J.P. Nerbun

Website – thriveonchallenge.com

Email – jpnerbun@thriveonchallenge.com

Twitter – @JpNerbun

J.P. Nerbun is the founder of Thrive On Challenge, a mentor, writer, coach, and sports consultant.  A multisport athlete growing up, basketball was always his first love. He followed his passion to the University of South Carolina, where the Gamecocks  won an NIT Championship in Madison Square Garden in 2006. After playing in college, J.P. moved to Ireland, where he earned his teaching degree in physical education and sports science at the University of Limerick, one of the top universities in Europe for sports education.

Nerbun has coached for over 12 years in Ireland, Lithuania, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. During his time in Ireland, he has coached over 30 teams in five years.

J.P. has been thrown into head coaching positions at nearly every level imaginable (including professional, collegiate, and high school), gaining an incredible level of experience—including experience with failure! Having worked with men and women at various levels, with diverse backgrounds, and across all sports, J.P. understands how to apply the principles, systems, and strategies to build a transformational culture.

Since founding Thrive On Challenge, Nerbun has served coaches, athletes, and parents across the world, at every level and in every sport.

What We Discuss with J.P. Nerbun

  • The psychology of video games & social media
  • Developing intrinsic motivation in your team as opposed to using extrinsic motivation
  • Why motivational speeches fail to motivate
  • Helping players identify who they want to be, what team they want to be, and the process behind it
  • Autonomy, mastery, and purpose
  • Closing the gap from where you are to where you want to be
  • A very powerful question… Of all those things that you need to be doing, how much are you actually doing right now?
  • Coming in with support – what’s keeping you from doing those things?
  • Helping athletes with self-reflection
  • Transformational vs transactional coaching
  • Tips for rebuilding a losing program
  • Building relationships first
  • Connecting with parents – Talk to them about their kids…They’ve been great. I love coaching them because of this. Thank you for allowing me to coach your kid.
  • Maintaining a certain minimum standard of attitude and work ethic
  • Playing time – after the standard has been met it’s about who gives us the best chance to win
  • Charting wins and losses in practice, using a commitment tracker & peer assessment to collect data
  • Tips for making sure players understand their role
  • Advice on how to value your reserve players
  • How to make the first day of practice special

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast it’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host  Jason Sunkle this morning. But I am here with JP Nerbun from Thrive on Challenge. JP, welcome to the podcast

JP Nerbun: Hey Mike, thanks for having me, brother.

Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. We are excited to have you on. I know there’s going to be a lot of great things we’re going to be able to talk about in terms of culture and leadership and ways that you are able to help and mentor coaches.

So let’s start out by going back in time and give people a perspective on kind of what your background is. Talk to me about how you got into the game of basketball when you were a kid. What made you fall in love with it?

JP Nerbun: Oh, man, it was, I put a lot of that on my dad. He just had a ball early in my hands.

And,  and just, you know, from a young age I identified myself as a basketball player. So I grew up watching Hoosiers films and the pistol and all those movies, and loved the game. This is. You know, before the few days and everybody was playing all the time. So I could honestly tell you the highlight of my year was every November when it rolled around, we got [00:01:00] to start going to basketball practice.

It was a great time.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I think that a lot of people kind of in that age bracket, you think back to those times, and tell me about  just You played before the AAU system. So do you spend a lot of time playing pickup games and kind of playing on the playground, which I know that we’ve talked about it with other coaches, just kind of how that has disappeared to a large degree, outdoor basketball just isn’t, it isn’t around as much as it was.

Did you find yourself playing a lot of pickup basketball on the playground when you were a kid?

JP Nerbun: You know, honestly, due to where I lived up until I was probably, you know, in fifth grade I kind of lived in just a town and there wasn’t much of an areas for kids my age to play. And then we moved out in the country.

so I didn’t have like pick up, go walk down to, but it was kind of more like my, my mom would drop me off on a Saturday and I’d be in the gym there at the local community center just playing all day long. So. Love that. And you know, I was, I was fortunate enough to have Paris, didn’t believe in [00:02:00] TV for most part.

We’d watch like maybe one movie a week. And so it was a read books for basketball and I was definitely picking basketball over that. So yeah, I think there’s a lot of distractions out there that kind of keep kids from falling in love with a game that is honestly a beautiful game, great game. And, there’s lot of things that are.

Maybe easier to and more, more appealing because they require a little bit less, uh, energy. But also those things like social media and computer games, I mean, those things,  they have been engineered to continuously bring people back to them. Right.  whereas I don’t think Naismith had that much intention when he developed basketball.

Right. So, but social media and all that, I mean, there’s, there’s a lot of psychology and what they’re doing behind that to get. Young people to consistently pick, keeping up their phone, keep getting back in the gaming system. So it’s tough, you know? It’s tough. What you know when when these people are using science and research to get kids engaged.

I think as coaches we should be using [00:03:00] science and researched it to make sure we’re keeping kids engaged as well too.

Mike Klinzing: All right. Let’s jump right to that. What are some things, some strategies that you would share with coaches to try to make the game more addictive? Make it similar to what you were just talking about in terms of gaming and social media.

JP Nerbun: Yeah. Well, let’s, let’s, let’s start with kind of a broad thing and we can kind of narrow down just the most basic thing that we want to try to do as we want to try to tap into intrinsic motivation within the individual rather than using extrinsic motivation. There’s a lot of research out there, a lot of books you can read.

Probably the best book you can read around intrinsic motivation, uh, is drive by Daniel pink. It goes a lot of very, very deep into that, uh, of what it takes to, to build an intrinsically motivated environment as well as the negative effects and the shortcomings of extrinsic motivators. Okay. So,  but yeah, the extrinsic motivation, you know, the carrots and sticks approach that we so often use in [00:04:00] sports.

and this could be down to the way that we discipline. Down, or it could be, you know, the way that we organize our practices and,  you know, I don’t, I’ve seen coaches, you know, offering rewards or punishments or even just the way we communicate. Okay.  I could be trying to. You know, obviously I use a lot of carrots in the praise, and it’s not to say that praise is bad, but sometimes when it just, because we try to use that as the motivator or motivational talks, inspirational speeches, YouTube videos, these things are all very extrinsic as well as a negative approach to coaching a coaching when it’s lot, lot of yelling, a lot of putting kids in line and making them run.

These things would all be very extrinsic as well. Uh, but they’re all obviously commonplace in the way that we’ve been coached for so long, and they’ve been effective and they still are to a certain extent, effective. But as pink talks about in his book, as a lot of it, our research shows and as our own experience knows, [00:05:00]  effective in the short term does not necessarily mean effective in the long term.

Right. So. When it comes down to motivating my players, if I have to give them an inspirational or motivational talk, if I have to constantly be telling them good job and offering them that praise to work hard to do the things that we want them to do,  eventually that’s gonna get tiresome and it’s going to wear out because we’re going to have to consider asleep offer more and more and more.

To get them to fall through on that stuff. And the same with the, you know, it’s kind of the negative. They know the sticks approach there. We keep having to raise the stakes. You know, I think back to some of my practices where we would have a competitive game and I’d offer, you know, our losers are going to run, you know, and, and well, if I wanted to make an extra competitive rule, triple the running, right?

Well, don’t we just want kids to show up and work hard, have a good attitude because that’s who they want to be. You know what? And so how often do we sit down and help our [00:06:00] players identify. Who they want to be, what team they want to be, and the process behind it. Achieving that. And then when we start to do that, we tap into the first thing around autonomy.

