Program Culture Thoughts

This article was sent to me by Dennis Hutter Coach Hutter is the Head Women’s Coach at Mayville State University. Dennis also has a coaching website. The URL is

Six Ways to Create Culture Within an Organization – Andy Stanley

  1. Name It – Create a name for it, easiest part – MSUWBB = “The Comet Way”
  2. Brand It – Phrase, Idea, Terms, Slogans, Images
  3. Wear It – “Model It” – Leader must be seen doing this DAILY
    People can see it in the leader, what the leader sees in them
  1. Teach It – Have to teach it intentionally
    Talk about it enough to get ALL on the same page
  1. Institutionalize It – Make it part of the “rhythm” of the organization, Schedule Daily
  2. Recognize It – When you see something, say something

What is rewarded, will be repeated

Make sure you are always trying to find ways to praise your players, when you find or hear about them representing the team and the culture on a high level:

**What we try to do here at Mayville State WBB, is when we receive an email or a note, or a tweet about a player or players representing our program at a high level we will print off that note and hi lite their name and write a quick note saying ”thanks” and put into their locker room.**

Improvement creates momentum within a culture and organization.

Great organizations are always evaluating and always inspiring:

Evaluate what they are doing.

Inspire what others are doing.

“Pride of Ownership” – if we did not come up with the idea – we don’t want to look like we are copying or borrowing – A BIG REASON WHY SOME CULTURES DO NOT IMPROVE OR MOVE FORWARD.

We are not looking for our best ideas, we are looking for THE best ideas.

Improvement involves change – people are not always excited about change.

There is a big difference between a “personal commitment” to something and a culture of something.  Personal commitment means the person at the top is committed, but no one else it, a culture is an attitude throughout the entire organization.

Culture Defined – Organizational Culture is the personality of the organization “How things are done Here”

In great organizations culture is created, in bad organizations culture is inherited.

Eight Ways to Infuse Passion into Your Team – Cory Dobbs

  1. Keep your fire burning
  2. Take charge of your moods
  3. Listen to teammates and players
  4. Be there for others
  5. Act with integrity
  6. Be genuine
  7. Refrain from excuse-making
  8. Men broken fences

Coaches want players who serve to inspire those around them to do things that will make the team better – WE WANT MORE OF THESE PLAYERS

A fun energizing environment is much more productive than a routine and stale environment

Celebrate and get excited about the successes and accomplishments of your players and teammates


“Arete Hoops” – How Process Praise Makes You More Resilient

Children who receive “process praise” (i.e. – the things within the child’s control:  hard work, effort, perseverance and diligence, etc….) were more likely to develop a resilient approach towards difficult challenges later in life

The children who received “process praise” when they were younger were more motivated learners and ended up doing better in math and reading compared to their peers, who were praised for their talents or innate abilities alone.

When we make it clear to our teams that a commitment to the process is the only key to success, we are giving them the tools to be successful both on the floor and in life


Are You Absolutely Positive??? – PGC Basketball

If a customer is within ten feet of you, you have ten seconds to speak to them and look to serve them in some capacity – IS THIS A DAILY OCURENCE WITHIN YOUR PROGRAM???

Whether one realizes it or not, each of us is selling something to those around us every day. We are either selling positive or negative – which is it for you????


Wake up every morning with one drive in mind – TO SERVE OTHERS

Set a goal to do something special for someone TODAY, who isn’t expecting it

Attention flows where energy goes

“Quit Being So Stinking Hard to Play For” – PGC Basketball

One coach will impact more people in one year, than the average person does in a lifetime – Billy Graham

Coaches should be passionate about changing the lives of young people every day

Desiring fair treatment – is the mindset of the mediocre

Far too often, our identity becomes wrapped up in our overall win/loss record

As coaches, we fall victim to the power-empower-power cycle

Power-Empower-Power Cycle – that is where coaches start out with the power, and then through trust and time, start to empower some of the players within the team.  Then when things are not going well or at some point, the coach takes the power back from the player(s).

