Marty Smith

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Twitter – @martysmithobc22

Marty Smith is the Head Boys’ Varsity Coach at Kirby (AR) High School.  In his career as a head coach Marty has amassed 820 career wins.  His teams have won 18 conference championships and 7 regional championships. Under Coach Smith the Kirby Trojans have made 19 state tournaments in Arkansas with 5 final fours and 1 championship game appearance.

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Get your pen and paper ready as you listen to this episode with Marty Smith from Kirby High School in the state of Arkansas.

What We Discuss with Marty Smith

  • The early influence of his high school coach
  • Why he chose to be a high school coach rather than pursue college coaching
  • The community support for Kirby Basketball
  • Giving back in the community
  • Pulling double duty coaching both the Junior High and Varsity teams in Kirby
  • Connecting with the youth players building connections throughout the Kirby program
  • Practice length and avoiding burnout
  • Getting player input and suggestions
  • Not being afraid to ask for help, especially when you’re a young coach
  • Building a network of coaching friends
  • How brutal honesty helps build trust with players & parents
  • The importance of informal conversations in building relationships with players
  • Tips for practice organization
  • Breaking the monotony with a fun drill
  • How he gets his team to play hard
  • A story about being more than just a coach to his players

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[00:00:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the Hoop Heads Podcast. It’s Mike Klinzing here without my co-host Jason Sunkle tonight, who is taking care of his young daughter, trying to give his wife a little break. But we are fortunate enough to be joined tonight by Marty Smith from Kirby High School in the state of Arkansas.

Marty, welcome to the podcast.

Marty Smith: [00:00:16] Thanks for having me.

Mike Klinzing: [00:00:17] We are excited to have you on. And get a chance to dive into your basketball story. Hopefully learn some things can help our audience and benefit the coaches out there that are trying to improve their craft. Marty wanted to start out by asking you about how you got into the game of basketball when you were a young kid.

What made you fall in love with it?

Marty Smith: [00:00:34] From the time I was probably fourth grade, fifth grade, I really enjoyed it. I was always better at baseball, but,  I just really enjoyed the game of basketball,  playing out in the yard with my, my neighbors and, and,  we all just kinda fell in love with it,  competing against each other.

And. Then,  got into high school. And again, I was, I was a better baseball [00:01:00] player and,  but I, I just always enjoyed being around the game and had,  had a coach that, that knew I enjoyed it. And,  he kind of pushed me, you know, wanted me to try being a coach. And,  I just,  would go out and sit on the bench with him during games and go to practices and things like that.

And,  it was just one of those things where I, I knew that,  I wanted to do that someday.

Mike Klinzing: [00:01:27] What was it about a, first of all, the game of basketball that you liked as a player, and then B, was it mostly your coaches influence that sort of led you to think that you might have wanted to get into coaching or was it something else?

What was it about a playing that first made you fall in love with the game and then B, what was it about the idea of eventually making coaching your career that kinda got you thinking that way?

Marty Smith: [00:01:53] It was just, it was just the, the intensity of it, you know, the, the crowd,  people [00:02:00] showing up. Of course, you know, I went to a small school here in Arkansas, and,  you know, as the only show in town and everybody showed up for, for the games.

And,  You know, it was really a big deal. And then once I got on up into,  you know, college, even though I was playing baseball, I just always said that, you know, I’d want to go back to my old high school and, and,  you know, talk ball and sit and, you know, talk to the coach. Like after the game, I’d hang around and visit with him for hours upon hours, you know, and, and it just,

Just seeing how hard he worked. And he had, you know, teams that weren’t always the most talented, but they just played so hard. And,  I just really thought that was something I’d be interested in. You know, I, when I started in college, I thought that, you know, I’m going to be, I’m gonna major in accounting.

I’m want to be a business guy. And it didn’t take long. Going into those accounting classes, I’m like, man, this is not something, of [00:03:00] course, you always fall trying to follow in the footsteps of my older brother. And,  he was, he had gone there,  going to college and got an accounting degree and course he was out making all this money.

And I thought, man, that’s something I’d really be into, but I just never could get into it.  I just dreaded going to school every day. And,  finally when I decided, you know, he was a big influence in that too. He told me, he said, man, you need to do something that you’re good at. Something that you enjoy, you love being around kids, and you’ve always loved basketball.

 you might, you might want to consider, you know, trying to coach and, and I had been thinking that, you know, every time I’d get up at nine o’clock class for go to accounting one, I was thinking, I do not want to do this, but,  I just kinda, I gotta just said, you know, I’m going to go forward. This is something I want to do.

And when I went out and told my, my high school coach that I’m, you know, I went out there and told him I want to change my major,  and he just grand, he said, I knew you were, I knew you were going to get to that [00:04:00] point. And,  I said, well, I’m going to depend on you a lot, you know, and, and he was real instrumental in everything, you know, just trying to.

 set me up and you know, he, he would have to miss practices every now and then to go with his wife to the doctor and he’d, he’d leave me in charge, you know, and here I am, a 19, 20 year old kid out there, you know, coaching kids and I’m not much older there and telling them what to do. And, and he told them, you know, you’re going to respect him and you do what he said.

Ah, man. It was just, it was awesome. I just, I fell in love with it and I knew that that was my call and that’s what I needed to be doing.

Mike Klinzing: [00:04:37] Yeah, I think that that’s, it’s interesting, I think how different people come to the coaching profession and you hear some people that they have kind of a moment when they get done playing and they’re like, Oh, now I’ve got to figure out how to stay in the game and I want to be a coach.

And there’s other people who. You know, kinda like you, you had, you had these inklings that I think clearly your high school coach knew [00:05:00] that at some point you were going to come back to the, you were going to come back to the coaching profession, even if you didn’t necessarily know it. But I think that eventually everybody who gets there, it’s just because you have that passion for young people and then the sport that you love becomes the vehicle to be able to impact young people.

And that’s not, I hear you come in, you know? That’s what I hear coming from you. Especially. Sounds like your high school coach had such a strong influence on you, not just eventually on your coaching career, but just on you as a human being. So I think that when we have somebody in our lives who impacts us in that way, I think that for coaches, that’s what ends up.

We look back on our, our lives in sports, and we say that person really had an impact on me, and then I want to be able to make and have that same impact on people going forward. So when you started thinking about. You know, when you change your major from accounting and you knew you wanted to get into coaching, did you always have the idea that I want to be a teacher coach at the high school level?

Did you ever have any thought about [00:06:00] coaching at a level higher than that, or did you always know high school was the place where I wanted to be because that’s where my role models were.

Marty Smith: [00:06:07] I started that, you know, when I first started,  You know, I thought, man, I might want to be a college coach. And,  of toyed with it a little bit, but it was just always, I’ve never really got real serious about it because,  I knew that, you know, on the high school level, I could really connect with those kids.

And, and I wanted to be around, you know, if I wasn’t going to have a family, I wanted to be there.  You know, for my kids. And, and of course, you know, recruiting,  you’re going a lot and things like that. So I, I thought about it at one time and I had had a really good friend of mine after my first couple of years of a coach and had told me, he said, man, I can, you know, I’m, I can get you a grad assistant ship at the, at the university of Arkansas if you’re interested in it.

And my dad was sick with cancer at the time, and I thought about it, you know, [00:07:00] and I thought, you know, I really don’t need to go that far away. I need to kind of. You know, stay closer for my family.  and I didn’t go. And it’s one of those things where I look back on it now and I think, you know, I’m not sure that none that, because they won the national championship in 94, and I might, could have been on the dance, you know, and some kid handing out towels or water bottles or something like that.

But it’s not anything that I’ve really ever lost a whole lot of sleep over. I’m, I’m real happy with it. With the path that I took. You know, it’s a, I’ve always told people that, that I could do exactly what I wanted to do in this game from right where I’m at here. And that’s, I’ve been here for, this is,  just finished my 27th year here and I’m,  29 years of coaching overall.

And I’ve always been at a, at a small school and, and,  it’s just been one of those things where I never really considered.  leaving very many times. It’s just been [00:08:00] a really good fit for me.

Mike Klinzing: [00:08:01] Yeah, absolutely. I think that that’s something we just, right before we talked to you, we talked to Steve Moore, who is the head coach of a division three school here in Ohio, and he’s actually the second all time when he is coach.

At the division three level in NCAA history. And one of the things that we talked to him about was, Hey, did you ever have a thought of, obviously with the tremendous success that he had in his program, I said, I’m sure people came knocking at your door at various points during your career and said, Hey, have you ever thought about, you know, moving up to division two or division three and did you ever have any of those opportunities?

And his answer was, yes. Pretty similar to yours in that he said, yeah, I had some opportunities, but I knew that the place where I was, I was happy and it fit my personality and I knew I could continue to have success here. And because of that, even though I looked at the opportunities and I considered them, ultimately I knew that this was where.

I belonged. And it sounds like that’s the same thing for you, that you feel [00:09:00] comfortable in that environment. So when you think about a small school environment, what is it that you love about the small school, high school environment? What are some of the big positives that you look at? What you say as a coach of a small high school?

What is it that is really a positive about that particular situation?

Marty Smith: [00:09:18] Well, we do. We don’t have football. First and foremost. I may not get my. My kids, I can get them, you know, every day of the year if I want them. And,  that’s,  that’s one thing that is very positive. And another thing is,  when you’ve, when you’ve had a little success, you know, and like I said earlier, this, you know, it’s the only show in town, you know, and,  every Tuesday and Friday night, they, they packed this little gym we have here.

And,  it’s just,  you know, people. Are very, very passionate about their basketball. And they’re really proud of our program. And I mean, we go off to the state tournaments and in regional tournaments and everything. It’s amazing how many [00:10:00] people are there supporting us. And I’ve had some really good friends of mine that have gone from say, you know, to ACE schools and, or three ACE schools, and they’ve moved up and coached and the biggest classifications and, and some of them, and even tried.

 college ball too. And they’ll always come back and tell me, man, don’t mess with happy. If you’re happy and you’re, you know, you got a good thing going there. Don’t mess with happy. And, and that’s really kind of stuck with me, man. It really has. I’ve, I’ve had a lot of people that, you know, well, this, you know, we just finished up our state tournament,  last month and man, I had so many people that come up to me and have called and texted and said, I just cannot believe y’all crowd.