And, and, and also,  they helping them to realize that they have control, uh, over their, you know, their results and their outcomes and, and really putting them in the driver’s seat. So that’s kind of a brief overview there on just kind of how you might start to set that stage there.

Mike Klinzing: So what does that look like?

If I want to set up and get away from, I’m going to call it the old school method of coaching where if this doesn’t happen, we’re running, or I’m constantly just having to throw more and more praise at kids and on a day to day basis on the ground in a practice setting, or when I’m saying. Thinking about what I’m going to, what my season’s going to look like.

I’m trying to plan out my entire year and what I want my team to look like. Or maybe I’m just taking over a program. What would you recommend or what do you see as a way that you can set up getting your kids to become more [00:07:00] intrinsically motivated as opposed to extrinsically?

JP Nerbun: Yeah, and it’s a great point.

A great question. Let’s, let’s dive a little bit of that. So. When it comes to the intrinsic motivation. First off, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the three big drivers. So everything that we try to implement with programs we use through the lens of, is this going to help drive intrinsic motivation? And,  are we tapping into those three areas?

Well. For , we could start with the individual, a star with an individual, how I might help them tap into intrinsic motivation within an image. Well, because we can also expand that to the team level very easily. So the one of the first things you want to do is to help them to establish a vision of who they want to be.

And so that is at this stage for many basketball coaches of the year.  at this stage of the year to sit down with them and have a very, very powerful conversation, which I call closing the gap. Okay. Closing the gap from where you are to where you want to be. Well, we got to start by having them at least say where [00:08:00] they want to be, where they want to go.

And so that starts with asking the question of what are your aspirations for basketball or could be Sylvia, smaller. What are your aspirations for next season? You know, or what do you want to get out of this off season? Or you can even go bigger. You know, what do you want out of life? You know you want to, you know, like it’s just, you can depend on the level of your coach.

Yet when you’re at the collegiate level and high school level where you’re at the youth level, it could vary here, but you have to start with a vision on what those outcomes they want are. The next question you’re going to ask them are. Okay. If you want to achieve that, if you want to be a starter next year, are you, let’s say, let’s just, we’ll use the example for this.

This conversation of you want to go play college basketball, all right? What do you need to be good at to achieve that? To become a college basketball player. You know how good you have to be in those these areas. So they may sit down, they identify a few things. You want to be a good shooter? I want to be fast, I’ll be strong.

Okay, how good though? You know, like [00:09:00] what? What are some measurable type numbers that you might want to be able to put up out there and stuff. So you, you try to get in a little bit the firmer details. And then after you’ve done that, so you’ve identified the outcomes or the vision that you want, you’ve talked about the skills that they need, then you’re going to say the process.

So what do you need to do to be good at those things? What would, if you’re a division one arm, individual basketball player, and you’ve got to become a really great three point shooter that shoots over 40% and you got great ball handling your fast and you’ve got this, this, this, what would, what would the training regime, what would that look like?

Will it be my nutrition, my diet, my sleep? We getting shots up. So you have them and you help them to identify that process. Okay. After you got that, then you come back to their habits and you asked a very powerful question of, of all those things that you need to be doing, how much are you actually doing right now?

You know, that’s, that’s, and most guys, Oh, you know,  you know, so it’s like, okay, well, I just, that’s fine. That’s fine. All right, but what do you want to change? Do you want to change your [00:10:00] aspirations? Do I change your goals, your dreams? Or do you want to change your habits? And. Most guys are saying, Oh, I want to change my habits because nobody wants to be lazy.

Nobody wants to be,  have a bad attitude, right? Nobody wants any of those things. Nobody wants to be weak. Nobody wants to be a bad shooter. Like, right? People want to be hard workers. They want to be successful. And so then you come in with the support, and this part of the conversation is really about, okay, what’s keeping you from doing those things?

What are your obstacles in your path? All right. What’s, what’s keeping you from doing those things and having them articulate that? This comes back to research. If you type in woop, W, O, O, P,  wish outcome, obstacle plan from Gabriel out and Jen out of NYU, I believe. She’s done a lot of this. woopmylife.org.

There’s lots of stuff out there. You can look up there, but what’s the obstacle. And then how can art, once they’ve articulated that, how can I help you overcome those obstacles? And this could be their environment they [00:11:00] live in. They don’t have healthy food, and it could be they don’t have easy access to a gym.

It could be the video game system, it could be they are obsessed with sleep or their phones, like are so much stuff that you could dive into there and, but you’re offering support. This is where you’re helping to be an advocate, not just sit back and wait for them to screw up because everyone screws up.

Everyone, the of the year, every coach on this podcast probably made some sort of new year’s resolution or commitment or had some sort of aspiration and we all at April, you know, we’re in the middle of April here have fallen short in some way. We don’t need people to sit there and yell at us or hold us accountable.

We just need people to be like, okay, that’s all right. You screwed up. How can I help you through that process? So that’s kind of helping to us to get them to establish a vision and then have them make some commitments to that. And you might walk away from that meeting or conversation with them having one, three commitments now.

Take that whole structure and you can apply that to a team meeting at this stage on a zoom call with your team. Or, you know, if whenever we, [00:12:00] if we ever get back to normal here, you might go sit down with your team and, and do this exact same conversation.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah, that’s good stuff. I think that one of the things that.

I get out of that from hearing you talk is the fact that you’re diving  deeper into it. You’re getting the players opinion, you’re getting their thoughts, and then once you have their thoughts, you’re not just sitting in, as you said, nodding your head. You’re saying, okay, what can I do to help you to remove those obstacles to get you to where  you want to go. And then I’m assuming that after you have that initial conversation, then the next stage in the process is I’ve got to continue to engage that kid on a, whether it’s a daily, a weekly basis throughout my season, throughout my off season of. Hey, how’s it going towards this goal that you had this season?

And that’s just, to me, that seems like a very simple way that’d be able to continue to engage your players throughout the season because you already have this base of conversation that you can go back to.

JP Nerbun: 100% and [00:13:00] I know many teams out there do set a vision or values and standards in the beginning of the season, but the problem is.

We do that as coaches so often, and then we just expect them to just deliver on it and we don’t. And so we just jump and then we get frustrated and then we start getting angry, and then we start to try to hold them accountable and we miss a whole thing. After you’ve established that vision and standards, you’ve got to support that.

You got to be a coach, you’re going to be a teacher, you’ve got to be a mentor in that process. And so you touched, I know I touched on there, a followup, you know, coming back to. You know, whether it be weekly, biweekly, or monthly conversations with that player checking in, but when you come into that conversation, you’re not there to call them out on it.

You’re there to call them up on it. Hey, I know you’re struggling. It’s okay. What can you do to improve on those things? What are the obstacles? What’s still keeping you from doing that and come at it from a place of support, but also supporting them in the session, supporting them in their practice, supporting them [00:14:00] in your training when you come at it from that standpoint of, you know, this could be.

You know, in a practice with, we’ll go back to the individual pulling the individual side and your assistant coach. Some coaches go, I don’t have all that time. That’s debatable. But your assistant coaches also being trained up in this to pull the guys aside and say, Hey man, what’s your effort at right now?

Scale of one to five. You don’t. Most kids are gonna be honest with you, and I’m a millennial. You don’t? Two. Three. Okay. Okay. That’s all right. What can you do to take it to that five? Because I know you’re a five. I believe in you. You’re a five. You can go five out of five. On your effort. I’ve seen it before, and so they identify those one or two things.

Hey, all right, let’s go get back in there. And what you’re doing there is you’re keep coming back to, you’re giving them the autonomy, giving them the choice. To raise their level of effort, your help, just helping them to become aware. Using questions we talk about leading with questions, lead with questions, use way more questions than answers.

