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Communication for Better Coach/Player relationships

18 Aug

Written by Kevin Sutton – Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

“Genuine relationship” building takes time. More than ever before, coaches have to really make a conscience decision to develop genuine relationship with their players. The ability to communicate with your players is an invaluable skill. These relationships allow coaches to earn the respect and trust of their players. Once these “genuine relationships” have been built teaching can take place. After proper teaching takes place, then improvement will shortly follow.

Today’s student/athletes use a variety of methods to communicate. Unfortunately, however, variety does not necessarily make an individual a great communicator. I am a firm believer that coaches must reach their players where they are most comfortable to truly develop a “genuine relationship”. These places can be emotionally, spiritually, academically, or socially. These places can be physical locations (such as their dorms, coach’s homes, training tables and team meals, etc.)

In high school, I struggled learning geometry. Unexpectedly, she changed my life when she came to one of basketball games and saw how much basketball meant to me. The next day in class, she told me that I knew more about geometry than most of the students in my class. I was sure she had lost her mind. She then gave me a piece of paper with the dimensions of the basketball court on it. She started to ask me geometry questions using lines, angles of the basketball court and I answered all the questions correctly! She met me where I was and created a teachable moment that I will never forget.

Here are some ideas that I have discussed with other coaches and have used during my coaching career to develop “genuine relationships” with my players. I am confident that if you try to implement some of these ideas then you will be moving in the right direction to developing “genuine relationship” with your players.

  • Get to know their 5 H’s (History, Hopes, Heartaches, Hero and Honey).
  • Work them out and help them to improve their skills.
  • Invite them into your home for a meal.
  • One-on-one film sessions
  • Go their homes
  • Leverage current events in the world to capture their attention, especially if the event touches them personally.
  • Choose books that you can share with them to read and discuss with themwhen they finish reading the book.
  • Create a group chat via social media. Throw out a topic and encourage theplayers to speak on the topic freely and openly.
  • Be observant of what your players do, what they say, what wear & try toconnect.
  • Be a great listener. And allow your players the opportunity to express themselves.

Becoming a better communicator and taking the time to INVEST in developing a “genuine relationships” with your players will help lead your team to incredible success. We all want our players to “buy in”, however to obtain “buy in” you must get them to “believe in”. Believe in you, your genuine interest in them, and what is important to them. “Believe in” is earned through trust, and trust takes time and effort.


Director of Basketball Operations

27 Oct

Written by Kevin Sutton Assistant Coach at Georgetown University

A bad Director of Basketball Oprations can hurt a program faster and longer than a bad assistant coach can. Former head coach at a High Major basketball program told that statement to me. The more I thought about it the more I began to agree with him. So the statement really got me to thinking, the converse must be also being true. A good Director of Basketball Operations can help a program quicker and longer than a good assistant.

In this blog I want to touch on what I feel are the major characteristics that make up a really good Director of Basketball Operations. The DOBO has to:
1. Have thick skin and ability to handle prickly situation with aplomb.
2. Be a self motivated and self directed learner
3. Be able to manage a lot of things at one time (Juggle a lot of balls)
4. Be able to anticipate the needs of the head coach while managing the head coaches schedule
5. Be a great communicator
6. Be very well organized
7. Be able to put out fires
8. Be extremely loyal
9. Be detail oriented and task completed driven
10. Be skilled in budget management, technologically savvy & a people person
11. Be a liaison between the coaching staff, the athletic administration, admissions, compliance, academic support, dining services, sports information, ticket office etc.
12. Be able to oversee and manage the support staff (Video Coordinator, Graduate Assistants and managers).
13. Have a good relationship with the players as well.

The Director of Basketball Operation position is such a broad scoping position that head coaches are starting to view and use the position differently. Some coaches chose to hire more of a basketball minded person in the position so that the head coach can lean on their coaching experience. While other coaches are hiring DOBO’s with no basketball experience because they bring the all-important administrative and technological skills to the position. Either way the Head Coach is selecting the DOBO because they fit their needs for their program.

