Website – WWW.TALKPLUSTELL.COM
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/crobber3/
Crystal Robinson is a former WNBA player & coach. While attending Atoka High School, she was named an All-American by the WBCA. She attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, where she averaged 26.9 ppg, 10.4 rpg and 6 apg, making her the all-time Southeastern leader in points, rebounds, assists and steals. In both 1995 and 1996, she was named the NAIA women’s basketball national tournament MVP. She has been inducted into both the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame and the NAIA Hall of Fame.
She began her professional career playing for the Colorado Xplosion in the ABL, which earned her a rookie of the year award and an ABL all-star. When the ABL folded, she was drafted sixth overall in the WNBA by the New York Liberty. Robinson averaged 10.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg and 1.1 spg over 30.1 mpg during her eight-year WNBA career. In 2007, she announced her retirement to begin her career as a coach. She has been a coach for the Washington Mystics, Mcalester High School, Murray State and Atoka High School, among others. She was most recently an assistant coach for the WNBA’s Dallas Wings.
Crystal is the author of a new book, Finding Myself, that shares her life journey and inspires others to learn from her experiences.
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Take some notes as you listen to this episode with former WNBA player & coach Crystal Robinson.
What We Discuss with Crystal Robinson
- Having two parents that both played college basketball, but were also both alcoholics
- Competing against her cousin Kevin Washington as a kid
- Breaking the spokes out of bike tires to make a rim that could be nailed to a telephone pole
- Playing high school baseball on the boys’ team
- Playing 6 on 6 girls basketball in Oklahoma and moving to Louisiana with her grandmother so she could play 5 on 5.
- Thinking like a coach while she was still playing
- Why parents should look at culture and development instead of just winning when choosing an AAU Program
- Why her Dad being hard on her was so tough and yet so beneficial to her career as a player
- “Coaching during the game is problem solving time.”
- When you are not prepared you’ll coach with anxiety
- “When you’re mad as a head coach, you miss things.”
- Why the psychology of coaching and getting players to buy in is so important
- “You can have a great day, but all of that day is over. There’s always a battle to fight the next day. What are you going to do to stay on top of your game?”
- Advice for parents: Understand what level your kid can play at and pick the right AAU team/program/coach
- Why she is a terrible fan when she goes to watch her nephew play
- Parental rivalries in AAU
- Telling players about complaining, “You’re going to miss that opportunity when it shows up and then you’re going to be out the league and then somebody else is going to have your job.”
- “Learning to deal with failure is a major key in becoming the best possible athlete you can possibly be.”
- “If you’re not comfortable and you don’t welcome failure, you’re going to have problems getting to the highest level because you have to fail a lot in order to master any craft.”
- Finding a system and style of play that fits
- Transferring skills from practice to games
- “I can’t make them better. Their hard work is what’s going to make them better.”
- Her favorite moment as a basketball player
- How we can get more women into the coaching profession
- Her new book “Finding Myself”
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THANKS, CRYSTAL ROBINSON
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TRANSCRIPT FOR CRYSTAL ROBINSON – FORMER WNBA PLAYER & COACH – EPISODE 440
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here with my co-host Jason Sunkle. And tonight we are pleased to welcome to the podcast. Former WNBA player and coach and author of a new book, Finding Myself, Crystal Robinson, welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast.
Crystal Robinson: [00:00:18] Thanks. I’m extremely excited to be here.
I can’t wait to talk a little basketball and sports with you.
Mike Klinzing: [00:00:23] Absolutely. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. We are looking forward to digging into all of the things that you’ve been able to do with the game of basketball at many, many different levels. So it’s going to be fun to be able to talk to you and kind of get your perspective on how those levels were different from a coaching perspective, what your experience was like as a player at the different levels that you were able to play at. So there’s a lot here for us to dig into. I want to start Crystal by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about how you got into the game of basketball when you were younger.
Crystal Robinson: [00:00:58] Well, I think I was fortunate. [00:01:00] Both of my parents were really good basketball players.
My mom actually won two national championships at Murray State junior college, and that’s where my parents met it. My dad played at Murray State junior college and then went on to Kansas State. So I think when I turned about four or five years old, my dad bought me a Nerf basketball goal and it was a love affair that still hasn’t ended. I think I tore that goal up and we just taped it back together more than probably most, but that’s how I got started in basketball.
Mike Klinzing: [00:01:30] Was it just simply the fact that it was the exposure from your parents. And you were obviously around the game from a young age because they were into the game.
What do you remember about your own. What did you love about basketball? Was it your parents doing it or was there some particular aspect of it that really appealed to you when you were younger?
Crystal Robinson: [00:01:49] Yeah. Well, there’s several reasons. I loved it. My dad played with me a little bit, but I never experienced or saw my mom play.
I mean, she didn’t even play basketball anymore, but I [00:02:00] started, but my dad actually went to the gym and played with us a lot. but I actually had a cousin named Kevin Washington who played. My only goal in life was to beat him. He was the best. Like I looked up to him so much and every time we got into a street game, I would always make sure I was pitted against him.
Eventually. I got to the point to where I could beat him. And then that’s when I knew that I was probably pretty good. So, that’s how, I really got started and developed a love for basketball. And then the other thing was, I just grew up in such a tumultuous environment. That basketball was my release in my way out.
I Literally took all of my anguish and my frustrations out on the person across to me, just playing as hard as I could possibly play.
Mike Klinzing: [00:02:45] So talk a little bit about that situation that you grew up in to give us a little bit of context in terms of what you experienced as a young kid growing up, and then how that played into what you just described of you kind of pouring your [00:03:00] energy and anger into the game of basketball.
Crystal Robinson: [00:03:02] In my book, I talk about it a lot more in depth, but just I grew up with two alcoholic parents and I had siblings, three, five, three of them are younger than me. I grew up helping take care of them and picking up cans on the side of the road.
And just, we grew up in a very poor situation, but you know, at that time, I can’t even tell you that we knew we were poor. We were very, very happy, Kids. We were happy with the things that we had. We really didn’t know any better. We had not a lot of exposure to the outside world. We had channel 10 and channel 12 football sometimes, and we got to watch some basketball sometimes, but we spend most of our time outside, you know?
None of us really had bikes because we would take our rims off our bikes and knock all the spokes out and nail it to a telephone pole. And that’s what we really grew up playing on. And when, when somebody broke one, [00:04:00] we would just go to the next bike. So just a huge love for basketball. And I started loving it as a child.
I took a basketball with me everywhere that I can remember going after that.
Mike Klinzing: [00:04:10] Did you a lot with your siblings? Mostly when you were first starting out when you were really young?
Crystal Robinson: [00:04:15] I played a lot with my cousins, his cousins wife, Stacey Washington played it. Most of my cousins play the string town though.
Cause I grew up in strength town. I actually went to high school in Atoka, but the head coach there played college basketball with my dad, but I grew up in string town watching Terry Green and UL. Washington’s one of my cousins who played baseball
He’s my cousin. And I grew up playing baseball and the boys seeing let’s talk about other sports, like, the girl that everybody I was doing that in the eighties, South plays started at, pitched in shortstop and third base, a little league baseball team. So I was actually probably better at [00:05:00] baseball, just I was a girl, like I never had struck out and I played baseball in high school till I was a senior and started at second base.
Mike Klinzing: [00:05:07] That’s awesome. What, I’m always fascinated by high-level female athletes and just kind of this, this start that you get in sports, because in a lot of times, it’s, it’s difficult. I think, to find other females that have the same level of passion and desire for that sport, especially at those younger ages.
And I think it’s probably better now than it was. I’m sure in the era, when you grew up, you and I are close to the same age that there just wasn’t the same opportunities, at least on an organized fashion. For girls to be able to play, whether it was baseball or basketball or whatever sport it was.
Crystal Robinson: [00:05:45] You just had to be very fortunate.
Like I grew up playing AAU, but I lived in Visalia, Oklahoma, which is like in the middle of nowhere with one of the guys who owned the team, him and his wife, and I helped on their [00:06:00] puppy farm. And then just, I had a lot of help, a lot of great people helping me, but I did get to travel and play.
But back then the summer ball was for this, the elite only play. But now it’s such a big business. Like you want a team and you got the money to do it. You probably can get some people to pay you to take them to tournaments. So, it’s just a little bit different from how it was, now is such a world old money machine.
But I think because Nike with the EYBL and Adidas, those guys got into it and it’s just really changed the landscape of basketball, especially on the men’s side, but colleges don’t really even recruit high school basketball anymore. They do after they see you in summer league. So things have changed a lot.
Mike Klinzing: [00:06:45] So, yeah. Yeah. There’s no doubt about that. And I think that we’ve had this discussion on the podcast all the time, just about the. The, the positives and negatives of each of those two systems. And you think about, as you said, when you were [00:07:00] playing a basketball, there might’ve been one or two teams. If you’re talking about a big city, I grew up here in Cleveland and there was maybe there was maybe two AAU teams in the whole city made up of the best players from across the, across the area.
And now of course, there’s. No, there’s two teams from every neighborhood it’s like, let alone, let alone any, let alone a city. So how did you get connected kind of being out in the middle of nowhere, how did you get connected with that team? How did they find you? How did they discover you? Or how did you get connected to them?
Crystal Robinson: [00:07:31] Well, just, some of the girls that I played against in high school, I had a good friend named Jayanna Williams, who played and her parents just happened to own a little company and they financed everything that we did for our team. And, I either spent my time with Jayanna or we share a wide and by side in the summers, like literally I’ve been staying away from my mom, my family, probably since, I don’t know my seventh [00:08:00] eighth grade year. I didn’t spend a lot of time with my family. I just chased the basketball dream. I would go actually my seventh grade year, eighth grade year, I moved to Louisiana to live with my grandmother so I could play five on five. I was started playing six on six because I lost it.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:15] Okay. So we’re going to talk about that.
We got to talk about that in a second. Keep going.
Crystal Robinson: [00:08:18] So I grew up playing, so I moved there my eighth grade year to play five on five. And when I came back, my mom said she missed me too much and made me come back the next year. And I could go to any school I wanted because I wasn’t a district. And I ended up going to Atoka because my dad knew field Daniel who recently just passed away my high school coach.
And I ended up just, he helped me so much blossom as a player. Just really taught me how to think the game and how to use my skill set and really preached a lot to me about not just being a great athlete and relying on your athletic ability, learn how to out-think people.
Mike Klinzing: [00:08:57] so, what did that look like?
What did that look like? And then I want to come back to the six, [00:09:00] on 6, but what did that look like when he’s, when he’s trying to get you to develop and utilize more than just your physical tools, but to actually think the game how’s he going about helping you to do that?
Crystal Robinson: [00:09:11] Well, really, he just kind of implemented things like my freshman year.
All I did was post up. My sophomore year and freshman summer, we worked on my mid range game. So my sophomore year I posted up and used the mid range game. Then my sophomore summer to my junior year, we worked on a three point, shot a lot. Then I, this, he progressed me. I never tried to do too much too fast.
Like I really mastered my craft before I moved on. And then overall, by the time I was a senior, everything kind of came together. Plus we spend a lot of time watching film and he was just really good about explaining to you. And I’m very quizzical. I think Richie Adubato told me in the pros, he was like, you think like a coach, you’ll never, he said you’re going to be a [00:10:00] great basketball player, but you’ll never be, you’ll never be Kobe or you never be one of those guys because you think like a coach, you don’t take bad shots.
You don’t take the risks that, great players take because in your mind is you think like from a coaching standpoint, statistically, that’s a bad shot. So I was a very efficient player. I didn’t make mistakes and I had a very great career, but. He was right. Richard was right about that. I would rather take six shots and make them all, and then take 17 and make 6.
Mike Klinzing: [00:10:30] It’s funny how everybody’s mentality is different. Isn’t it? The way you approach the game and the way you think it is, it’s so different and just, it makes again, it’s what makes the game so great. Is there within the confines of the court, there’s so many different ways that as a player or as a coach that you can approach the game.
And I think that’s one of the things that makes it the most exciting.
Crystal Robinson: [00:10:51]I think something that you just said is, so something great that I think coaches, young coaches and kids all should hear I think that people get so caught up in the [00:11:00] comparisons of players. Like who’s better Kobe or MJ in comparison.
And jI think when players focus on being just the best player that they could possibly be. That’s when you’re at your best, like, I’m not saying that you don’t take your game, you don’t mold it after people, but I mean, I was considered a dead eye shooter. Now I could do other things, but I’ll tell you what I did.
I made sure that what I was hired to do that I was top notch at that I made over 86% of the last second shots that took in my career. I think I’m number three, all time in efficiency rating in the WNBA, and I’m the statistics guy. Has me in the book, and my stats. So, it was just more, I feel good after games and obviously efficient.
If I could score 30 and have to take 17 shots and shot a bad percentage, I didn’t feel good about that.
Mike Klinzing: [00:11:52] Yeah, it’s so interesting. Just the way again, that different players think about it and approach it. And [00:12:00] that’s a really, I think, an unusual way of looking at things. I think a lot of people are just happy.
Hey, I look at my, especially when we’re younger people look at that scoring total and that really in a lot of cases is what matters to them. And you hit on, I think one of the biggest challenges that we have in youth basketball and in high school basketball and probably even in college basketball at this point is because we now have such accessibility to what everyone else is doing.
There’s so much comparison and there’s so much chasing of. The next thing, whatever that next thing might be. So I’ve given the example of like, you have the kid, who’s an elementary school who just can’t wait until they get to be in eighth grade so they can play on the eighth grade team and, or get on this team.
And then they’re in eighth grade and they can’t wait until they can be a varsity starter. And if they’re not a varsity starter, when they’re in ninth grade, they’re disappointed or they’re mad or they’re transferring schools. And then the kid who playing in high school, which should be one of the best times of your life.
And one of the most [00:13:00] enjoyable. Basketball periods in your entire career. People are so focused on that scholarship that they’re waiting to try to get at the end of the high school journey that they’re, they’re not enjoying where they are. And I think that that comparison and because we can see everything that everybody does, it makes it really, really tough on kids and on their families, parents.
And then consequently, everybody has more pressure on them. And sometimes I wonder whether. Whether a lot of kids enjoy the game. As much as maybe someone who grew up the way you did or grew up the way I did where we didn’t have all that, I didn’t have all that external pressure. I put internal pressure on myself to try to be better, but I didn’t have people from other communities or halfway across the world comparing themselves to me or commenting on what I was doing.
And it’s just, I think it’s an interesting dynamic. The way basketball has shifted.
Crystal Robinson: [00:13:52] Yeah, well, for me, I think that’s something that also plays a big role in that as coaches and how coaches, coach[00:14:00] players up like an do you make a big deal of the defensive stopper and how he takes charges?
And what does your culture value? To me? Culture is everything. That’s something that I think is hard for kids to transfer from college. I mean, from AAU to college because when you go from, EYBL or maybe into college, you’re going into a pretty set culture that you have to figure out how to fit your tools and your skills into. The EYBL is a free for all. Like, it just teaches players that go out and score as many points as you can. And coaches don’t teach the game. They’re thinking about winning and losing they’ll press the whole game, but how is that helping the kids basketball IQ. So to me, when parents are picking these teams for their kids, it really, I don’t know if they place enough emphasis on what kind of culture that this organization have and what are they fostering in my children.
Everybody wants to see success, but. Success comes [00:15:00] in a lot of different ways. And there’s so many skills as you can to build whether you are the best player on the team or the worst player on the team. And for me, The culture is something like a Dennis Rodman. I mean, who really wants to go get 30 rebounds a game?
That’s a lot of freaking work, but he was very valued for doing that. Metta world peace. Almost every team championship team has won a Draymond Green. I could just go down the list goes on and on. Bruce Bowen was a defensive stopper and just a tough nose person, but those players are unbelievably valuable, but it’s up to us as coaches because I’ve coached third and fourth grade and I became the best, the best coach.
I think I possibly could be in the third and fourth and fifth grade because you have to get your point across without anger. You have to. Problem solve and teach them how to cause they’re looking to you and they’re going to react how you react and it teaches you. I think every coach should have to coach third, fourth, and fifth grade because you can’t yell and act crazy.
Oh you. [00:16:00] Yeah.