They’re relating with questions to get them to self reflect [00:15:00] and then to self correct. And when we do that, this comes back to also the science of the brain, which I’m not gonna go to deepen, but we’re not. Activating the limbic system in a massive way, which the limbic systems or flight in our fight or flight response system, which is the lower part of our brain, we want to engage the upper part of the brain, which is the higher, more cognitive thinking.

We want these whole brained athletes.  and so. When we, if we, if we come in there and our body language and our tone is communicating support, that’s less likely to be triggered and we’re like muscle more likely to get through to that athlete if we can support in those type of ways.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah, I love the idea of coaching with questions.

I think that’s something that just my own personal transformation, probably that’s something within the last, I would say seven or eight years that as I got more familiar with the idea of coaching with questions and just how important it is to help to trigger a kid’s learning, and as you said, not to [00:16:00] invoke that flight or flight response.

I think questioning for coaches out there, the more questions you can ask in the course of a practice and the more the kids can figure that stuff out for themselves. And then as we talked about right off the top, then they’re taking ownership in it. Then there’s that autonomy of being in control of your own learning.

I think that’s a big, huge piece of, of what’s important. And then my followup question to what you were talking about there is, I’m guessing that when we talk about these followup conversations that you would probably recommend a combination of what you described a minute ago, which is during practice.

I call the kid over and I say, Hey, what about. X, Y or Z that we talked about before. Where are you on that? All right. Let’s see if you can pick it up to that five level combined with, I’m guessing you’d probably recommend having a more formal conversation at different points during the season where you call the kid into the coach’s office and you sit down and you revisit that original first conversation.

So would you, is that accurate in terms of having sort of it done informally and then revisiting it formally as well?

JP Nerbun: Yeah, [00:17:00] absolutely. And I think you’re hitting on a big piece that this not just done one way. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s conversations in the court when something has become unacceptable within that session and a point that you have to address it right then and there and knowing when it is due to address in the session and when you address it outside of that, that’s a bit of an art to coaching.

Okay. So there’s a bit of art to this. There’s one on one conversations that you can have with your players. There’s evaluation processes. We love to use Google forms of programs. I work with. Sending them out self-reflection once a month on the standards that they’ve set as a program, but everyone reflects themselves that another one is a pure reflection, creating pure reflection sheets where everyone reflects and ranks each other based upon those standards.

That honest, pure feedback can be very. Enlightening for many, many individuals. And obviously you have some of the coach reflection that you might share with them from time to time. But there’s a lot of different processes and well, helping them to self reflect and self correct [00:18:00] within within those standards.

You know? And, and I think one of the biggest things and also encourage is we can do this, we can use this recipe that I’m trying to present, you know, to coaches. But the way that we do it as so important and why we’re doing it. Is really, really important though. You know, you know how we do it. We have to have, you know, body language and tone have to be right.

You know, just because you say the words right doesn’t make it going to be effective. Body language and tone have to be right as well as, you know, the why are doing it. Why are we doing this? Are we doing this as some sort of Jedi mind trick to get our kids to do what we want them to do? Because if we are.

We’re not being transformational in our coaching. We’re being very transactional because we’re just using this as something, some sort of ploy or trick to get what I want. We need to do it because bottom line is this is going to help build character. You know, we’d talk about character and leadership and we talk about so much stuff out there that’s good stuff, but it’s all classroom based.

It’s all lectures. It’s not [00:19:00] really helping players take control of their life and develop a healthy habits. And we’re doing this approach because it’s going to help build the character, and secondly, it’s going to have a much better chance of you being taking a healthy relationship with that athlete.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah, I agree with you. I think that that’s one of the things that has clearly changed in the coaching profession and not that there wasn’t. Coaches 25 30 years ago who were concerned with building character and creating leaders and doing all those things that you just talked about. But I would say for sure today in the year 2020 that that, that is a much more common topic.

It is something that a lot more coaches are striving for, is to not only be able to build a better basketball player, but also to be able to ultimately build a better person. I think know we’ve had coaches on here that we’ve. You know, D dove deep into X’s and O’s, and we’ve talked about program building and looked at it from a basketball perspective.

But ultimately what I found is when you talk to good coaches, no matter how excited they are about the basketball piece of it, and digging in and watching film and figuring out how to beat an opponent and how to develop the skill their players all, ultimately, it always  comes back to. I want to love my kids and I want to be able to help them to not just be better players, but I want to help them be better people.

And I think that that’s something that when I looked through and heard you speak before at the virtual coaches clinic and then looking through your thrive on challenge website, it just, that comes across so clearly that that’s what you’re trying to help coaches to do is not only help their product on the court, but you’re trying to help them to help their kids be better people. And to me, that’s so, so important.

JP Nerbun: I work with coaches, you know, and they’ve gone through really successful seasons, you know, nearly undefeated, uh, two coaches that have had a couple of wins. And last year too. And I honestly, I don’t, I don’t S. See a direct correlation [00:21:00] just between the winning and the fulfillment.

You know, it doesn’t mean that it’s you, it’s not, it’s obviously harder to have an enjoyable season when you’re doing 20 than when you’re 20 and two but there’s still a lot of challenges that come with 20 and two. And what’s fulfilling is the relationships piece was for filming, is the growth that you see.

And this is not easy stuff, you know, I think, and it’s not soft, you know, it’s so, It’s really tough to be a coach that puts character first, that puts the person first and is a selfless coach. That’s in control of their emotions. Then it is just to be that hard nose. You know, risk always reacting.

putting the wins first, you know, it’s so hard to maintain perspective in today’s day and age  because the pressure, the spotlight, the social media, it’s harder than ever to maintain that perspective of what’s really important. And it’s [00:22:00] harder than ever for us to maintain our composure. I think in so many instances to do things the right way as a coach.

 just because of sometimes how we can actually get a lot of buys and some of these older transactional ways, I think people are craving. Are they they think that are craving. They’re wanting the old coaches that get on their case and yell at them and get out do a lot of those transactional type behaviors.

 because people in sports today, they see it as a transaction. Parents are looking. For what you’re going to do for them, you know, as far as get their kids to the next level, kids are looking for how you’re going to help them. And if you don’t give them what they’re looking for, then they’ll go someplace else.

And so everything runs sports to become very, very transactional. So, you know, if you can get the wins, that’s fine. It doesn’t matter how you do it. If my son can, you know, shoot better, or my daughter can, she’s a better player through the day, that’s fine. [00:23:00] We just, we just want the return on our investment of showing up.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah, I agree with you there. I think that ultimately there’s, there’s at least to some degree, a disconnect between what we’re talking about here in terms of developing the character of our players and having it be about more than just the game and the way that unfortunately, in most cases, coaches are still judged to a large degree by, what is their one loss record? If five put together four or five, three wins seasons in a row, my kids may have the greatest character in the world, and I may be doing a lot of the things that we would want a coach to do for our own child. And yet we know that our athletic department, our administration may end up judging us on that one loss record.

So I think what has to be connected here is the fact that the things that we’re talking about are things that not only impact. Character, but I do think that they ultimately, they impact winning and losing the impact, the [00:24:00] product that you put on the floor. If you can get everybody on the same page and your kids know that you care about them as a human being, that eventually translates into improve performance.

Which leads me to my next question. So I want to just put together a scenario, and I think it’ll allow you to talk about some of the things that you have a lot of expertise in. And so let’s imagine that. I’m a high school basketball coach and I’m coming in and I’m going to take over a program that has consistently lost for the last several years, and now obviously you’re not going to know all the specifics.

