The Coaches Ally

How to Maximize Your Coaching Career


Accelerate and Maximize Your Coaching Career

If giving advice to my younger self and those entering the coaching profession I put together a list and titled it:

How to Accelerate and Maximize Your Coaching Career

  1. Craft your story

Utilize your resume and communicate your coaching journey to show others who you are and what you can do for their program.

Be able to frame your background to let others know more about you.

On your resume focus on issues that tell how you can handle a particular job and role.

Make it clear and concise

Be creative in sharing how you overcame a personal struggle or struggle as a coach.

Email me at if you would like an article I wrote on crafting your resume/story

  1. Showcase your skill

Put yourself on video or put together a coaching packet with your best plays and drills.

What is the specialty you can teach?

Show interactions with players as you instruct, the players listen, then can apply what you teach.

Coach Wooden once told me in answer to what makes a great teacher, “A great listener.” It took me ten years to figure out what he meant.

  1. Get mentored

Actively seek someone who will teach you the necessary skills to be a good instructor, how to work with others and how to improve in the vital areas of your life.

Have them observe your work on the court and off the court.

A mentor does not have to be someone of notoriety. Pick someone who will honest and care about you as a person. Pick the right one and they will dramatically impact your life.

  1. Clarify Your Goals

Have a set of goals which are visible to you each day. Write them down on index cards, sticky notes, or reminders on your phone.

What is the result and what price are you willing to pay? Most young coaches who want to get into college coaching would be best served to take the low paying job, live in a dorm, and live off peanut butter, Ramen, and cereal. Very few are willing to pay that price.

Know where you want to be and how you are going to get there.

  1. Eliminate Distractions

There is no such thing as successful multitasking.

If you want to be your very best, concentrate on the task at hand. Do it until completed and then tackle the next assignment.

If your job pays enough to provide for you and your family, you have a treasure-Give it 100%. Don’t try a side business especially early in your career.

People will try to get to sell something (insurance, Multi-level marketing, etc.) unless it comes with your job turn those requests down.

You must have a life outside your full-time job. Have friends from different professions and backgrounds. But, don’t let outside interests, social life, and hobbies affect your most important roles.

  1. Use the Pro Scout Method of questioning to help you in your job.

One of the best things during my time at LSU was making contacts with scouts from the NBA.

I learned valuable techniques to help in recruiting and dealing with players.

The best scouts are meticulous about getting as much information as possible.

They don’t just talk to coaches. They talk to anyone who has an association with the program to get their information.

Know everything you can about your team members and if you are recruiting find out everything you can about the athlete and those in their circle.

  1. Know your personality and those in your program

Awareness of your personality traits will pay dividends in being more efficient in how you relate to others. Unfortunately as coaches, we are behind in understanding Emotional Intelligence and personality testing. I have been using Myers-Briggs for 20 years, and the testing adds value to learning more about my players.

Take the personality tests yourself (DISC, Strengthsfinder, Myers-Briggs) to get a gauge on your how you are wired. Understand you have parts of your personality that rub people the wrong way (we all have them).

Also, understand areas holding you back from long-term success if you don’t deal with them. Be diligent to work on your areas of weakness and take full advantage of your strengths.

  1. Be referable

Know the four magic ways to get referred to other jobs and by your employer

(email to get the list).

The simple things in life can pay the biggest rewards.

You get noticed by doing the small jobs and completing those jobs.

You can separate yourself from the crowd with base hits and not try for the spectacular home run each time.

  1. Be a Team Player

No task too menial and job beneath you.

The characters never change, they just change costumes. Leaving one job to go to another doesn’t eliminate people problems. Individuals with irritating traits show up everywhere. The back stabber, the suck up, the one who blames everyone else, the complainer, the self-proclaimed expert, the “I’m better than everyone else”, the “I’m the smartest one in the room”. They exist everywhere and in every workplace. Some carry more than one of these titles. I know a few, and sure you do as well.

Never undercut a staff member. They will most likely do themselves in one day.

You work for the school, the players, and your staff. You don’t work for yourself, so don’t put yourself ahead of others.

  1. What is the proper line of communication in getting or trying to get your next job?

When do I let my present boss know?

How aggressive do I pursue the job?

What works best? Phone calls, emails, letters, having other people contact the person in charge?

