoachdiary