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Jeff Huber is in his third season as the Boys’ Basketball Head Coach at Westlake High School in Westlake, Ohio.
Huber previously spent nine seasons as the Boys’ Head Coach at Holy Name High School in Parma, Heights, Ohio. Jeff was named as the 2016-17 and 2017-18 Great Lakes Conference Coach of the Year as well as the 2017-18 Greater Cleveland Basketball Coaches Association Division II-IV Coach of the Year. Prior to his stint at Holy Name, Huber was the Head Coach at Lake Ridge Academy where he led the team to the most wins in school history and the first winning season in a decade. He got his start coaching at Westlake High School as an Assistant Boys Basketball Coach/Head Freshman Coach from 2005-2009.
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Be sure to grab your notebook before you listen to this episode with Jeff Huber, Boys’ Basketball Head Coach at Westlake High School in the state of Ohio.
What We Discuss with Jeff Huber
- Growing up as a North Carolina Tar Heel Fan
- Playing high school basketball at St. Ed’s with Jawad Williams who ended up at UNC
- How he ended up leaving law school to become a teacher and a coach
- “I thought when I was 24 and first starting out, I probably thought I knew more than I do now, which of course is not the truth.”
- Admitting you don’t have all the answers
- Being vulnerable with your players
- The value of teaching in the same building where you coach
- Allowing the coaches on his staff to be empowered and not micromanaged
- Dividing responsibilities among his staff to allow for some work life balance
- “It is always a struggle to feel like there’s something else you could be doing, but I really try to keep first things first.”
- Ohio’s off season contact rules
- “The goal is to create enough opportunities for everybody to work as much as they want to and get better.”
- Working with multiple sport athletes and their coaches from other sports
- “Almost any person that I know that’s my age, almost no one regrets playing a sport.”
- Creating a Westlake youth basketball curriculum to help develop his k-12 program
- “I would first hope that someone would say. You know, win or lose, these kids are respectful. They play hard and they’re certainly very good teammates to each other.”
- Having varsity players work with youth players at their practices
- Coaching his own daughters and trying to instill a love for the game in them
- Why coaching young players can make you a better coach
- Being influenced by Chris Oliver from Basketball Immersion
- Developing your offensive and defensive philosophy
- Don’t overload players when giving feedback
- Pulling individual players to the side for feedback during practice
- Maintaining focus as a coach on the specific concepts you’re working on
- “Let’s just pick a couple of things and get really good at those before we worry about anything else.”
- Giving his assistants one thing to watch for in practice or a specific drill
- Proactive communication with parents
- Establishing a program identity from youth to varsity
- “When you see things start to click and you see the kids start to believe in themselves and believe in each other, that to me is the most rewarding thing.”
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THANKS, JEFF HUBER
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TRANSCRIPT FOR JEFF HUBER – WESTLAKE (OH) HIGH SCHOOL BOYS’ BASKETBALL HEAD COACH – EPISODE 552
[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: Hello, and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, but I am pleased to be joined by the head coach at Westlake High School in Westlake, Ohio, Jeff Huber, Jeff, welcome to the Hoop Heads Pod.
[00:00:13] Jeff Huber: Thanks Mike. Great to be here.
[00:00:14] Mike Klinzing: Excited to have you on always good.
As I always say to have local guys on the show, so excited to get a chance to talk to you, figure out what you’re doing over there at Westlake and get to know you a little bit better. I want to start out by going back in time to when you were a kid, tell us a little bit about your first experiences with the game of basketball with.
[00:00:31] Jeff Huber: You know Mike. It’s interesting. I would tell you that probably one of my very first memories is as a real young kid, I grew up, grew up in North Carolina, the first couple of years of my life. And one of the first things I ever remember is sit on my dad’s lap, watching North Carolina basketball games when I was probably three and four years old.
And just so grew up kind of as a Tar Heels fan. And I just remember that so fondly and just always loved the game. And so I’ve been playing it for as long [00:01:00] as I can remember. And so it’s something that really has been a part of my life for my entire life and has been just such a, such a big part of it in, in so many ties in really, to almost every part of my life and very I’m very blessed and the experiences that it’s brought me.
[00:01:17] Mike Klinzing: Excluding Michael Jordan. Who’s your favorite Tar Heel of all time?
[00:01:21] Jeff Huber: Excluding Michael Jordan. I guess probably as a kid it was probably Brad Doherty. That was such a big cast and, and growing up, you know love bread already and love those calves teams. And so I probably have to say him.
[00:01:34] Mike Klinzing: I grew up a Carolina guy too. I have no reason I didn’t grow up in North Carolina. I have no real reason for being a Tar Heel fan. I even liked them before Jordan got there. So the season before when Carolina had Alwood and they played against Isaiah Thomas, that was when president Reagan got shot immediately before the game.
And, and so for whatever reason, I don’t know if it was the colors. I, I don’t, I have no idea what it was. And then [00:02:00] obviously when Jordan came around, that just kind of cemented my love for Caroline. I used to have a buddy in high school who he was a big Georgetown fan, so he and I would always go back and forth.
And of course the big shot down in the Superdome when Jordan hits, that was a, gave me, gave me some bragging rights. And I think in middle school at that point. So it was. Ever since then, I’ve been a Carolina fan. I think I’ve shared this one other time on the podcast, Jeff, that when I was a kid, we used to drive down to Hilton head, South Carolina for family vacation.
And every year I would beg my mom and dad. I’m like, we got to stop. I wanted to get a Michael Jordan, North Carolina Jersey. So this was right in the height of when he was during his three years at Carolina when we were going. So I was probably, at that point, I was like 11, 12, 13 years old. And you could never, I could never find one.
I mean, we go and stop it. Like the mall in North Korea, these different balls and stores and the nobody, nobody couldn’t find them anywhere. And now of course you could find it a million a million times over, but as a kid, it killed me that I was never [00:03:00] able to find a, never were able to find a Jordan Jersey.
[00:03:03] Jeff Huber: That’s funny. Well what a cool experiences that I had was I actually, when I graduated from college did a year of law school at Washington university in St. Louis before I went back and got a teaching degree and got into coaching and it was in 2000. 2005. And when I was playing, I played high school basketball at St. Ed’s and I played with Jawad Williams. So then later went on to play North Carolina and played for the calves. It was the year that they won the national championship in St. Louis and they beat Illinois in the national championship game. And I actually was at that game. And that was a great Illinois, but I think it was maybe undefeated or had one loss that year in North Carolina had a great team too, with Sean May and Raymond Felton and all those guys.
And so it was pretty cool experience to be able to be there one, knowing someone, and haven’t played with someone to see the team that you grew up really rooting for win the national championship.
[00:03:52] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. I mean, I think that’s one of the things that being able to be in the building, I’ve been to a few NCAA tournament games over the [00:04:00] course of my time.
I never have been to a final four or final game, but every NCAA. Game that I’ve been to has been just a completely unique experience just because of how passionate all the college fan bases are. Obviously, once you get to the NCAA tournament, even schools that maybe aren’t necessarily traditional basketball schools still get their fans and alumni to come out.
And so it’s always just a fun, fun atmosphere. I’ve been to this. I’ve seen games at the Silverdome. I’ve seen games at the old Omni in Atlanta. I’ve seen games at the Capitol center in Washington, DC. So all were just, again, just incredible opportunities to go and watch great basketball and just see the passion that people have for college basketball.
It’s one of the weird things that I don’t know, I don’t know about you, but how, how closely do you follow college basketball anymore?
[00:04:49] Jeff Huber: Oh, I still follow it pretty close. I love it. Although I would say that I guess I follow it now because having kosha couple kids that are playing at various levels, I like to follow them, but [00:05:00] I guess the style of play.
I just had this conversation. We, it was like this weekend, we had a retired division three coach come in and he was working with our guys a little bit on a couple of things. And I was talking to him afterwards and we were talking a little bit how I think stylistically I feel like sometimes the game feels so coach controlled that I don’t probably enjoy the stop play as much as I wanted, but so yeah, that would probably be, I guess I would say that.
[00:05:25] Mike Klinzing: Yeah, it’s interesting. I think from a college basketball perspective, you think back to sort of the heyday. So you go back to the, the eighties, maybe early nineties, and that was just a time where it felt like college basketball was, if not bigger than NBA basketball, it was certainly on par with NBA basketball at the time.
It. Consciousness with the public. Whereas now I feel like it’s kind of slipped a little bit, just because again, you don’t have players like Michael Jordan staying at North Carolina for three years or Patrick [00:06:00] Ewing’s at Georgetown for four years. Ralph Sampsons at Virginia for four years. Like those things just don’t happen anymore.
And you don’t get an opportunity to know these guys as much as college players, the best guys obviously are in there for a year. And now a lot of them aren’t even, aren’t even bothering to go to college basketball, whether they’re doing the G league or this new overtime elite or whatever it’s going to happen.
