About CoachMikeBailey

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

Becoming the Type of Player Every Team Wants

* Adaptable *

* Get into others *

* Commitment *

  1. Communication: “A team is many voices with a single heart.”
    1. You cannot have teamwork unless you have players who talk to one another. Without communication you don’t have a team – you have a collection of individuals.
  2. Teammates don’t isolate themselves from others. The more you know about each other the more you understand each other. The more you understand the more you will care about each other. A player who is connected to his teammates is a powerful asset to the team.
  3. Team players make it easy for teammates to communicate with them. If you look at leaders and impact players on a team you will find that they not only stay connected with their teammates, they make sure their teammates are able to make contact with them easily.
  4. Give attention to difficult relationships – these will need attention to thrive.
  5. Communication brings about trust. Players that communicate and trust each other begin to act as one.
  6. We need to be able to look one another in the eye and tell the truth – no time should be wasted trying to figure out what your teammate is hiding or what his ulterior motives might be.

“You have to be a family first to be a team” – Lebron James

  • This begins and ends with communication and trust.

In pressure situations, players will often revert to individual instincts and these are often thought of to be selfish – talking both on and off the court allows a team to think collectively and then you start to rely on team instincts.

As team relationships grow over time and are built on respect, communication, and trust, you find something else happens – you start to CARE about the team and your teammates.

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

The Importance of Communication

“Effective teamwork begins and ends with quality communication.” – Coach K

Standard of Excellence: Respectful Communication: We will commit to listening to the “what” and not the “how,” but we will always be aware of how we are sending the message – let it be teammate to teammate or coach to player. Our message must be delivered with respect. Be man enough to take it, but respectful enough to deliver it properly. Make sure we build up not tear down, talk to and not at, and encourage not demean.

Why is it important?

1.) Connects you with your teammates and promotes teamwork

2.) Maximizes efficiency

3.) Increases motivation

4.) It’s critical to the success of your team, both on and off the court

Types of Communication

1.) Verbal (tone, words)

2.) Non-Verbal (reaction, body language, expression, written)

3.) Listening (attentiveness, understanding)

Keys to Good Communication

1.) Show respect when communicating with each other at all times.

2.) Give more positives than negatives (deposits vs. withdrawals).

3.) Be honest with each other, and with yourself.

4.) Earn each other’s trust, and the trust of everyone involved with our program.

5.) Be an excellent listener.

6.) Understand and respect the differences in people. Get to know one another on a personal basis.

7.) Be mindful of the how in communication

8.) Understand that effective communication is a skill that is developed. It must not be a part-time thing.

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

The Fist: Part 4

First three parts:

  1. Communication
  2. Trust
  3. Collective Responsibility

4th Finger of the Fist = “Caring”

What do you see when you look at the person next to you? Do you see him as as…

  • Person
  • Friend
  • Player
  • Teammate

Do you get to know your teammates for who they really are as a person or only as a basketball player?

Nothing demonstrates that you care about people more than spending personal time with them. The more it’s a one on one encounter the better.

It’s more than “I care about you as a person.” It’s also about “I care about the job I’m doing on the basketball court.” It’s caring about the individual, caring about the team, caring about our image of as a team off the court, caring about high-performance, about excellence. It’s also about caring about winning – about being the best you can be.

Caring springs people to action – it causes people to work harder – to screen/block out/take a charge/get on the floor for loose balls/sprint on the court, both offensively and defensively/seal and feed the post/make the extra pass/get in defensive stance/stay and move in their stance, etc. – you care enough about your teammates to do these types of things.

“I’m going to do this because I care about my team and the people I play with.”

  • Renters vs. owners
  • We care for one another. If something happens, we’re there for each other all the time.


  • When you care about someone or something, you show genuine concern for that person in good times and bad.
  • Caring is so important to a team because there are going to be times when members of our team make mistakes. When you make a mistake you become very vulnerable. The immediate response of your teammates will determine how you perceive your mistake. Caring makes you more confident – you know you have someone’s unconditional support.