Mike Klinzing: [00:16:02] Question about that. I’ve probably spent, honestly, the majority of the coaching that I’ve done has probably been at those grade levels. Cause I’ve been running camp for elementary school kids for 29 some years. And I really enjoy working with that age and you’re right. A hundred percent that you have to one, you have to be able to explain things in a very simple way to get them, to be able to understand it.
And. You yelling at them is not really going to help your cause. If your goal is to try to get them to play better, or even if your goal is simply to win, yelling is not really going to help them. And as you know, and I’m sure. A lot of our audience knows when you go out there into the, into the youth basketball space today, and you go to an AAU tournament or you’re watching third or fourth grade girls, or third and fourth grade boys play.
And you have how many teams that sit in a two-three zone. And how many coaches do you see stomping their way up and down the sideline and yelling. [00:17:00] And there’s far too many. We have lots of, lots of great coaches. At those age levels, but we also have a lot of people that could benefit from some coach education and some listening to a podcast or reading a book, or getting with somebody who has more experience to help them to understand just what you said, which is look, you have to be able to teach the game and you have to be able to do it in such a way that you teach with empathy and understanding for the age group of the children that you’re working with.
And I think if we could figure that piece of it out, We could ask, we could end up the game would be the game would be a lot better. And I don’t mean the game that we’re going to develop those kids into NBA players or WNBL players. But what we’re talking about is just making sure that the game is a positive experience for all those kids.
And I think a lot of times the game, isn’t always a positive experience and it’s not just basketball. I mean, I think a coach can very quickly. Yeah, damage a kid’s relationship with sports. And it sounds like you were [00:18:00] very, very fortunate as a young girl to be able to have people who were. A positive influence in your life, especially, especially since your parents, the struggles that you had at home.
Crystal Robinson: [00:18:11] Well, hindsight is definitely your friend, I guess you could say because no, I absolutely detested it. My dad was so hard on me. Like I could score a 47 points and he would say, what about the two shots you missed? Like it wasn’t like I could never please him as a young kid, it hurt me. But it kind of turned me into a perfectionist and helped me as a professional athlete because after every game I never took too long to feel good about that game. I looked at my stats, I studied what I could do better and not moved on to the next game, like to be prepared for the next game, but I went through lots of phases with my father where I just never thought I could ever do anything that would make him excited, but he spent all his time bragging about me to [00:19:00] his friends.
He never actually let me be comfortable with that and you know, that’s, that’s just I think that I was a psycho. When I first went into coaching, like I, my, I yelled, I think I lost my voice and damaged my lungs and a whole bunch of stuff, just because I think, when you’re a young coach and you want to win so bad and you’re used to doing it yourself and you can’t understand why we doing over this a million times, why can’t you get this?
You are ill prepared. I think it will prepare this causes you to coach with anxiety. And I just learned over the years of coaching that, during the game is problem solving time. And I’ve just evolved over my coaching career that doing practice, if I’m going to yell, it’s going to be in practice.
But during the game is problem-solving time and I don’t have time to tear them down. Like, at that point in time, I have to allow my assistants, If there’s something going on, I say something to them and then they will do it because I found that when you’re mad as a [00:20:00] head coach, you miss things. If you’re spending time griping about something that happened three plays ago, you’re missing calls or you’re missing things that you need to be involved in.
And I think that just goes to the trust factor you have with your assistant coaches and letting them help you a lot.
Mike Klinzing: [00:20:14] Absolutely. And I think there is what you talked about when you transitioned from being a player to being a coach. I think there’s a huge adjustment to be made there because playing where you have at least some degree of control.
And especially if you’ve always been one of the better players on your team you have some degree of control over what goes on on the floor and then suddenly you’re a coach. And during the game, you, as we all know, yeah, you have some control over some of the things, but ultimately the players have more control.
And as you said, you do your coaching during practice and you get your team prepared and you do all the things that are required. But then when that game time comes, it’s a little bit tough to be able to stand on the [00:21:00] sideline and know that this is now out of my hands.
I’ve now put this, I’ve put the outcome of this game in my player’s hands. And I think there’s a growth process. That goes along with that as, as a coach and it’s, it’s, it’s tough. It’s a, it’s a difficult adjustment, I think for players to become, to become coaches, especially if they haven’t kind of gone through, especially when you see like somebody who’s been a professional player and then they get their first job.
Like, I can’t even imagine Steve Nash this year with the nets goes from, he’s never coached before and obviously incredibly intelligent player and a guy who thinks the game and is very intellectual and. Super talented and all those things, but I just know that when you haven’t actually coached and now suddenly you go and you’re you’re coaching.
And especially as the head coach that the learning curve there has to be really, really steep.
Crystal Robinson: [00:21:52] Yeah. Well, I think for me, I think that and I think fans and parents that I’d just say parents, because I’ve coached [00:22:00] so many levels. Most people don’t understand that X’s and O’s are a small part of coaching.
Like, yes, it’s important. But even as a head coach, I can hire some assistant coaches that are way better at that than me. If you are not good at the psychology of it, especially when you start getting to the higher levels of basketball. And I say psychology, but I mean, convincing players to get along convincing players to give up shots, convincing players to do their best.
For the betterment of the team, convincing players to be to follow the culture, especially when you have outside influences saying, Hey, you should be scoring this many points. You’re not getting enough shots. Like there’s so many factors that go in to building a complete team that I think everybody thinks they can sit in that chair and just do the X’s and O’s and say, Oh, I can do a better job than that goes.
But those people have no idea, the psychology that it takes to actually get the players to do all things. [00:23:00]
Mike Klinzing: [00:23:03] I know it’s funny. I forget where I read this, but you know, basketball coaching is one of the only professions where people can sit in the stands and.
I have absolutely no experience and think they could do the job better than somebody who’s done it for 30 years. And nobody goes in and sits outside the surgery room and screams at the surgeon that I can do that better.
Crystal Robinson: [00:23:27] I’m going to tell you a funny story real fast. I know a lady she’s one of the best coaches in Oklahoma.
Name’s Ronda Fields and she’s coached for a very long time. She told me she had this lawyer or a doctor that, I mean, a lawyer that was a parent that was just. Giving her a hard time. And he would just gripe and complain all the time. And he was constantly telling her how to do her job.
So she said one day she just showed up at his office and started rearranging the office and moving stuff and just walked in his office and sit down as he was getting ready to have a meeting with him. And he said, Like what’s going on? What are [00:24:00] you doing? Why are you doing this? And she said, well, since you come up to the gym and tell me how to do my job and see how much you appreciate me trying to tell you how to do yours.
And I just thought that was really, really funny.
Mike Klinzing: [00:24:10] That’s good stuff. Yeah. I mean, I think that when you, when you frame it that way, and I think that. Look, there are some that we know that there are some, I’m just going to use the term crazy, which is maybe not the right term, but we all know that there are some crazy parents, crazy fans that are in the stands that.
Maybe truly believe. And even if you got them in a moment away from the game, that they would still truly believe that they knew more than the coach or that they could do the job better, or that the coach doesn’t know what they’re doing. But most people just, I think, especially parents tend to get caught up in the moment and the emotion, this is what’s going to happen and they start yelling.
And if you got them away from the game or you gave them a little bit of perspective, they would realize, and they would probably admit that. They don’t know more than the coach. And I do think that having a child [00:25:00] and watching a child play a sport and again, whatever sport it is is incredibly emotional.
And you have to, I think, be able to realize and understand that it’s not about you as the parent. It’s about. The child’s journey through the game of basketball or whatever sport or whether it’s music or whatever. It’s about, it’s about the child. And I think that’s a challenge and I know I’ve faced that challenge with my own kids.
And I think back when you were telling your story there about your dad and how he pushed you and you didn’t say. The nice things that he was saying to all his friends. He was never saying that to you. He was pushing you. And I’m curious to get your take on that as kind of looking back from, from a child’s perspective, but now seeing it as an adult, if you, if you had it to do over again, and you could, you could have any kind of relationship in terms of, in terms of basketball with your dad, would you have wanted him to.
[00:26:00] Do it the same way. In other words, the results of what happened again, it wasn’t obviously only your dad who was responsible for your success, but ultimately you ended up having a tremendous amount of success in the game. So I’m curious about just when you look back on it, are you. Are you grateful? Are you resentful?
