Monday, August 31, 2009


From "Failing Forward" by John Maxwell:

On August 6, 1999, a major-league baseball player stepped up tot he home plate in Montreal and made another out -- the 5,113th of his professional career. That's a lot of trips to the batter's box without a hit! If a player made all those out consecutively, and he averaged four at bats per game, he would play eight seasons (1,278 games straight) without ever reaching base.

Was the player discouraged that night? No. Did he think he had failed himself or his team? No. You see, earlier in the same game, in his first plate appearance, that player had reached a milestone that only twenty-one other people in the history of baseball have every achieved. He had made his 3,000 hit. That player was Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres.

During that game, Tony got on base with hits four times in five tries. But that's not the norm for him. Usually he fails to get a hit two times out of every three attempts. Those results may not sound very encouraging, but if you know baseball, you recognize that Tony's ability to succeed consistently only one time in three tries has made him the greatest hitter of his generation. And Tony recognizes that to get his hits, he has to make a lot of outs.

One of the greatest problems people have with failure is that they are too quick to judge isolated situations in their lives and label them as failures. Instead, they need to keep the bigger picture in mind.

"The difference between greatness and mediocrity is often how an individual views a mistake."
-Nelson Boswell

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Are you leading your team in the off-season? Do you display leadership in the locker room? The weight room? The classroom?

The following article comes from Jeff Darlington of the Miami Herald:

There is no mistaking which player has become the face of the Dolphins organization over the past year: This is definitely Chad Pennington's team.

If there was one aspect of Sunday's uneventful practice that stood out, it was the respect that has developed for Pennington in the eight months since he led the Dolphins to an AFC East title. Respect from fans. Respect from teammates. And respect from coach Tony Sparano.

"It's Chad Pennington's team,'' Sparano said Sunday.

It's Pennington's team, not only because of the way he pulled it together last season, but also the way he has continued to pull it together during the off-season.

On several occasions, the quarterback called on his wide receivers to meet for private throwing sessions. But for a more definitive example of the respect he commands, you needed to be at his home on June 4. That's the day Pennington hosted a barbecue. He simply invited the team and gave everyone directions. Guess who showed up? Every single player.

"Everybody,'' wide receiver Greg Camarillo said. "It's really difficult to get all of the different social groups to gather in the same place. It's difficult for any team, any group of friends, to all gather at the same time.

"It was the kind of thing a college team would do. Everybody respects Chad, and everybody respects what he's trying to do for this team.''

His leadership has been contagious, and it has brought together an entire team -- on offense and defense -- before the camaraderie produced through training camp even had a chance to cultivate.

That's what Pennington has done to help in the locker room. But now that training camp has begun, the quarterback realizes it's time to help on the field, too.

Even in the midst of Pennington's high approval rating, there continues to be reasons to wonder how long it will be his job. Sparano reiterated Sunday that Chad Henne would get an increased amount of repetitions -- especially during preseason games -- as a way to test his decisiveness in game situations.

In general, it's a harmless, smart strategy. But Pennington is in the final year of his contract, which leads to questions about his long-term stability. The quarterback has nonetheless handled the situation with class."I don't ever look at it as a competition,'' Pennington said. "We are in preparation and coaches are in an evaluation phase. We are trying to prepare not only ourselves, but each other. We do a lot of communicating.''Pennington, who has dealt with more pressing situations in the past, seems to take solace in the moment, continuing to lift up a team around him in a fashion that has boosted the morale in Miami.

So while the future remains unclear for a quarterback who has done everything right, the present couldn't be more vivid. On Sunday, this looked and sounded like Pennington's team.

As everyone -- every player, fan and coach -- will tell you, that's because it is. Now, he will attempt to make this his year, too.

"I'm excited,'' Pennington said. "I am excited about where we are, but we've got a long way to go."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


From Think Like a Champion: A Guide to Championship Performance for Student-Athletes By Dick Devenzio

When is it okay to encourage your teammates? I’d say anytime, always, now, tomorrow. It is always useful to encourage your teammates. And I would go a step further than that: if you fail to encourage your teammates often, you are failing to contribute to a significant aspect of team-building.

1. It is hard to overestimate the value of encouragement. Many people don’t show outwardly the effect encouragement has on them—how it lifts their spirits, makes them proud, and inspires them to put out extra effort—but few people remain untouched by it. Often, in fact, the people who seem least touched or least in need of encouragement are actually those who are most affected and most in need.