Coaches – giving away our power is one of the greatest gifts we can give as a coach

If we fall into the power-empower-power cycle, the players will view us as the enemy rather than the ally.

When the pressure to win is prevalent, we as coaches, stop directing and start demanding

The best coaches around have the highest level of accountability

If players can discover how to pursue greatness on their own, it will become a life-long virtue

Does your “WHY” match up with your “WHAT”????

We should be in constant pursuit of being the coach that one day players reflect on as a hero!!!!!!

Mayville State Women’s Basketball Culture

Over the past six years we have developed, built and maintained our Program Culture – DAILY

We have branded our Culture as “The Comet Way” – this exemplifies everything we do within our Mayville State Women’s Basketball Culture

A lot of what we do today, was taken from the book “Leading with the Heart” by Mike Krzyzewski

Four “cornerstones” of our “The Comet Way” Culture are:

Academic Development

Leadership/Teammate Development

Player Development

Servant Leadership

Here are some of the ideas that we do within each cornerstone of our Culture:

Academic Development

“Basketball may have brought you here, but it is not why you are here” – getting your degree

Study Tables at least twice per week with players AND coaches

Progress Reports for players

Constant guidance to make sure players stay on track to graduate

Academic Planners

Player Notebooks

Program Weekly Schedule

Leadership/Teammate Development

Players will have a difficult time growing and developing if we don’t give them a chance to lead, have to give some our “power” as coaches away, and allow our players a chance to lead and grow.

Effort & Attitude – Have an “attitude of gratitude” – Have players write “thank you” notes to people/supporters/professors, etc……………….

We are trying to build strong relationships within our program – DAILY – player to player, coach to coach and coach to player.

Relationship Building Ideas:

Sign In Sheet Every day for Players

Personal Notes/Texts to Players praising positive traits

Individual Player Meetings:  Discuss Family, Classes, Basketball – IN THAT ORDER

Leadership Council for Players

Academic Involvement with the Players

Trust = Character + Competence – Character is who you are as a person, competence is your ability to do your job

Communication is the “glue” that keeps our Family together

Peer Coaching – Player to Player Coaching

Player led practice sessions

Post Workout/Practice Notes to players & staff

Player Notebooks

Team Meals

Player Development

“The single best way to improve the team, is to improve the individual skills of the players on that team”

When I get better, WE get better

Shooting Groups during the week

Individual Development Workouts

Game/Practice Film Sessions

Player Notebooks

Tough Competitive Practices built around player/team improvement

Servant Leadership

Campus/Community Service Projects – Find a way to get players involved with campus/community

Be the “Helping Team” both on and off the floor

Vets/Rookies – Veterans helping the rookies become a part of our family

Summer Camps

Must read Books for Culture & Leadership

The Power of Positive Leadership……………………………………………….Jon Gordon

You Win in the Locker Room First……………………………………………….Jon Gordon & Mike Smith

The Hard Hat………………………………………………………………………………Jon Gordon

How Lucky You Can Be………………………………………………………………..Buster Olney & Don Meyer

Inside Out Coaching…………………………………………………………………….Joe Ehrmann

Relentless……………………………………………………………………………………Tim Grover

The Big Book of Belichick…………………………………………………………….Alex Kirby

The Legacy Builder………………………………………………………………………Rod Olson

The 5 Stages of a Coach’s Career

Editor’s note from Brian.  I saw this thought on another blog and thought that it fits in well with the message of this post:

Rocking Chair Statement
-As a coach, write a statement about what you want players to remember about you when you are old in a rocking chair on your front porch!