Is there a little bit of both in there because you wish he would have been kinder to you or share some of that feeling that he had, that he shared with his friends. Just how do you look back and reflect upon that relationship? Both father, daughter and within the basketball framework. If my question makes any sense.
Crystal Robinson: [00:26:37] Yeah, it makes great sense. I don’t look back on it. There’s no resentment for it. I think that without it. I think there, my dad never wanted me to settle. He never wanted me to get comfortable. He never wanted me to look in the mirror and say, Oh, you’re so great that you get comfortable with that.
You can have a great day, but all of that day is over. There’s [00:27:00] always a battle to fight the next day. What are you going to do to stay on top of your game? What are you going to do? Like I wouldn’t go back and change it. Like at all. It kind of programmed me in a way. And at that time as a kid, yeah.
You want your dad to just say you’re awesome, but you know, I’m very thankful for how he handled it. And I just happened to think also too, but I think that we caught a lot of kids too much. life’s not easy. We both know that even if you have money, there’s gonna be lots of problems.
And I think that what my childhood did teach me was how to deal with problems and how to problem solve. And I think that’s a skill that you develop just like dribbling, a basketball, you practice it every day. If you put in adverse situations, you have to figure out ways out of them and you don’t figure out ways out of them and not get and get to the same access that I got without making pretty good decisions.
So. No, there’s not anything I would go [00:28:00] back and change honestly, to tell you truth. I think that I’ve had a very blessed life and not think that everything has happened to me has been to prepare me for moments like this. I wouldn’t have anything to talk to you about at all.
Mike Klinzing: [00:28:13] Understood. What advice would you have for parents of let’s just say a high school athlete. So you have a high school athlete who aspires to be a college basketball player. What advice would you have for that parent in terms of handling the relationship with their child or things that they can do as a parent to help facilitate their child’s dream and yet not sabotage it with some of the behaviors that we sometimes see with parents.
So what advice would you have for the parent of a high school basketball player?
Crystal Robinson: [00:28:46] I would tell them to be honest with yourselves and be honest with your kid that’d be a couple of things I would tell them. And I trained kids for a little bit, but it wasn’t really for me, I think that so many parents pay people who say, I can [00:29:00] make your kid a D one player.
Your kid’s skill level is what’s going to make them a D one player. And unfortunately, some of us are. Tapped out like there’s no shame in what I’m trying to say is there’s no shame in knowing that your kids are going to go D2 NAIA. Juco like, as long as they’re getting that scholarship and they’re getting a cherry on their dream, quit placing so much great emphasis on them being, D1.
I think lots of parents get robbed blind because there’s not a trainer alive that can force or talk a college coach into taking a player. That’s not that caliber of player. There’s no shame. I could have went to any college in country. And I went to Southeast Oklahoma State, which is an NAIA school. I played tennis and basketball there.
I had a great college experience because I got to be an athlete. It wasn’t the same pressure as D one, but I still accomplish the same goal, but I had a tremendous amount of challenge. Everybody can’t do that. So [00:30:00] that, that would be one, thing that I would tell them. And I would tell, and I would also tell them to, to put, invest some time into an understanding and who you put your kid on a travel ball team with.
Don’t just go with people who make these promises to you. Evaluates your, to your kid’s skillset and understand and know they’re going to learn a lot more than basketball. Like the things that you learn in basketball, you take it to the work space with you. You have to learn how to get along. You have to learn how to do teamwork.
You have to be around people who you don’t like, and you still have to have some emotional intelligence. It’s just so many things that sports can teach you that a college scholarship is great, but be happy with what your kids are getting and be honest with the level that you, you’re going to get to, and it’ll, it’ll keep you from having so many argents and problems with trainers and coaches because lots of parents have empty argents because they just really have a very, what was the best word I’m looking for it.
They don’t have a very, [00:31:00] they have
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:00] an unrealistic picture
Crystal Robinson: [00:31:02] of what their kid is yeah. Of what their kid, what their kid’s talent is. Absolutely.
Mike Klinzing: [00:31:07] And I think that that’s something that as a parent, you have to. I mean, I’ve seen it. So my son right now is a freshman in high school and he played on the freshman team and I have a pretty good idea, I think, and understanding of who he is and what he is as a player.
But we’ve played with the same sort of group of kids kind of growing up. And it’s just interesting to watch and see how each of those kids develop in different ways. And you look at parents on teams and just kids that you’ve seen and people who have this opinion or that opinion. And I think that what you said is 100% correct that most of the time, when you see a kid who’s having a good experience, you see a parent who has a realistic [00:32:00] understanding of what their kid is, who their kid is, what their talent level is.
And then I think the second piece of it that you hit on that it’s really important is especially in the way that. The basketball system is set up today and you can put this in high school and you can also put it in AAU where especially if the kid is a good player, that a new coach for that high school coach, or even take it one step further, that trainer may not want to tell that kid the truth about what the holes are in their game or what level or what level they can really play at.
Because if I’m the high school coach, I tell a kid that. They’re up there, apt to transfer. If I’m in, if I’m an AAU coach, that kid may take their money and go play on some other AUT, even if I’m a trainer, look, we all know that there’s 25 people in a within a one mile radius that have hung out a shingle as a trainer.
And so they can just go to somebody else. I think that that ability. To tell the truth, the best [00:33:00] coaches and I don’t care what level it is. I don’t care if your coach in third grade or your coaches and the pros coaches who can tell their players the truth about where they are as players and what they need to improve on and what they’re good at and all those things.
I think that really is what leads to success. If you don’t have somebody who’s willing to tell you the truth, that’s when you get in a lot of trouble very quickly.
Crystal Robinson: [00:33:22] Yeah. Well, I don’t want to sit here and sound like you you’ve, you’ve touched on you. Like I have a nephew named Jackson that, reclassified as an 11th grader.
And he’s a freshman at Texas A & M I’ve been training him for. As long as I can remember. And I’m a horrible fan. Like I almost hate to go to his games and it’s not because I’m a horrible fan toward the other people. I have the horrible ability. I can’t watch basketball and enjoy it. Like I see the holes, I see what you should be doing better.
I would like to enjoy watching him play with him. Being [00:34:00] successful is a big part of me enjoying watching him play. I can get him to understand that. Yeah, you love basketball and you want to be at a high level, but. You a kin to me, we have the same last name. That’s going to be expectations, unrealistic expectations, put on you that you’re going to have to be tough enough to play through it.
So literally he didn’t, he doesn’t have any sisters and brothers, so I actually coached him for three summers and just to be me, but you’re just exactly right. I agree with you, everything, everything that you said.
Mike Klinzing: [00:34:36] When you start thinking about parents and players, one of the things you mentioned was making sure that you get with the right type of coach and the right person who’s going to develop, not just the basketball player, but also the person.
So if you were again, talking to a parent of a basketball player and pick out whatever level you want, but I’m thinking, obviously, kids who are still [00:35:00] in high school or below, how do those people go about choosing. A good coach or a good a U program to play in, what should they be looking for? So they have a chance and they go to try outs and they get a chance to meet the coach or the AA director and ask them questions.
What are some things that they should look for in a coach or a program in your mind that could best help develop their kid?
Crystal Robinson: [00:35:26] One of the first things I’d like to tell them because so many parents are like, well, little Johnny. Got invited to this USA basketball or whatever, something, but it cost $990.
Like that doesn’t mean your kid is being recruited. That means they want you to pay them some money for something and I think so many parents, like they, they get caught up in these different levels, but I think I would tell them that I would be looking for people like, first of all, It’s hard to find a great [00:36:00] program.
If you don’t know the level of who your player is. So just using Jackson, as an example, Jackson played for team Griffin. They won the Peachtree jam, which is a really, really big deal, but he was that level caliber player. Now I have another cousin that plays for another organization. He plays with PWP, which not that they’re not a great organization, but.
They’re probably a little step under and they pay for everything for their players as well, but they’re still don’t have the notoriety in the cloud of the Peachtree jam and the Nike contract and all that stuff. And that’s just a whole nother business that you don’t know about until you are in the heat of your son or being recruited because they, Nike pays guys.
That basically all they do is hang around basketball tournaments and get to know these kids and encourage them to go to Nike schools so that Nike can sign them when [00:37:00] they get out. Like it’s, it’s crazy on the inside. But yeah, I would, I would tell them, know your players so you get, can find the right organization for them.