It’ll be interesting to see how that all shakes itself out as we go forward. But I think as you said, one of the things that’s interesting about college basketball is you do have a variety of different styles of play, whereas in the NBA, obviously with the defensive rules and the way that the guys are so talented, that you don’t have as much variance in the game.
So I think from a coaching perspective, the college game. Interesting to watch because you just have teams playing all different kinds of styles.
[00:06:48] Jeff Huber: styles. Yeah, absolutely. And it is true that when you said that about the players staying around I was just thinking in my head I could probably still tell you most of the rosters off of some of those teams [00:07:00] that I grew up watching, and now I’d be lucky.
You know, I still watch a lot of games, but I’d be lucky if I could tell you more than a couple of players mean any given team,
[00:07:08] Mike Klinzing: Guys just aren’t household names in the same way. When you get to the tournament, guys, Get that spotlight put on them, but it’s not the same where you were following.
I used to read the blue ribbon college basketball yearbooks. I would know every team. And then I would look at all the top 50 high school players and know what schools they went to and what their stats were. And I’m like, well, this guy is 6, 9, 2 30 in high school. Holy cow. You know, I remember, I remember reading about Jr Reed when before he went to North Carolina and just the, the quote was he’s got an NBA body right now and he’s 16 years old or whatever.
And it’s interesting how the college game has changed. I think the, I think the game is still evolving and we’re going to figure out 10 years from now. I’m not sure. Exactly what it looks like when you factor in like the NISL and you factor in the fact that these teams, [00:08:00] NBA teams are trying to start to go towards this academy stuff where they’re going to try to model it maybe a little bit after European soccer, I think 10 years from now, it’s gonna be really interesting to see what the basketball landscape looks like, because I think it’s going to be completely, completely different thinking back on your time at St.
Ed’s, what do you remember as a high school basketball player? What are some of your best memories from playing high school?
[00:08:21] Jeff Huber: Certainly it was a pretty cool time to be there. You know, my sophomore year was the year that St. Ed’s won a state championship and just being able to the, the talent of the guys that were on that team.
Steve Logan and Sam Clancy and Steve rapport was just an absolutely incredible group. So just watching that was fun. And then just, just the atmosphere of the games always like obviously the St Ed’s city nation’s robbery is such a big rivalry. And so even that was a really neat experience.
And I think just the competitiveness on, on a daily basis I think that’s one of the things that you know, that I’ve experienced as a [00:09:00] coach. And thinking back to my plane days there’s, there’s certain places, one of the things that is great about a school like St Ed’s is that you really have to be very competitive on a daily basis.
And I think that just really is part of the reason why a school like them has been so successful. That’s just kind of ingrained there. And so that’s really something that we’re trying to do at Westlake as well. But I remember that and just feeling like everything was just, everything seemed like a big deal.
And so it was just kind of cool to be a part of that. And then, like I said, to see so many great players and those guys I mentioned before, and then to play with Juul, like it was really fun to you know, be around that. And that was a pretty neat experience.
[00:09:38] Mike Klinzing: As you finish up high school. What’s your thought process as far as what you want to do as an adult, you mentioned earlier that you went to a year of law school, was that.
Sort of your thought that, Hey, I’m going to go and get my four year degree and then go on to law school and be a lawyer, or we think it’s something else. When you first went to school, was coaching even on your radar at that point. Just give me an idea where your head was at and you graduated from high school.[00:10:00]
[00:10:00] Jeff Huber: Yeah, I always loved the game and I, I think it was always kind of on my radar, but you know, when I was, when I was my senior year of high school I hit my, my mindset on, on playing in college and had a look at a bunch of division three schools. And so that was really, my first priority was trying to find a place where I could get a good education and play basketball.
I didn’t really know what I wanted to do is beyond college at that point. And so I actually started out at the college of Wooster. I spent a year and a half there, and then I ended up transferring to Ohio Wesleyan and finished out my playing in school there. And really, I would tell you now that it was really primarily a basketball driven decision, both of those just because I love playing and I wanted to continue to play.
And then You know, towards the end of my experience at, I was probably like a lot of college, cause I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. And so I thought law school would, would be a certainly would be a good thing to be able to have and use. And I went to a year law school and there’s a lot of things about it.
I liked that there were some things that I kind of felt like weren’t really[00:11:00] the right fit for me. And you know, my, my families both my mom was a longtime teacher. My my dad taught for a little bit before getting out of it. So education was kind of instilled in our family. And so it was something that I’d thought about.
And then as I was getting finished out my year law school, I’m trying to think when I kind of realized that I didn’t think I was going to continue with that as I thought about what I would want to do coach has always front of mind. So I think I just, I just loved the game so much and it was a way to give back.
And I also really, I always enjoyed school. So it was so I was excited about the opportunity to teach as well. And so that the chance to do those two things and kind of put those two things together was a pretty appealing to me. And. Next thing that was 17 years ago. Now, here we are.
[00:11:43] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. It’s amazing how fast those years, those years go, they, they go really quick. What was your first experience coaching wise? What do you remember about the first time you got to sit on the bench and coach a team?
[00:11:55] Jeff Huber: So I first started out when, when I was actually doing my student teaching at like what I did a little bit of [00:12:00] scouting at, at Westlake.
And then I became the freshmen coach shortly thereafter. And I finished that experience with Bob Patton Jr. Was the, was the varsity coach. It was like, well, you know what? I remember now, as I think back on it was just how you know, I think as a young coach and especially just young, both in terms of experience and in terms of age, at that point you kind of come in feeling like you gotta really prove yourself.
And I don’t think I was ever really over the top boisterous, but I would certainly say I was probably a lot more demonstrative than I am now. And you come in really with. Some degree of fire and brimstone. And I think that, like as you get into this a little bit more, you immature a little bit, you, you start to see that there’s more than one way of doing that.
But that’s kind of what I first remember is just like certainly being so excited. And I also say one of the things that I, that I realize now is I think I is I look back, I thought when I was 24 and first starting out, I think I probably thought I knew more than I do now, which of [00:13:00] course is not the truth.
But I think that now I have the realization to realize there’s always just so much more to learn. And then I was pretty much sure I had it figured out as I’ve gotten a little bit older and hopefully a little bit wiser, I’ve realized that you’re never going to really fully figure it out.
So it’s good to keep learning and trying to keep improving your craft.
[00:13:17] Mike Klinzing: That is so true. And I think when I look back on my start as a coach, and I think about the fact that I played for one high school coach, I played for one college coach and basically my entire. Repertoire of coaching knowledge came from those two guys in terms of, well, what kind of drills did we do?
What kind of offense do we run? What kind of defense do we play? How, what kind of terminology should I be using? And I was one of those guys, just like you, it sounds like that. I mean, I kind of figured I was a pretty good player. I know what I’m doing and I probably didn’t go out and study the game as much as I look back on it.
I wish I would have, and I probably would’ve ended up, ended up being a [00:14:00] much better coach than I was for a long time, because I just kind of relied on my own personal experiences instead of trying to go out and learn from other people who had success in the coaching profession. I just kind of stuck in my, in my lane.
And I think that probably held me back. And I think it’s a great lesson for young coaches, as you said, when you think about where you are now in your career, 17 years in, and you’re telling people, Hey, I know less today than what I thought I did. When I first stepped in the gym and I can completely and totally relate to that.
I’m sure there’s a lot of other coaches that are sort of in our stage of life, that would feel the exact same way. So if you’re a young coach that’s out there, don’t just take your own experiences that you have as a player and for coaches that you’ve played for, but really go out and try to study the game.
And now obviously it’s way easier than it’s ever been to be able to get access to other coaches, what they’re doing, whether that’s through things you see on YouTube or internet or webinars. And there’s just so many more ways to grow as a coach than there ever was back in the time [00:15:00] when you and I were first starting with without a doubt.
[00:15:00] Jeff Huber: And I think too with that said, one of the things that’s I would have never been able to do early on that is still not easy for, I mean, the middle is still not easy for me, but I’ve gotten a lot better at it. You know, admitting to admitting to my players that there’s times when I don’t know, or I got to think about that, or like, you’re not feeling like you got to have all the answers and that if you don’t have all the answers that somehow you’re going to be exposed.
So I think that’s been another thing that has really kind of evolved for me as time has gone on. And like I said, I still surely don’t have that mastered, but I’ve gotten certainly a lot more comfortable with being okay with not feeling like I have to know every be there to answer every single question that they might have right in the moment.
[00:15:42] Mike Klinzing: When did you start to feel confident enough that you could look at your team and say, Hey, I’m not sure about that, or, Hey, maybe I didn’t do that quite right. Or maybe I would have approached it differently now seeing what happened. Cause I think a lot of times that’s something that. As a young coach, you don’t want [00:16:00] to show anybody that vulnerability.
