UCONN Women’s Basketball

English: University of Connecticut head women'...

English: University of Connecticut head women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma during a game against the University of Texas on March 23, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently received a request from Coach Kenneth Ashford for anything I had on UCONN Women’s Basketball program.  Below are some notes and a couple quick videos I was able to find.  Enjoy!

Geno Auriemma Fast break Drills

Geno Auriemma Teaching the High Post Triangle Offense

Geno Auriemma Nike Clinic Notes

UCONN Agility and Conditioning

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com

Coaching Great Players

English: Basketball player LeBron James during...

English: Basketball player LeBron James during the game Washington Wizards versus Miami Heat (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So it has been a long time since my last post.  I have enjoyed another great summer filled with camps, AAU tournaments, team camps, and some rest and relaxation on the beach.  Now that summer is coming to an end, I will begin to post on a more regular basis.  Below is an article written by Mike Procopio that discusses coaching great players.  Enjoy!

Great players in our sport don’t come a long very often. I’m not talking about a player that can be an all star level player, but a player that changes the game and is a franchise player that transcends greatness. We look at them and have different takes on how if given the opportunity would coach and handle them.

Many coaches will never have the opportunity to coach a great player in our careers. Some that are given the opportunity sometimes take on the responsibility and the player benefits, and some don’t handle it correctly and the player as well as the program suffers.

Coaching a great young player at any level is like raising in a child where they need to be nurtured and guided to maximize their potential. Some people think the LeBron’s, Kobe’s and Durant’s just became great with their natural gifts. Great players are made for the most part and not just born that way. Yes they tend to have God given ability, but that ability as well as their mental toughness were developed over a period of time. Having had the opportunity to work closely with some of the game’s greatest players I have a strong opinion on how I would develop a great player in their early stages. The only way this will get done is if you deal with it head on. There is no instruction manual that you can follow as every player is wired differently. Most of what makes a great player is developed off of the court than on it. Anyone can be great on the court, but developing a player off the court is three times as important as developing them on it. So many players get caught in the nothingness because they are not socially developed properly off of the court. Drills are important when developing players, but great habits and attitude off of the court trumps it.

Here are some things that I think coaches should concentrate on.

1.) The player is not a finished product it will take time to develop them to maximize their ability

You can’t expect great players while they are young to dominate right off the bat. Developing them is a long journey filled with peaks and valleys. Your entire staff as well as the player need to dig your heels in the ground and expect a long fight.

Don’t make the mistake of expecting young players to be physically and mentally dominant on a daily basis. Continue to be positive and communicate to them their mistakes as well as what steps need to be taken to correct them. They need to know that you have their back and will continue to encourage them and have their back.

Talk to your player  and let them know that they need to be patient that if they take the right steps they will benefit greatly from it. Patience on the coaching and playing side is a very difficult trait to acquire.

2.) The Development of a great player will mostly consist of off the court development than on.

From what I’ve seen in my career is that most great players can adjust in time. They make take more time than others to mature into the great player that they will become, but as far as the on court basketball  side of it they eventually get it.

A lot of coaches that work with players feel as though the more on the court work that they do with players the more that the player will develop. I think most players don’t make it to their potential because of off the court issues. They are uncoachable, players hate playing with them, off the court legal drama, bad work ethic, etc.

Things come easy for great players, and with that they obtain a false sense of how good they are as well as how much work needs to go into it. Coaches must constantly communicate and meet with players to put out fires and keep the player on track. Easier said than done, but never take for granted the relationship that you can have with your players as well as their confidence and psyche when you put the time in with them off the court as well as on.

3.) Great players need to lead by example.

Not every great player is a verbal leader and that should be understood. Some are just not wired for being verbal leaders and coaches on the floor. But what they need to be are leaders by the example that they show.

Great players come to practice early as well as stay late to get their work in. They not only want to develop their own game, but also set the tone for the rest of the team that not only the team’s best player but the league’s best player is putting in extra work to push themselves to be great.