And you know, we could get into a whole bunch of reasons why that is. But just in general, if I’m a high school coach and I’m taking over a program that has had a, a toxic culture and that hasn’t been winning out on the floor. What are some things that you would do if you stepped into that position? What are the first one, two, three things that you might do?

Just as a general rule, what are some things that a coach might do in that situation?

JP Nerbun: Hope that I get more talented players. Go. I just, you have to say, [00:25:00] like, I just want to preface my answer here with, you know, you’re going to have, you know, talented ball players that

Mike Klinzing: Absolutely, there’s no doubt about that.

JP Nerbun: One thing that I get frustrated a little bit with his coaches. Go, a character stuff’s great, but bottom line is going to win basketball games. Well, if you haven’t gone over 500 the last five years, if you have been doing things the right way and treating your players well and having good relationships and holding them to a really high standard day in and day out, it’s not because you’ve been trying to build a character and doing things the right way.

It’s just because you probably don’t have the players to do that. You know? And . I think that’s an important thing to mention here, but when it comes down to ya, if you’re going to start a program, great culture, bad culture, the first thing I’m going to come in there is I’m going to come in and ask. I don’t you start with questions.

I’m going to meet with every player in that program. I’m going to meet with parents. If it’s a high school program, I’m going [00:26:00] to meet with teachers in the building. I’m going to meet with anyone that has been associated alumni. I’m going to get alumni together. What’s been going well? What are we doing well here or to the players?

What do you enjoy about this program? And then that’s the first question I’m going to ask because I want to start with a positive here, especially if it’s a real negative culture. You don’t want to come at everything like, Oh, I’m on, I’m here to save the day, right? We don’t ever want to position ourself with our team as the hero.

That’s not our role as a coach. Okay? We’re not the hero to come in there and save the program. A lot of coaches want to position themselves in that way and they’re setting themselves up for some failure there. It’s not a good marketing strategy to  business time. Position yourself as the hero. Okay, so you come in with questions, what’s going on?

Well, what do you enjoy? What this place get? And you want to gather as much information as you can and then the second year and say, okay, what hasn’t worked. You know, what don’t you enjoy about playing for this program you want to get [00:27:00] after you’ve started that positive, then you can start to get some of their feedback on.

And that’s a real powerful question. The next thing you want to ask is, what are we going to do differently? Or if you’re the head coach, what would you have done differently or what would you do differently now? All right, you guys rather than have done because you don’t ever want to put yourself in position where you’re bad, mouthing potential previous people, you might ask alumni, you know, if you were taking all this program.

So today, if you were me, what would you do right now? Okay, so you come with those questions. You get their suggestions at. The fundamental, uh, philosophy of this approach is, first off, you’re tapping into intrinsic motivation. Once they feel autonomy, they feel in control. Which is so, so important. And secondly, it links it back to, you know, they’ll once these things start these suggestions, you start to take on these suggestions.

It’ll connect to that purpose. So that, that, that you’ve set out as a vision. But it comes back to the philosophy of Kaizen. No, everyone’s probably heard of [00:28:00] Kaizen. You know what hangs in the Celtics weight room? It’s that small marginal games improvement. One of the biggest misconceptions around Kaizen though, is that it was a, you know, cause it was implemented with Toyota.

People think, ah, you know, it was probably the guys, the front office, you know, constantly, Hey, we’re gonna keep making things better. And they were sitting there and making all these different adjustments. And it was not the people in the front office that made the small incremental gains. It was the people in the front line.

And Toyota’s Kaizen philosophy was that anybody, any worker. On that factory line could hit the red button, stop and then make a change. If they saw something that was going wrong, they took 100% of employee suggestions and their whole philosophy was, if someone makes a bad suggestion, someone else is gonna come in and make another suggestion to fix that.

Pat won and they let the employees drive it, and that’s what’s so powerful about the Kaizen approach. It’s not coach led, it’s [00:29:00] player led. You know, and, and they’re out there and, and the people out there, they’ll have a better idea of some of the things that need to be changed. Then you can usually, you have to gather information number.

The first thing I would suggest for coaches.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I love the idea of not coming in, riding on your big white horse and saying, I’m going to come in and fix everything and maybe wave this magic wand and make it better. And I think that that advice of asking questions applies not just to coaching or business, as you said, but I think to just about anything in life, you’re hurt if you’re coming into a situation where there have been problems in the past, how can you fix the problem until you know what the problems are?

And clearly, if you’re a coach coming into a new program. You haven’t been in the practices, you haven’t been in the meetings, you haven’t been in the locker room. You don’t know or understand what has gone on previously. And without that understanding, I don’t think there’s any way you can put together a really good coherent plan that’s going to make any sense until you know where the potholes are and where the obstacles are.

And once you get that, then you can start to [00:30:00] make that progress towards what you want to eventually get to.

JP Nerbun: Oh yeah. I just, I, I think that’s a really important piece. Cause I see so many coaches and I’m a vision guy, right? So I like have vision and I felt walked into a program tomorrow.

I would have this vision that I would want to impart and get people to buy into. It doesn’t mean we can’t have that vision, but even in the worst cultures, if you’re inheriting a really bad culture. You’re inheriting the people of that culture in most situations, unless you clear house, right? You clean house, it’s different.

You’re inheriting those problems, right? So you could tell them that here’s a different vision, but everyone’s still gonna take. Some sort of, maybe offense to that, right? There’s going to be a ruled resistance. So, you know, I think it’s really important that we had that vision. And doesn’t mean we can’t share that with people, but our changes, we have to, you know, I think the whole like blasting everything and getting it started from scratch.

I’m not sure if that approach works in most situations. In fact, I’ve seen it [00:31:00] fail in a lot of situations where it’s, it’s coming in and saying, okay, we’re gonna make. A few changes here and there and letting, helping them to drive that ship I think is really important.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I would guess that you would want to dial in and focus in on, okay, now I’ve diagnosed what the problems are, where the issues are, and.

It’s kind of like coaching where you could watch five minutes of play and probably pick out 400 things that you want to fix. And you can’t fix all 400 things all at once. So you kinda got dial into what is the most important things I’m going to focus on. And I think once you have those answers, by going through and talking to all the stakeholders, whether that’s, again, parents, administration, former coaches, alumni players, once you’ve got those answers.

Then you can start to, I would guess, prioritize one or two or three things maybe that you’re like, okay, these are the first three things that I have to fix because in my mind they’re the most important, and we may have to put these other things to the side to some degree, to focus on what I think are they going to be the [00:32:00] most impactful changes that I can make?

JP Nerbun: Yes, absolutely. And I think the big question that you know you have to ask a coach is, do I want to come in and build relationships first or do I want to establish. My standards and my way of doing things. And I think I so often, I failed really poorly at this in many programs over the years. I’ve had more failures than I’ve had success in these types of things.

But,  that’s where I’ve learned from a lot a lot of them. And I’ve seen other coaches fail at this, but is, we’ve, we prioritize. The standards and we’re going to work hard and we’re going work this. This is our minimum standard of effort without taking into account, first off, where they are, where they’re, where they’re their work ethic, where all that level is.

Because that’s all relative and where you pick up, you know, so you have to work with the, meet people where they’re at and that, but the big thing is I obviously prioritize my standards and behaviors over the [00:33:00] relationship, and I think it’s really important that we never sacrifice a relationship over any one single behavior.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah, I agree with you. I agree that by building that relationship first, that enables you to eventually get to the point where you’ve built trust with, in this case, we’re talking about the players, but if you’ve built trust with your players now, it allows you, I think to push them a little harder because they know the place that you’re coming from.