And so you tend to just kind of put on this bravado instead of being a little bit more open with your player and saying, Hey, I don’t know that. When, when did you start to feel comfortable with that as a coach?
[00:16:14] Jeff Huber: I think there were two things that helped one quite honestly was when we, what am I first experienced as a varsity?
Well, I guess my second experience is of our city coach. I had one year where I coached at lake Ridge academy in north Ridgeville, and then I went to holy name and I would say probably a one thing was when we started to have some success on the core. Cause I felt like it gave me a little bit more credibility, but I would also, so that would probably be the first thing, but I do also think then just in the last couple of years, I’ve really been making an effort to.
I think being a little bit more vulnerable with my players. And I think that especially now, so this may be something that we talk about later, but for me, part of the reason that I made the move from holy name to Westlake was the fact that I’ve taught at Westlake. Now this is my 16th year [00:17:00] teaching here in the ability to be in the building every day with the kids that play for me has really been a really great experience.
And now that I feel like you know, the, having the chance to really enrich those relationships by seeing those kids all the time. I mean, I felt like I had good relationships with the kids. I had a holy name, but it’s just different when you’re like running into practice, going to practice and then like, feeling like you want to get home.
Cause you want us to see your family. The fact that I can see these kids on a daily basis has allowed me to get to know them or for us to get to know each other in a way that makes me feel more comfortable, you know being a little bit more vulnerable in that way. So I would say those two things have really led to that.
[00:17:37] Mike Klinzing: Do you think it would be difficult now to go back. To the point where you weren’t teaching at the school where you were coaching. So now that you’ve experienced both, obviously before where you’re coaching, you’re not in the building, you don’t know you haven’t had the other experience, I guess you did as an assistant at Westlake, but as the head coach, to be able to just the communication, the ability to build relationships, I would think that [00:18:00] now, if you were to ever get back to a situation where you weren’t in a building, that that would be difficult based on the fact that.
Hey, I’m in the building every day. I see now how valuable that is to be able to have those touch points with kids day in and day out, whether you’re seeing them in class or you’re seeing them before practice, or you can stop down and had lunch with them or whatever, it might be. Just talk a little bit about what you’ve been able to do with your players, because you’re in the building versus what you were doing when you were at holy name.
[00:18:25] Jeff Huber: Yeah. Well, all those things you just mentioned, right? So like you said, the ability to have kids come in for lunch and it could be just come in for lunch and let’s just talk about our fantasy football team or it could be coming for lunch and let’s watch a little bit of film things that didn’t have the ability to do.
I do think I would never say never, but I think it would be really hard to go away from that. I think, like you said, there’s just so many little things, right? And it’s not like it might not be a 20 minute conversation. It might be just a 32nd interaction that you have with a kid in the hallway then.
That is meaningful, both for the [00:19:00] kid and for, for me as a coach. And so to to go away from that would be really difficult. But yeah, I mean, like you said, just the, the ability to pull a kid. At some point during the school day, whenever I need to is great. The ability to like we had our kids come in yesterday morning for just like 25 minutes in the morning, just to walk through some out of bounds plays to free up some time to practice after school.
And that’s something that I wanted to be able to. So just like the flexibility to do things like that the ability to have these kids like to be able to interact with the other students and try and get the other students that I have in class interested in the basketball program. And we’ve got some of those kids now helping out as managers, or even just trying to get more kids to come to games.
And maybe the, now that those kids, they know me because I’m one of their teachers, like it helps with that. So there are really so many things that so many advantages to be in the building that it absolutely would be difficult to go away from that.
[00:19:57] Mike Klinzing: I see that being once you’ve [00:20:00] experienced it in the building, I would have to imagine it would be really, really difficult to go back and do it the other way.
When I was coaching at Richmond Heights, I was in the teaching in the elementary school, which is where I’m still today. But our, in our building, our high school is literally right across the parking lot. And even then as a varsity assistant coach, there was lots of times where I felt disconnected from our coaching staff, from our players.
Like, there’d be a change in the practice time, or maybe there was an announcement or something that was just going to be different. And I would always be the last person. To know that. And even though I was literally a hundred yards away across the parking lot, I still felt that disconnect. And so I was teaching in the district and yet I still didn’t feel like I was able to build the same kinds of relationships.
Seeing those kids during the school day in lunch, in the hallways, all those little things that you mentioned, I think it makes a really, really big difference. So when you think back to those first experiences that you had at Westlake, when you were [00:21:00] coaching the freshmen and you were helping out with the, with the varsity and the JV team, what do you remember about being an assistant coach that as you look back now and you think about that time in your career, that you learned that have helped you that’s helped you to be a better head coach over the course of your career?
[00:21:20] Jeff Huber: Well, I think two things that I remember from my early experience when I was coaching there, that probably really helped me. When I was coaching for Bob Patton was one that you let me coach, right. So I was the freshman coach and there were some basic things that were important to him, but I never felt like I was really being micromanaged.
And so I had the ability to learn and make mistakes and really do things for myself. And of course could go to him or other coaches as a resource. But I think the ability to coach, right? Like I think that you know, when I think of this, now I try and do this for my assistants is give them some [00:22:00] parameters, but I, I trust those guys I hired because I think they’re good coaches and I want to let them have the ability to coach, because I think it’s important in their development.
So that would, that would really have been a one big thing that, that I got out of that. And then also, I think not. I remember he was very good about like, Hey, you got your team. If you want to come and help out with the varsity stuff on top of that. Great. But you’ve got your team and then you gotta have some time outside of this.
So that was the other thing that I really appreciate. And that I try to convey to our coaches now is like, I want you to be as involved as you want to be. But like, if we have a varsity practice that’s before a freshmen practice like, or whatever, I don’t want you to feel guilty if you’re not popping in to watch some of what we’re doing beforehand it’s like, this is something we do because we love it.
But there’s other things going on in everybody’s life. So I think. The ability to recognize that we all need to have some balance as well. And not being, not being, not feeling bad about, about, you [00:23:00] know about having that battle.
[00:23:01] Mike Klinzing: That’s absolutely a challenge and I don’t care what level it is that you’re coaching at.
And whether you’re a head coach or you’re an assistant coach, the level of commitment that it takes to be a successful high school coach all across the country, I think is so much higher today than probably it even was when you started. And certainly if you go back 20 years, 25 years, the what’s expected of a high school coach in searches of the amount of time that.
Your players, the families, your community expects you to put in, when you think about summer workouts and open gym and summer league and getting kids in the weight room and then watching film and scouting, just there’s so many things now that require so much time. How do you look at that ability? You have two daughters that are nine and seven.
How do you look at balancing your love and your passion for coaching [00:24:00] with obviously the most important thing in your life is still your family. So how do you look at making sure that both of those things are getting the best of you day to day? And obviously none of us handle it. Perfect. And I’m sure there are days where you look at it and you’re like, oh my God, I can’t believe that I was, I spent all this time here or there or whatever.
And, but just talk a little bit about how you handle that piece of it.
[00:24:22] Jeff Huber: Yeah. That’s a great question. And I know I’ve heard you guys talk about one of the things that changed for us in Ohio last year was the changing of like the 10 day rule over the summer. And now having an unlimited days to do stuff with your team, which on one hand is someone who loves coaching.
It’s a good thing. But on the other hand, there’s part of me that liked that because it kind of set a boundary for you. And I think that now it’s like. You know, even though I know better, there’s part of me and I’m sure a lot of coaches feel the same way. It feels like, well, we should be doing something because I’m sure somebody else is doing something and, and that pressure is certainly not a positive thing.
And so I think you [00:25:00] really got to fight that for me. It’s like you said, as the head coach, there’s always something that I could be doing. And I really do pride myself on trying to do everything I can and to make the program as good as it can be. But at the same time, I don’t ever want that to come at the expense of what, the time that I have with my family and my girls.
And so there’s a couple of things that have been important to me. First of all, I mean my wife is phenomenal, so she played basketball at Youngstown state. So she loves the game and she is incredibly understanding of the time and the commitment. That I put into it. And so that makes a huge difference.
And then my girls love being around the team. So they’ll come to the games. They’ll come when we’re, when I’m talking to the team, after the game, they’ll come in the locker room. And they, they, every day when I come home, they’re asking me how practice was and how they still played and I could play it.
And so like, that’s super cute and like makes my day, like, I even if we have a bad practice or bad game, I can’t help, but smile when they’re like pepper me with questions about, [00:26:00] about the team. And so that is really fun for me that they want to be a part of it. But at the same time, it’s also like I’m coaching, I’m coaching, both of them, which it’s funny because when they were younger, it was something I thought I would never do.