2. The major point here is don’t base your encouragement on the response you get, or lack thereof. If your encouragement is sincere and well-intentioned, it will hit its mark. It will be worthwhile. I earn to make encouragement an integral part of your game, of your everyday performance.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


One of the best camps in the country for developing perimeter players is Point Guard College headed up by former University of Virginia standout Dena Evans. Dena has a philosophy she teaches the point guards including The 6 Intangibles To Master That Makes You Invaluable.

Good teams practice with enthusiasm and zest...a quiet gym is a losing gym...Enthusiasm = Excellence...demand energy.

Talk on the floor, call names, give them reminders often.

All the time -- not a sometime thing..."sheepdog mentality"...persistent, enthused, work, everyday.

Body language is important.

Exactness...attention to detail...accuracy...sharpness of approach.

Contribute to the environment -- don't contaminate it...make it better doing something extra...expect to do more that your expected extra...come earlier, stay later, compliment someone, smile, push a broom, pick up trash...and don't expect praise for doing something extra.

One of Dena's favorite quotes: "Championships are won with high levels of energy, spirit, and enthusiasm."

For more on Point Guard College, visit:

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The 4 Cancerous Behaviors of athletes:





From former NBA Head Coach Eric Musselman

Friday, August 21, 2009


Here's a great piece on being competitive from Ernie Woods and Bob Kloppenburg at

Real competitors are those players that come to play every time they step on the court. They are a team’s hardest workers constantly, improving. They are not the type that scream at their teammates or officials or kick trash cans after the game. They are the type that are determined and just plain enjoy playing. Competitors are those players that players love to play with not against, spectators love to watch, and coaches love to coach.

Real competitors are hard to find.
Legendary Coach, John Wooden, once said that “If you have one competitor on your squad you will be successful. If you have two you will be competing for the conference title and with three a national title.” He had no idea what four or five competitors on a single team would be like since he had never witness it.

Real competitors view adversity as a challenge not as a detriment.
In trying situations, they compete and work hard to over come it rather than get frustrated or angry. Michael Jordan is a classic example of a real competitor. He competed every night despite the fact that he was facing the opponent’s best defenders, double teams and even triple teams. Despite constantly being held and grabbed, pushed and shoved, he rarely ever complained to the officials or lost control of his actions. Instead he accepted the challenge and was more motivated to succeed. When Michael Jordan stepped on the court he was bound and determined to be successful no matter what the opponents threw at him.

Real competitors make their teammates better.
They are not successful at the expense of their teammates. They do not gripe or complain about the teammates’ lack of skills and abilities. But, are helpful not only in improving their teammates skills but more importantly their confidence. Did you know while playing for the Chicago Bulls, in order to make his teammates better, Michael Jordan scrimmaged with the second string during practices?

Competitors are “Erasers.”
After bad calls or turnovers, rather than griping or complaining, they hustle back on defense to make a defense stop. They are fully aware of the fact that the only turnovers that hurt a team are the ones upon which the opponent score. If/when the opponent does not score after a turnover then, no matter how bad, that turnover is erased!

Competitors don’t have to look at the score board to know the score.
Winning is certainly important, but how it is achieved is more important. To them the most satisfaction and pleasure comes in playing the game, not with the final game score. They know that when they are passing, shooting, rebounding and playing solid defense well, the scoreboard will take care of itself. They play every play in a game as if it was the last play of the game. After the game, regardless of the score, they are satisfied because they gave it their best effort.

How do you identity competitors?
A simple test for competitiveness is to place a player with the worst players and have them play against the best players. In this situation, do they except the challenge and give it their best in rallying their lesser skilled teammates into competing against the stronger team or do they complain, sulk and give a less than best effort because they are over matched and not playing with the stronger group?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


“We preached that everybody’s a leader. You’re either a negative leader or you’re a positive leader. But everybody contributes, and everybody has to be a part of it. And again, when someone may not be able to carry the load, someone else has to step up. That the whole idea of “whatever it takes.” You’re not always going to be a hundred percent healthy; you’re not always going to meet the same challenge... Everybody’s a leader. Now if you have someone who is a complainer, that guy’s not doing it, a finger-pointer, that’s negative leadership. Leadership comes from everybody.”