They know that it’s coming from a place of love, a place of respect, a place of understanding. About what that player is all about and figuring out what buttons you need to push with that player to be able to give them that intrinsic motivation so that they want to be a part of what it is that you’re building.

And I think without the relationship, all that other vision stuff becomes, it becomes a lot more difficult because if the vision is only mine as the head coach, and it’s not the vision that’s shared by everybody. It’s really, really tough to row that boat if you’re the [00:34:00] only one row in it, in the one direction, and everybody else is just either sitting there or row in the other direction.

You gotta have those relationships to get everybody to buy in. Initially.

JP Nerbun: Yeah. You said the big thing thing there. And if you look at effective feedback, let’s just even talk about feedback, giving obviously hard feedback or instruction.  it’s been, there’s extensive research in the business role of around what makes an effective feedback.

And many people think it’s a. It can be put together in a positive, negative, positive sandwich and then it’ll, they’ll eat that and the, but that’s, there’s actually no research that supports positive, negative, positive sandwiches. Uh, being effective feedback. What is the number one criteria for someone listening to your feedback is relationship is relationship.

You have to have relationships. So, you know, if you hit it right on the head there.

Mike Klinzing: All right, so let’s jump from that particular piece of it and let’s talk to an issue that lots and lots of coaches deal with. And I know it’s something that [00:35:00] you’ve written extensively about on your website, and that is the relationship between a coach and parents.

So just talk a little bit about how you would go about building those relationships with parents so that you could get them on board to be a part of what you’re trying to build as. In your basketball program.

JP Nerbun: Yeah, and I think my perspective has really evolved rapidly over the last few years. I’ve been that coach that,  hates parents, runs from parents, sees the parents heads the other way.

I mean, I coached, there was times where my coaching, where I’d have my assistant coaches walk me to the car. Because I was afraid, you know, and I, not that I was gonna get mugged or anything like that, but parents were gonna get up in my face and be really angry and I just wanted to avoid those conversations.

So I had my body guards, you know.  so I think a lot of coaches have been and done that. We’ve been the coach [00:36:00] then, you know, she’s only want to check my email after game day, you know?

Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. I think we’ve all been there.

JP Nerbun: I’ll tell you my story, we’re playing a game. Years back,

Yeah. Geez. Five years ago, my daughter, was just born. Okay. It was a little late. My wife went to labor to, is for tip off. You know, obviously I, I missed the game. Good.

Mike Klinzing: That was a good move, JP.

JP Nerbun: So you’ve got the next morning, you know, after about two hours of sleep, and obviously it’s . My first first child, it’s a big day for me.

And you know, I get a call about lunchtime the next day,  and, uh, at the hospital, just grabbing a little bit of food for my wife and, and, uh, had back to head back up to the room and I get a call from a parent, I’m like, ah, you know, they’re probably calling to congratulate you. That’s fine. Not, you know, while I’m walk up the room and grab it, and it’s the phone parents site.

Coach, congratulations. I’m like, Oh, thanks so [00:37:00] much. Literally within 10 seconds, the next thing they say is, well, I want to talk to you about. Blah, blah, blah. His playing time from last night. I’m like, you gotta be kidding me. I just had a kid.

Mike Klinzing: I wasn’t even there.

JP Nerbun: I know. And I wasn’t even there. It was, it drove me crazy.

And, it was, I know it was. So I’ve had those moments where you just like, are you kidding me?  I prefaced this because my ask or my suggestion to coaches is a lot. And what I feel we have to do is we have to completely flip. Our perspective here is seeing parents as this massive obstacle and start to see them potentially as an opportunity or asset to develop our culture first things.

Parents are part of our team culture, whether we want them to be or not. They influence it. They’re talking the stands. They’re talk to their kid in the car ride home at the collegiate level. They’re texting their kids. They’re on the FaceTime to their [00:38:00] kids. There they are. Coaching their kids. And so they are really impacting our culture and in so many ways, in a negative, negative way.

And so we’ve got to try to flip that from a standpoint. If we want to drive a culture and drive, buy in to what we’re trying to do, we’ve got to bring him to the conversation. And secondly, from a transformational perspective of I’m trying to make an impact in the kid’s life. If I’m help trying to help them, you know, develop character and long lasting habits.

Or even if I’m just trying to improve their performance, I want them to sleep right? Get good sleep and eat healthy and show up on time. Helps if the parents are plotted on those things as well, you know? So my approach is really to come out and try to build relationships with the parents first. Often not see them as this obstacle, but see them as a person.

Let’s be honest, you know, for us that are parents out there, it’s a hard gig, right? my kids are young. I haven’t even hit the teenage [00:39:00] years, so gosh, help me when they’re teenagers. So right at this stage, I’m like, some days I just, honestly, if I had to be fully vulnerable here, I’m just going to die a horrible death.

Like you don’t, like, I like my kids. They’re yelling or screaming. you know, I’m a  character. You know, I snap at them. You’re short with them. You know, we have work. you know, the stresses of work, the stresses of our marriage, the stresses of just life in general and life is hard.

Parenting is hard, and so we screw up as parents. And sometimes with the teenagers, their relationship at that stage is really damaged. It’s distant, and there’s a lot of insecurity with those parents. I think so many of our problems with parents, you know, we say, Oh, if they’re unhappy, the kid must be unhappy with the kid and the parent.

How many we’ve talked in like a year, had a real conversation. So you know, these parents, sometimes they’re crazy. Sometimes they’re just struggling. And there are, you know, like I said, there are the crazy ones, right? And the crazy ones, there’s about five to 10% in every [00:40:00] program. And there was, obviously, I don’t have a lot of strategies for that, other than hopefully you have some good administration support.

But the other ones that are strongly connect with them on a human level, have conversations. You know, you’ve got, that means you have to have the courage to engage with them.  talk, you know, ask them about things other than basketball.  so that will be the first kind of thing I would suggest is really start to change our approach and see them as a potential asset.

Mike Klinzing: All right, so let’s say that you’re, you’ve built that relationship, which clearly anybody who’s been in any type of profession dealing with kids, whether it’s teaching or coaching, I think I learned this probably first as a teacher as opposed to a coaches. The more proactive you can be in, the better relationship you can build with a parent before there are issues, problems, questions, the better off you’re going to be in, the better that eventual conversation that might be a tougher conversation is going to go with the first time apparent and I ever have a conversation, is [00:41:00] when their kid as a failing grade on their report card, or when their kid has a game where they don’t play, and that’s the first time that I’ve ever had more than a conversation of hello with the parent I’m going to be in a lot of trouble. But let’s say we do get to the point where we’ve built a good relationship and now the parent comes to me with a question about my child’s playing time.

How in your mind, how would you handle that type of conversation? What’s the best way for a coach to answer that question of playing time, and I think we can guess based on what we talked about in terms of the conversation that you would have with a player, and you probably have a similar conversation with the apparent, but just talk a little bit about what your approach might be in that situation.

JP Nerbun: Well, yeah, let’s just circle back real quick to what you mentioned there, which was fantastic, which was we need to be connecting with them. In the positive ways. And one of the ways that we can also do that, not just giving them an email or text when their son has done something or their daughter’s done something negative, but I have [00:42:00] coaches that I work with and they got a reminder in their phone three times a week.

Text, parent, text, a parent or email a parent or call a parent. And what they do in that moment is a fatal who’s who is exceptional in the last 24 hours. What do they do? That was exceptional. Okay.  why do I love coaching this kid and answer those three questions? They put into a text and they send it to the parent and they just say, Hey, your son, your daughter, they did this.