Like I thought I would just want to watch them play for someone else. But as they’ve gotten a little bit older, I feel like you know, in a couple of years from now, I won’t have that opportunity to do that anymore. And then I coached my, my oldest daughter is now in fourth grade and my wife and I coached her team last year as third graders.
And it was so much fun and it was just time that I thought was so valuable to be, to. The spend with her. And so I think so try to have balance. I got a great assistant coach has got two sons, and so we kind of can help each other out. Like if our kids are lifted and I got to jump out early to get to my daughter’s practice like that’s not something I feel bad about doing he can stay that, you know?
So I think we’ve I’ve tried to establish that balance and I like having the girls around too, because in my family around suits, I think it’s also sets a good example for the kids on the team that that [00:27:00] obviously family’s important to me and that you know, I want them to be part of it.
And so, yeah, it is always a struggle to feel like there’s something else you could be doing, but I really try to keep first things first. And like you said, I’m not perfect. There’s days when I come home and I’m upset about something that happened and I’m not as present as I’d like to do. And there bothers me when I reflect on that, but I’ve really tried to become aware of that.
So that for the most part when I’m here, I’m here and that I don’t lose that time because during the season, as you mentioned, sometimes there’s not a lot of it. So it really got to make the most of it.
[00:27:34] Mike Klinzing: Two questions for you first, do you think that the unlimited summer contact is going to stay? Is that going to stay in place?
What’s your feeling on that?
[00:27:44] Jeff Huber: I guess I would say yes, because I feel like most things like once you give it, it’s hard to take it away. So I kind of feel like it is here to stay. And like I said, I have really mixed feelings about it, but my guess would be, it’s probably not going anywhere.
[00:27:59] Mike Klinzing: And then [00:28:00] to describe what you guys did this summer. So just so people have an idea of, okay, Jeff’s got unlimited access to his players. What exactly did you guys do this summer to try to. Get that balance where you’re doing what you need to do in order to get your program and your players where you want them to be, and yet not completely burning yourself, your staff, your players out.
[00:28:27] Jeff Huber: Yeah. So what we did was June is obviously the busiest month for us because we have our summer leagues and our shootouts going on. So we did some practices right at the beginning of the summer to kind of prepare a little bit for that. And then throughout June, we were busy.
e had youth camp, we had in which our kids would work. So we would have open gyms that would kind of back up to that and lifting. And then we would play so June, we had stuff going on. I would say most weekdays, we had stuff going on in June. Once we got to July we probably were going either three or four days a week, some combination [00:29:00] of open gym.
She had some open gyms with other schools. Lifting we were fortunate one of the things that we did at Westlake this year, and that’s been a really nice thing is contracted with a T3 out of Avon. So, which is now doing all our strength and conditioning. And they actually come out to the school and do it, which has been great for two reasons.
One, because it takes one thing off of our plates as coaches and two, because like, I, I think I knew enough to do an okay job, but I’m not an expert in that. So to have people who really are trained in that and come out and do that has been, I think, a real game changer for us. So that w we were consistent with the lifting open gym or shooting throughout all throughout July, and then August, we were.
T3 was just running our lifting but to, to try and create some balance I w you know, our coaches would kind of divide up the schedule. So we didn’t, I didn’t ask all our coaches to be at everything and I wasn’t in everything. So we would kind of divide it up so that we made it manageable, could have been for everyone.
And then our players, our core varsity guys were very committed, but we got guys who are doing, we’ve got a bunch of guys who were doing summer baseball. We have a [00:30:00] couple of guys who were doing football or soccer. And so try and sit down with those guys at the beginning of the summer, just get everybody on the same page.
And so the goal is to create enough opportunities for everybody to work as much as they want to and get better. While at the same time, not burning everybody out and not making the kids one of the things, the conversations I’ve had with our kids, and it’s been pretty good I think it’s been a good thing since I’ve been at Westlake in terms of the coaches being able to work together is not not making the kids feel.
They’ve got to make a choice. And if they go to baseball in this day and that basketball, basketball, not football, but like they’re in trouble. And so I think trying to be proactive meeting with kids early on, getting everybody on the same page with calendars has gone a long ways towards that.
And just trying to create some balance, both between just basketball and everything else in their life. And then for the guys who do multiple sports amongst the sports that they’re doing,
[00:30:55] Mike Klinzing: How do you build relationships with the other coaches on staff at Westlake? So thinking [00:31:00] about football, thinking about track in the spring or baseball, what kind of conversations do you guys have as an athletic department around sharing athletes?
For lack of a better way of saying.
[00:31:12] Jeff Huber: Yeah, we’ve got a bunch of three sport athlete, a lot of two sport athletes and a decent number of three sport athletes. You know, we just left. SWC this year, but for the last couple of years though, unless like was in SWC, we had the most three sport athletes.
So that’s something that’s new to me. It’s actually been an interesting experience, you know what’s like is a school let’s say roughly 1100 kids. And when I was coaching a holy name, that was about 600, 650 kids, but it was like, there’s actually a lot more kids who are doing two and three sports. Then there are the holy name in spite of the size, the difference in the size of schools.
And so that was something that was a little bit new to me. For me. It’s really just been, I think, trying to communicate as much as possible with the other coaches. So anytime we have like our summer schedule, our spring schedule I’m trying to get that to the other coaches right away. And actually even usually in, before I create ours, I’m asking them [00:32:00] for theirs so that we can try and minimize those conflicts in advance.
And you know, I’ll, I’ll say to them, Hey, are there. Yeah, I’ll talk to our football coach and Hey, in June, is there anything that is like absolutely critical? The, the guy can’t miss and, or, and vice versa, they might ask me that. And so I think everybody’s been pretty understanding that we got a lot of kids who are doing this and that we think that’s a good thing, and we don’t want to we don’t want to create antagonize each other or put undue stress on these kids about that.
So I just think the communication being very proactive with that has hopefully minimized a lot of those issues.
[00:32:36] Mike Klinzing: It’s one of those things that it’s a difficult thing to navigate and to know how to, how to handle it in the best way possible. And I think what it always comes down to for me is it should always be about the needs of the kid and what’s best for the kid and not what’s best for the adult.
Both us as an adult or [00:33:00] us as a coach of another spore, us as parents, whatever it might be, it should be about what’s best for the kid. And I think if you frame how you handle two sport or three sport athletes or multiple sport athletes with the idea of I’m trying to do what’s best for the kid to give them the opportunity to experience.
Look, if a kid is good enough and wants to play multiple sports in high school, as you and I both know those years go really fast and you don’t get them back, it’s not like you can decide, Hey, I’m a four year basketball player. And then two years after I graduate, like, oh man, I wish I would’ve played a year or two of high school baseball or whatever it might be.
And so I think that’s always important to keep in mind and you see it, not just in this situation, but you see it in a lot of other situations where adults are making decisions to benefit adults rather than benefit. Kids. And that’s really where I think you can get yourself into trouble as a coach when you start making decisions that are best for you as the adult.
And you kind of forget about what’s important for the kid. [00:34:00] All right. I want to go
[00:34:01] Jeff Huber: ahead. Just one thing that you said that kind of resonated with me was that I I’ve talked to one of the things you, you said like you can’t go back and do it again. And that’s something that in the conversations I’ve had with kids has kind of been like almost any person that I know that’s my age, or even people who almost no one regrets playing a sport I, I could tell you so many stories that people I’ve talked to that I wish I would’ve kept playing whatever it might be.
But I can’t tell you almost any stories of somebody like, you know what, I really regret that I did this, that I continued to do this sport, you know? So I try to encourage kids along those lines if you’re not sure, maybe as a freshman give it a shot and then if you don’t, if you don’t have a great experience, you can always stop.
Now, it’s not unheard of that when you stopped to come back, but it certainly gets a lot harder once you stop playing to come back later on. So I agree with you it’s really about what’s best for the kids and trying to give them the best experience and whatever sports they want to participate in.[00:35:00]
[00:35:00] Mike Klinzing: When you think about the difference going from holy name, private Catholic school to Westlake public school, what are some of the biggest differences in coaching at a private school versus coaching at a public school? Jump out at you when you first think about that transition.
[00:35:20] Jeff Huber: Well, the biggest difference is the like sub high-school program, I guess.
So when at, at holy name you’re trying to keep tabs on CYO kids and we have open houses and kids shadowing and certainly there is a good amount of work that’s involved in that. And so that was, that was something that put a lot of time into however at west, like it’s, it’s a lot more, I mean, quite honestly, I, I guess I probably underestimate how much more it was and I, I certainly, I suppose, kind of back to what you were talking about before you could certainly kind of do it half-heartedly, but if you want to do it right, it really is a lot of work in terms of not just [00:36:00] the middle school program and trying to, one of the big things for me was trying to align the middle school program more with the high school program. And I think now that we’re in year three, we’ve really done that. I think we’ve got a really great middle school staff. We’ve got some alignment there, but then also like the, the third through sixth grade program. And I’ve been really blessed to have a great assistant Kevin Kahn sign who handles a lot of that stuff, but it’s still is a huge time commitment for me to just trying to help those coaches be present around those teams and those players.