Sports is good. Maybe your kid is not that great of a basketball player, but he needs the ability to be around other kids develop these. You got to find teams that want to build character teams that, that did just fit the needs of what you want. And I would ask questions. Don’t just be like, Oh, that’s a winning organization.
I want my kid on that team. I would, I need to know does my kid fit because there’s competition. And you know, if you play your child plays, there are some parents that are rude. Yep. Excuse me. You come into a new team with the player. That’s pretty good. You better really be good because they’re probably going to make your life hard for at least a week or two.
So, or there’s not going to be enough basketballs to go around Team Griffin. Like we never, we’re not the kind of people that complained, like Jackson’s number two in the country and he got six [00:38:00] shots again. Then there’s another player that was ahead of him ranked ahead of him in our state, but has not even gotten any major D one offers, but he’s ranked, they had the Jackson and I stayed and he shoots the ball 30 times a game.
So, but we never complained we, but his parents was always complaining. So then they move a kid from Wichita, the best player in Wichita to the team and he’s taken 30 shots. So we were getting ready to probably exit, but it wasn’t, we didn’t cause no problems or complaints. It’s just at that point in time, it wasn’t conducive to Jackson and what he’s trying to do for you.
Mike Klinzing: [00:38:34] Yeah. It’s amazing. Just. When you start looking at that level and trying to figure out and navigate it. And I think one of the things that’s always a challenge is especially for people. So you think about yourself and your experiences in the game as both a coach and a player, and you have an idea at least of what it takes to be able to [00:39:00] navigate that world.
But for so many parents, it’s. Their first time and probably only time through the system. And I think that’s where, and it doesn’t even have to be at that elite level. I mean, you could talk about just the average AAU player who might end up being on a varsity team when they get older. Even those people have difficulty navigating and making good choices and understanding the system is and what it looks like.
And I think one of the biggest challenges that we have in the game of basketball is educating. Parents and players about what we just talked about, which is what should you look for and how do you go about choosing a good program? And what does that look like? And I think one of the things that people judge it on, and you said it is that teams winning or that organization is winning.
And so that’s where. We want to be, and that’s not all, that’s not to say that winning organizations can’t be good organizations. Cause obviously [00:40:00] those two things go ahead. And those two things go hand in hand, but if that’s the only thing you’re judging it by, you can get in trouble very quickly. And I love what you said about going ask people questions.
And I think if you ask questions, you have conversations with whether it’s. The person who’s going to be the coach of that team or whether it’s the director of the AAU club. I think you’re going to get a pretty good feel pretty quickly about what that coach or that program is all about.
Crystal Robinson: [00:40:25] Better than that. Just go sit in the stands and one of their games and listen to the parents.
Is that what you want their kid to be like? This can be your kid out there. They’re talking about absolutely better than that. To me. That’s the culture. That’s the important thing. And if the culture stinks, then the kids are not going to be, are going to be unhappy. And I just don’t really know that most parents realize how much a part of the culture that is because like something that I really valued about what Texas A & M something that they do, they call my sister once or twice a month. And they’ll tell her like, [00:41:00] Hey, we’re getting ready to ramp up workouts. We bought to be really hard on Jackson.
He’s probably going to have some difficulties. So when he calls home what’s going on, so you can motivate him and encouraging instead of most parents. You know, when your kid comes home, complaining about not getting play. Most parents don’t have to read them and say, well, are you working as hard as you possibly can?
Maybe you need to work a little bit harder. They usually go to, well, they start unconditionally. Don’t understand you’re teaching your kid to make excuses right from the jump. Right. There’s a reason why your cheat isn’t planned because I don’t know one coach in the country that does not want to win.
Like I’m not playing my favorite people I’m playing. No. And if your kid’s not playing, he’s not playing for a reason and most parents don’t understand that, but that doesn’t mean that your kid and then just learning to wait your turn. And that’s something that I think that I get hired in a WNBA for that.
For the way I deal with players and the way I keep problems out of the locker room [00:42:00] as more so than probably X’s. And O’s because when you get people complaining to you about their playing time, and I tell players this all the time, the value of your complainant and pound. You’re going to miss that opportunity when it shows up and then you’re going to be out the league and then somebody else is going to have your job.
That’s once this opportunity. So I don’t really massage players and sit around and let them feel sorry or guilty for themselves. No, you’re a professional athlete. You have to wait your turn. Now you play seven minutes in the game last night, and you took four open shots and you didn’t make one. So what do you want?
How much more can I fight for? You have to be prepared for opportunities. That’s what it basically comes down to. And when, and you can’t be prepared if you’re upset and you’re mad and you have all these ill feelings, you’re, you’re going to lay a goose egg. When that opportunity comes.
Mike Klinzing: [00:42:50] How receptive are players to that conversation, obviously it varies in each individual. Player’s going to be receptive in different ways, but when you sit down and you’re [00:43:00] having that conversation, I would guess that clearly players who have gotten to the w MBA level are mentally tough there. Better than 99.9% of the basketball players in the world.
So they obviously have that inside them. But when you approach them with that idea of, Hey, you gotta put this aside and you gotta keep working, even if things aren’t right. Going exactly the way you want them to. How do they respond to that?
Crystal Robinson: [00:43:26] You’re making a great point right there, because first let me say, that’s a part of what we just talked about earlier, wanting your kids, everything to go, your kid’s way.
Learning to deal with failure is a major key in becoming the best possible athlete you can possibly be. Because if you dribbling the ball, you dribble it off your foot. Every time. If you can’t deal with the failure of fixing that, you’re not going to get better. You’re not gonna be able to take it through your legs.
You are constantly failing to grow. As a professional athlete or as an athlete, because you have to teach yourself so many things and how to do so many things. [00:44:00] So if you’re not comfortable and you don’t welcome failure, you’re going to have problems getting to the highest level because you have to fail a lot in order to master any craft, whether it’s acting, whether it’s whatever you’re going to fail a lot to get there.
And you have to be tough enough to not give up during that failure. And then that’s what it boils down to.
Mike Klinzing: [00:44:23] Yeah, it’s so interesting that you think that, okay, you get to this, the highest level of the game and that you still, at that point, have players dealing with a lot of the same. Ideas issues, things that you see in middle school, basketball, just being played out at a much more public and much higher level of skill, but still the mental side of the game.
Can still throw you off. And I think that’s what makes it so interesting. And I know I go back to what you said earlier [00:45:00] about just the way that you approach things mentally and how you want it to you value deficiency, and you didn’t want to be, I didn’t want to get 30. If it was going to take me 22 shots to get there and everybody’s mentality is different.
And so when you’re having those conversations as a coach, one of the things that it comes across very clearly is you have to know. Which buttons to push. When you were talking about the psychology, you have to know which buttons to push with which players I’m sure.
Crystal Robinson: [00:45:29] Absolutely. Like as a college player, I took opportunities like literally I probably could have scored 60 points a game cause I was at the NAIA level, but like I ever sold 30 points of my whole career, but if we were playing a team to where I could score five points in the way, and I scored what I needed to score to win. And then I just posted, let my team have their name in the paper, let them have their nights to shine. Then I think the highest I scored 67 points in a game.
And , [00:46:00] nobody said a word to me because I was such an unselfish. I needed the score 67 for us to win. We won the game by one point and for overtime and I had zero turnovers. That was the best out of the game. The girls were okay with me doing that because of the psychology of how I’ve trained them.
They trusted me because I knew at moments that I was going to give them their time. I wasn’t trying to all the attention, but I think that you learn that, And LeBron, he’s a great example. Michael, Kobe great leaders learn how to push his buttons and how to get the best out of their teammates and players.
And you know what position when you can yell at them, Sue Bird is amazing at it. Hey, nobody would yell at Brianna Stewart, but Sue Bird will yell at her like she’s hurt or ugly stepchild in their bottle. And Brianna will respond with yes with no, but that’s because. The amount of respect that she has for Sue.
[00:47:00] I just think that you’re right about a lot of the things that you’re saying, and I really don’t think it’s rocket science, but we all get caught up and we want what’s best for our kids. We want our kids to be successful. We want them to see all the good things in life. But the only problem about that is that probably 97% of lessons to learn through failure. So if everything only happens good, so you wouldn’t fail, when it does happen. It’s devastating. That’s why you get these 25, 24 year olds that just can’t handle a little bitty problems because the parents handled it for so long for them. So that’s one of the reasons I can tell you that I’m so thankful for my childhood.
