Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) has just completed its four weeks of qualifying games and the top 24 teams will compete for the EYBL national championship at the annual Nike Peach Jam held in North Augusta, South Carolina in July.
Nike’s motto this year is This Is Our Summer! I’ve Bursonized this to This Is My Summer! What I mean is that I want everyone who reads this to take ownership of their own time and energy to get better this summer. Find your own coaching philosophy for the summer so you can get better, because summer basketball is much more than just coaching games and playing games.
Coaches, how are you going to get better this summer? What actions will you take? Will you adopt This Is My Summer as your coaching philosophy? Players, you must make an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and put in the time and focus that is needed to get better. Will you adopt This Is My Summer as your philosophy this summer? In my own case, I need to read more, set goals and objectives and focus on them, and help others achieve their goals. How can I own my summer? I can take control of my own time and my own life. Do it, do it right, do it right now.*
Develop a solid coaching philosophy
While watching the 40 Nike EYBL teams play around 80 games each weekend I always observe — without them knowing it — how the coaches apply my own coaching philosophy for the game. I call it SSCVT:
Shots · Stops · Core Values · Toughness
This philosophy must be developed in parallel with integrated learning, which refers to teaching all elements of the game. If a coach teaches or focuses on only shooting, he or she would probably develop a pretty good shooting team that lost most of its games to teams who had integrated defense, ball-handling and hard work into the practice schedule.
Take to the offensive. Push the ball up the floor. Get good solid, high percentage shots. Shoot a lot of threes. The ball must go inside … outside … one side … the other side … before shooting.
As a coach, you must know your players and their talents before you turn on the green light for a player to shoot any time he or she wants. Take your shots in life. Don’t be afraid to let it go, but also look at the effect each decision you make has on you and all those around you.
Coach, are you willing to take the last shot for your players? Do you have their backs?
Get down in your stance. Move those feet. Deny your man the ball. When your man gets the ball, invade his space and make his life miserable.
We had great players who loved to play defense, so we could enjoy watching our opponents have to fight for every basket. In life sometimes we have to hunker down and be defensive, but always give it all you have and know that you can’t lose if they don’t score.
What do you really believe? Can you be trusted? Are you willing to trust your coach and those around you? Do you care about your teammates? Will you go to class? Will you sacrifice for the team? Do you love the game? Do you love playing great defense? Will you be on time? Will you be unselfish and pass the ball to your teammates? Can you be supportive of the coach and other players, win or lose? Do you have class and character?
These are part of my Big Word Offense.* There are always those players who may not be great basketball players but are such great people that they make a difference in your team. A good coach has great players but he also has great people who lift the core value level of every team.
There are three components to toughness: the physical, the mental and the emotional. True toughness blends all three.
We used to travel by station wagons to the other campuses for games. We’d make a three or four hour drive to Cleveland, play a game and drive back. It was often 2:00am before we arrived back on campus. That’s a long, tough day. True toughness was shown if you were up for your 8:00am class the next day, prepared and ready to participate.
This past weekend in Minneapolis the players played four games in two days. This was the fourth weekend in a row of that schedule — a real test of their mental and physical toughness. Even the officials had to maintain their mental edge when making calls.
Toughness can be developed and practiced. Are you teaching toughness in your program?
“Take the big shots in life. Make the tough stops. Develop core values. Lift others to show real toughness.”
— The Game
Can you shoot? Can you stop? Do you have core values? Can you coach toughness?
Is this your summer, Coach? How will you make yourself better? What is your summer coaching philosophy?
* Golden Nuggets 1 and 8 from my best-selling book, The Golden Whistle.
Photos: Jon Lopez/Nike Basketball