You have to do homework to find what works best for each job and the steps to take.

  1. Understanding finances

If you get in for the money, you might want to check another line of work.

Have a financial plan and if you don’t know how to get a financial planner. Know the key factors of finance and make sure you don’t overlook them when changing jobs (health insurance, moving expenses, retirement)

Make the HR person a close ally. The good ones will help you with deadlines, forms, and what may be missing from your file. They can save you heartache.

  1. Your portfolio

Keep your resume updated every year whether you are looking for a job or not.

Put everything from the past year down on paper. You can then eliminate items later. Big wins, articles written, certifications earned, clinics attended.

A notebook or portfolio can be a holding spot for your motivational material, playbooks, team notebooks, and will keep them organized.

I played for a legend, Coach Don Meyer, so I learned the value of notebooks from my college days.

Keep all relevant paperwork together-transcripts from all your college work, SS card, Passport information, teaching certifications, CPR certifications and any training you went through related to sexual harassment or child abuse, any CDL or driver training and your marriage license. (yes, marriage license/ Was asked for license 23 years after my wedding).

The list above is not all encompassing. Some of the things in this list I learned the hard way. Some of them I saw what others did, right, or wrong, and knew the path to take. Going through your coaching journey, you will have mistakes along the way. You also be taught by watching others whether good examples or poor ones.

There are more ways to maximize your coaching ability. My list is a way for others to have an advantage in the profession. We get the most out of our coaching by learning from our experiences and by observing the actions of others.


Attitude, Be an Ally, Coaching, The Coaches Ally

3 Concepts to help Adults and Kids

As a basketball camp director, I try to leave parents and campers with a couple of thoughts at the end of each session. Concepts I want them to think about as they leave camp and throughout the year.

My goal is to make sure they receive outstanding basketball instruction. I also want to impart life lessons. For a lot of us who call ourselves a coach, we do so to share messages about more than winning or losing.

Here are the three points I like to share with each group as we close out a session or week. This goes as much for parents as it does for the campers:

1.” It’s not what you achieve it’s what you become.”

The accolades you receive are not as important as the person you develop into through your athletic experience. Just because you don’t have the greatest stats or win the right games, it doesn’t affect your character. Focus more on who you are as a person than your status.

When you are done playing one day, you will look back on the relationships. Your teammates will remember you much more for the person and teammate you were than anything won during in competition.

2. “Don’t give up, don’t ever give up.”

The famous quote is from Coach Jim Valvano’s impassioned speech at the ESPYs before his death. He used this line, and it has been the rallying cry to beat cancer. I use this line to relate not about quitting when you are tired or don’t feel well, but about not giving up on other people. Thankfully we can all point to someone in our life who did not give up on us. Maybe it was a coach, teacher or parent. When we felt like giving up and not believing in our capability, someone else stepped up and let us know we could move mountains.

The player or student who will not listen, you must keep searching. Continue doing a little bit extra to reach them. I say you have to take that shovel and dig a little bit deeper to connect with them.

Try as best you can not to give up on kids no matter how much they frustrate you and drive you crazy. They have a chance to be molded into something special.

Kids need to do the same thing. Allow you parents to be parents. Don’t give up on them trying to learn to become better parents. Your parents will make mistakes, but never give up on them despite how uncool they are.


The phrase is the title of a book by Terry Cole Whitaker. No matter how hard we try, we can’t please everyone. No matter what we do, there will be someone who gets upset at us or is disappointed. Don’t let those people take up space in your brain.

If a coach tries to keep all the players happy, you will have a team who is not very good. If a teacher tries to make all the students happy, most likely that classroom will have a poor learning environment.

As a parent if you are only concerned about your children being happy then you will not be able to provide the proper discipline. If your kids try to make all their friends happy and please everyone, you know how that ends up. Someone gets disappointed.

By working on becoming the best person you can be, to never give up on someone else and not worrying what other people think of you give you a recipe for the right kind of success.

advance, Coaching-Advancing in your career, Coaching-Elevating your career, The Coaches Ally

Do you want insight to landing your next coaching job?

Coaches Ally Basketball Round itunes

What gets you the next job?

It may not be what you think.

Your resume won’t get you the job, or work experience, or job references, or where you went to school.

What will get you the job is a combination these four key areas. You want to get the interview first.

