About CoachMikeBailey

Head Boys' Basketball Coach - St. Patrick High School (Chicago)

Unselfishness and Teamwork

Saint Patrick Basketball

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Every great team has two vital ingredients: Respect for one another and discipline. The great thing about that combination is that you don’t have to worry about discipline if you have respect. If the players really care about each other – not just for show but with a genuine respect for each other – they will play their roles properly.

I have discussed with the last seven coaches who have won the Illinois state championship about what was the most important characteristic of their championship teams. The word that popped up with each coach was UNSELFISHNESS. Guys weren’t worried about their scoring stats, internet rankings, or playing time. They were concerned primarily about the team. A team of unselfish players can accomplish extraordinary things together. I believe unselfishness is the number one thing exhibited by all great teams.

This is absolutely one of the most difficult things to do in today’s society. We are fragmented and individualistic. Our iPods, head phones, and personal computers isolate us into our own little worlds. It’s easy to get caught up in the thinking that it is all about “me” and not the team.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a process; working together is success.” – Pat Riley, Miami Heat

True success is achieved when our main concern is the good of others and the building up of the team.

A good team player…

1. Gives 100%

2. Shows courage off the field.

3. Makes no mental mistakes.

4. Cares about the team above all else.

5. Demonstrates loyalty to all.

“When your team operates like a strong family, you can’t be knocked out by one punch.” - Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

It’s human nature to be competitive and territorial. On a team, players can be so focused on their own success that they celebrate when someone else on the team fails. Competition on a team for roles and playing time isn’t a negative thing; it can motivate players to work harder. But when they g et so focused on themselves and fail to work for the good of the team, everyone loses.

We’re all human, and we all want to feel good about ourselves. That’s why, when someone else doesn’t do well, in a perverse way it can make us feel better about ourselves. That’s an immature way of thinking, but it’s a reality. We have to work on our team skills every day.

“A friend is always loyal, and a teammate is born to help in time of need.” – Larry Bird

If you do what the team needs and let your dreams and desires be shaped as you give to and support others, things will work out well for the team and for you. Teamwork is a constant balancing act between self-interest and group interest. We all have self-interest and there will always be some players who have a hard time buying into the team concept – they’re in it for themselves. If the majority of players care about the team, they can model that for the ones who don’t quite get it. But if the majority is concerned mostly about themselves, we will end up with nothing but chaos.

One thing I’ve always embraced is that you can influence people who will listen. If we could get past the issue of our differences and simply listen to each other, we’d be more likely to move forward. If people find us open and receptive, they’re apt to say, “He’s a nice person; I think I’d like to get to know him more. I’m going to see what makes him tick.” Being part of a team means that you have to be willing to listen if you’re ever going to be heard. I think that’s very important.

- What can you do today that will make you a better member of your team?

- Have you noticed somebody in our program who has exhibited unselfish teamwork? Talk to that person and tell them how much you appreciate it.

- Is there someone on the team that you don’t know that well that you can reach out to in the hallways, gym, or cafeteria?

- What do you do when you see someone on your team being self-absorbed vs. being unselfish?

How to Build Confidence in Your Teammates

“You have to create an environment where everybody feels good about themselves and what they can do.” – Chris Paul

Confidence is very fragile for many players – it goes up and down throughout the season. Your teammates’ confidence will not always be where it should be, so you will have to provide a great deal of encouragement and stability for the team.

You must develop a working relationship with each of your teammates. You need to invest the time to get to know each of them and know how to best communicate with them. You will naturally know some of your teammates because of similar interests, year in school, or past experiences. The people who you don’t hang out with are people you will have to make a conscious effort to get to know better.

“Almost everything in leadership comes back to relationships. The only way you can possibly lead is to understand your teammates. The best way to do that is to get to know them better.”
-Coach K

How to Create Confidence in Your Teammates:

1. Accentuate the Positive
• Acknowledge the success they display
• Acknowledge their effort

Leaders help their teammates feel good about themselves by acknowledging and emphasizing the positive.