And I learned I had to become emotionally intelligent, really fast, but I learned how to problem solve and how to deal with problems. And I think that that’s helped me navigate life a lot.
Mike Klinzing: [00:47:48] I agree with you a hundred percent that. One of the biggest challenges. I think we face as a society is that all that a joke, you shouldn’t be clearing the path for the child.
You know, you [00:48:00] got to let the child clear that path for themselves and figure it out and fall down sometimes and get back up. And don’t always be there to smooth things out for them. They have to be able to. Handle things. And that goes not just with basketball and sports, but at school that’s life, that’s the workplace, everything.
And as parents, you understand parents desire to make things easy on their kids. But I think as you said in the long run, you’re not really not accomplishing anything. I think about, I think about my experience as a player and I never ever remember. Having a conversation with my parents about like me coming home from a practice or me calling them from college about a practice or a game or something, and complaining about something that a coach said or did, or it was too tough or this or that.
I just learned to figure it out. And that’s not to say that there weren’t times that I disagreed with decisions that coach has [00:49:00] made or that things weren’t really, really difficult. You just learn to figure it out. And I didn’t, I didn’t rely on. Parents the same way that other people would have. And I think too, a lot of situations that people have today, you mentioned it where you have to wait your turn and you see so many people who are not willing to wait their turn when you’re going.
And you’re transitioning from high school basketball to college basketball, unless you are really, really, really good, your odds of coming in as a freshman and being an impact player at the college level. Are pretty small, maybe most freshmen don’t play a whole lot and have to pay their dues and have to wait their turn.
And I was certainly that player. I maybe played five or six minutes a game when I was a freshman. And that year was tough because it’s hard to go through all the grind of practice and the work and the adjustment. And then not get that reward in a game, especially when you’re used to [00:50:00] being a big fish and kind of getting to do what you want out on the floor.
And that’s a, that’s an adjustment. And so often, I mean, all you have to do is look at the transfer portal in college basketball today to see the nber of people they don’t stick around and fight through it. What do they do? They’re like, ah, they blame somebody else’s a coach’s fault or you should go somewhere else.
And this coach is doing you wrong and that kind of thing. And you find that. Very few people are willing to wait it out. And I think that that’s something that we struggle with today. And I think you make a great point about learning how to fail.
Crystal Robinson: [00:50:36] Yeah. And also too, I think that this is something that, like I said, learning your kids level, because I mean, even in the pros, you can be a great player in the wrong system.
And I think that so many people just pick things because of bells and whistles and the way they look. But does that system fit your kids? Is it a system where they shoot a lot of threes is your key that the leaf one shoot, I’m just using. Small [00:51:00] examples. Is it the dribble drive system and you know, what the dribble drive was for?
Is it a Princeton system? Is your kid’s a smart thinker that’ll fit that you have to learn what your kid fits and then find systems that your kid can shine. , because all players don’t fit all systems and vice versa. So if your kid is, if you, if you’re planning on the organization that they press a lot and you have a slow kid, that’s a really good shooter.
They’re probably not going to play that much. So don’t sit on the poolside though. Those are things that parents have to figure out about their kids. If they really want their kid to shine and Excel. But then at the same point, they have to accept the results of what they see and what their kid puts on the court.
Mike Klinzing: [00:51:42] All right. What kind of players fit into six on six
Crystal Robinson: [00:51:47] man, as you can always rest. All you gotta do is get the ball to the line and rest. So that’s six on six was great for women. For a long [00:52:00] time, just because so many different kinds of girls can play. you could be, you didn’t have to be in great shape to be a great six on six player because you had so much time to risk.
But I think that’s something that I did fundamentally. I became probably the best that I could be because my coach took me to a lot of camps in the summer and we just dribbled like very seldom that we play basketball games. It was just fundamentals.
Mike Klinzing: [00:52:26] I think that is one of the keys to developing early is to get a good fundamental base underneath you.
And then once you do that, then you can obviously start to branch out into play and to get, yeah, it’s just, it makes it, it makes it so much better when you have a fundamental base underneath you and then you can build off of that.
Crystal Robinson: [00:52:47] Well, and it’s funny just to say that I was giving, I used to get this kid lessons.
And for about two weeks we were working on, several different things. And, he was actually in season. And when [00:53:00] he comes to a lesson, as mom was like, y’all been doing this for two weeks. Why are y’all still doing it? I’m like, he still can’t do it in life. Like, so you just want me to teach him how to do drills, where he looks good when he’s just out here by himself?
Or do you want him to actually know how to use the loop? Like. Those things make me so angry. Like I had to actually stop training kids because parents want you to quick fix their kids. Like if your kid ain’t good at this, it’s my job to teach him how to do it. And I don’t like teaching someone something and moving on and he can’t execute the move in a game because the moves that I can teach you moves all day, but do they translate?
Can the kids take the moves that we’re using and use them in live play? And I think parents can go watch their kids in the workout and be like, Ooh, we you’re doing such a great job there, but can he do it in live play or he or she,
Mike Klinzing: [00:53:52] I agree. And I think that’s one of the challenges, people that I’ve talked to that train.
And I know when I’m not [00:54:00] doing as much training now as I used to, but one of the things that when I was doing it, and when I talked to other trainers is when the parent comes and they sit and watch. You feel somewhat of an obligation to be, I’m going to use the word creative and come up with new and different things that maybe prove to the parent that, Hey, I’m doing some stuff with them, as opposed to what would really be effective and efficient is you figure out what the kid.
Doesn’t a game, especially if we’re talking about like a high school player, what do they do in the game? What do they do? What do they need to get better at? So I have a conversation with our high school coach. This is what I’m going to need this kid to do. And so you work on that and that’s not to say, you’re not going to continue to try to expand their game and have them work on new skills, but certainly you want them to be able to do things better as you said, in a game.
And so that makes a huge difference where the repetitive nature. Of it. If you’re doing the same drill with the [00:55:00] kid for, let’s say you’re working with them two or three times a week, and you’ve done that for a month. And the parent comes after that, that month is over and say, well, all you did was work on this, these two things with them and your response again, would be, Hey, they, they have to master this in order to be able to do it.
Under game conditions. And yet parents don’t always understand that. And kids don’t always have the patience and the discipline to do the old Coby thing where I’m just working on basic footwork over and over again, even though I’m the best player in the world.
Crystal Robinson: [00:55:34] Yeah. Well, that’s, that’s exactly why we’re training kids because I don’t want to babysit people’s kids.
If I’m training, I want to train high level athletes that we’re going to really get it there. And high-level players don’t want to move on until they master it, and to me as a coach, that’s how, when I train in your kid, how they’re acting and how they’re interacting with me, tells me how much they want to be here and how, how good they want to be.
If [00:56:00] I’ve, if I give you an hour lesson and you want to take five breaks in that hour, then. You’re probably telling me everything that your high school coach says about you. If you understand what I’m saying and I don’t, I actually trained a kid. His dad was a high level politician.
He didn’t want to do anything. We had our workout. Literally. I might get 30 minutes of work out of him. I got tired of begging. I’m not giving him private lessons to yell at him. So I’ve actually gave them their money back and said, I’m going to be judged on the results. I don’t want to be judged on results when he doesn’t want to work.
So and then, then you do have those situations. Then the parents will be mad. If you then, if he doesn’t get the play and he doesn’t look any better, they spend all that money with me. So I’m very honest with parents and that lives. I can only make you as a trainer, not, I, me, you, any trainer can only help a kid to their [00:57:00] level and into the level of hard work they put into their game.
I can’t make them better. Their hard work is what’s going to make them better.
Mike Klinzing: [00:57:05] And then absolutely goes back to what we said earlier about telling people the truth, like as a trainer. And we know that those people are out there, that if you, if you want to hide the truth for players and you want to collect your 50 bucks an hour or your 75 bucks an hour or whatever it is, There’s plenty of people who are willing to pay you that.