And then now this year, trying to he, Kevin suggested, and we’re actually doing a little program for first and second graders. Unfortunately, he’s taken, I have assistants who are taking a lot of work on that, but that’s the number one difference is building up the program really from the ground level.
And you know, there’s certainly a lot of satisfaction and seeing those kids improve year over year and getting to know those kids and building relationships with them and. But it’s a big but like, but [00:37:00] that would be the number one difference to that end though. One of the things that after I got done with last year in talking with our youth coaches, it seemed like.
You know, I needed to do a better job of kind of giving them some guidance and not so much like guidance. Like, Hey, I want you to run this offense. Cause I can tell you after coaching my daughter’s team last year.
No, but more like, how can I help these guys like develop players better? So one of the big projects that I took on last spring that I was pretty happy with the way it turned out was kind of creating a curriculum for our basketball program. So that at each level here’s what I would like the players to be able to do, hopefully by the end of each grade level.
And of course there’s a lot of variance within each grade, but as a general rule, here’s the thing that like MTeach and kinda put, came up with some ideas and we’ll link it with some YouTube videos so that they can, it’s pretty, hopefully user-friendly for them. And I think that’s something that I I’m hopeful will be of use to our players going forward.
And then my goal would be like, there’s [00:38:00] certain programs that I watch that I’m like when you see them play, you’re like that kid is a. You know, like mentors and outstanding, obviously public school program in this area, like kind of what you’re going to get when you watch a man or team plate.
And so my, one of my longer terms goals would be to do something similar. It was like, where if we can get these kids kind of fall onto this curriculum and then also kind of develop the mental side of it as well, that someday people will say that about what we’re doing there. So just a youth program would be the number one difference in terms of like what you’re doing below the high school level.
The advantage of course, all that time that you’re putting in is that hopefully when they get there, they’ve been, they have learned some of the stuff that you want to do. You know, when you come from Nyam and you’ve got kids coming from 10 different CYO or public school programs you know, certainly there’s an advantage there because you’re getting kids from all over the disadvantage to that is that you don’t know what people have been taught or how what their experience has been been before that, so that would have, would be the trade off.
[00:38:59] Mike Klinzing: All right. I want to jump back [00:39:00] to your youth stuff. How do you. Put together that document, that curriculum, what are the things that are most important to you? If you had to pick out two or three of the things that when a kid gets done with grades three through six, travel, basketball and Westlake, what do you hope that they have in their bag?
When they get done with sixth grade, when they’re ready to transition to become a middle-school player, what are some of the skills that you told your coaches? Hey, these are things that our players, we want them to be able to do. We want them, when somebody watches them play as a seventh grader, they can say, just like you talked about with men, or you can say to them, wow, look, this kid came through the program.
I see the things that they were taught as they came through the travel program. What are some of those non-negotiable things that you think are really important for co your coaches to teach youth players?
[00:39:49] Jeff Huber: Yeah, I would tell you that the first thing that I put in there for each grade level deals with what I would say are qualities of a good teammate that I think [00:40:00] are age appropriate.
And so it might start with like, you know using someone’s name when you’re communicating with them at the very youngest levels or, you know eye contact or, you know things like that. So each grade level, the first thing I put was kind of like, here’s some qualities of a good teammate that I want to be taught when a teammate comes out of the game, we should stand up and give that person five or acknowledge them in some way.
Cause that’s one of the things that I noticed was like so many kids, things that, that as a adult seem obvious that make up a good teammate. These kids just, they don’t know. And it’s really not their fault. I think a lot of them have just never been taught and so making a conscious effort to teach those things.
So I would first hope that someone would say. You know, win or lose one. These kids are they’re respectful. They play hard and they’re certainly very good teammates to each other. So that was kind of the first thing in each grade level that, that I put on there was like two to three things that a good teammate I think could learn at that age beyond that certainly I didn’t get, you [00:41:00] know, obviously I want guys, we can shoot the ball.
Right. I think we’ve all continued to see that that’s just become, it’s probably always been the most important skill, but certainly with the prevalence of three-pointers it is such a critical skill, but at the youngest levels, I didn’t put a ton about that one because I think that it’s not necessarily fair to ask our youth coaches who are volunteering their time to be like shot Doctors.
And also, because I think until kids get a little bit stronger, there’s only so much that a, that it’s maybe not, you don’t get the bang for your buck. So I would say a lot of the stuff we’re doing at the younger levels, besides the. How to be a good teammate tribute with respected within the game would be like certainly being able to handle the ball working on having good for work.
And then I think for a big thing is, is working on our finishing. I think that’s something that we can start to teach early on. And so that’s something that put in there quite a bit. That’s something that’s teacher quite heavily, I would say at the younger levels is just some fundamentals of finishing to go along with those other things,
[00:41:57] Mike Klinzing: Do you get down to either see a game [00:42:00] stop in at practice?
What’s your personal amount of time commitment that you’re making to seeing those kids and starting to build relationships. Obviously we talked earlier about building relationships with your high school players by being in the building and seeing them and getting a chance to have lunch and bringing them in early before school.
But what about those youth players? How are you starting to build those relationships with those kids and those parents? So. Those kids aspire one day to be Westlake demons and they could get up there and be a part of your program and get to know you and say, Hey, someday, I want to play. .
[00:42:33] Jeff Huber: Absolutely. So I would say a goal of mine is to try and get to a couple, a couple of games, a season.
I let’s put this way at least one game, a season of every team and hopefully, hopefully maybe two. And then I try to pop into a practice from time to time. Actually, one of the things I think I heard on one of your podcasts at one time, which is not directly related to me, but creating some linkages in the programs is we’ve now started doing [00:43:00] where we have two or three of our varsity players will kind of assignment to each of our youth teams.
And I asked them to go to one practice, every other one. And help out and you know, the kids love it and it’s awesome. They look up to those guys and it’s been a really cool thing to kind of create some sort of bond where one, our kids actually really like, like once they get, they get out there, they enjoy kind of goofing around with the younger kids and, and helping them out.
And they really do a great job with it. And then the younger kids of course love it. Cause they got these high school kids who are coming down and spend time with them and helping them. And so that’s been a really nice thing for us. So I try and get to parts of practice from time to time. It’s a little harder now when I’m coaching, my daughter’s seen, but try and do some of that and then try and get to, like I said, at least one or two games to try and see our teams play.
[00:43:48] Mike Klinzing: What’s it like coaching your daughters,
[00:43:51] Jeff Huber: What it is, both incredibly rewarding and it a few moments, incredibly frustrating. You know, I, and I know there’s another thing I’ve [00:44:00] heard your past guests talk quite a bit about my daughter who is. Is really starting to develop a passion for the game, which has been fun to see, but it’s been kind of baby steps.
So there’s times when you know, when she will react to me differently than I know that she would react to any other coach. And I get that to some extent when I was a kid and my dad coached me, which was which I look back finally. And actually I’m still very, very lucky because my dad is still one of my assistants and that’s something that I enjoy the most about coaching is being able to spend that time with him and now coaching her. I get that, that like it’s hard to not see. The coach is your parent too. And so I understand where that comes from, but at the same time, we try and have this conversation that you really got to treat mirror your mom.
And when we’re coaching you, like you would treat somebody else. So that is something we’re working on. And it’s been a little bit of a process. But at the same time, there’s so many great things about coaching your kid. You know, it’s like, it’s [00:45:00] really that she likes, she’s still at the age where she likes us coaching.
So that makes it fun. And you know, it’s been fun for us to get to know some of the girls that she’s friends with and to be around while she’s developing. And just in the last year, she’s really started to take off to the point where she’s like, Hey, will you come outside and shoot with me? And that’s been kind of fun because I I’ve always I would love for her to love basketball and I think she starting to but I also want it to be because she loves it.
Not because I love it. And so there’s times where I feel like I really want to say, Hey, let’s go do this drill. And she just wants to go out and shoot around, like really catch myself and be like, you know what? Yeah, let’s just go shoot around because what’s most important is that one that she wants to spend time with me and two that she wants to, she wants to do at Rob basketball.
So that’s been something that I always have to remind myself like I, when I was a kid I really loved. Going and shooting and I would shoot forever and like was, I would have like my Steve Alford drill and I’d be out there, write down my shots, but like and I love doing that, but [00:46:00] that’s not where she’s at right now.