The following post was written by Coach Dawn Redd-Kelly and originally published on her coaching blog, Coach Dawn Writes

Let me tell you what I think about coaches: we’re crazy in our preparation and dedication, we work long hours and love it, we give up our nights and weekends, we mentor our student-athletes, we demand big things from them and even more from ourselves, we’re passionate in our belief in our team and our love for our sport, we believe in the power of sport to have a positive and long-lasting impact in our athlete’s lives.  So when I saw “The 5 Stages of Your Career” over at Bob Starkey’s blog, I wanted to expand on it over here.  It’s interesting to figure out what stage you’re in and those that you’ve already gone through…or have you circled back around to some you thought you were finished with?  Check them out and see what you think.

The 5 Stages of Your Career

1.       Survival: Don’t Know What You Don’t Know
Coaches, you remember what this stage felt like don’t you?   Or maybe you’re in the middle of this stage now and feel like you’re flailing.  I remember being beyond clueless…that’s back when I thought I just needed to know volleyball to be a volleyball coach!  Turns out also I needed to formulate a recruiting plan, balance a budget, create practice plans, order equipment, manage assistant coaches, and make in-game adjustments.  Color me unprepared, but thank goodness for a veteran coach who took me under his wing.

2.       Striving for Success: You Want Folks to Recognize You Can Coach Your motivation?  Winning, plain and simple.  You’re obsessed with conquering the competition and put in hours and hours of your time to make it happen.  Being the best is what drives you and to be the best, you need the tangible accolades that go along with that:  lots of W’s in the win column, all-league awards for your team, and maybe a coach of the year for you.

3.       Satisfaction: You Relax, Set Another Goal, & Want To Get Better
Now that you’ve achieved a few of your goals, you can relax and know that you’re a good coach and you have the respect of your peers.  You attend conferences to network and visit with old friends as much as you do to learn some new things…you’re getting established.  Each year you set new goals to accomplish that will push you and your team forward…you’re focused.

4.       Significance: Changing Lives For The Good
At this stage you’re more concerned with how you impact your teams and your legacy than you are with personal glory…after all, you’ve already accomplished a lot.  Now you want to make sure your teams understand the value of sport and hope that you’re teaching them how to be better people, not just better players.  With all of your experience and years in the game, you’re very knowledgeable.  And because of the success you’ve had in your career, this is the stage where people solicit your opinion and ask for your help with their coaching conundrums.

5.       Spent: No Juice Left, Can’t Do It Any More
The busses, the trips, preseason, recruiting, the hustle, the grind…you’re over it.  You’re ready to hang with the family and actually make it home before nine o’clock at night.  And your weekends?  You want them back.  Not even the prospect of that super sweet and talented recruiting class that you just brought in is enough to bring you back into the fold.  As much as you love your sport, you’re just not that fired up about the season this year…it’s time to hang it up.

So what stage are YOU at?

About the Author of this Post

Dawn Redd-Kelly is the head volleyball coach at Beloit College.  Her volleyball teams have earned the best winning percentage in school history.  She has coached at the high school, club, Division I and III levels…taking my first collegiate head coaching job at age 24 with the University of Rochester.  She played volleyball at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Coach Dawn Says: “I believe in the power of sport to teach winning and losing with grace, to inspire its participants to excel, and to create a common goal for the greater good.”

Brendan Suhr Coaching Notes

These notes are from Brendan Suhr, veteran NBA and Division ! Assistant Coach.

His presentation was at the 2013 “A Step Up” Assistant Coach Symposium

I am really big on purpose and what you’re trying to do.
My purpose is to teach, share, help you grow, and help you become a continuous learner. I want to make an impact and an influence on as people as I can.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION- What got you here Won’t get you there- Marshall Goldsmith
BOOK RECOMMENDATION- Outliers- Malcolm Gladwell
BOOK LIST- (reading section) — one book a week — Jon Gordon, Energy Bus, Training Camp, Positive Dog, The Seed, One Word (after reading this book we had our team each choose a word individually and write it on a basketball. Then choose one TEAM WORD that was big on the basketball- that ball came with us everywhere we went all year) – (examples of words chosen: finish, U-turn, family).

Now you have to get better. You have to keep looking to grow.