Your resume gives you a starting point to get in the door.

Your experience shows how well you can handle tasks and roles.

Your references can solidify your qualifications.

Your education shows you have the mental capability to do the job.

A key to landing the job during the interview process is showing you have a plan. The plan should demonstrate how you will attack the job.

You are not trying to reinvent the wheel. You are not changing how a company or school operates. You are not going to come in a make massive changes (unless necessary).

Here is an idea for you: Show your plan, what you have done, what you can do and where you can help in your role.

I once asked a committee member a couple of days after interviewing how I came across to the group. I wanted reassurance I did fine, and the committee was undoubtedly impressed. The comment back was, “Well, you didn’t have a plan”.

This was not the answer I expected. You mean I didn’t make a great impression and leave everyone spellbound?

I did have a plan in my mind. But I did not communicate effectively or with confidence. Usually, I would get defensive or upset when hearing this kind of comment whether it be negative or constructive. The person on the other end of the conversation did not mean or rude Just matter of fact. “You didn’t have a plan”.

When you are going in for an interview, have a plan.

Here are some ways you can put together a presentation packet for your next job. Having been a head coach and athletic director, I know what people in the hiring positions are thinking. Visiting with those in the hiring position or members of search firms I like to ask, “What got your attention with this candidate?” or “What set this candidate apart from the rest?”

Whether hiring for a basketball camp, staff members or assistant coaches I know what works for me. I like organization. I like seeing a well-crafted presentation. I liked being able to see what a candidate can do and has done in the past.

If you are going for a job and would like to see what others do, I put together templates to assist in your process. Trying to get an assistant coaching job at either the high school or college level or a head coaching job in high school and college here are ideas to get you started. You can click on the links below.

We all need an ally. Someone to be a cheerleader, promoter, agent, or coach helping us toward our goal. An ally is one who comes beside you for no other reason than to help. Make sure to get the assistance of someone you know well and who knows you well to help with the idea process. Good to have another set of eyes looking over your work.

If you sometimes get bogged down with projects or putting together something on the computer pay for help. You can outsource the work to someone else for a low cost.

You can go to Upwork – Hire Freelancers & Get Freelance Jobs Online  or Fivver to get help. These are excellent resources to put together your resume or presentation packet.

Having someone do the work gives you another edge. They may put things together and phrase wording you have never considered. They also have worked with graphics, logos, and artwork to make your material look even better.

Also, you can find a student or someone through a local school who does these jobs.

As you use these templates as examples, make sure to insert your personality.

Again, these are taken from looking over many resumes and helping coaches refine their message. Over the years, I have seen coaches put together outstanding work. Take the time to get it right and craft for the job you want.

Even if you are not presently trying to get a job, this can be a good exercise to get down your thoughts and philosophies on paper. We never know when an opportunity may come up, and the best option is being prepared.

When you have a job in mind, do the little things. Each position has different expectations. When using one of the templates make sure to gear the information to your prospective job. Use the school logo, team nickname; the correct school colors will add a personal touch to set you apart.

The packet will not get you the job you want by itself. Remember you are trying to present your total package.

What does someone get when they hire you?  What are you bring to them?

The packet is one additional way to give you a big leg up on the competition.

My good friend author Jeffery Marx says the original definition “coach” was taken from the 1500’s in England. The definition referred to a carriage and said, “Taking someone of importance from where the are presently to where they need to be, want to be or ought to be going”.

Your packet shows how you can take a company/coach/school/program where they need to be, want to be, or ought to be going.

All the best in your quest to land the next job.

Power Point for Assistant Coach in High School (3)

Power Point for Assistant Coach in College

Power Point for Head Coach in High School 2

Power Point for Head Coach in College (1)

Coaching, Communication, The Coaches Ally

Clues as your cheer on your bracket teams

7d8c0c33-5bd3-4c0f-ab80-3a7b7cf1b976_mediumAnalytics and statistics are key factors in determining the outcome of any college basketball game.

If you are a spectator or coaching a team there are often clues to how a game will be decided.

A pro basketball Hall of Famer once said he wanted to catch the beginning of a playoff game in order to see how the game would be officiated. In his opinion how the game would be called early on would give insight to how the game would turn out in the end.

At this point in the season, there are visible giveaways to watch in order to see who will win the game.