In conclusion, the DOBO is a “glue guy” He really holds the staff together. A good DOBO allows the staff to be free to “Coach” every aspect of the program. If he has the urgency and drive needed in the profession, he can really help with all matters related to the program. Having the mentality of “no job is too big or too small” has to be the mindset at all times. When you look at successful programs you know they have a quality Director of Basketball Operations (DOBO).

Speech at Camp Pocono Trails

18 Aug

I have been honored to ask to speak at Pocono Trails in Pa. This camp is an outstanding camp that helps so many kids find their way in life. My daughter Kayleigh is a counselor there and was instrumental in getting me invited to speak. Here is my speech:

I. Introduction:
Let me begin my speech by saying that I am honored and humbled to be asked to speak to you today.

Secondly, I want you to know that I am not here to lecture to you. I am here today with a very simple message: You are Valuable!

It is my hope and desire that what I have to say will be heard with your ears, processed in your brain, felt in your heart, but most importantly lived out in your life.

II. Background:
A. Basketball coach at Gtown
B. travelled the world with game
C. Have spoken in 15 different countries

Today is not about me! Today is about you! Everyone of you are Valuable. For whatever reason that you are here it is b/c someone saw the value in you and loved you enough to send you to an incredible camp like this. To find what you need , to SEE the value in YOURSELF!

You see I speak from a unique perspective: My daughter(Kayleigh) was a camper and is now has returned as a counselor. So when I say to you that you are Valued it is b/c my wife just like your parents or your support system made that very hard, tough decision to send her to THIS camp so that we could help her see her VALUE and strive to reach her potential.

Everyone of us has potential for greatness, it is our gift from God. You know what those gifts are. But with potential comes responsibility.
YOU have to try to live up to that responsibility of reaching you full potential.

Another idea that I want to share with you is “INSIDE VOICES vs outside voices. We make the choice everyday of which voices we choose to listen to. You see the “inside voices” are the voices that believes in you, love you, support you, tells you you can do and you will do it! And the OUTSIDE voice is filled with telling you can’t, give up, it is too hard and don’t even try.

In conclusion, I just want to say to you these five things:
1. You are valuable
2. You have potential for greatness
3. Listen to your inside voice.
4. Run your own race at your own pace
5. Be a blessing to someone else daily.

Thank you !


25 May

by Kevin Sutton 
Georgetown University 

I was having a conversation with one of my “Living Trophies”-Nate James an assistant coach at Duke University the other day. One of the topics we discussed was Leadership. Interestingly enough, Nate was one of the best leaders that I ever coached. Now he wants to be a great leader as a coach. He will be!

Here are my thoughts on Leadership. 

– Great teams/organizations have:
1. A visible bond 
2. Chemistry
3. Synergy
4. Trust
5. Communication skills
6. Respect
7. Accountability 
8. Honesty
9. Love for each other
10. Confidence
11. A toughness 
12. Maturity
13. Alliance 
14. Awareness of who they are, what is at stake, and the magnitude of the moment. 
15. Conflict resolution skills

-Leadership is not a “sometime thing” it is an “all time thing”. 

– Leadership has to be addressed on a daily basis. It must have a level of reinforcement either positively or negatively. 

– Leadership  about consistency. People will follow if: 
1. they trust the leader,
2. they believe in the leader, 
3. they know that the leader is consistent in his actions & words.

– Great leadership has 3 types:
1. Vocal 
2. Example
3. Combination of Vocal & Example

-Leadership has to be born out of a 
“Safe environment” where the 
1. Lines of communication are open, 2. Trust is valued, 
3. Honesty is important 
4. Accountability is expected
5. Collective responsibility to the team’s goals is paramount

Leadership is an “Action” position. To lead you must: 
1. Act on your instincts 
2. Speak and mean what you say
3. Do what you say

A very important part of Leadership is followship . Followship is the willingness to be lead because you “believe in” the leader, which leads to “buy in”. 
Followship is about trust.