I coach people, not basketball. It’s about engaging with your players, your people. It’s about taking players where they can’t take themselves.

You need someone that’s a truth-teller so they can get better.

“The WHY”- Jon Gordon
Why do you Coach? You have to answer that. Why do I coach the way I coach? [Your style, your behavior] How does it feel to be coached by me? Would I want to play for myself? If you’re an Assistant, would you want to play for the Coach you are working for?
Remember, “There is a Mike Rice in every single one of you”.
He’s not the only one out there, there’s a positive dog and a negative dog– whichever one you feed the most will come out. You have to decide who you want to be as a coach.

What the Best Coaches Have
1. Energy, High level of enthusiasm, Great passion.
2. Incredibly determined and mentally tough (be able to handle adversity) You got to go after it, you can’t get discouraged (Charlie- Brendan Suhr’s dog, always goes full speed to the door when the door-bell rings- never can stop, always runs into the door- never gets discouraged) You want more shots (Vinny Johnson in NBA playoffs was 1-9, says he is just getting hot)
3. You have to be an optimist every single day.
4. You must develop your skills in what you do (Mastery). Must be an expert in some field of the game (Establish something) – (10,000 hours to develop mastery) (Must be able to say “I can recruit and my style of play wins” or something that you can do)
5. You have to love ALL of your players (Love tough- they have to know you love them first)
Coaching, leadership, parenting– same skill set
Coaching is about helping people when their down.

Assistant Coaches
-Stay in the present (Best job you have is the one you got)
– Become an expert at something (press, BLOB, etc.)
– Be a great recruiter
– On the bench, 2 things you can do (emotion, evaluation) 10%should be emotion, 90% evaluation (find something that can help your HC), you can’t have personal agendas- you work for the HC and the school. You work and serve the players, they don’t serve you.
– Have to have one united voice (nothing negative can come out of your mouth as an entire staff)
– You can never have a bad day, bad practice, bad game. You always have to be UP
– Don’t complain. “Complaining is kind of like vomiting, after you do it you feel better, other people can’t stand it.” Lou Holtz. Don’t bring problems, instead come with solutions.
– Head coaches make decisions, Assistants make suggestions.

You need to have your OWN philosophy.
– How will you defend pick and roll? How will you fast break? How will you play Post Defense? Will your team press? Will your team play zone?
– You need to have at least 4 plays for your best player to get a shot
– What will your crunch time offense be? What will it be the last 4 minutes of the game? (We have things we don’t run until we are pressured and last 4 mins. of game) Comes down to execution. (Culture of execution- 7 plays, check out CoachingULIVE podcast)
– Know what you will do in situations.
– What do you do post game? (You don’t leave scars on your players, better not to say much of anything until after you watch the game film. Remember- they make mistakes as players and you make mistake as a Coach)

There’s no limit, no testing in basketball, you can learn as much as you want to. I truly feel that I have never had to work a day in my life, coaching isn’t working.

Best defense in Pick and Roll D in my opinion—On the side (make the action go down hard hedge or ice- I wouldn’t let them come off picks) Screens in the Middle (Switch)

To keep players motivated- Do what you do best, love what you do, and treat it as the only thing you do.

About your attitude- remember you are a servant leader. This is very humbling because all you’re focused on is others. Engage your players by saying “All I want is what’s good for you- you will get a degree and leave as an adult. Playing time is up to you as a player.”

Become a continuous learner. Open your mind up to learning from other people.

Developing a Positive Team Culture

Posted with permission from PGCBasketball

By Lyndsey (Medders) Fennelly, former director and clinician with PGC.

Our 75-minute presentation was titled, “A Coach’s Role in Impacting Team Culture”. We shared some key points about how the culture of your team can be established, reinforced, and even reinvented, through your team’s basketball practices.

The two main areas that support this belief come from Point Guard College’s brilliant founder, Dick DeVenzio, and also from watching some of the top basketball coaches in the country at the high school, college, and professional level. We have identified some of their championship-level habits in developing the top players and creating the best basketball teams.