-Chuck Noll-

Saturday, August 15, 2009


From Jim Tressel's "The Winners Manual":

I'm the last one to have a long list of possible sanctions for players. I don't believe in it. But I do believe in telling each player what we're going to expect of him. It's simple: We expect each person on the team to BE RESPONSIBLE and DO RIGHT. And if we're going to expect it, then it's up to us as coaches to teach the players how to do those two things. We need to talk about them often and keep them in the forefront of players' minds.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


“Running is the source of my stamina. Early in my career I learned to run until I’m tired, then run more after that. The running I do before the fatigue and pain is just the introduction. The real conditioning begins when the pain comes in; then it’s time to start pushing. And after that I count every mile as extra strength and stamina. The reserve tank. What counts in the ring is what you can do after you’re tired. Training is tough and boring; sometimes it helps to have something to think about and take my mind off of the pain. Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them — a desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill.”

Monday, August 10, 2009


Last fall, sitting outside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, I was enjoying a conversation with Shaquille O'Neal when the subject of Kobe Bryant came up. Shaq went on to tell me that he never had a teammate that worked as hard as Kobe and that we was borderline possessed about working out each day. He told me that the workouts were long and difficult. Not just working on shooting, which Shaq said he did daily and at a rigorous speed, but also on the fundamentals, conditioning and in the weightroom. There is a rumor that Kobe refers to his regiment as the "Devil Workout" because it includes 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, 6 months a year.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I came across this article and I could really relate. I have never been a big fan of golf probably because I have never stepped on a course. But over the past five years I have been glued to the set on the weekend to watch Tiger. Not just to watch Tiger but to hear him talk about what he does. You don't have to be a golfer to see some of the reads why Tiger is so special. He has a very analytical mind along with a champions work ethic. As a young athlete, you should study the very best -- regardless of what sport they play because success has a great carry over from one field to the next. Tiger has a special mindset which Jeff Herring talks about:

I am not a golfer, unless you count an occasional game of putt-putt. I'm not even a fan of the game. But I am a fan of excellence, and so the following quotes by golfing great Tiger Woods recently caught my attention:

"I smile at obstacles."

"My will can move mountains."

"I will do it with all my heart."

This is a great approach to solving problems and facing challenges in life.

"I smile at obstacles."

What a novel approach. Most of the time, we cringe, avoid and complain instead. Unfortunately, none of that solves a problem. Often, problems just get worse.

Smiling at obstacles means we know that we're bigger than the problems facing us, because we know we will learn and become stronger and wiser through solving them.Instead of complaining about challenges, we can see them as gifts. Most every problem or challenge comes with a gift in its hands. The gift is what we will learn through solving the problems and facing the challenges.

Several years ago I worked in a drug rehab program for teenagers. Late one evening, as I talked with one of the staff about the crises of the day, I said "You know what, whatever we do in the rest of our careers will have to be easier than this." Scott's response was, "Either that, or this is just preparing us for what's next."

Scott was right. Problems and challenges can either define you or refine you. When you embrace the situation in front of you, you are refined like gold.

"My will can move mountains"

This does not mean that our will is the be all and end all of any given situation, or that our will can get us anything we want. Frankly, if humans are the be all and end all, we are all in big trouble. What this quote means, I believe, is that when we focus our energy on the problems before us, they are in trouble. The ability to understand where you are, look at where you exactly want to go, create a plan to get there, and then work the plan for all you are worth brings incredible rewards.

Focused action can move the mountains in front of you. But too many times we are like the frog in this riddle: "Three frogs were sitting in a pond on a lily pad when one decided to jump off. How many frogs were left?"

Most people say two. The correct answer is three, because while the frog may have decided to jump, he did not jump off.

While it's important to decide to do something, focused action is the only way to get the results you want.

"I will do it with all my heart"

I believe most people sleepwalk through life. Just stand outside a large office building on a Monday morning. You'll see people in trances, sleepwalking through their day.

Yet when we bring all our heart to any activity, we come alive and actually have the opportunity to live the way we say we want to.

All of us know folks who brings their whole heart to what they do. Don't you love being around them?

Why not be one of those people yourself?

When we bring our whole heart to a problem or challenge, it is easier to solve, and we just might have fun along the way.

There is a saying that there is a time in the life of every problem or challenge when it is big enough to notice, and small enough to solve easily.

When you bring these three skills to the table, you will notice problems early, solve them easily and grow more than you ever thought you would.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


From Jim Tressel's "The Winners Manual" --

Focus is a critical part of discipline, because there are many things going on around us that can draw us away from the singleness of thought we need to accomplish whatever the moment calls for. In 2003, we asked our seniors to define focus. Here are a few of those responses:
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Focus is when your mental attention is centered on what you need to do. Nothing else can get into your head.
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Focus is when someone can resist temptation in the present to further pursue a goal in the future.
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Focus means concentrating on your responsibility.
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Focus means total concentration. Committing to something and staying with it until it is done and done right. Never giving up.
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Focus is the ability to concentrate on something by ignoring outside, important forces that can interfere with the task at hand. Taking advantage of all opportunities that facilitate the task and increase the change of success.
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Focus is disciplined and zeroed in on the goal and only the goal.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


In developing solid perimeter play, we want to first look for and then develop the following characteristics:

Vision is a very encompassing matter. A good perimeter player does more than just see her teammates -- she also sees the defense. This particular type of vision allows the good perimeter player to make the proper decisions with the basketball.

