September 20, 2009 • From the BenchWinning Hoops

Get on Target: A five-point plan to coaching happiness

Coaches need good health. Many coaches forget this fact in their quest to improve their teams’ fundamentals, practice drills, efficiently prepare for game situations, and ultimately to become a top team.

You need good health. It’s simple to understand. When coaches feel healthy on a daily basis, they coach well. When you don’t feel well, everyone is in trouble — especially your team.

No one really knows what basketball coaches go through except their fellow coaches. His or her teaching load, the stress of game day, possibly the stress of the season, eligibility problems, team members in trouble, staff problems, parental problems, or problems with the principal or athletics director are just a few of the stresses that plague coaches. I know, because they plagued me.

These are day-by-day occurrences for coaches, and they can wear you down as they did me.

Early retirement

During my 28th season, I got sick. Exhaustion. Fatigue. A minor heart problem and vertigo hit me hard — hard enough for three hospital visits during the season. I even missed a game. My doctors advised me to retire.

I did retire, but not for long. Before I took my first doctor-prescribed Prozac, a pill for possible depression brought on by my retirement from coaching, I decided to “Get On Target” with my life — a plan I developed to improve my health.

The plan

The five-point plan I developed includes:

  1. Pace production.
  2. Let’s get physical.
  3. Food rush.
  4. Time for you.
  5. Diffuse negativity; stay positive.

This plan saved my coaching career and possibly my life. Life, for me, is my health. It took 100 days for me to recover. I am back coaching and will celebrate my 33rd season in November. I feel great. I teach with more energy, I coach with more energy, and it’s because of the “Get On Target” program that I developed.

Pace production

Pace production is learning how to handle the stress and the pressure within our job. Actually, these problems are within our lives. We cause most of them ourselves. My pace was out of control. It took some work and strategy, but I finally fit my pace to my life. Quality, not quantity, is my theme now.

A big key for me was organizing my life. Now I’m days ahead when it comes to planning and organization. I’m probably busier than ever, but my pace is under complete control because I’m organized.

Get physical

Secondly, I prepared a workout plan to fit my pace and age. I do something productive every day with this plan, including walking and jogging 90 to 120 minutes a day.

How can I spend my time walking when I have so much to do? Organization saves me time to set aside. This daily workout fills my mind with positive thoughts because I am doing something good for my body. You should too.

Food rush

Good living is making good decisions and good choices. We promote this with our players all of the time. I was eating all the wrong foods, and I blamed it on my job. Again, I prepared a plan. I changed my eating patterns.

It worked. I lost weight and I feel great. I have more energy. With the addition of vitamins to my diet I realized the best combination for me was one of exercise and low-fat foods.

Time for you

This is a simple concept. Get away from the job. Have some fun. Relax. Try a vacation. Learn to enjoy some pleasant things in life besides winning a game. The results will be fantastic.

Diffuse negativity

Staying positive is tough. It seems the world is full of people who are negative and can’t be pleased. Just stay positive. Loyalty, trust, respect and pride are all valuable and will rub off on many. We, of all people, must stay positive and work with others. Stay with positive people and remember life is too short not to be positive.

The only game plan is your health. Make some changes in your life for your success and for your health. Self-esteem for adults means finding a way for you to feel good on a daily basis to be more productive, to be more active, and to be a better coach.

Dick Luther has coached players from fourth grade to college for 33 years. For 20 years he has directed Action Basketball Camps Inc. which have attracted more than 15,000 players. His “Get On Target” programs for schools colleges and churches have helped hundreds.