-It is important to create “leadership/followship opportunities as often as you can: 
1. Rotating your leaders in your drills during workouts. 
2. Make different people leaders in different aspects of your program(ex scout team, team outreach)

-Every  person is a leader. First to himself and then to others. 

-A leader is a person who has heard the call to lead, and to step up and has chosen to answer that call. 

– A leaders willingness to fail is often overshadowed by their fear of failure, which often propels them to victory. 

– Being  a leader can be a lonely position. One must fill their own bucket by knowing that whom they lead and what they lead are moving in the desired direction. 

-Leaders need to have vision. They must sell their vision. Their vision will get others to want to follow. 

3 Great Opportunities to Score

21 Jan

3 great opportunities to score
Written by: Kevin Sutton
Assistant Coach
Georgetown Univ.

Scoring on Out of Bound plays, either from under the basket(BOB) or Side Line Out of Bounds (SLOB), are a great opportunity to execute and score.

I believe these are great opportunities to be taken advantage of because: 1. Your team is in the exact position that you want them to be in on the particular play.

2. The players are not moving into those spots.

3. The team knows who is going to take the shot and where they are going to shoot from. This gives the offensive team an advantage to rebound the miss.

4. Especially on a Baseline Out of Bounds play you have the ball close to the basket.

Another great opportunity to score is After Time Outs(ATOS). The team’s ability to execute a play that has just been drawn up by the coach is sign of their basketball IQ and their ability to concentrate/focus.

Just like on Out of Bounds plays the offensive team knows who is going to shoot and the location of the shot, giving the offense a greater opportunity to rebound the ball.

The teams that execute their ATOS win a higher percentage of their games. ATOS are sign of a well coached team.

According to Synergy (the statical company that is used by most college and NBA teams) last year the top 5 NBA teams in scoring on Out of Bounds plays and ATOS were the Celtics, Heat, Spurs, Thunder and Pistons. The Pistons were the only team not to make the playoffs .

Time in practice must be spent in order to be good at execution of BOBs, SLOBs, and ATOS. Several ideas to improve offensive execution of your BOBs,SLOBs & ATOS are:

1. Ten minute execution scrimmage. Each team is given 5 minutes to run their plays. Score is kept. Fouls are called.

2. Each day “shadow”(without defense). Run through your OB plays.

3. Between each transition from drill to drill or from segment to segment in practice, have each player run one of your BOBs, SLOBs, or ATOS. Have managers keep track/score. At the end of practice winners are rewarded while the losing players have to run.

Investing more time on executing Out of Bounds and After Time Outs will provide a good return on that investment: scoring more = more wins.

Jean Michel Yotio. Forever a Living Trophy

8 Oct

image“Living Trophies” are those people who allow you to impact their lives. They listen, they learn and then they live out that which you taught them. “Living Trophies” also live up to their potential and become what you believe they could.
My son Jean Michel Yotio in 25 short years impacted so many lives. I am so proud of you. God bless you my son!

Coach Sutton in the News

10 Jun

Below is a new article posted about Coach Sutton’s new job at Georgetown.

Georgetown assistant Kenya Hunter to take similar position at Nebraska

By , Monday, June 10, 1:43 PM

Georgetown assistant men’s basketball coach Kenya Hunter, the senior member Coach John Thompson III’s staff, is leaving the Hilltop after six seasons to become an assistant coach at Nebraska, the school confirmed Monday.

Hunter’s departure creates the vacancy that will be filled by former George Washington assistant Kevin Sutton, whose hiring was made official Monday.

Sutton, a former assistant coach at James Madison and Old Dominion, spent two seasons under Colonials Coach Mike Lonergan after building Florida’s Montverde Academy into a national prep power. As a high school coach at five programs, including Flint Hill and Montrose Christian, Sutton compiled a 489-102 record and won two national championships.

Hunter is the second Georgetown assistant to depart in six weeks. On April 30, former Hoyas assistant Mike Brennan was named head coach at American.

Link to the article off the Washington Post: CLICK HERE