Here are your clues:

Watch how many open shots a team gets throughout the game (with the right player shooting). Watch even more closely to the first four minutes of each half and the last four minutes of the first half and of the game.

Why? Teams that are locked into their scouting report at the beginning of the game will take away an opponent’s best plays and scoring options. If the players are engaged you can usually tell in the first four to eight minutes after the opening tip. At halftime, teams make adjustments. You will see a solid defensive team take away another team’s best options at the beginning of the second half just like the first half.

The other area is to watch how many good shots a team takes during those four-minute spans. Again, the beginning of each half and end of each half.

Does a team take good shots or bad shots during those segments? If they are following their game plan, a team will take good shots. When you see bad shots during these time frames a team is in trouble.

Why the last four minutes of each half? This period is important because certain players may not be in the game because of foul trouble or a coach may be resting a player. Players off the bench or starters who don’t shoot often can get the “hero complex” and put their team in a hole by taking bad shots. Same with the last four minutes of a game. The good teams have their best players taking shots at this point. A well-coached team tries to get non-shooters on the opposing team to take shots.

Players off the bench or starters who don’t shoot often can get the “hero complex” and put their team in a hole by taking bad shots. Same with the last four minutes of a game. The good teams have their best players taking shots at this point. A well-coached team tries to get non-shooters on the opposing team to take shots.

Since the human element is part of the game, players still make mistakes on the floor. I saw this last week watching one of the best defensive teams in the country last week in their tournament game. They missed three pick and roll defensive assignments as well as started the game with a missed post defensive assignment. This team was good enough to overcome the mistakes and won handily. Still, surprising to watch such a good team make those four errors early in the game. Needless to say, they did not advance to the Sweet 16.

If you want to get a great indication of what will occur during a game then watch these 4-minute mini-games. You can pick up on the well coached teams fairly quick.

How well a team keeps their opponent from getting good shots and then taking good shots will show you who is going to come out on the winning side.


The Coaches Ally

What the best do better

What are the characteristics of the best coaches, parents and leaders in your field? What sets them apart?

Watching what they do and how they act is critical. They provide a template of how to be at the top. Jim Rohn is famous for having the quote, “Success leaves clues.”

The successful ones usually have a simple plan, know how to implement and get the plan carried out to completion.

Here is a list using The Coaches Ally acronym to show what the best do better: TheCoachesAllyacronym

advance, Coaching, Coaching-Interview Process, The Coaches Ally

For you Coach-Keys to think about before your next interview.


Check out these articles on Amy Cuddy and her new book, “Presence”.

How do people judge you?: Article from the Business Insider

Your success hinges on these three things: 2nd article from the Business Insider

How people size you up in the interview process and to make it work for you.

Understand what they are thinking and why when they pose their questions.

What answers are you giving with your body language and how you are perceived?

Clarify these and you set yourself up for success.

Your Ally,

Tom Kelsey

The Coaches Ally

Make your team more aggressive

As a coach have you ever had a time in the season or an aspect of the game, you knew a shift was necessary to have better practices?

Me too! One season I felt our team was stagnant and not aggressive at the beginning of practice. Also, we were not getting what we needed defensively. I knew them more engaged at the beginning of practice we would have a much better chance of sustaining the energy.

During this time, I read on article on Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints. In the article, he mentioned trying to find ways to make his team more aggressive. He wanted specifically to convert turnovers into scores for his team.

As I read, I thought, “How could do the same thing in basketball?” We tried to replicate ways to get steals and convert them into turnovers.

We began to implement a 10-minute section at the beginning of practice designed to turn steals or aggressive plays into baskets. We thought of ways within our defensive system and how to take advantage of our players skills. As much as we could think of we wanted to replicate game-like situations.

Almost instantly our guys became more engaged. We saw a dramatic impact how our team competed, and they did a super job of carrying it over to games.

As coaches, often use drills we have always used. Drills we think work well, and ones players know how to run. To change the old way of thinking find drills to resonate with your team.

Here are some specially designed ways to help your team be more aggressive and turn a big steal into a game-changing basket.

The most common mistakes we have as coaches is coaching like we always have. What worked in the past could be refined to maximize your practice time even more.

Take action now by putting these into your practice routine.

Coaches Playbook Defensive Breakdown