If you look at the Spurs and how Tim Duncan works so hard not only in games, but in practice as well trickles down to rest of the roster. What this does is it picks up the rest of the players on the roster to bring their game and work ethic to the highest level possible.

I think there is an abundance of players that can dominate in games , but not many can dominate in games as well as put the extra work in as well as bring it every day in practice. I think the selective few that can do that not only bring their own games to other levels, but do the same for their respective teams.

4.) Keep them to the same standards off the court and in practice.

The worst thing you can do with any player is to hold them to different standards as the rest of your team. It not only creates bad habits for the player that you are favoriting, but you are creating a very unhealthy environment for your team.

There are countless examples of players that developed big egos and never lived up to their potential, because they were always held to a different set of rules and standards of everyone else. Things like being on time for practice/games/team functions, respect to others, good practice habits, etc are things that have to be non negotiable.

Great players have to be given bigger leashes on the court as far as their shot selection and ability to play through mistakes. I think the only way great players will learn is to give them big stretches on the floor where they can play through droughts and mistakes.  On the court is the separation between average players and very good/great players. Off the court they are held to the same standards, on it they are given more freedom.

Great players will make mistakes in their early phases of development and I think its important to let them play through it to a certain point. Players lose confidence quickly when they are yanked for every mistake. It is better to get film of the game and go over it with them in film sessions rather than just take them out after every mistake because that will cause them to be afraid of making mistakes.

You cant be afraid to suspend your best player. The rest of the team needs to now that talent doesn’t give players the authority to play by another set of rules as far as conduct, respect, being on time etc. They need to know that you have total control of the situation. Having control of your ship is very important and can’t be taken for granted. If your players think that the best players are held to a lower standard than they are you will lose your team.

5.) Teach them to appreciate criticism and look the person that is giving to them in the eye.

Players today really have a hard time being criticized. They get flustered and feel as though you are demeaning them by telling them what the can’t do or what they did wrong. I think the earlier in a player’s career that they can accept criticism the better that they will be. Some coaches that I have spoken to sometimes sidestep criticism for high level players because they feel as though they will lose them mentally or they will leave their team for another.

The urban legend is that great players hate to be criticized. I’ve found most players like being told the truth. Before working for the Mavericks I worked with players like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Rajon Rondo. All of them encouraged critiquing because they wanted to be the best at what they did. The best way to approach players is to be up front with them.

I think players that can take criticism early in their career can be easily coached. Of course you have to critique them in a way that doesn’t come across too negative. I think in the right context it can make a difference with the player and help your team in the long run.

Body language is so important for a player. There is nothing worse than not looking someone in the eye when they are talking to you. I know as a coach it really bothers me when a player or anyone that I am speaking to doesnt look me in the eye. It makes me assume that they arent focused in what I am telling them . Players should look their coaches in the eye or anyone for that matter. It shows that they are engaged to the conversation and enables them to capture more out of it.

From the coaches side remember delivery is the most important part of critiquing a player. Deliver the message directly, but identify what the layer can and can’t take. It is all about the delivery.

6.) Toe the line of over coaching and giving a big leash

All players need to be coached. From the best of all-time to the worst player on the planet a player needs the guidance of a coach to maximize their talent and ability. When dealing with a great player you have to give them the guidance to learn as well as hold them accountable  when needed.

I think there are misconceptions about great players on two counts. First, that coaches need to over coach great players. What this means is that they coach them every possession of every game and practice. Second is to given them only the minimum amount of coaching and wait until they become a dominant player.

Great players definitely need coaching. They need positive and educated influences when it comes to their coaches. The problem that comes up is that a coach feels as though they need to coach a player with a lot of talent too much and breathe down their neck all day every day. Thats is a frustrating thing to deal with as a player an will create friction between the player and coach.