A simple formula we’ve come up with is the following:

Successful Team Culture = Procedures + Progressions + Precision + Patience

Procedures are the actions which have to be executed in the same manner in order to obtain the same result. In a prior blog (‘What I Learned from Coach Krzyzewski’) (That excerpt is below), I shared the various procedures you can use with your basketball team to develop daily consistency and expectations throughout the program. Establishing procedures within your program allows you to maximize your time as a basketball coach. While this can create some temporary inconveniences, it will lead to permanent improvement.

Progressions are a series of activities or drills with a definite pattern of advancement. It’s important for coaches to progress through drills in a way that will ‘make sense’ to the athletes. During our summer basketball programs and year-round clinics, I find it especially helpful for basketball players to progress through teaching using this model:

Give instruction that describes the organization of the drill — Provide the rules for the drill — Give them the points of emphasis — Remind them of the intangibles (i.e. how to lead themselves, enhance the drill, and ignite their teammates)

In providing your athletes with the points of emphasis, stick to the ‘Rule of 3’ and explicitly state what you are looking for.

Precision means having a ridiculous attention to detail. As coaches, we have to understand: we teach what we emphasize. In my experience, it’s quite apparent that the best coaches in the world demand a high level of ‘exactness’ from their basketball players at all times.

Patience is required once the above three items are put into play. Be honest… What drives you crazy as a coach? What causes you to slam the clipboard or throw the whistle? Every good coach has a long list.  I think of Dick DeVenzio’s “Responsibility Principle” from Runnin’ the Show that places the responsibility on coaches to be bigger than shortsighted frustrations. Essentially, the thought is: don’t put yourself through a whole season being irritated by the things you failed to explain. Do you lose your patience because your players performed the drill wrong or because you failed to properly explain the basketball drill? It’s our job as coaches to teach with clarity and to ensure we communicate exactly what we want at all times. But, be patient. Have a persistence to your patience. Model the qualities that you want to see embodied in the culture of your team.

After watching both the Duke men’s basketball and Connecticut women’s basketball teams practice this year, it’s quite obvious why both basketball programs won NCAA national championships. In their practices, this formula held true. The daily procedures were run, the progressions made complete sense, the precision was phenomenal, and each coach was patient enough to explain something to their players that was not understood.


In line with the great precision Coach K demands of not only his team and program, which includes managers, staff, and other personnel involved with the team, there were a definite set of procedures the team understood happened ‘every’ and ‘always’. Dick DeVenzio used to refer to this concept of creating procedures that your team should do every time they are in the gym and at an ‘always’ rate, not a sometimes thing. The shirts were tucked in, the players knew how to line up on the baseline, and even the obtaining of water was a set, routine procedure.

This allows for more coaching and teaching, and less telling. There is a difference between teaching and telling. High level coaches, like Coach K, are teachers, providing useful information in a variety of ways and creating engagement with the athletes. Coach K and his staff no longer had to tell their athletes repeatedly to do something. They understood the procedures, and as a result, time wasn’t wasted on mundane tasks.

I encourage you as either a coach or a basketball player to consider implementing some of these key thoughts above into your practices and basketball training. It will take time, it will take persistence, but most importantly it will take a commitment to be someone better than you already are. None of the prior three statements are easy. But hey, winning NCAA national championships isn’t a walk through the park either!

Greg Kampe on Role of Assistants

Oakland University Head Men’s Head Coach Greg Kampe discusses some of his views on the role of assistants in his program.

Coach Kampe has won 567 games in his coaching career.

Please make sure that your sound is on.

Click the play arrow to hear the talk.

This portion of Coach Kampe’s online presentation was taken from an online webinar that is available from the Glazier Clinics Vault.

You can get access to the vault by attending any Glazier Basketball Coaching Clinic, or by visiting this page: Glazier Vault.

Click the play arrow to hear the talk.