A good perimeter player knows what she does well and works hard to get in position to take advantage of those skills and fundamentals. Just as important however, is the fact that a good perimeter player knows what her limitations are, her weaknesses, and stays away from them.

This is very difficult for the average perimeter player, and in fact, it is a rare quality usually found in the best perimeter players. That special type of perimeter player knows who the best shooters are on the team and tries to get them the ball when they are open. She knows who the best posters are and feeds them the ball. She knows who has trouble dribbling the ball and doesn’t pass them the ball when it might put them in a dribbling situation.

The good perimeter player knows when to push the ball up and when to hold it up. She knows when to attack the basket and when to reverse the ball. She is prepared to play at whatever speed is necessary for her team to be successful.

A good perimeter player is constantly working to get open and at the same time occupy her defender. She understands that she must move with a purpose, because she must never confuse “activity for achievement.”

Whether she is dribbling, passing, or holding the ball, she is going to be strong. She is not going to let the defender rush her into a mistake.

The best perimeter players never let anything upset them. They don’t let the crowd effect their play; they don’t let the other team effect their play; and they don’t let any breakdowns by their teammates effect their play.

We want players that are warriors in the weight room. This is an area that we have greatly improved in our program the past few years. Working hard in the weight room doesn’t mean that we are interested in huge muscle bound athletes. We are interested in developing upper body strength and explosiveness from the lower body.

We expect our perimeter players to be able to outrun the opposing perimeter players down the court for fast break opportunities. And, just as important, we expect our perimeter players to be able to outrun the opposing perimeter players and be in good defensive position in defensive transition. In our motion offense, our perimeter players are constantly moving. We are always telling them, “be hard to guard.” All of this demands a supreme physically conditioned athlete.

We expect our perimeter players to be able to “think” the game. Again, because of our motion offense, our perimeter players are expected to constantly make good decisions while on the floor. When and who to screen, when to pass, when to dribble are just some of the instant decisions we expect them to make. Equally, because we utilize scouting reports, they must know which particular player they are defending and how to defend them.

Obviously, to be a warrior in the weight room, and supreme physically conditioned athlete, and a mentally prepared basketball player, you must first possess a great work ethic. We demand a lot from a Lady Tiger perimeter player and the truly good ones are not afraid to work. To be a top-flight player, a good work ethic is a year round necessity.


"It's a never-ending struggle, which is great. You can always get better! You can never get there. It's a journey with no arrival. And that's the beauty of it -- that you can always become better the next day. It's pretty cool to think about it in that sense. Tomorrow I will be a better player than I was today."

-Tiger Woods-


I’m not sure of anyone that has written on the subject of leadership more than Warren Bennis. In his book “Organizing Genius,” Bennis discussed leadership from a different perspective — one the had a creative collaboration. He spoke of a team of leaders that he referred to as “Great Groups.” He we look at his list of 15 characteristics of Great Groups.

Asked who will have the most influence on their global organizations in the next ten years, 61 percent responded “teams of leaders”; 14 percent said “one leader.” That does not mean, however, that we no longer need leaders. Instead, we have to recognize a new paradigm: not great leaders alone, but great leaders who exist in a fertile relations with a Great Group. In these creative alliances, the leader and the team are able to achieve something together that neither could achieve alone. The leader finds greatness in the group. And he or she helps the members find it in themselves.

Life in Great Groups is different from much of real life It’s better. Bambi veteran Jules Engel recalls that the great Disney animators couldn’t wait to get up in the morning and get back to their drawing boards.There are the fifteen top take-home lessons of Great Groups:

1. Greatness starts with superb people.
Recruiting the most talented people possible is the first task of anyone who hopes to create a Great Group. The people who can achieve something truly unprecedented have more than enormous talent and intelligence. They have original minds. They see things differently.

2. Great Groups and great leaders create each other.
The heads of Great Groups have to act decisively, but never arbitrarily. They have to make decisions without limiting the perceived autonomy of the other participants. Devising and maintaining an atmosphere in which others can put a dent in the universe is the leader’s creative act.