The player should definitely be coached , but it is important to give them some freedom when they make a mistake. Give them some time to process their mistake and give them an opportunity to play through it to see if they can self correct in the game. This is a great way to give your player confidence that they are allowed to make mistakes without being yanked.

Players at all levels do want a certain amount of space especially when they are going through a slump. You need to read your player and know their tolerance level of communication especially heated confrontations. Players need to be told when they make mistakes and be held accountable.

On the other side of it not doing anything to confront or hold your star player accountable is a huge mistake. I’ve seen that approach and it destroys the player. They need a certain level of guidance to know the difference between right and wrong. When they aren’t giving a good effort in games or practice they need to know that. If they aren’t executing their coach needs to tell them. You can’t expect great players to figure it out with no help at the beginning stages of their career.

It is hard coaching in general, but with great players its even tougher because you have to know how much to shorten the leash which is a tricky thing. I think if you let them know that you are on them when they make mistakes to help them not repeat them they will appreciate that. But they also can’t get it their head that they run things and can do whatever they want. It is a specigic balance.

7.) They need to know a GOOD can dominate the game on one end a GREAT player dominates on both.

I remember being with the Boston Celtics and watching Paul Pierce play. He had unbelievable footwork. With his combination of size, shooting, strength, and deceptive explosiveness he was one of the best young scoring forwards in the NBA. Defensively he gave an effort, but it wasn’t something that he concentrated on strongly. I think what changed him from an all-star player to a franchise player was his commitment to defense. His ability to shut down anyone at his position was a huge part in the Celtics success of their championship runs.

How I always explain it to players is that Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant were both 9 time First Team All-Defense in the NBA. That’s a pretty strong statement on 2 of the All-Time players ever to play the game and their commitment to making stops. Scoring points is an important part of the game, but to combine scoring with the ability to stop people is something special.

Many players have the physical tools to be very good defenders, but lack the focus and commitment to it. It isn’t easy, but it must be something that is preached on a regular basis to your player. I don’t like dropping names while developing players, but once in a while it is good to use names like these to hammer down a point.

Not every player physically is good enough to be a dominating defensive player, but they can always be a good team defender. Continue to teach them and make them buy into how important defense is.

8.) Have an open line of communication with them

As a coach you are the most important basketball tool for your player. They need to know that they can come in to your office or call/text/email you whenever they are having an issue on or off the court.

You need to meet with your player regularly when needed to be able to build emotional equity with them. This will build trust and develop a bond between you and your player. This is something that you should do with all of your players, but definitely needed when developing a great player.

In your communication with them you must tell them the truth and be brutally honest. Honesty is something that all players need. Don’t shy away from confrontation as it is something that will help your players on and off the court. There are so many people involved with our game that aren’t honest with players of all levels and it really hurts the product that is produced. Communication is the key to any relationship and is the key to success.

In closing there is no magic pill, drill, or inspirational quote to get a player better. You need to do most of your work off of the court and needs to be done daily. I always laugh at people who live their life by other people’s sayings and quotes and expect to be successful based on what others say or do. Every one is different. Every player is different and every coach that deals with players are different. What works for Jon Calipari or Bobby Knight won’t automatically work for you.

In the end it is YOU that are in the trenches with your players not John Wooden or someone else. At the end of the day you know yourself and your players better than anyone. You are the difference between players being good and great. Don’t let players go by the waste side by not putting work in. Anyone can get on the court and put layers through great drills. The problem is there is another part to player development and it entails more than what you can read in a coaching book or view in a video. Off the court development with your players is a staple in their development as a player and person. Don’t short change them and yourself as it could help them for years to come.

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com

28 Competitive Shooting And Footwork Drills

So it has been awhile since I have posted anything here and Nevada Smith the Head Coach at Keystone College has been begging me to post something.  So here are 28 Competitive Shooting and Footwork Drills from Jay Wright the Head Coach at Villanova University.  Enjoy!



Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com


fire-basketball-iconI apologize for the lack of content over the past few weeks.  The months of June and July will be the two months were content will be lacking as I am away working summer basketball camps.  I will be spending the majority of this month working with the Hoop Group for their summer Elite Camps.  Hope everyone has a great month and a great summer and I should return to posting on a regular basis come August!


Charateristics of Being Game Ready

NBA Finals

NBA Finals (Photo credit: Paolo Rosa)

Here is a new list of characteristics of being game ready that I received from the Coaching Insider.  If you watch basketball regularly or have just been enjoying the NBA Finals, you have heard a few stories of players stepping up or coming off the bench and being ready for their moment!  Danny Green, Mike Miller, Gary Neal, etc…You never know when your coach may call your number so make sure you are prepared and ready!

Relaxed: The days of getting psyched up are over. Research has shown over and over that the best performances occur when you are just slightly above your normal state of arousal, not the extreme.

Confident: There is no fear. You should expect to be successful, not hope or wish to be successful.

Completely focused: You are oblivious to everything else going on around you—consumed by the moment. Like a child playing with his toys, you are so absorbed in the moment that nothing outside can affect you.

Effortless: Things just sort of happen with little or no effort.

Automatic: There is no interference from your thoughts or emotions. Things are just happening.

Fun: When you having fun its easy!

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com

5 Keys to Maximize Your Talent

KG had a breakaway dunk that the whole crowd e...

KG had a breakaway dunk that the whole crowd erupted for. Hard to not get with this guy even if he plays on the other team. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Below is an article that discusses 5 keys to maximize your talent.  “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”  Enjoy the article!

Written By: J.P. Clark
Boston Celtics
Assistant Skill Development

“I don’t want to be any good.”

“I am not interested in becoming the best I can become.”

“I want to be mediocre.”

Have you ever heard any of the above statements spoken from an aspiring player? The answer to that question is most likely no. These statements are never spoken, ever. You see, as players, really as humans, we all have an innate desire to be great; to become special. Deep down, we all want to live to our greatest potential; to become the best we can become. The question is how do we fully maximize our talents? How do we live to our full potential? Today, I am going to share with you The 5 Keys to Fully Maximize Your Talent.

Each one of us has been blessed with our own unique gifts and talents from God. Every one of us has a special talent. These gifts and talents are what separates us as individuals. Each of our talents and gifts are different, but deep down, we are all the same. We would all like to live to our greatest potential and become the best we can become.

The reason I have selected this topic is because I have seen so many instances in which player X was not able to fully maximize his/her talent. I have seen this happen in high school, college, the NBADL, and most recently in the NBA. I will address the problem with a couple of suggestions that of I have learned and observed from working with some of the best players and coaches in the world.

I know how much players want to excel in their specific sports. I know we all want to maximize our God-given talents and reach our highest potential. My hope is that this article gives you some direction in your quest of becoming the best player that you can become. My why in writing this article is simple, it’s to help you perform at your highest level in hopes of helping you reach your greatest potential as a player.

I will share with you some of the most valuable lessons that I have learned in hopes of helping you maximize every ounce of your athletic potential.

I will start off by saying, when it comes to fully maximizing your talent, of course having raw talent can help. Clearly, if you have been blessed with great athleticism, size and strength, you will have an advantage over your competition. However, being able to fully maximize your potential as a player has very little to do with your initial level of raw talent. Raw talent is nice, but there are countless stories of players with incredible potential who do not amount to much because of their lack of a work ethic, character issues, and their lack of discipline. The Talent Code Author Daniel Coyle sums it up perfectly, “Talent is determined far less by our genes and far more by our actions.”