And again, take 30 minutes of breaks during a one hour workout. Those people are out there and it goes back to if you really going to get results and have success as a coach, whether that’s as a trainer, whether that’s as a high school coach, whether that’s as professional coach, it all boils down to, you have to be able to tell players the truth.
And when you do, when you do, then you can get the most out of them. Because now we have. A relationship. We have something that we both the player may not always agree with you when you tell them the [00:58:00] truth, but at least you have a starting point of look, here’s where we are right now. And here’s where we need to get to.
And when you don’t have that, when you’re just kind of sugarcoating it and telling people what they want to hear, you end up painting yourself into a corner that leaves you in a lot of difficult situations. What I’ve found over the course of my career, both in things that mistakes that I’ve made and things I’ve seen other coaches do.
Crystal Robinson: [00:58:23] I agree with that as a very, very, very true statement, coaching is just it’s and I think that, and it’s so interesting to me, and I don’t think I’ve ever had this conversation with somebody, but you know, for me, my coaches were everything. My high school coach meant a lot to me, affected my life greatly.
In one way, my college coach was the same way. And now it’s just so many coaches that’s coaching for money. Like it’s changed the game so much because I’m telling you most, in fact, we’ll person on most athletes live, the main, you would probably, most of them would say that coach one of them [00:59:00] in some way, shape, form, or fashion.
But now when you’re coaching, like all these outside coaches that really don’t even have any basketball knowledge, I won’t say they’re coming into coaching and their coaching to make money. It’s a completely different athlete. You’re building at that point in time to me.
Mike Klinzing: [00:59:20] It’s definitely, it’s definitely a business on the youth side of basketball.
Go back to, you talked about your experience and there only being one or two elite UTMs, and that was it. Well, that’s not a business model. Nobody’s meant nobody was making money off of you playing AAU basketball, or me playing a basketball. That was not, that was not what it was there for. And now. That is what it’s there for in a lot of cases.
And look, I don’t begrudge anybody the right to earn a living as a basketball coach or as a basketball business, because I’ve done, I’ve had a basketball business for 29 years, but by the same token, I think you have to kind of [01:00:00] understand what it is that you’re doing and what you’re trying to and how you’re trying to impact the people.
Around you, and you can find your niche and have an impact. You don’t have to be a trainer of just elite players. Some people’s niches, some people’s niches to work with. Like for me, my basketball camps, I work with kids who are in grades one through six, and as my camp has gone on, I would say generally speaking, probably the level.
Of talent in the campus probably gone down just as the basketball world has kind of skewed away from the camp model. But, but I also just like we’ve talked about is I understand what the people who are coming to me for those camps, I understand what they’re trying to get out of it. And so I make sure that I provide what it is that those people are trying to get out of it.
And I just think that there’s a lot of people out there that as you said, are in it. Not to have an impact positively and use the game [01:01:00] to make that impact, but they’re just out to make some money running a basketball business.
Crystal Robinson: [01:01:04] It’s also too. I mean, I see plenty of guys in the game that may not even be great coaches, but they’re coaching inner city kids, or they’re giving kids a reason to be off the streets.
They’re giving them a hope. They’re giving them a different direction. They’re giving them like, there’s lots of teams like that. Like I just think that these teams serve so many. So many different areas. It’s just about finding out which one best suits you and your family, so they can get the most out of it and you’re not spending eight or $9,000 a summer wasting your time on some things that in your case, not getting the most out of it, but
Mike Klinzing: [01:01:42] Yeah, it’s difficult.
Like I said, I think that, I think that parental education piece of it is really, really hard because in most cases, Parents don’t have experience with it. So they don’t really know where to turn. And if they turn in the wrong direction and get connected to somebody [01:02:00] who kind of leads them astray, you can end up having a bad experience with the game instead of what should be a positive experience, regardless of what your ultimate goal is in the game, your game, your goal as a.
Eight or nine year old might just be to play and have fun with your friends. And then there’s somebody else. Who’s eight, nine, 10 years old. Who’s already focused and has some level of talent and is ready to take the game more seriously. So you have to be able to find the situation that’s right for you.
And when you do, you’re going to end up with a good experience. And when you don’t, unfortunately it can, it can go, it can go in a different direction. So one of the things that I always hope for youth basketball is that we have more people that get into it for the right reasons to try to impact kids in a positive way.
And I think we have the vast majority of people I think are in it for the right, are in it for the right reasons. And I’ve been, Jason can attest to this, but on the podcast, one of the things that’s so enjoyable for me and for him, is having our guests on is just [01:03:00] the, the passionate enthusiasm that people have for the game and sharing and being willing to.
To share their knowledge with other coaches to be able to ultimately impact the game of basketball and impact the kids who play it in a positive direction. And we hear that from so many people and it’s just, it’s so great to hear because it’s just that to me, that’s what it’s all about.
Crystal Robinson: [01:03:24] Yeah, and I agree with that and you know, still too, with the climate in the world today, sports is still one of the few places to where.
You know, it don’t matter about anything. It’s just a good athlete against a good athlete. Like no, and, and the end results is there’s usually going to be some respect at the end, regardless of who wins and who loses. So, sports does teach us so many things to kids, tolerance team, or like, and I can’t even imagine our society without it, but you know, it’s sports has just changed over the. [01:04:00] The millennia. This is funny for my nephew Jackson. Who’s like I said, a freshman at Texas A & M. Basketball is so much different from just when I was a freshmen and adjusting to the, the curves and the terms of how the scope of basketball has changed over the years is, is, is, is really.
It’s a big, it’s a big job and you talking about parents just, I wish that there was a place a great place, not the NCAA gives you some things, but just a great place for parents to be able to get this kind of knowledge that they need. , and it would be nice if maybe the EYBL tournaments or something like that would put on seminars.
Something parents were able to find a way to. To put their kids in the best situation possible, because regardless of, of anything, whether they go on to be a professional athlete, being a part of sports is going to help them be better in whatever they decide to do in their life.
Mike Klinzing: [01:04:55] I agree. 100%. All right.
I want to ask you, what’s your favorite moment as a [01:05:00] basketball player from any level that you played at? If I asked you for your favorite moment, what is it?
Crystal Robinson: [01:05:04] I’ll tell you. My favorite moment probably was when Teresa Weatherspoon made the shot, heard around the world, like I think at won ESPN. Play of the year, but anyway, she made a shot from a free throw line of one end of the court at the other, in that.
In a WNBA finals in the second game against the Houston rockets, it was the best in the worst moment of my life. And the fact that I had scored 21 straight points before a spoon sought that shot. She made, that’s not an everyone forgot us. 4.1 straight forward against Sheryl Swoopes. No one said anything about that.
The shot took everything. So it was probably the most memorable and, And the best and the worst time of my life, but I’ll never forget that shot.
Mike Klinzing: [01:05:52] I can honestly say Crystal, that, that memory that you just shared right there doesn’t surprise me in the least, based on our conversation in [01:06:00] that it involves you having tremendous success, but it also involves someone else.
Having tremendous success and based on our conversation, I’m not surprised at all. , I don’t know how you made that happen and how you made that your favorite memory, but I am not, but I am not surprised that that’s how that, that’s how it worked out. Did you always know you wanted to be a coach while you were playing?
Was that something that was always in your mind?
Crystal Robinson: [01:06:27] I tell people all the time that I feel so blessed and fortunate because very few people have the opportunity to, as a third grader, say, I want to be this one day and actually get to do it. usually life takes you in directions and turns and ups and downs, and most people get off that path.
But yes, I was able to actually do exactly what I said I wanted to do, and I just feel blessed and fortunate to be able to lucky actually, to be able to do all of that.
Mike Klinzing: [01:06:54] When you first started coaching. Was it, was it love at first sight with coaching? Was it [01:07:00] everything that you expected it to be? Was there something different?
Just what was your initial reaction to coaching where you like immediately? Oh, this is, this is it. I love it. Or was there some part of it that maybe you’re like, Oh, this is surprising. I got to kind of get used to that.
Crystal Robinson: [01:07:16] Yeah, definitely. There’s some things to figure out and just figuring out about how to get the best out of people, but absolutely.
I’m a problem solver. And to me, to be able to convince people, to do the things you want them to do and to play together. To me, that is like one of the ultimate things. When you can align something and get people to work together in a certain way to achieve a certain thing, flawlessly and enjoy doing it, then you’re doing some pretty good leads.