The Fist Part III

3rd finger of “The Fist”: Collective Responsibility

  • We win and lose TOGETHER.
  • People are going to step in mud puddles. They are going to make mistakes. If you are going to have a great team, there should be no excuses and no finger-pointing when somebody else on your team isn’t perfect.
  • When you point blame at someone else, one finger sticks out and you no longer have a fist.
  • Some people like to win individually and some like to lose selectively. They say “it’s somebody else’s responsibility” or “it’s not my fault.”
  • One of the key components to keeping the FIST strong is taking responsibility for your actions as a TEAM.
  • “It’s our shot” – it’s not J.P.’s shot or Julian’s shot, it’s our shot – this is our game – this is our court.
  • A fist is plural – a finger is singular


Being a senior in great programs is a special time. On one hand, it may mean more attention, but it also involved more responsibility. In most programs, the privilege of being a senior means doing less and putting more responsibility on younger players. In fact, helping with duties that are essential for the team, such as physically assisting a coach by picking up equipment, should not be considered punishment. Helping out should be an honor reserved for those players who have the most invested. Being a senior should reflect an attitude of ‘this is our time to lead and serve’ rather than ‘this is our time to be served.’ Helping the coaches should be a privilege.

One of the key elements in a group of people who want to become a team is the positive example and commendable work habits that one demonstrated by your team’s leaders and seniors. You will never see a great team where the seniors are not the best workers. These teams may win some games, but they will not be a TEAM if the most visible members (seniors) do not model commitment and hard work. One of the key attributes of being a senior involves being the best example of what our program stands for.

If seniors are lazy or inattentive, every underclassmen looks at them and is comforted by the thought, ‘I can’t wait to be a senior in our program. Look, they get to come late, coast through practice and still play.’ The exact opposite is true in programs with a strong tradition of senior leadership. The underclassmen look at the seniors and say, ‘I can’t wait to be a senior in this program and play for Coach Bailey; they are the hardest workers, the best listeners, and the ones with the most responsibilities. That is going to be great.’

If you invest in our program, your turn for leadership will happen. The senior year is special. Seniors are what our program is about.

The Fist Pt. II

Review -> Don’t forget the five points that make up our Saint Patrick “fist”:

  1. Communication
  2. Trust
  3. Collective Responsibility
  4. Caring
  5. Pride

Last week we talked about communication. You need to talk to each other on the court about basketball situations. Every bit as important, if not more important, is talking to each other off the court about problems, building each other’s confidence, and building a TEAM – not just a group of guys who play basketball together.

Today -> Trust (2nd finger of the “Fist”)

On any team, there are no words more important than trust. Trust must be developed among every member of the team if success is to be achieved.

That is why I make it a point to be certain that our players always know that I’m going to be straight with them. At any time, I can and will tell you where you stand and how you’re doing. I’ll tell you what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.

People are not truthful and open with each other simply because the truth is often the most difficult pill to swallow for the person receiving it. It’s also often difficult to express for the person delivering it.

Confrontation can be good. Confrontation simply means meeting the truth head-on. True friends and true teammates will tell each other tough things.

If a coach or teammate doesn’t deal with a slump, non-performance, or problem on a team, the team will not achieve its goals. It’s “St. Pat’s beating St. Pat’s,” not “the ESCC beating St. Pat’s.”

We should work hard to focus on the truth, look one another in the eye, and then take action for the good of the team. Once the confrontation is done, it’s over with. The team bond is not jeopardized because the relationship of our team is built on trust.

Trust will develop when you tell someone the truth face to face. How many of you really trust someone? Some of you don’t trust anybody.

If you are bigger than just yourself (St. Patrick basketball) – if you are into something that you identify with (St. Patrick basketball) – if you are part of something that you throw yourself entirely into (St. Patrick basketball) then you will be more willing to trust your teammates.

We want a team where we trust each other, where we have confidence in each other.