Here are the 5 Keys to Maximizing All of Your Talent:

5 Keys to Maximizing All of Your Talent:

1. The Best Athletes Have a Well Defined “WHY”
The best players have a specific purpose. A personal mission statement. The best players know who they are and they know exactly what they want. The best players have a clear vision and have already set up their goals to make their dreams a reality. The best know WHY they play the game. The best know why they get out of bed every morning. Simon Sinek is the author of the book, “Start with WHY,” he commented in his book, “People who come to work with a clear sense of WHY are less prone to giving up after a few failures because they understand the greater cause.” Or as author Jon Gordon commented “Our purpose is our ultimate guidance system that provides us with direction for our lives. Purpose fuels us with passion, and this passion gives us confidence and vitality to go after our dreams.” The best athletes know their WHY!

2. The Best Athletes Have a Plan of Action
Once you know your personal WHY, then the only question you have to ask is, HOW? How will I achieve my goals? How will I live up to my WHY? How will I go from good to great? The best athletes understand that whatever got them here will not get them to where their hopes/aspirations are. The best athletes come up with a detailed plan of how they will improve upon their strengths and weaknesses in order to achieve their goals. Remember, great ideas without a plan is delusion. Just like in a real game, we have to be able to execute the game plan to be successful! We must have a detailed game plan mapping out our road to success. The best have their goals written down and a plan of action to achieve them!

3. The Best Athletes Outwork the Competition
When you talk of work ethic, the perfect player example is one of our players, the ultimate competitor, Kevin Garnett. Kevin is fanatical about his daily routine, shooting the same shots from the same spots with the same movements every single day. As you can imagine, KG works extremely hard at all times. There are no days off, no plays off and certainly no practices off. The stories of KG during shoot around breaking a full sweat are widespread, but what people do not realize is it’s every single shoot around he’s in a full sweat. Tape/no tape, it doesn’t matter, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, it doesn’t matter. To KG, shootarounds are games and he must get himself in the exact positions and coverage situations that he will find himself in that night. And to do this realistically, KG must go game speed and this is how he treats every practice, every shoot around and every walk through. Coach Doc Rivers commented on KG when he first got to Boston, “You knew (Garnett) has great intensity. You didn’t know he had it full time on and off the floor. His intensity in shootarounds and practices spread to our entire team. Our shootarounds were phenomenal. They listened to every word. There was no talking. They were focused. That was all from Kevin Garnett and that changed our team.” The best athletes outwork the competition.

4. The Best Athletes Believe in Themselves
This is the most important of the keys. The best athletes believe in themselves. They expect to go out and perform. “The best believe in themselves. I have a determination where I don’t think anybody I line up against, on any given night, will be able to out-will me, I just refuse to believe that,” said Kobe Bryant. The best athletes have a disciplined mind that allows them to believe in themselves even as negativity begins to set in. The best athletes believe in themselves by guarding their minds. The best athletes understand that by controlling your thoughts, you control your life. By controlling your life, everything in your life is simplified. By simplifying your life, you allow yourself to devote 100% focus to becoming the best player you can become. Remember as Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” We must make the conscious choice to believe in ourselves! The best athletes believe in themselves.

5. The Best Understand They Can’t do it Alone – Become Lifelong Learners
The best athletes know they can’t reach their full potential alone. The best know they will need constant help along the way. One of my favorite phrases from Coach Rivers is, “If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together.” The best players understand the value of seeking wisdom and direction from their mentors. The best submit to a life of lifelong learning, understanding they never will truly arrive. The best understand greatness is a lifelong mission. Maximizing your talent is about striving to become the best you that you can be. To be the best, you must fully commit to being a lifelong learner. The best understand they can’t do it alone.

Remember, life will throw you a few curveballs along the journey. The key is to view life as an adventure. View setbacks as opportunities to learn and grow. Your purpose must be greater than your challenges. Instead of focusing on your problems, focus on your purpose. See yourself as a hero in your journey and enjoy the process. Strive each and every day to stretch yourself and grow. Spend time on your WHY, Plan out your action plan, believe in yourself and work as hard you can. Good luck!

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com

Characteristics of Winning Teams

English: Bill Russell posing with other NBA Le...