They’ve been great. I love coaching them because of this. Thank you for allowing me to coach your kid. That’s game changer right there for you cause you’re investing into it. Now you’re in a better position when you go into this hard conversation. Okay? Now the hard conversation, there’s three steps to this that we really encourage coaches to have.

The first is to listen and how we listens. Really, really, really stinking important. But the first thing you want to do in that conversation is. Is, listen, you want to ask questions? We talked about good questions that are not yes or no. They’re not leading [00:43:00] questions to, to have them tell you something that you want to hear.

They’re generally questions to understand because you want them to paint and lay it all out there for you. Even if it’s hard to hear, even if you think it’s bogus and it’s a bunch of bull crap, you want them to lay it out for you. So asking those open questions and um. Asking them to expand upon any ideas that they bring in if like, you know, if they’re, they think their son or daughter should be playing because over this, you know, the, you know, over some of their players because there are three great three point shooter.

Okay. Tell me a little about why you think there’s such a great three point shooter. You know, like one of the type of statistic, you know, just asking lots of questions, but not in a condescending way, but just for them to be heard. 90% of parents just want to be heard. That’s why they complain the stands.

That’s the way they can play in the car, right? That’s where they get on Twitter and social media and blast you as a coach because they just want to be heard. So just hearing them out and at the end of that, once you think they’re finished, go, [00:44:00] okay, so what I’m hearing is this, recap that conversation and saying it and, and just summarize the conversation.

And, and hopefully they’re at the end of it, you know?  but that’s, that’s, you know, that’s a real powerful strategy that, uh, Chris Voss, the FBI negotiator and the author of the book never split the difference. Talks about that’s rooted in brain science. And it’s also ruin the experience of the FBI in a hostage negotiation.

So this is how crazy things have become like that we’re doing hostage negotiation tactics and parent conversations. But anyways, you listen first. That’s the first step. The second step, and hopefully at this stage what has happened is this emotional pair, they may appear to be emotional or they may appear not be emotional.

They may seem cold, but underneath it all. This is an emotional conversation. If we try to have a conversation, a logical conversation with an irrational emotional person, it’s not going to go anywhere, is it? So hopefully we’re talking to their [00:45:00] rational mind, their upper part of their brain, right? And so now in this conversation, then you can say, okay, well this is what we observe from our standpoint as coaches.

First off, just to reiterate, this is how we determine playing time. We determine playing time based upon. This, and hopefully you have communicated that at the beginning of the year or the recruiting process of how you do that because it’s an important piece of the conversation, and so you really want to be able to communicate that clearly.

Here’s what I would say to people, two things that coach’s fault, and I’ve fallen these traps, right? That’s why I’m so, so very cognizant of them. The two traps we fall into this point are we, we use judgmental phrases and are lazy. They’re there. They don’t work hard. They have a bad attitude. Get rid of all those things.

Just say what you observe and practice there. When a coach corrects them, they say things like this and practice. They are the last to finish drills and [00:46:00] games. They are not staying up with their teammates. These are things that you observe, but also more so in the lungs of the performance. When it comes to the three point percentage, they’re 22% they are 10th on the team and three point percentage.

They are this internal. Ours don’t say they’re a bad player. Don’t say they don’t. You know, you just communicate objective things and we like to use the phrase notifications. That’s a really, really big piece of it. I think that’s just a really big trap. I think we bring emotion or we create motion by using words that attack the person.

instead of just really making judgements on what we’re seeing about the player,  I forgot what the second thing was. I just kind of lost my train of thought there. So,  but that’s the big thing is just to share our observations and, Oh, I’ll come back to the other trap. I know what I say is when we talk about playing time, we probably focus a little bit too much on that character aspect.

[00:47:00] Okay. And I’ve been talking about character obviously for the majority of his podcast, but we talk about really being clear that there’s kind of two thresholds in a program. You have to have, maintain a certain minimum standard of attitude and work ethic to be a part of our program and practice. We’ll ask you to step out of the drill or potentially the entire practice if you don’t maintain that effort or that attitude.

Okay, so there’s that minimum standard is that minimum threshold to be a part of the program, you have to meet that criteria, but after that, it’s about who gives us the best chance to win. And you need to be really clear on that. I think coaches talk too much about the character thing. Well, that’s something you should be addressing are ready.

That’s something you should be holding your players to already. And so you’re not this come on you at this stage here.  eh, but if it obviously plays into the, the playing time, than they should, you know, eh, we can go to, I don’t want to go too deep down that, but that’s something, just don’t put too much emphasis on character.

 as far as the, the playing time [00:48:00] equation.

Mike Klinzing: Yeah. I liked that from a standpoint of. Almost to the point where there’s a baseline requirement of, look, everybody who’s part of our program is already meeting this. What hopefully is a very high standard of performance in terms of effort and attitude and all those things.

And sure there are, is there going to be a variance above and beyond that? Absolutely. We all know that there is, but anybody who’s a part of our team is already at this standard that we believe is necessary for us to be able to have success. And so then I like the idea of. Making your decision in terms of playing time and having those conversations with players and with parents.

I like the idea of having it be more objective as opposed to subjective. And then let me ask your opinion on a couple of things that I know there are coaches out there that do this, and that is when you’re thinking about having your players, judging them and figuring out who’s going to play. Would you be in favor of?

Cause I know this has been something that I’ve [00:49:00] been talking to coaches about in terms of let’s say charting shots during practice or keeping track of you put to, every time there’s a competitive drill and practice, whether it could be a a small side of game or a five on five scrimmage or a shooting contest or a conditioning drill or whatever, you keep track of wins and losses.

Or, I had another coach tell me that every day he had the kids Pick teams and a different kid. Two different kids were picked as captains each day, and then those kids picked who they wanted to be on their team during the practice. So whenever there was a situation where you had two teams, it was picked by, you know, these two captains was a different kid every day.

So every day this coach had a list of people who were picked. And so, okay, so now look, this kid’s always consistently, he’s the 15th pick every single day. That has to tell you something about the opinion that his teammates. Have of him. So just give me your thought about kind of collecting that, that objective data during practice and how that could potentially help a coach in a conversation with both a player and potentially a [00:50:00] parent.

JP Nerbun: Yes, that’s a great question.  and we have three systems that we use to present objective data.  obviously you can present game stats, but I w I always tell coaches steer away from that because. Every parents would go, well, I don’t get a fair chance. You know, like that’s, that’s the argument. So the first thing that we use is what we call the competitive cauldron.

We actually have an Excel file that we’ve created and coded for coaches that I work with, that it charts wins and losses, a win loss percentage.  it becomes a big part in some of our programs. They have the staff. And the resources and manpower at the collegiate and high school level,  to make this objective right, because you have to be intentional enough to make an objective or else, you know, it can be too skewed.

But when we make an objective, we obviously bring that win loss percentage in there into that conversation. I’ve got coaches that share [00:51:00] that. With, with the, uh, the players, obviously on a weekly basis, there’s a ranking posted in the locker room, or maybe they have a chart or maybe they send out a group text.

And I’ve even heard of coaches putting in an email. I know a Anson Dorrance, North Carolina women’s soccer coach.  he shares his competitive cauldron rankings with parents, I believe, uh, freely. So there’s that one. The other system that we use. Is the commitment tracking system, which we have, which is probably less popular cause it takes a lot more work.

We essentially have players track certain commitments that they make as a program to be excellent to, to greatness, right? They’re the thing that are exceptional. So because it could be staying after practice for 15 minutes, this could be,  texting a teammate, uh, during the week, letting them know something they did well.