She loves the game, but that’s not what she does. And that’s okay. You know, so it’s just, and I think that’s, that’s a challenge, both coaching her and just coaching in general is realizing that not every kid has the same passion for the game that you had. And while that if you expect them to, you’re probably setting yourself up to be a little disappointed at times.
And so I think that’s something that I’ve had to work through, both coaching her and just coaching the high school boys too.
[00:46:27] Mike Klinzing: I wish we could just capture that three minutes of audio and just send it out to every parent. Maybe we could just play it over the loudspeaker of the PA system at every, at every AAU and travel tournament for parents to be able to hear, because I, I really feel like so many people try to.
Impose what they want on their kids. And it’s really, really difficult. And I think you set yourself up for one, not getting the kind of success that you want as an [00:47:00] athlete, whether it’s basketball or any other sport. And two, I think, I think it could be damaging to the relationship between a child and a parent when you’re constantly dragging and you’re constantly pushing and you’re constantly saying, Hey, you gotta do this.
You gotta do that. And I often wonder, like, at what expense are you, are you doing those things? And just like you. I struggled with that. I continued to struggle with it today. So I have a high school senior, my daughter who doesn’t play anymore, my son is a high school, sophomore. He plays. And then I have my sixth grade daughter whose team I’m coaching.
And ever since all of them have been little, there’s been times that obviously just like you, I’m in a gym, I’m doing camp or I’m running training or whatever it might be. And I’m like, Hey, you want to come along or, Hey, you want to go? And there’s times where they’ll say no, and I just kind of look, and in my mind, I’m kind of seeing like, why don’t you, why don’t you want to come?
But you really have to remember that the [00:48:00] journey is about your kids. And it goes back to what I said earlier. Like you got to ultimately what you do and the decisions that you make should be best for the kid. And if you do that, especially with your own kids, obviously that’s really important. And then I think you’re just going to end up having a good experience cause you and I both know that the best players you’ve ever coached the best players you’ve ever played with.
Our players that love the game. And they’re good because they work on it. Not because dad tells them to or not because their coach is yelling at them. Those are kids who show up for everything you do in the summertime. Not because coach Huber says, Hey, you guys got to be here. It’s because that kid wants to be there.
And then not only are they at the mandatory things, but they’re out working on their own and that’s really how you get to be good. It doesn’t come from parents. We can provide opportunity, which obviously just like your kid, just like my kids, your kids are probably going to get a lot more exposure to basketball and they get to other to other things.
So they’re going to get repeated experiences. But I know, like I had my kids playing instruments and we tried all different kinds of [00:49:00] sports and I never touched a soccer ball as a kid. And all my kids played some soccer, even though. I never would’ve had any interest in it. So you just try to give your kids the opportunity to figure out where their passion lies and then you go from there, but there’s, there’s nothing better than coaching them.
It’s, it’s so much fun. And I loved your comment about not really not there, not being much or offense with third grade, third, third grade girls basketball. It just goes back to if you could teach them the intangibles of being a great teammate and maybe work on some footwork and some ball handling, man, you’ve done, you’ve done yeoman’s work.
Then if you, if you’re able to accomplish those things with a bunch of third grade girls, there’s no doubt about that. I’ve been through that experience.
[00:49:36] Jeff Huber: Yeah. And it’s funny, I’ve had this conversation with multiple people that I was like, you know what, like I felt coaching third grade girls made me feel like, not that good of a basketball coach, because you come from these high school boys and they’re able to do some things and then you’re going down here and you’re like, oh my gosh.
But I actually, I mean, I would tell you that I think it’s made me and helped me become a better coach because you really [00:50:00] have to learn how to teach the game in a different way. And so it really like the beginning of last year, What I thought I had in mind to do with the girls by the two, compared to what we were doing it to be at the end of last year, we just started practice this week, what we’re doing now I’ve really had to reevaluate that.
And I think fortunately I have, and we’ve in what we’re doing now is working better, but like, it really is. I think I actually think it’s a good thing for coaches to go coach at a different level, because it really does give you a different appreciation for how to teach. And so that I think has been, I think it’s maybe a better high school coach for having come down and coach the younger girls.
[00:50:35] Mike Klinzing: I also think it speaks to the fact that. There are different coaches that are best suited for different levels. And there’s coaches that could be great high school coaches and would make terrible youth coaches. And there’s some coaches who you watch them with a bunch of eight year olds and they are dynamic and they know exactly what they’re doing.
They know exactly how to teach them. They know exactly how to [00:51:00] get them organized and keep them interested and keep them fired up and ready to go. And. I think it’s just, when you talk about the coaching profession, I think it’s really important for coaches to find their spot, to find their niche, whether that’s high school coaching, whether that’s middle school, whether that’s youth, whether that’s going and coaching in college.
I think you, you can have great coaches at all levels. That’s been one of the most interesting things about the podcast is just the opportunity to talk to coaches that are coaching AAU, basketball that are coaching youth basketball that are coaching at the high school level that are coaching in college, that a couple of pro coaches that we’ve had on.
And it’s just, there’s great coaches at every level. And you got to figure out what works and to your point, if you can cross back from one to the other, it requires a different way of preparing a different way of thinking about how you’re going to organize what it is that you do to maximize. What’s your players can be and what your team can be.
So along [00:52:00] those lines, when you think about preparing your team for a given season, I’m not looking for a specific for this season, but when you think about looking at your personnel and your players and what you can do, how do you go about putting together how you want to play on both at both ends of the floor?
What’s your off season prep? Like when you start thinking about the following season and making sure that you’re going to put in things that are going to put your kids in a position to be successful.
[00:52:28] Jeff Huber: Yeah. I think that I have a general, by this point in my coaching career, a general philosophy on how we want to play.
And then we try and I try and make some tweaks within that. So we generally are going to play a fast on offense and with a lot of freedom I think I came up, I might’ve been. Interviews, there was somebody who was talking about, like, we want our players to think like sharks. So the idea being that like a shark can attack within the ocean.
So the ocean is like the boundaries that we’re setting as a coast, but within the ocean, like you got a lot of [00:53:00] freedom to do what you want to do. So we try and do that for our players. Like, we’re going to give you a framework, so it’s not roll balls out. But within that framework you know, we want you to use the skills that we’ve worked out in the decision-making that we’ve worked on, and we’re going to trust you to make plays.
And it’s not like you need to look over at the bench every time for us to call a play. So like in terms of offense we try and tailor our offense that way. So it’s a little more conceptual, a little bit less like set, set play-based and we so, but like we do evolve it a little bit. So like over the summer, we’ve made some tweaks since what we did over the summer, over the summer, I saw some things for us offensively that I thought were going to be good for us that I didn’t think were, did didn’t work as well as I thought they would.
And so we’ve stayed with. A lot of the same concepts, but we’ve made some changes that I think are going to help us as we get into our season here and then defensively, we want to be aggressive to I certainly respect the fact that there’s a lot of ways to be successful, but I like coaching in a way that’s more aggressive.
So I think we’re more aggressive. We try to be aggressive on both [00:54:00] sides of the ball and I, and I, and I also think that for our players, at least our players enjoy playing that way. You know, we’re not a team that has right now a ton of size. So I think trying to use our quickness and our speed to our advantage, both offensively and defensively will help give us a great chance to win.
If we have 3, 6’8” kids, maybe we would, maybe we would tweak that some, but I guess, I guess maybe unfortunately I don’t see that as being something that’s right on the horizon. That’s something to worry about right now. Yeah. Right, exactly. So kind of stick with what we’re doing, but I liked playing that way.
I always, as a player, like. W you know, and I, and I like coach to that way. So we’ve tried to kind of create some boundaries in some, in some within that sort of framework.
[00:54:40] Mike Klinzing: How about practice planning? So that’s sort of the big picture. Now you start breaking it down into the nitty-gritty. Do you have a standard format for how you put together your practices where you’re going 30 minutes of skill development, 30 minutes, a half court offense, 30 minutes, a half court defense breakdown, or just, how do you organize your practices and what does that [00:55:00] process look like when you’re putting together a practice plan?
[00:55:03] Jeff Huber: Yeah, so I try to each week have a little bit of an overview of the things I’d like to get accomplished that week, but then on a day-to-day basis we are very. I would say games based very, like I would say one of my biggest influences as a coach has been like Chris Oliver, basketball immersion.
Like he came out to Westlake the summer, did a two day clinic with our kids, which was fantastic, but I’ve been a big fan of his for years now. And I really liked kind of teaching with them five on five. So we do, we play a lot at practice now, not all five and five. We’ll do some foreign force and three and three, but we play a lot and I’ve, and I believe that that really does help.
Our our transfer of what we’re doing in practice to the games. Now that said, like we were working on some press defense stuff yesterday. And I felt like there were certain things that we were struggling with in a five-on-five setting. So today we kind of backed it up a little bit and, and broke it down a little bit more and then got right back into the five on five.