“Great leaders inflate the people around them. Poor leaders deflate the people around them.” – Rick Pitino

2. Let them know what to expect
Many people lack confidence because they aren’t sure what to expect as they get into new situations. Your job is to ease their uncertainty and confusion. Let them know what to expect. (Example: Proviso West Tournament – speed and physicality of varsity, scouting reports, weight training/running program, etc.)

3. Remind them of their strengths
Strangely, teammates often forget about what they do best when the games roll around. It’s your job to remind them where they excel and to encourage them to use their strengths.

4. Remind them of past success
Reminding players of their past success provides teammates with examples of their ability to be successful. Help them feel like they can do it again because they have proven they can do it in the past.

5. Remind them of their preparation and hard work
• Remind them that they have paid the price of success through:
• Weights – Conditioning – Summer camps
• Open Gyms – “The Gun” – Practice
• Etc.

Convince them that they have worked just as hard, if not harder than their opponents. They should feel like they deserve to be successful because they have done more.

6. Show and tell teammates that you believe in them
Let your teammates know that you have confidence in them. Because your are taking an interest in them, they will be highly likely to listen and respond to you. Tell your teammates you believe in them by your words, body language, and actions. Sometimes you need to show more confidence than you actually feel.

“I’m one of the leaders on the team and I feel my attitude sets the tone. It’s my job to magnify my teammates’ strengths and to hide their weaknesses. I put people in position to do their thing.” – Jason Kidd

“You have to keep talking and encouraging them. I think you really have to get to know each player and how to get through to them.”
– Kobe Bryant

Man Quick Hitter: “Lion”

Lion 001

• #1 dribbles toward the left
• #2 cuts to get open
• #1 passes to #2

Lion 002

• #4 sets a back screen for #1
• If #1 is open, pass him the ball
• If he’s not open, #4 pops
• #2 passes the ball to #4

Lion 003

• #1 sets a back screen for #2
• If #2 is open, pass him the ball
• If he’s not open, #1 pops
• #4 passes to #1

Lion 004

• #1 reverses the ball to #3
• #2 sets a screen for #5
• #4 and #1 set a screen for #2

Lion 005

• If #5 is not open, #3 passes to #2
• If #2 is open, he takes the shot
• If not, #4 sets a “shake” screen for #1

Personal Accountability

The following is from Mike Bailey, Head Boys’ Basketball Coach, Saint Patrick High School (Chicago):

As I study successful teams, I see a common characteristic very clearly. Every one of these teams has a person or people who hold themselves personally accountable. These are special people who only need a coach to teach them what and how to do something then they take it and run with it. They understand that a major part of their job is to be self-disciplined and personally accountable for their improvement. These are special players and people.

These players:

  • Don’t blame others first; instead they look first for what they contributed (or didn’t contribute) to the situation.
  • Don’t complain instead they look for ways to correct things that aren’t working.
  • Get things done now – they don’t put things off.
  • Always give more than they ask of others.
  • Always look to take on as much as they can handle, rather than look to pass things on to others all the time.
  • Do the work that isn’t required, knowing that it simply  has to get done – extra shots, extra weight training, extra film viewing, etc. – without constantly needing a coach to tell them to work.
  • Hold others accountable for their jobs and roles because they know the importance of accountability as it relates to winning, this creates collective responsibility.
  • Always are the most trusted players on a team – by coaches and players.

Concepts for an Effective Defense

A good defensive team may take some chances in the full or half court areas. They may mix their defenses in various ways. But a great defensive team is always solid in the scoring area. If we make this commitment, we can be good as any team defensively.

To excel in team defense, you must be willing to do certain things:

• Put playing defense high on your list of priorities – have pride in playing it as an individual and team.

• Talk on defense.

• Be willing to give yourself up to help on defense. We are always defending against penetration; each man defends his man, the ball, and the foul lane.

• Be willing to identify with the rebound and loose ball.