Like there’s just these, a variety of things. That helped to embody our core values and the team reviews those, those things that, you know, it’s, it’s similar to a bit, a little bit of James clears habit tracking. And if you’ve [00:52:00] read Brett led better’s book,  what drives winning? He does the commitment cards.

It’s something similar to that. So we were able to have numbers on that throw in our Excel file. And then the last thing that we really, you know, I’ve started to. Share is these sell the team, the peer, the peer assessments, those rankings of where they see themselves, us, whether on this, whether their standards or their core values, you know, and we’ve had coaches just say, Hey, rank your teammates based upon who’s a great teammate.

Rank them based upon who is a good athlete, you know, or who’s a good player. And just having them rank that. And that’s been, you know, I, I say that. I haven’t seen coaches share that information with them. People outside the player, but it’s obviously something you could bring into the parent conversation as well.

Mike Klinzing: So when you collect that data from players and you ask them for their opinion on who’s the best player, who’s the most selfless player? Who’s the most selfish player? Who’s the most, uh, [00:53:00] the teammate who best embodies our culture? When you get that information, I would assume then that that lends itself to having a meeting with a, probably the whole team and then be probably.

Again, that’s something that you could talk about with some of the individual player conversations that we talked about off the top of the show. So I would think that one of the things that, and this is something that I think is underrated in terms of being a good coach, and I think something that a coach has to be able to do is you have to be able to have what  many people would term to be difficult conversations where you have to confront the truth and tell the truth with.

Again, it could be administration, could be players, could be parents, anybody involved with your program. So can you maybe just talk about  the need for the coaches to a coach to develop that ability to have difficult conversations and how important you think that is?

JP Nerbun: Yeah, I think we avoid the difficult [00:54:00] conversations because one is as a culture.

And I think we’re all part of this. You know, we, the culture of positivity, we feel like that means that we can’t give them truth. You know, we’re worried about freighting hitting or hurting kids, uh, self-esteem, you know, uh, we’re, we’re too caught up in trying to give kids self-esteem, which you can’t give anybody self-esteem.

They’ve got to earn it and develop it through their, their hard work.  so I think we’re a little bit in that. I also think we’re worried about, you know, the conflict that comes through this. I think we avoid conflict. I think this is why we avoid those hard conversations.  Obviously I sit back and I encourage coaches, Hey, you got to step in.

You’ve got to lead on those conversations, but we have some systems in place to create. These conversations more often than not. And one of those systems that we use a lot [00:55:00] is we have coaches send out a Google form the day before a game, uh, at least 24 hours, 24 to 36 hours, uh, maybe on the day of the practice, the day before game.

How many minutes do you think you’re going to play tomorrow and what’s your role? And then we take that number of minutes. And obviously it’s always over the number of that you can actually have. You know, I’ve only had one team ever come with intent. And they were, they were a dominant top six. I mean, it was from six down after that, they had the same rotation every game, right?

So it was pretty simple from that standpoint. But everybody else is always off. And we were talking even like three quarters of the way in the year, kids still for some reason, had this expectation of your play more and then they’re going to get, so you get that number and that role. And if you think your kid’s playing gonna play 10 or he’s not gonna play at all and they’ve got themselves at 2030 minutes or that if that doesn’t match up, you have to have the conversation as soon as possible because you don’t want to have that conversation or have [00:56:00] to deal with that emotion in the game because your job is to coach.

You don’t want your bench to be disruptive. And so that that’s first off. And secondly, that kid he deserves. That that to have to, to know, you know,  dude, he’s kids. They deserve. This is the, one of the biggest frustrations, you know, to sort of criticize us as coaches for a second. Parents feedback and player feedback.

When I first come into a program, when I come in there and do some consulting and mentoring with the program every time it’s . Playing time, playing time, but we don’t understand. We don’t, you know, we don’t know how w there’s a lack of transparency. And so being more transparent, having these conversations, it’s the only way we’re going to grow things from it.

You know, if we continue to ignore it, it’s just going to keep the, to bite us. you know, bite us in the back.

Mike Klinzing:  I agree with you. I think they’re, one of the things that came across or that I was thinking about while you were, while you were talking is just the fact that if You’re going to be [00:57:00] transparent. It helps you in all aspects of it, and I think a lot of times it goes back to coaches get, we get so caught up in the day to day operations of our teams and our programs and practice planning and figuring out how we’re going to win this game and looking at film and doing all these things that sometimes we’re so deep into it and we’re so dialed into all the things that we know are important. The things that we use to determine playing time. We’re with those kids every day in practice and for some reason I think that coaches sometimes let it slip because they just think that. Everybody else knows the same thing that they do. Even though we’re not communicating it, we’re not necessarily sharing it, but we’re so deep into it in our own mind that sometimes we just forget that everybody else around us doesn’t have same information that we do and we’re not.

They’re not [00:58:00] in our head. They’re not in our brain. They can’t hear. Our thoughts. And so we have to really put those words out there for people to hear, or we have to put them on paper so people can see them so that we can have the kind of transparency that’s required so that when those conversations come up, people understand why the decision is being made.

And I think that that’s one of the biggest frustrations that I’ve always heard from, whether it’s parents or players, is I’m not playing, but I just don’t understand. Why? And of course, many coaches, I think a standard answer in the past was, well, my door’s always open to come in. And you know, especially from a player standpoint, come in and talk to me.

But we all know, especially if you’re dealing with middle school kids or high school kids, or even college players, the, the, there’s, there’s some hesitancy to come in and have a conversation with a coach sometimes about. Playing time, and I think the more you can open those lines of communication and then be clear with people about what your expectation is and what you want them to do, I think you’re heading off a ton of problems right off to get right.

You know, right off the bat.

[00:59:00] JP Nerbun: you’re, you’re right on the money there. The door is always open. Yeah. To the coach that’s running around from practice to class and all like, I mean, like we’re hard to get ahold of some times. Right. All right. It’s not a good enough policy. It’s not a good enough process.

Why? Because it’s not working. That’s why if you have problems with your players that are frustration around playing time, then you’ll process your system in place. There is not working currently, so we’ve got to make adjustments to make it work, and that’s why we’re so intentional about helping to create these conversations, whether it be using the Google forms or making sure you sit down with them every two weeks.

It’s why I encourage coaches. To explain how they determine playing time to the parents and then say, if you don’t understand, you can contact me. You won’t agree with me this year, especially for kids not playing a lot. You’re not going to agree with me, but if you don’t understand, then We’ll have that conversation.

And it’s [01:00:00] kind of, you know, that go, you know, this conversation brings it back to the third most important question you can ask parents. Are the part of that conversation with parents and also one of those powerful things you can ask players after you have that kind of conversation with them around that, where they had this unrealistic expectation or playing time.

The question is, how can I currently support you in the role that you’re, you’re going to be serving in this team? How can I help you in this? You know, and that’s a real important question. How can I, you know, and, and for the parents is how can we, how cause his role isn’t changing today. This conversation is not changing what the role is, but we can make adjustments in the way that we support them and help them to feel valued because we want our players to feel valued regardless of how many minutes they’re getting.

That’s really hard though. That’s really hard for us to understand as an athlete. Because the currency of sports is playing time in so many ways. And so one [01:01:00] person is getting all of this playing time, uh, and we’re getting none. We can obviously assume that we’re not as valued as much.

Mike Klinzing: All right, so give me one.

I know you have a bunch of things that you could probably share about how to value your reserve. It’s just give me one thing a coach could do to value their reserves. And then I got one final fun question. I know we’re coming up on about an hour here, so I want to be respectful of your time, but let’s answer that.

Talk about one thing coaches can do to value their reserves. And then I want to ask one kind of final fun question to wrap things up.