English: Bill Russell posing with other NBA Legends and the NBA Championship Trophy (not shown) for the 2005 NBA Legends Tour: Destination Finals kick off held at the NBA store. The Tour visited various cities and United Service Organizations (USO) supported military installations as part of the NBA’s ongoing effort to support service members during the upcoming playoff season. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here is an article discussing characteristics of winning teams that I received in an email this morning.  The article was written by Sidney Goldstein.  Enjoy!

Characteristics of Winning Teams
by Sidney Goldstein

After about 30 radio interviews concerning the characteristics of winning teams I decided to put this information in a short article.

The first characteristic is that winning teams are physically superior. This means that the coach recruited players that are taller, stronger, more agile, quicker than players on other teams and properly conditioned the team. As a coach and player you must always remember that the game is physical. That physicality always trumps finesse. And your biggest job as a coach or player that wants to improve is in this area. For high schoolers and older players this means running, maybe 3 miles per day, and lifting weights for a minimum 15-30 minutes.
Coaches can incorporate conditioning drills into practice, so that each player runs 15-40 minutes continuously while handling the basketball. I call these continuous motion drills which are the most important part of practice. Video 3 in our series shows many of these drills which are also worthwhile as skill teaching exercises.

A second characteristic of winning teams is that they go inside looking for 3 foot shots before 3 point shots. A good inside percentage is over 90% where as a good 3 point percentage is only 50%. Percentage-wise or point-wise the difference always favors the 3 foot shot, just like the percentage always favors the house at casinos. With the percentage in their favor, Casinos don’t lose and if your team is good enough then you won’t lose scoring opportunities either if you go inside.
Talking is easier than doing, so here is a brief road map on how to teach players to go inside. There are about 10 skills involved that can not be taught using plays. Plays are not the answer, they are the problem. Looking, timing, cutting, catching, faking, communication, and passing are skills that need to taught directly, not jumbled up in some unique astonishing incredible play that will save the day, the practice and your job as a coach. There is no way to build a house unless you start with the foundation. So it is with basketball skills. Team play is the endpoint of practice, not the place to start. My books and videos are filled with exercises to teach the offensive skills needed to work the ball inside. Most of a team’s practice should be concentrated on these drills.

A third characteristic is that winning teams box-out on the defensive boards preventing easy second shots. Again talking is easier than doing. There are 3 basic skills and about 6 or so drills involving boxing out. The first skill is blocking, the second is keeping the offense on the back and the third is the transition between the two. Before players can even attempt these drills work on defensive foot movement and rebounding.

The fourth characteristic of winning teams is that they go for offensive rebounds. Believe it or not many teams do not send players for offensive rebounds. Talking is again much easier than doing. To rebound offensively there must be communication between he shooter and the rest of the team. You just can’t say to your players, “Go for offensive rebounds.” To begin with players must be looking and anticipating the shot so they can get position. The art of rebounding must also be taught. Two great rebounders, Bill Russell and Dennis Rodman, planned very specifically for each rebound based on who was shooting from where on the court so they could reach an optimum rebounding position.

The fifth characteristic is that the players help out on defense. Helping out usually means that off-ball defenders move a step or two towards the ball. When you boil defense down to basics there is no zone or person-to-person. All defenses meld into each player being in the most advantageous position at each instant. Again talking is easier than doing. 90% of defense involves moving properly: jump steps and running. No walking or sliding. One wrong or slow or confused step, one run instead of a jump, jump instead of a run, gives the offense the advantage. This is the start and key to learning defense. Coordinating the team to help out is the easy part.
Working on fundamentals yields incredible results almost immediately if you are a pro or college coach with players that have great physical talent. For coaches with younger less physically talented players, improve

Please let me know if you have any requests for plays, drills, defenses, etc… Also let me know if you have any articles, plays, drills, etc…that you would like me to publish for you on the site.

You can email me at coachtimmcdonald@gmail.com