• Have the courage to be physical – to put your body on people, to make the first hit on block outs, and to defend cutters.

Once we are committed as a team to playing the most consistent defensive game possible, our basic plan in setting our half-court defense then follows:

• Be a great transition team. Stop the fast break, easy sideline break, or easy early offense shot. Make the opponent have to play us 5 on 5, not 2 on 1.

• Push the ball to a sideline so we can establish a strong side defense. Then, we can set our weak side help defense and make the try to beat us on the entry side of the court.

• Stop easy penetrations and swings to the weak side by having our team defense set quickly. 

• Stop the low post attack. Prevent easy passes in and also prevent scores, if the ball does get inside (i.e. weak side help, trap, etc.).

• Rotate to cover up any opponent who was left open because one of our defensive teammates left to attack a penetrating drive or low post pass.

In the end, each player must commit himself to his teammates. He must be willing to say he will give his best to help his teammates get the defensive job done. It is not enough to say, “I’ll get mine, you get yours.” You must be willing to say, “I’ll get mine and yours too, when you need me.”

By being willing to give help to attack every penetration into our defense and to rotate to every open man we will be able to challenge every shot in good shooting range.

When the day arrives that each teammate feels we are going to war together and that each man has his teammates to back him up, we will have a team we can be proud of, and one that will win consistently.

Coach Quotes on the Importance of Defense

“You win in this league on defense.” – George Allen on the NFL

“Winning is more related to good defense than good offense.” – Dr. Jack Ramsey on the NBA

“My philosophy of defense is to keep the pressure on an opponent until you get to his emotions.” – John Wooden, UCLA

“It’s fun to play defense. It’s fun to watch the opponent sweat on offense, start complaining to the officials, and eventually be taken out of the game because he’s making so many offensive mistakes.” – Maury John, former college coach

“Defense is the great equalizer. It’s the chief characteristic of the champion and the trademark of the underdog.” – Dr. Jack Ramsey

Notes on Reasons Players Reach Their Potential and Commitment

Reasons Players Reach Their Potential
1. High tolerance for pain and hard work.

2. High basketball IQ. Student of the game.

3. Unselfish. Thing TEAM before self.

4. Intangibles in your game. Make hustle plays.

5. Good training habits and physical conditioning.
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Communicative Players

1. Do not isolate themselves from others. Keep your team together. Do not let players or groups do their own thing.

2. Make it easy for teammates to communicate with them. Great leaders and communicators are easily accessible by their teammates. Most communication problems can be solved by proximity.

3. Follow the 24-hour rule. When conflict arises, many ignore the problem. Time DOES NOT heal wounds. Talk through issues or they will grow.

4. Give attention to potentially difficult relationships. Put time into these relationships.

5. Follow up important communication in writing. The more difficult the level of communication, the more important it is to work to keep it clear and simple. Ex. playbooks, vows, contracts, etc.

Credit: Jerry Wainwright’s Basketball Notes

Notes from Dale Brown’s Readings on Leadership Pt. I

1. No leader is exempt from criticism, and his humility will nowhere be seen more clearly than in the manner in which he accepts and reacts to it.

2. Anyone who steps into the arena of leadership must be prepared to pay a price. True leadership exacts a heavy toll on the whole person and the more effective the leadership, the higher the price! The leader must soon face the fact that he will be a target of critical darts. Unpleasant though it may sound, you haven’t really led until you have become familiar with the stinging barbs of the critic. Good leaders must have thick skin.

3. Every leader must develop the ability to measure the value or worth of criticism. He has to determine the source and the motive, and he has to listen with discernment. Sometimes the best course of action is to respond without facing opposition.

4. It is impossible to lead anyone without facing opposition.

5. It is essential to face opposition in prayer.

6. Few people can live in the lap of luxury and maintain their spiritual, emotional, and moral equilibrium. Sudden elevation often disturbs balance, which leads to pride and a sense of self-sufficiency and then, a fall. It’s ironic, but more of us can hang tough through a demotion than through a promotion.
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