How to Successfully Navigate Your Career

3 Jul

Written by
Kevin Sutton
Georgetown University

Every one has their own story to tell and no one can tell that story better than the individual.

In the profession of Coaching there is truly no one way to reaching your ultimate goal(becoming a head coach).

As you chart your path through the coaching profession I really believe there are a few questions that the individual should ask themselves:

1. What is the “end game” my ultimate goal?

2. What is my definition of Success?

3. How important is Longevity?

4. What sacrifices am I willing to make?

5. Am I prepared to make those sacrifices?

Throughout my 27 year coaching career I have always referred back to those questions when making my decision. My career has been a myriad of thoughtful, logical and progressional steps. I have always tried to remain “true” to who I was at my core principals and values. Through introspection you come to know and define who you are as a person and as a coach.

The coaching profession like all professions has evolved a lot in a number of different ways. So to successful advance in your career you must have a understanding and working knowledge of the influences that are changing the game as it pertains to advancement in coaching


Social media:

Search firms


Attending professional development
Coaching U
Villa 7
A Step Up

Writing Blogs:
Own website
Chalk talk
Basketball HQ
George Raveling

Getting published:
Winning Hoops
Ebooks online
Basketball Magazines
Fiba Assist Magazine

I really feel that the number one thing that you can do is to do a great job right where you are. “Bloom where you are planted” -Pastor Joel Osteen. That is the most important job you have.

Another very important part to successfully advancing in your career is the ability to connect/network. You must make an effort to build your network. You must connect with people and build a relationship with them before you can ask them to go to bat for you. The old adage is: connect with people before you need them to do something for you.

Build your brand/reputation on an aspect of the game,(skill developer, recruiter, scout, x &o guy etc). Don’t allow yourself to be pigeoned hole to that one aspect. Involve yourself in learning about the other aspect of the game. When you involve yourself then you can add those new skills to your already existing skill set.

I truly believe that the more versatile you are, the more valuable you are. This is something that we say to our players all the time. It should apply to advancing in your career too!

To successfully advance in your career means that you must invest in yourself. Grow as the profession grows, connect to establish, maintain and grow your network. Make your work ethic be your number One skill.


The Effective use of Social Media

18 Jun

Written by Kevin Sutton
Assistant Coach
Georgetown University

The Effective use of Social Media has:

1. Allowed me to become and stay relevant

2. Allowed me to establish, cultivate and grow my target audience

3. Given me to have a platform to communicate what I am about.

4. Allowed me to create a brand, grow my brand. Create brand identity.

5. Allowed me to create brand awareness.

6. Allowed me to connect with people who have similar interest.

7. Allowed me to share ideas and thoughts and create future potential connection opportunities.

8. Allowed me to promote my brand without writing in the first person.

9. Allowed me to communicate to a wider audience more quickly and easily. Reach a new audience that I normally would not.

10. Allowed me to show different sides of my personality with different forms of Social media that I use.


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. 

Spring Basketball

24 Apr

Written by: Kevin Sutton
Assistant at Georgetown

The Final Four has been attended and The  NCAA champions have been crowned.  The questions we basketball coaches get asked are: 
1. Do you get time off now? 
2. What do you do with all of your free time now? 
3. This is the slow time of the year, right? 
The answer to all of those questions is NO! 

The Spring for a college basketball coach my very well be one of the busiest times of the year. So much is going on within the game and around the game that as a coach you may find yourself totally absorbed with it all. 

Here is a laundry list of things a college coaching staff has to deal with during the Spring. I have divided them into two categories:
I. Inside your program 
II. Outside of your program. 

Here are some examples that occur inside your program: 
-Academic issues from the Second Semester as they reflect to the determination if a player will return or not. 
-Player/Roster evaluations. 
-5th year players who graduating and could return to your team. 
-Players deciding to enter the NBA draft. 
-The starting of Spring Weight training and skill workouts
-possible coaching changes(either coming or going). 
-Spring signing period
-Recruiting of Juniors: home visit, school visits, Workouts, AAU tournament on the ONLY weekend of the month of April. 
-Implementing improvements that will make your program better. 
-Scheduling of games for next year. 
-Job placement of your Senior players and managers. 

Here are some examples that occur Outside of the program. 
-Studying the transfer list and determine the value of accepting a transfer. 
-Determine the value of accepting a 5th graduate student/player
– Keeping an eye on the “coaching changes”and it’s potential effect to your program.  

The outside perception that “Spring” is a time for college coaches to recharge their batteries just doesn’t match the reality. The truth of the matter is that if we are dedicated to making our programs better, college basketball is a profession that requires long hours 12 months per year. Of course, as deeply competitive and driven people, we don’t mind the “Grind”-coaching is a calling and working in college basketball is a blessing, and we love what we do.

Deserving success/victory

26 Feb

Deserving success/victory
Written by Kevin Sutton
Assistant Coach – Georgetown

I am a firm believer that you must deserve success/victory. How does one “deserve success /victory”?
1. By being concerned about success of the team 1st.
2. By respects the game.
3. By valuing and enhancing the culture of the team.
4. By showing respect for their teammates
5. He/she “buys in” to helping the program become successful.
6. By understanding that Deserving success/victory is a “action phrase”
7. By committing to the principle that success/victory is about sacrifice.
8. By believing in the system, the game plan, the team and the coaching staff.

In a nutshell, deserving success/ victory is about creating your own luck through the collective habits, culture, and spirit of the team, and it is about working to reach the potential of the team through “shared suffrage” and “selfless service”.

There is a distinct difference between wanting success/victory and deserving success/victory.

Everyone wants success/victory. Those deserving success/victory spend their time in action, working toward earning their success/victory.

Deserving success/victory encompasses the emotional, the psychological, the intellectual as well as the physical wellness of the team.

Building your scouting report for the second time that you play an opponent

14 Feb

Written by Kevin Sutton, Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach at Georgetown

When you are building your scouting report for the second time you are playing an opponent, the second report should be different than the first report. The focus of the report should be on what has happened in the last 5 games leading into your game. You should also look at the summary notes that you have taken from the first time you played the opponent. You need to look at the first game again on film and make edits of the games., as well as take notes from the film.

Here are several questions that I use to help me formulate the second scouting report:

1. What are the recent trends of their team? Are they now playing more man or zone? Offensively are they running new sets?
2. Have there been any changes in their rotation?
3. Are there any injuries? What role will it play?

Statistical Breakdown:
1. Look at stats of starters
2. Look at stats of substitutes
3. Look at the overall stats
4. Look at the stats from the conference
5. Breakdown of the stats from the last 5 games
6. Look to determine if they are shooting more free throws than earlier in the year.

Video Breakdown:
1. Personal edits
2. Offensive edits
3. Chart their offensive frequency and efficiency
4. Chart their out of bounds plays

Second scouting reports should focus more on the opponent’s personnel and not so much on their style of play. Knowing more about the individual tendencies can help you when you are defending them.

Second Scouting reports should focus on learning the keys to tipping off their plays.

Second Scouting reports should focus on figuring out trends of your opponents, such as play sequences, play frequency, substitution rotations, after time out tendencies. Offensively-calls for OB plays, set plays, Defensively – do they change defense from man to zone or zone to man.


The Second Scouting Report should put the players in a proper frame of mind for them to perform at their best by having a “digestible amount” of information. The outcomes of the game will more often than not be, determined by the team who plays there hardest together throughout the course of the game!

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.