Kevin Eastman Basketball Coaching Notes

Kevin Eastman is a great coach to study.  He has really good thoughts on all aspects of building a basketball program.  Coach Eastman is retired from Coaching.  His career included Assistant Coach for Doc Rivers at both Boston and LA, Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Clippers, and Head Men’s Coach at UNC Wilmington and Washington State.

Here are some notes that I have put together from his teaching.  My resources for these notes: @kevineastman,, and

I also have a sample five minute video of Coach Eastman discussing his views on skill development. Click this link to see it.

“The best defensive teams BUY TIME on defense.” by doing the following:  1) Ball Pressure- Intelligent, 2) Getting to early help spots 3) Stunts on flight of the ball not the catch 4) High and Active hands

“How hard are your cuts in the tempo of your offense?  This is what matters.  Cut with purpose and cut hard for the entire game.  How hard are your cuts the last seven or eight minutes?  You wear people down this way.” As a coach, you must demand that your players cut hard at all times.  The majority of players will cut hard when they think they are the primary receiver and a touch is possible.  But cutting hard all the time creates other advantages for an offensive team.  If you pick your spots to cut hard then the defense can also pick their spots as well.  Be the type of player in practice that constantly cuts hard — so hard, so consistently, that your teammates will grumble when they are told to defend you. Hard, sharp cuts create opportunities for teammates.  We refer to this as “cutting to create help.”  Quite often when you make a hard, sharp cut, you will force another defender to leave his/her assignment to help on you and this will allow them to be open for a shot.  Occupying the defense is a great advantage of hard cuts to occupy a defender (or two).  Often when you see a penetrating dribble to the basket, it is because of cutting away from the ball. As a coach, demand it of your players.  Even if you work on dummy offense — all cuts must be hard and sharp.

Be there before you get there (great thought in regard to a players mentality — especially defensively)

The great ones (Players/Coaches) have Master Ability …responsibility  …dependability  …accountability   …availability

Do you know what’s going on in your locker room?

Knowledge is quickness

Can’t win with “my turn shots” = shooting turnovers

They say the truth hurts? Re-frame your mindset to: the truth helps. In all reality it’s lies we must be concerned with: lies lose!

To “get to” you must “put in”. Simply stated: to get to where you want to go you have to put in the required effort, study, and preparation!

It’s not play “with” each other; its play “for” each other!

Trust: a very powerful ingredient to team success. It’s developed over time by what people see you do & hear you say. Do your words/actions match!

Leaders have bad days just like everyone else. But leaders must rise above this knowing they often determine the pulse each day for many!

To be the best as an individual or team you will have to overcome selfishness, embarrassment, & failure. It requires mental strength & belief!

Coaching & Leadership are positions of dealing with failure and criticism. The best combine intelligence, respect, and class in doing so!

Interesting thought hit me hard when I was with the Para Jumpers Rescue Squad: their effort philosophy of “we all have 40% more to give!”

Good players KNOW the plays… Great players EXECUTE  the plays.

In regards to your administration “budget your bitches.” -Murray Arnold

Demand in February what you did in October — core covenants

Are you best players getting enough shots/touches (this one sounds simple but its not — are you giving it constant thought)

Assistant Coach are there to “assist” the head coach — “weed the garden”

The greater respect the coach commands, the easier it is to ensure buy-­‐in from his or her players. And the more often you can get your team to buy in, the more you’re going to see them do what you want them to do. I’ve always tried to gain respect by outworking others in the business and trying to learn as much as I can at the place and position I’m in. Work ethic and this continuing search for knowledge have been keys to my ability to gain respect.

Relationships are the foundation for success in any field. As a coach, you need to get to know your team, get to know about your team, talk to your players in good times and bad, let your players know you care about them, and develop a trust with your players.

It seems to me that the most successful people in any business have an insatiable intellectual curiosity about their field. They talk to the best in the business, they read about others, they listen to CDs and DVDs, they want to know what the best are doing and how it can relate to them and their programs, and they are curious to know what you know and how it can fit in to enhance their program or business.

Ability to motivate -­‐ Motivation is an aspect of coaching that requires coaches to constantly “read” what’s needed for their team and any given player on a daily basis. It also requires a great deal of thought and study in order to find new ways to accomplish these tasks. Find out what makes a player tick and then create ways to motivate him to get the most out of him each day. And be able to recognize when it’s a new day that needs a new motivator -­‐-­‐ even for the same player who responded yesterday!

Teams become stronger as sacrifices become greater. When it’s more about each other than it is about me; that’s when teams become special!

Something you can get out of your practice tape is slight offensive wrinkles/adjustments your first unit is making (sometimes unknowingly) to your offensive system due to the second team knowing what they’re running. Some of our best offensive wrinkles in Boston were born out of KG doing this or that in practice against the second unit.

Those who have the ability to bring a team together during rough times are maybe the most valuable players/coaches on the team.

Effort is important to winning games. Intelligent effort is essential to winning against the best.

Great organizations have people who come to work every day and build others up with their energy rather than tear them down with negativity!

Our future can belong to us if we are willing to craft it. That requires intentional daily investments toward where we want to go!

In NY–just saw a sign that said “Exhale”. We should all do this each day: exhale & just think! It doesn’t always have to be do, do, do!

Willingness to give “all you have” to your teammates & having the trust they will do the same; that is a powerful separator from other teams!

Great question to ask: “How good are my questions?” Quality of your questions determines quality of your information. Use the info to help you grow!

How far a team can go is directly proportional to its level of trust and respect it has “for” and “in” each other.

To get what you want you must first know what you need. You must know what you need to learn; what you need to do to. Need comes before get!

Leadership ingredients: head; heart; gut. All will come in to play at different times. Leadership is not just about the mouth and “orders”!

Defensive Communication Intimidates opponent, Gives defense a head start. Gives man on ball more confidence, Wakes up a disengaged defender, Catches a mistake before it happens, Energizes team.

There is a direct correlation between the number of ball reversals and defensive breakdowns. Players have to understand that the hardest thing to do defensively is to close out — to be running out at a player from the help position. Having said that, we need to understand that’s an advantage our offense must look to create, i.e., to get the defense to close out as often as possible. We want the ball to be reversed from side to side. With our team I can tell you that our scoring proficiency goes up as the number of passes and ball reversals goes up. We like a minimum of 3 passes, as we then know the ball is getting reversed. When we only throw 1 or 2 passes, we find that it’s very easy for the defense to load up to the ball.

The faster the ball moves, the closer the defenders stay to their man. We have found that when we move the ball a little faster, the defensive players are more concerned with staying up with their man and tend to not jump to the ball and get in help position. We also feel that that leaves us with more room to drive it, as the defenders are out of position just enough to allow us to get a good driving angle on them. I would say that if you don’t have a good scoring post man you should look to move the ball a little faster at times and create driving opportunities. If you do have a good post man, you would want to slow it down and give the post man a good look.

Coach Eastman rises each day at 5 AM to get his reading in. No matter how much we know on any subject, there’s always more to learn. Make the time to read, to study, and to think; each of these is important to your development. We all need to keep up with what’s going on in our field, too. I’ve found that news and magazine articles can be as helpful as books in this regard. The key is to keep searching so that you stay gain knowledge, improve, and stay relevant!”

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