3. Every Great Group has a strong leader.
Great Groups are made up of people with rare gifts working together as equals. Yet, in virtually every one there is one person who acts as maestro, organizing the genius of others.

4. The leaders of Great Groups love talent and know where to find it.
Great Groups are headed by people confident enough to recruit people better than themselves. They revel in the talent of others.5. Great Groups are full of talented people who can work together.Certain tasks can only be performed collaboratively, and it is madness to recruit people, however gifted, who are incapable of working side by side toward a common goal.

6. Great Groups think they are on a mission from God.
People in Great Groups often have the zeal of converts, people who have come only recently to see some great truth and follow it wherever it leads.

7. Every Great Group is an island — but an island with a bridge to the mainland.
Great Groups become their own worlds. They also tend to be physically remoeved from the world around them.

8. Great Groups see themselves as winning underdogs.
Must of the gleeful energy of Great Groups seems to stem from this view of themselves as upstarts who will snatch the prize from the fumbling hands of a bigger but less wily competitor.

9. Great Groups always have an enemy.
When there is no enemy, you have to make one up. Whether the enemy occurs in nature or is manufactured, it serves the same purpose. It raises the stakes of the competition, it helps your group rally and define itself and it also frees you to be spurred by that time-honored motivator — self-righteous hatred. (I would like to state that I personally disagree with this one — it is not necessary to hate or have an enemy to compete at your highest level).

10. People in Great Groups have blinders on.
The project is all they see. In Great Groups, you don’t find people who are distracted by peripheral concerns, including such perfectly laudable ones as professional advancement and the quality of their private lives.

11. Great Groups are optimistic, not realistic.
People in Great Groups believe they can do things no one has ever done before. Great things are accomplished by talented people who believe they will accomplish them.

12. In Great Groups the right person has the right job.
The failure to find the right niche for people — or to let them find their own perfect niches — is a major reason that so many workplaces are mediocre, even toxic, in spite of the presence of talent.

13. The leaders of Great Groups give them what they need and free them from the rest.
Great Groups are never places where memos are the primary form of communication. They aren’t places where anything is filed in triplicate. Time that can go into thinking and making is never wasted on activities, such as writing reports, that serve only some bureaucratic or corporate function outside the group.

14. Great Groups ship.
Successful collaborations with deadlines. Be definition, Great Groups continue to struggle until the project is brought to a successful conclusion.

15. Great work is its own reward.
Great Groups are engaged in solving hard, meaningful problems. Paradoxically, that process is difficult but exhilarating as well. The payoff is not money, or even glory. The reward is the creative process itself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


“If one’s reputation is a possession, then of all my possessions, my reputation means the most to me. Nothing comes even close to it in importance. Whenever I speak to young people about themorality of the decisions they make in life, I usually tell them, “Don’t do anything you can’t tell your mother about.” It is crucial to me that people think of me as honest and principled. In turn, to ensure that they do, I must always act in an honest and principled fashion, no matter the cost.”

-Arthur Ashe-


Inspiring article on Cowboys coach Joe DeCamillis back at work with a broken neck:

Dallas Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis still wears a neck brace and has to sleep sitting up in a chair. Yet he refuses to let the broken neck he suffered when the team's practice facility collapsed keep him from doing his job.

Well, there has been one adjustment.

"In the past, I was able to run down the field after my guys on kickoffs," he said, smiling. "I'm not able to do that right now. That'll hopefully be down the road."

DeCamillis spoke Wednesday following the first practice of Cowboys training camp. It was his first interview with local reporters since the May 2 accident that he was lucky to survive.
His injury required surgery to repair broken vertebrae. Just 16 days later, he was back on the practice field for the start of summer workouts. The tough-guy approach to his recovery has impressed everyone in the organization, so much that Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips has held it up as an example to the club.

"I can show the players that hey, this guy's out there working and working hard and don't cry to me about, 'I feel tired today,'" Phillips said.

Saturday, August 1, 2009


Larry Fitzgerald has to be considered one of the top wide receivers in the league, but that doesn't mean he considers himself a finished product.

That said, he contacted future Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice in the offseason in hopes the former San Francisco 49ers great would give him a few pointers.

Rice agreed and they met up in Minnesota. There they worked on footwork, diet and weight training, among other things.

"I'm very impressed with him," Fitzgerald said of Rice. "He still believes he could come out here and compete. If I have the same mentality at 25 or 26 that he has at 47, I'll be doing well."

By Keith Jiron, The Daily Courier