So, I absolutely love the challenge of being a coach and and then it’s the challenge of learning how to navigate in coaching, you can’t always make people happy. Sometimes you have to disappoint some of the players that you actually love the [01:08:00] most, and you know, and value the most, but I always wanted to be a coach and probably always be in me. I have a sense. Resigned from coaching, but, that’s, I just feel like now I have a better opportunity to impact basketball in a different perspective, because I think a lot of the things we’ve talking about in girls basketball is just the fact that.
, professional sports is so young, like as a young player, I looked at the Michael Jordan, but that was really unreal mystically. I was a good basketball player, but I wasn’t ever going to be Michael Jordan. Now, young girls have the ability to look at other athletes and say, Hey, I have the ability to do that.
That was no WNBA. Now there is. So I think that there’s just a learning curve there and a growth. The girls are going through. I think that you’re seeing a change now because I don’t think tell you how many sophomores in high school and different players. I see dunking girls, that’s, it’s just evolving and becoming easier.
Mike Klinzing: [01:08:57] And how important is it to, [01:09:00] for young female players to see women coaches? Because we know that in the game, especially at the younger ages, like you go and watch a third, fourth, fifth grade girls, AAU tournament, and. I don’t know what the percentage is, but it’s awfully high of those coaches are mostly dads and they’re out mobs.
And to me, when I look at the next step for women’s sports, it’s really developing that pipeline of players becoming coaches. And I think them being able to see and have role models of women in coaching to me is something that’s really, really important. So how do you view that particular aspect of it?
Crystal Robinson: [01:09:39] I mean, that’s a whole can of worms and almost a whole different show, but I think that, you see, EYBL you see all that emulate coaching and women’s basketball in general.
I mean, when you really look at it, there’s not. I’m going to say, there, there is a lot, but overall in women’s [01:10:00] basketball, there’s a high number of male men that coach it. But when you look at men’s basketball, there’s not a high number of women coaching. We don’t have the opportunity just to go be in that realm.
So I think that it has to start in the pros and in college, they have to start hiring more women and it’s just kinda how society works unfortunately I was, it’s been a long time breaking these walls down. And I think that coaches are just going to have to, they’re going to have to start taking more chances on women.
And that’s just about male athletic directors being comfortable with hiring female coaches. And I think that that’s a bridge that has to be gapped, and just coaching at all different levels. I know being in different coaches, associations and knowing what coaches fight for and what they go through, that’s a big.
Discussion and women’s basketball right now. A big fight that there want to see more female head coaches.
Mike Klinzing: [01:10:54] Do you think that’s because a lot of the decision makers are still sort of I’ll use the term old boy network. Do [01:11:00] you still think that that’s a piece of it is that the people who are making those power decisions are not necessarily comfortable hiring female coaches?
Crystal Robinson: [01:11:08] Yeah, absolutely. Like, I’m glad that we just got on that subject. I just told you that I’m a former assistant coach of the Dallas wings. I was there for two and a half years. And, Brian Agler, who was the head coach resigned. , I kept that team together. Those girls, I actually had a great relationship with all of them and, Really had been led to believe that I was going to get that head coaching job and had a really good shot at it.
He ends up hiring a girl that I played with in the WNBA, named Vicki Johnson. Me and Vicki had been best friends for a long period of time. Like we played together. She started the two of us started the three. And, I told him if you’re going to hire another head coach, I’m going to resign because I’m done being an assistant coach.
Like, all you do is deal with all the problems and you do all the work. And I told him I was done being an assistant coach now. [01:12:00] He calls me and tells me he’s going to hire VJ. And I told him, well, congratulations. I wish you guys look, but I’m resigning. And he basically got mad at me, but I didn’t resign because I was angry.
I resigned because I have the heartbeat of that team. Most of those girls on that team follow me, do whatever I say. If VJ doesn’t have success. And I’m in the middle and I didn’t get hired for that job. Every coach in the country is going to look at me like I did something to sabotage her. And you know, that, that is another, if you ever want to be in coaching loyalty is everything.
So I thought it was emotionally intelligent for me to remove myself from that situation, because. I hope she’s successful. I want her to be successful, but no one will ever be able to say she’s unsuccessful because of crystal Robinson. I’m not that kind of person. I don’t have that kind of character, but she’s been a head coach in this league before, and it was not very good.
So no one’s going to put that on me. So I ended up resigning. So I think that I have the ability [01:13:00] to bring some focus to basketball and different areas. Now, don’t know if I will get back into coaching has been very, very good to me, but, just as, I don’t know if I hit that 40 year old change or whatever, kind of call my brain, telling me everybody changes when they hit.
45. They just want to do something different and they feel on fulfills. I don’t know, but I’m really happy with the direction that my life’s going and the book and all that, all that. So,
Mike Klinzing: [01:13:27] Well, that’s a perfect segue. Let’s jump into the book. Tell us a little bit about the why behind now being the time that you wanted to write it and give us the little elevator pitch for why people should read the book and what they’re going to get out of it when they do.
Crystal Robinson: [01:13:42] Okay, well, I actually, I wrote the book over 12 years ago. I’ve had it, I just have not released it and I just need, wanted to wait for the right time. , and just, it’s a kind of a note, , no holds bar opens my life and my family’s life up to a lot of things from [01:14:00] Molestation to, it’s not a book about it.
You think you’re going to read it and it’s going to be about basketball statistics and it has stuff about basketball. And, but it really is a lot about me and understanding, and it’s written that way because I think there are thousands of girls out there just like me that have feelings, just like I had, they were lost that I’m saying, Hey, you’re not alone.
Look where I made it. I had those same feelings and you can too. , so that’s really why I wrote the book and I was kinda convinced that it was time to put it out because I really do think you can help. A lot of people not feel evolved and, and not be ashamed. I think so many people that come from poor situations or, those kinds of backgrounds, like.
Your circumstances, don’t determine who you’re going to become. It’s not embarrassing because I’m not embarrassed because my family didn’t have a lot. , actually it made me a better person. It made me stronger. It made me a lot more things. But, I think I put the book out because I think there’s a lot of people who can relate to it and, [01:15:00] , When you pick it up to read it, you will definitely laugh in places.
You’re definitely real tears in places. And I think that, most it done really well in the beta readings. And I think that most people can take something away from that, that they will relate to.
Mike Klinzing: [01:15:17] Where can people find out more about the book or can they pre-order
Crystal Robinson: [01:15:20] she’s going to be able to be for pre open for pre-order and, next Monday on amazon.com. You’ll be able to pre-order it.
Mike Klinzing: [01:15:30] awesome. I’m looking forward to after our conversation, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to read it. I think that just from what you and I have talked about tonight, I feel like we’ve gone. You said when we talk free podcast that we were going to look up and be amazed by the amount of time that had gone by.
And I can honestly say that that’s true. And I feel like we left so much on the table in terms of things that we could talk about and getting into the specifics of the different [01:16:00] coaching stops that you had along the way and your playing career. And yet at the same time, we’ve talked for nearly an hour and a half.
And. It’s just been, I think, a tremendous conversation that has enlightened me about your journey and about some of the things that we’ve been able to talk about. So before we wrap up, I want to give you a chance to share with people, where can they connect with you? Whether that’s sharing social media website, again, give us, give us the title of the book and then I’ll jp back in and wrap things up.
Crystal Robinson: [01:16:32] Okay, my book’s called “Finding Myself” and it can be bought on amazon.com. Pre-ordered , starting Monday also too. You can find me @Crobber3 on Instagram.
That’s about all I do. I get too many social media platforms. I probably [01:17:00] won’t get anything.
Mike Klinzing: [01:17:02] I know. I know, I know about that. We’re trying to try to manage all that stuff is crazy. Yeah.
Crystal Robinson: [01:17:06] So it really is. So that that’d be the best place to connect with me. And there’ll be lots of information about the book there,
Mike Klinzing: [01:17:17] Crystal, I personally cannot.
Thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule to jp on with us here tonight and share your story and talk a little hoops with us has been a lot of fun to get to know you, to get to know a little bit about your background, to find out more about the book. And I’m sure our audience feels the same way.
So again, I personally want to say thanks to you for jping out with us and to everyone out there. We appreciate listening and we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.