So we play a lot, our kids like it, like, I was actually overheard one of our kids talking today about [00:56:00] like practices, like cause we had a kid who sprained his ankle and he’s like, oh, you can’t practice. Cause like, now that we’re doing all the competitive stuff at practice, it’s a lot of fun.
So like we really try and that’s really the basis of our practices. And then one of the things that I’ve been, I’ve tried to do as a coach and evolve as a coach. The application of constraints to whatever it is that we’re trying to learn at practice. So like trying to create some rules within those drills to reinforce or to try and create certain situations.
So that’s been something I’ve been challenging myself on to continue to improve it. But we we’re going to play a lot. We’ll do a little bit of breakdown stuff. We probably do some, we’ll do a little bit of maybe some one-on-one finishing, maybe play a little bit of one-on-one each day, both to work on the offensive defensive side and then do some shooting and then be out.
But beyond that, I would say almost every thing else is a little bit of 303, but almost all four and four or five on five.
[00:56:53] Mike Klinzing: It’s an example of the constraints that you might put on a particular drill to get your kids into a situation that you [00:57:00] want them to be able to work on it, to be able to see and to be able to get reps with.
[00:57:03] Jeff Huber: Yeah. So I would say for us offensively, one thing we’re working on right now is this idea of like what we call it. And I think this is a read, react term circle movement so that when the ball’s penetrated, like if a guy drives, right, other guys are moving, right. So almost looks like a wheel kind of, or that’s why they call it circle movement.
And so, like, we were working on something today where we were saying on offense, two things. One is we started off just saying the ball has to touch the paint before we shoot. So that was just to get everybody to to move once. Okay. And then we added, okay, now the ball has to touch the paint twice before you can do it.
Because like, usually what I found was on the first drive, we were pretty good. Our circle moment, but by the time we got to the second drive we were struggling a little bit more. So then we added the second drive to try and make sure that we could do this more than once on a possession. And then the other part of that constraint might be that we were trying to avoid consecutive drive.
So we were trying to say like, we [00:58:00] don’t immediately want to drive, kick it out and drive again because as a general rule, and of course, I would not say this is hard and fast, but as a general rule, when you drive once the defense compacts, and if you throw it out and drive immediately again, you’re driving maybe right back into a compacted defense.
So we would say, we want to penetrate pass, pass before we reattach. So we would say, so like with the second drive, one of the rules was you have to get to pay touches, but it can’t be a consecutive drive. There has to be a pass in between. And so just trying to apply some of it, if you didn’t do it, it was a turnover.
So trying to apply some of those constraints to reinforce the principles that we want to play with within a game, like setting,
[00:58:38] Mike Klinzing: How do you balance that? I know one of the things that we hear from coaches, and we’ve had this discussion before on the pod, how do you balance out when you’re doing the games based approach and you want those reps and that decision-making to come from the kids.
You obviously don’t want to be dictating that from the sidelines, either in practice or in a game [00:59:00] setting, but how do you balance out providing instruction with not interrupting the flow of the drill or the small side of game or whatever it is that you’re doing in the moment? I think that’s something that I know personally, that I struggle with.
And I think there are a lot of other coaches that are trying to figure out how do I strike that balance between I want our kids getting those reps. I want them making decisions. I want to put them in game-like scenarios, but I also want to make sure that I’m teaching and I’m giving them the type of instruction that they need.
So how do you think about that and how do you balance that in your practice setting?
[00:59:37] Jeff Huber: Yeah, it’s so hard. It’s I think it’s probably the biggest challenge. And actually this spring I read a book that Doug Lemov wrote that was called the coach’s guide to teaching, which was just a phenomenal book and had a lot of information about this, like how we provide feedback within a practice.
And one of the main points he said was that, as I read this, I was like, man, I’ve been guilty of this was that we tend to as coaches kind of like overload players, [01:00:00] working memory where it’ll be like, well, I saw these five things you did wrong. So I’m giving you five things you did wrong. And now you’re, so you’re trying to think about five things.
You can’t do any of them, you know? So like one of the main points was that I’m trying to work on this year is like, just give one in at the absolute most, two pieces of. And then do those until you get them right now. The hard thing is sometimes you’ll see five things that are wrong and it’s really, really hard to like put off those other things but I’ve been trying to do that.
So that’s one thing is like just giving focus feedback, just like, we’re gonna get this drill. We’re about this one thing. And once we get that one thing, then we can go to the next. But the other thing in terms of we do stop it quite a bit not at the expense of like having no, no flow to our play, but we will stop it.
Or one of the things I’ve been trying to do more of this year is like I’m subbing guys in and out a little bit more when they need individual feedback. So if I see a mistake that’s been. Three four times in a segment. Okay, I’m going to stop it and I’m gonna address it with the group because it seems like I’ve not [01:01:00] conveyed as clearly enough, or it’s a mistake that needs to be addressed amongst the whole team.
Whereas if it’s a one player that keeps making the same mistake, then you know what, let’s get him a sub. Let me pull him to the side and deal with him. One-on-one. So that’s been another thing that I’ve been trying to do to balance that out, but you’re absolutely right. I mean, that’s the biggest challenge.
So I guess sometimes we’ll do like a three or five possession segment, which allows for like some natural savages to reflect. But then like today we finished up practice with a couple like three or four minute quarters and it knows I try not to stop it at all. But of course it’s hard when you’re seeing all the things you want to address.
[01:01:37] Mike Klinzing: Absolutely. It’s very, very hard. One of the things that I’ve tried this year, Two practices in, oh, sorry. Three practices in with my sixth grade girls. And just over the course of the last three and a half years, I’ve learned so much from our guests, but one of the things that I’ve picked up repeatedly is putting an emphasis on certain things, which [01:02:00] kind of goes to what you spoke about, where you can’t fix 29 mistakes in the same 32nd segment.
It’s impossible. I could tell you all 29 of those mistakes, but no kid high school player. I mean, high school boys, varsity player, sixth grade girl. You’re just not, you’re not able to process all that and make changes. So what I’ve tried to do this year is I picked out. Three themes on offense or three concepts that offense and three concepts on defense.
And that’s pretty much, I’ve decided all I’m going to teach and all I’m really going to focus on. So I try to make sure that whatever drill we do, I’m focused on one of those, one of those things, whether it’s an offensive concept or it’s a defensive concept, and I’m trying to limit my coaching to those six things that I’ve identified, one can help make players better.
And then two that I think can also impact our success in terms of wins and losses out on the floor. And like I said, I’m three [01:03:00] practices in, I am by no means doing a great job of being able to just focus on those things. But I do feel like it’s given me a way to focus cause I tend to be very much.
Scattered all over the place with the way I plan practice with what I’m seeing and what I’m looking at. And so this has really given me a way to kind of zero in on what I feel like is important. And it allows me to plan away from the practice setting where I’m not actually watching those mistakes take place in front of me, where I can say, what are the most important things that my team can take away from this season.
If we do these six things. It doesn’t matter what those other mistakes are. These six things are going to really help us to get better as individuals and to help us win. And so I guess I can provide updates over the course of the season as we, as we go along. But it’s been, it’s been something that’s so far I think is, has worked well and it’s going to continue to work well as I sort of perfected and get better at it as the season [01:04:00] goes along.
[01:04:01] Jeff Huber: And I think that the key to that too, is our discipline as coaches to stick to that like yesterday we had a, not a terrible practice, but not a great practice. And I came home and I was little bit frustrated because of that. And then I was thinking about all these things that I felt like we got to do before our first game, which is still weeks away.
But you know, you start feeling this, like we’ve got a million things that we’ve got to get in or get done before we play. And I was having a conversation, one of our assistants and he, and thankfully he’s just like Let’s just get good at the things we’re going to do a lot. Like what is our basic management offense going to be, how are we going to basically guard the ball and like as opposed to try to do 50 things and do none of them?
Well, let’s just, like you said, let’s just pick a couple of things. Let’s get really good at those before we worry about anything else. And so it’s sometimes even as much as we know that to be the case. It’s good for me to get that reminder last night I do.
[01:04:52] Mike Klinzing: That is so hard to do, to sit and be on the sideline and see a ton of mistakes and [01:05:00] not want to point out and not want to coach and not want to do what we naturally do, which is try to help and try to make our players better.
But as you said, I think the key word that you used was overload. You can’t overload them because we know that after five seconds or 10 seconds or after one constant. They’ve tuned you out. And the most you can hope for is they get that one concept and they get five or 10 seconds worth of instruction.
And if you can discipline yourself as a coach to be able to give them just what they can handle, then I think you’re going to ultimately end up with better results. You’ve talked a couple of times about your assistant coaches and just how you utilize them and what you’re, what you do and bring them, bringing them in and how you have to have trust in them in a practice setting.