JP Nerbun: Yeah, absolutely. This is one of my favorites because it’s different. You know, obviously there’s the stories of, of coaches and. These big moments, you win the championship.

The coach first guy acknowledges is the guy in the bench, right? You know, there’s obviously those, those things, those cliches, which are, you know, that that happened and are impactful. But I would say one of the coolest things you can do, and also from a practical standpoint, because support isn’t just from you, it’s comes from their teammates.

So the day before the game. Get your [01:02:00] team into, into units. Then we use units, a lot of small groups of three to four players that each have a captain lady. Each of those. It’s part of our captains council system, but when we w we are always having what we call culture conversations before practice, after practice, sometimes it’s 60 seconds, you know, maybe it’s three minutes, but it’s an opportunity for them to connect on something, discuss, well, what are the best ones you can do the day before game as every guy goes around.

And this explains their role or every girl goes around splays the role. This is my role for tomorrow. I’m muck, I’m going to be the starting point guard, or I’m going to be the backup point guard, or I’m probably not going to play a significant minute. This is this as the first thing. What is their role?

So I have to cheer my teammates on. The second question is. What’s the best part about that role? What do I enjoy about that role? And so the starting point guard can be like, man, it’s just, it’s awesome. It’s awesome. Be in charge to be leading at the, you know, to break the press or whatever it is. [01:03:00] You know, the reserve will have a harder time sometimes with this question.

They may say, well, you know, I just, I do, I love, you know, exciting games. I’ll cheer my teammates on whatever. The next question is that the share is what’s gonna be the hardest thing about that. That starting point guard might be, they’ve got the best press in the in the state, and I’m really afraid of turning the ball over and your reserve might be like, well, it’s just haven’t played in five games, and it’s just sometimes it’s hard to keep my energy up.

What does this do? Well, it does a couple of things. One is it gets your, your starters, your big time players to stop, reflect and empathize. With those players that aren’t playing as much because they need to show that they, it was other kids that they care about them. That’s what’s really important to those kids is that they belong to something.

They feel like they belong, but for the other aspect is it gives you insight into. Being a starter or being the star, as in it’s all a cracked up to be. Your star may feel like they have to score 25 points a game or [01:04:00] for you guys to have a chance to win. And sometimes that’s the case in high school, right?

Or that part point guard, he’s got to break the press or illustrator done for he’s, he’s, you know, that’s stressful. So it’s not, it’s giving them an insight into just some of the stresses and pressures of a being a starter.

Mike Klinzing: I love it. Those are, that is a fantastic activity and I hope coaches that are part of the audience, I would incorporate that immediately.

JP, I love it. I want to finish up with this question about,  the onboarding procedure and talking about. First day activities that can get your team connected right out of the gate. And that’s kind of where we’ll, we’ll finish up. So if you could just talk a little bit about some things that coaches can do on the first day of practice to connect their team.

The first day the team gets together, that could be in the fall, that could be first day of, you know, of practice, official practice. Just give us an idea of what some of those activities are that you recommend teams do on day one to make that first day experience special for the team.

JP Nerbun: Absolutely. That’s a great [01:05:00] one because.

Moments, stick with us. Moments matters. A great book out there by chip and Dan Heath called the power of moments. They go into the science and research around how we don’t remember our, our experiences like for instance, a high school basketball experience with the cumulative average of, of our moments.

But we remember peak moments, the top moments when were the really, really bad ones. And typically, you know. New beginnings, like the first day of practice, the first day you show up for summer sessions the last day, right? Their last game at home. These really stick with people if, especially if we capitalize on them.

So you want that first day experience to be significant as one of the best things you can do is you can take your returning players and you can add, pull them all side. You can say, all right, we got some freshman coming in tomorrow, or we got new people coming up to the varsity. What did it feel like?

What did you, what did it feel like on your first day? [01:06:00] Like what did you already think of the night before? And typically they’re going to be pretty honest and say, well, you know, I was kind of nervous this year that, and you know, I wanted to prove myself in that. Okay, what do we want it to feel like? What do we want it to feel like for those people that are coming in and get them to reflect on that?

And they’re gonna say, well, we want to feel, you know, happy. They want let them know they’re part of the team, right? They’re gonna give you those type of responses. You say, okay, what can you all do. To help create that experience for them and you know, you let them mold it over it and they will probably throw this out there.

We say, all right, what I’m suggesting is I’m going to buddy you up and you’re going to have each have a buddy or two that you’re going to be in charge of and, and what are some things that you could do to make them feel welcome. Okay. And it could be sending them a text the night before, what Snapchat or whatever it be.

When they come in the front door, they know what they look like. They come over, Hey, you’re shooting with me. You’re my, you’re my partner. Right? So you, you come up with some ways. To, to shape that environment. So the [01:07:00] first time that can walks in, they’re already confident because they’ve already got that Snapchat from their buddy saying, Hey, can’t wait to see tomorrow.

They come in there, they walk to the door, Hey, come on, you’re with me. And then you start doing some sort of warm up or just kind of shots you introduce themselves. Right. And then maybe at the end of practice, you post a picture of the two of them or the three of them in that group. And you put it on social media.

Cause the kids will love that. And instantly, you know, and with a, with a tweet of, you know, so happy to have this individual part of the program, right? If that type of stuff, instantly you’re sending signals of belonging, you’re creating that culture that you want to have in, you’re implanting it right into their brain.

Uh, it can create a great experience from the get go. What it also does is it gets your older players that think about what do we want this exp? What did we want this to feel like. Playing for this program and how are we going to create that for other people because that’s what it’s about. It’s not about how do I get that experience for myself.

It’s about how do I [01:08:00] create that experience for other people and you’re starting to consistently put them into that mindset.

Mike Klinzing: I love it. That’s fantastic. I think that tonight we’ve had so many. Solid takeaways, actionable things that coaches could do after listening to the podcasts and hearing you speak.

I just think there’s so many things that are practical that are easy to implement. I shouldn’t say easy, easy is maybe the wrong term, but things that, what things that you can take and that you can put into Your program almost immediately by being intentional about what you’re doing. And I think if you do that, you’re going to ultimately have more success and be able to have more impact on kids.

And to me, that’s what it’s all about. So JP, I want to give you a chance to share how people can get in touch with you. How can they find you on social media? How can they reach out to you? And then if there’s any final point that you want to make before we finish up, you can do that and then I’ll jump back in and wrap up the episode.

JP Nerbun: Yeah. Well, I appreciate it. People can find me on Twitter at JP Nerbun, or at my website, [01:09:00] thriveonchallenge.com my website has a lot of free stuff, a lot of articles and stuff. If you want to go through that,  if you want more, you want to go even beyond that, my book, Calling Up, discovering your journey to transformational leadership.

You can get that at Amazon or any of those online stores at this stage. So that’s, those are two things. If you’re really, really serious about turning your culture around, about really growing as a coach,  then you know, you can reach out to me, uh, through the website to schedule, you know, a call and we could connect, talk about your program and how through my mentoring and my consulting work.

How we can really start to turn things around for you.  so I’m excited to connect with coaches that are really, want to take that leap as well. Like I said, there’s a lot of free stuff out there too for other coaches as well.

Mike Klinzing: Fantastic. JP, it’s been a pleasure getting a chance to talk to you and learning [01:10:00] more about all the great things that you’re doing for coaches to try to ultimately make their lives better, easier.

And. Which ultimately trickles down to impact the athletes that coaches are serving. So we can’t thank you enough for spending an hour and 15 minutes or so with here today and to everyone out there. Thanks for listening and we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.


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