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 for Point Guard College

27 Aug

Topic: Skill Development – Multiple Effort Offensive and Defensive Drills

I. intro:
Thank you Sam Allen, and rest of the people at Point Guard College for asking me to speak. It is truly an honor. I would also like to thank you for attending the clinic and choosing to listen to me.

My topic today is Skill Development -Using Multiple Effort Offensive And Defensive Drills. I want to give the disclaimer by saying that what I am going to share with you are my thoughts, beliefs and concepts that I have used to develop players throughout my 27 year coaching career. If you don’t agree or don’t like what I am showing it is ok.

II. Skill development:

A. Skill development has always been my passion.
B. It is the most enjoyable part of the game for me.
C. It gives you the opportunity to build a trusting relationship with your players/team through shared sweat equity.

III. What makes a good skill session:

A. workouts should be parts of the whole geared toward improvement.
B. Players must be taken out of their comfort zone.
C. all the players should do all the drills. Regardless of their position.
D. Weak hand development is a must and should be a part of every workout.
E. When teaching…using sound bites.
F. Each drill should not be more than 12 mins(2 mins of explanation & 10 mins of activity)
G. should have fluidity btw drill to drill
H. Name you drills after pro(players will connect w/the drill better).
I. Make the skill sessions about improvement and not punishment.
J. Come to the skills session with plan/schedule in hand.
K. Design your skill sessions to compete vs the participants. For the player the competition is:
them vs. coach
Them vs.the other ppl in the workout
Them vs themselves
L. Whenever possible chart shots.
M. Whenever possible use the clock.
N. Should teach secure players vs insecure player(being a great teammate).
O. Should teach leadership/Followship (by rotating your leaders throughout the workout).
P. Should develop/raise the participants Bball iq by teaching the y and just the how. By using imagination/creativity.
R. Teaches how to improve instincts through repetition.
S. Building of good habits
T. Build Up/never tare down

IV. Conclusion:
In all that you do as a coach/educator: pouring into your players, and investing in them as people is the most important. I challenge you to impact as many lives as you through the game of basketball. Create “LIVING TROPHIES!

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 !

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.