How do you define roles for your assistant coaches? Do you have an offensive coordinator, a defensive coordinator, is everybody kind of watching everything? Do you assign certain coaches to certain players? How do you guys organize that piece of it as a staff?
[01:05:58] Jeff Huber: Yeah, so, [01:06:00] well, a couple of different ways. So one of the things that tried to do in the last year or so.
It was like, when I make out a practice plan, now I will put on the practice plan. Like, Hey, here’s what I want Ryan to watch for in this drill. Or here’s what I want Steve to watch for in this drill. So I’ll try and give those guys like one thing. And I think it goes back to the conversation we’ve been having.
You know, sometimes I I, I wonder when I see teams and I see eight coaches yelling at kids, eight coaches yelling at a kid and they’re all yelling at different things. And I’m thinking again, what we’re saying, like this kid is probably taking none of the sentence. So I try and say, Hey, here’s the one thing I want you to watch.
And so one, it allows me to watch something else and two, it allows them to give feedback on one thing that we think is important. And so that’s one thing that I’ve done. And then also just kind of knowing what are the strengths. My strengths are as a coach and knowing what our assistant strikes are more varsity assistant Ryan man, he’s a fantastic shooting coach.
So like I pretty much let him take that with our players for two reasons. One, because. Better at it than I am in two, [01:07:00] because I want our players to hear one voice on that. So I don’t want them to be, he’s working with them one day on shooting at a time to focus on this. And then I’m coming in two days later and telling him something different.
So I that’s been the other thing is like, so like that’s something that he kind of takes is like when he takes a lead on, and then within a practice, I try to divide up points of emphasis within each rail. But, and then when we scrimmage, sometimes if I have more than one assistant there, the other thing I like to do is I’ll have them coach like we’re splitting up into two teams.
I’ll have our assistants, coach the teams one, because I think it’s good for them to like, it’s good experience for them. And two it’s also great for me then to be freed up from that and to take a little bit more of a holistic view and be able to maybe you know, chime in where, where I think most appropriate.
[01:07:44] Mike Klinzing: All right. Let’s shift gears from your staff to the parents of your players. What are some things that you do to engage. The parents of your kids to make sure that you’re getting their support and that you’re keeping them engaged and keeping them [01:08:00] quote unquote, on your side, as things go along.
[01:08:03] Jeff Huber: I think communication is the most important thing.
So I really try to be proactive with our communication. I think that from now having kids who are playing sports, probably that’s the number one thing for me as a parent that I either appreciate about a coach or that frustrates me is like knowing what’s going on and that things aren’t changing on a whim at the last minute or not being communicated.
So that I would say is the number one thing is trying to do that. I’ve really tried in the last year I think like Mike, you’re a teacher as well, so you would probably appreciate this so many times. I think parents only here. A teacher or a coach, if there’s an issue. So I’ve really been trying to go out of my way in the last year or two, maybe more communicate some of the great things that our kids are doing that are, that we’re seeing at practice and just trying to make, make it more positive communications.
And then, so those would be a couple of things and then try to involve our parents with like we’re gonna have a scrimmage Saturday and we’re going to have pizza and pop and everything for everybody afterwards. And just trying to get people together, [01:09:00] just to socialize a little bit in a in a more relaxed setting.
And so we try and do a couple of those things a year. So those are just a couple of things. I think just maybe being approachable, I think that I’m seeing with me with my kids and family around is a positive. And so that’s something that I think I’m trying to do more of I think last year was a challenge because of all the COVID things that were, that were going on.
And that was a real challenge last year. And I think that suffered a little bit because of that. So trying to get back to doing more of that. So it feels like. It’s a basketball program in that. Yes. The whole, the families are part of the program as well. Not just the kids who are in uniform.
[01:09:39] Mike Klinzing: How much are you looking forward to a normal season?
[01:09:39] Jeff Huber: It was just, there were so many things that should have were so frustrating. We had three quarantines not having people at the game coaching and a mask all year so many things were just so challenging. And so, yeah, I mean, look, fingers crossed, cause we’re still, obviously not out of the woods, but I’m really hopeful that this year is going to be a [01:10:00] very, very close to normal.
And I think it gave us all a real appreciation the last year and a half for some of the things that we took for granted in terms of high school athletics or just athletics as a whole prior to that.
[01:10:12] Mike Klinzing: There’s no question that we, I think it’s just like, I was talking to somebody the other day and he was telling me I got it.
I’m sick. I got this cold. I haven’t able to shake it for four or five days and you just forget. When you’re healthy, how good you feel is not about how much you take that for granted? I think high school athletics has sort of been in that same position where, when it was healthy and we were all doing the things that we consider to be normal, you kind of took for granted that there’s fans in the stands and that you didn’t have to wear a mask and that you didn’t have to keep your bench socially distance and all the things that we went through last year.
And now I know that every coach that I’ve talked to is looking forward to having what hopefully is going to be a relatively normal season. We’re still not quite a hundred percent out of the woods, as you said, but I think we’re getting there to wrap things [01:11:00] up. I want to ask you my final two-part question, your biggest challenge going forward, and the biggest joy that you get from waking up every day and knowing that you get an opportunity to coach high school basketball at Westlake.
[01:11:13] Jeff Huber: Yeah, I think for me, the biggest challenge for our program right now is really just establishing that identity from the youth level up that you know, that people, like I said to you earlier, that people understand this is what we want to Westlake basketball player in a Westlake basketball team to be about.
I think we’ve made good strides with that. And I think I’ve been very fortunate this year to have a lot of youth coaches and middle school coaches who are on the same page. But it’s certainly something that’s going to take time. And we just, the first year we’ve used that curriculum I mentioned.
And so I don’t know that we’ll see the dividends of that for a handful of years, but being able to kind of see that through. And I think with that, the challenge that goes along with that is also both seeing the bigger picture of those kids that are in third and fourth grade now will [01:12:00] be a high school before we know it.
Not letting that come at the expense of the kids that I owe my best to every single day at the varsity level. And making sure that I’m always keeping those kids first and foremost while still working towards the future. So trying to strike that balance, I would say the greatest joy is I just, I just love coaching.
You know, it was like, like I said, yesterday was a really frustrating in some ways, a frustrating day. I didn’t think we practice that well I’m laying in bed at night and I’m making notes to myself on this stuff I want to do today. And it’s one of those things where it, like, on the one hand it’s, you’re feeling so frustrated.
But I also know when I’ve had this conversation with my wife and my other coaches that like in us, when we’re not in season, there’s a time where it’s like nice to get that little break. But then like, I feel like there’s something missing. And then it was like today I woke up and as soon as I woke up, I was like I was over being frustrated and I was just excited to get back in the gym with.
And then when you see things start to click and you see the kids start to believe in themselves and believe in each other, that to me is the most rewarding thing. And like, we have [01:13:00] a great group of kids this year who really have worked really hard and also really get along well. And it just makes it fun.
The coach, when you got a group of guys like that. And so that is. That I think I really have anticipated I think we have a pretty good team, but regardless of our record, I think just spending, like just coming and having fun with these guys every day and seeing them improve is the thing that I most enjoy.
[01:13:22] Mike Klinzing: Yeah. If you love your kids and you, and you love your team, even if you don’t end up maybe as successful on the scoreboard, as you would like, you still end up probably having some of your most satisfying seasons. When you have a group of kids that every day, you can’t wait to get to the gym and get to practice and work with those kids and help them be better.
And you just enjoy being around them. And really, again, having an impact on those kids, that’s really what coaching is all about. And I think that when we start talking about what it means to be a coach and what brings us the most joy, I think what you did a really good job of describing that before we wrap up Jeff, I want to give you a chance to [01:14:00] share how people can get in touch with you.
You can share social media, email, website, whatever it is that you want to share. And then after you do that, I’ll jump back in and wrap things up.
[01:14:10] Jeff Huber: Yeah. So we are on all of our social media platforms. So we’re @DemonsHoops on Twitter, WestlakedemonboysBball on Instagram. And then we’ve tried to keep our Westlake webpage pretty updated with we’ve been updated with records and other things that are going on in there.
So those are some places people can follow. Certainly I’ve always loved talking hoops with anybody, you know? So my email is just Huberj@mywlake.org. And I’ll always love hearing from people and connecting with people over this game that I, I know you would agree has given so much to us.
So it’s always fun to kind of give a little bit back or just, just talk groups with someone. So certainly would love to hear from people,
[01:14:48] Mike Klinzing: Jeff, we cannot thank you enough for taking the time out of your schedule. The night to jump out with us, spent a lot of fun, talking basketball and getting to know you a little bit better.
Really appreciate that. And to everyone out there, thank you for [01:15:00] listening and we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.