And it’s just amazing how many people that y’all have come working on. That’s really cool. I’m, I’m kinda jealous, you know, and I’ve got a really good, really good friend of mine, you know, one of the, I’ve been lucky to be my best friend in the whole world, bill Taylor. And,  he came and watched this play [00:11:00] and he’d said the same thing.

He just, you know, he’ll shake his head and say, dude, don’t mess with happy. He said, you’re right. You’re so lucky to be where you are, just enjoy it. So I’ve kind of taken that kind of stuff to heart, man. I, I know guys that have left and gone on and tried to go to bigger schools and chase some money a little bit or, you know, and they’ll always,  one guy told me, he said, man, I spent the rest of my career trying to get back to what I once had when I was in a small school.

So that, that’s kinda been my motto. You know, don’t mess with happy. Yeah. I

Mike Klinzing: [00:11:29] think that’s a great motto. I honestly think that a lot of times, not just, this doesn’t just apply to coaching. I think it applies to life in general, that I think, I want to say that it was. Mike Dunlap, who’s the coach now of oil Amera mountain.

He also coached the Charlotte Bobcats at one point, and I heard him speak down at Jay Bellis camp last summer, and then we also had him on the podcast, but I remember him saying during theJ  bill his thing, a similar saying to what you said, and that was that there’s always a price to pay for leaving [00:12:00] happy and.

You know, you might have a job that you really love and yeah, there’s an opportunity at a bigger school or a different school or in another state or something that offers you more money. And his point was that there are great coaches at every single level of the game. You can have guys who are tremendous.

Youth basketball coaches. You can have guys who are tremendous coaches at smallest levels of high school. You can have tremendous coaches in college at all levels and on up to the professionals. And it really doesn’t matter what level you’re coaching. What matters is that you’re having an impact on your players.

And I think that those don’t mess with happy is a great way to organize your life and your career. Because I think, again, if you think about teaching your own kids. What are you trying to, what are you trying to get them to do? If you could have one wish for your kids, I think it’s that they’d be happy in their life.

And so if you’ve gotten to that point where you’re happy with what you’re doing, then man, why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you want to stay? And I [00:13:00] think that’s, there’s something to be said for that. I want to go back to something that you’ve said,  when you talked about the state tournament and just the number of fans and people commenting about what a great crowd you had, have you done anything?

Is there anything that you can point to. Other than the fact that you just live in a town that loves basketball. Is there anything that you as the coach of the varsity program has done to. Sort of foster that community involvement and get people behind your team. Do you guys do things in the community?

Is there any tips you could give for a coach out there who’s trying to maybe engage their community, get more people to come out and support their program? Anything that you’ve had success with?

Marty Smith: [00:13:37] Ah, well, not as far as the community goes. It was really kind of locked that when I got here. I mean, it was,  they just, Kirby really enjoyed to love their basketball.

 one of the things that, that,  You know, this gym is open. It’s not now, of course, but we tried to make it a point for all of [00:14:00] my kids a 365 days a year. They want in the gym. I don’t want them to not be able to go. And we’ll have a lot of, you know, it’s so funny, you know, early October we’ll have people, we’ll be running a scrimmage or something at night, and we may have 60, 50, or 60 people there watching.

And,  just they want to come up and see what kind of team you got, you know, and, and,  who’s looking good and things like that. And,  but. You know, as far as this doing anything, you know, out of the ordinary? Not really. I really don’t think so. It’s just the, the real passionate about it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:14:40] Yeah. That’s terrific.

I mean it’s, it’s exciting to hear, cause I think one of the things, and I’m here in Ohio and one of the things that I’ve noticed over the years is that just across the board, I would say there’s been probably less, I think community support and support within the student [00:15:00] body of. A lot of school. Not every school has had that kind of drop off, but I feel like just across the board there’s been a sense of it’s just people aren’t as invested in high school basketball as maybe they were 15 or 20 years ago, and it’s great to hear when I get a chance to talk to coaches who do have that same type of community support and the support of the student body, I just think that makes such a difference in terms of.

The environment that you get to coach in and then the environment that your kids get to play. And there’s nothing better than playing in front of a packed house, whether you’re playing at home and those people are cheering for you, or sometimes it’s even more satisfying to play on the road with a hostile crowd and keep them quiet by playing really well.

And so. I’m glad to hear that. I’m glad to hear that you’re having that kind of community support. It’s gotta be fun to be in that environment day after day.

Marty Smith: [00:15:48] Yeah. It really is. And, and this community here, I mean, everybody kind of bonds together. I was just sitting here thinking as you were talking, I mean, we’ve had,  you know, people [00:16:00] that, you know, have circumstances that come up in their, in their life, you know, and, and we had,  one of our,  neighboring schools here a few years ago.

Is this a.  they had,  a grandparent that was a real instrumental in summer basketball and everything. And, and this lady had passed away and her son actually went to a different school, a neighboring school here. And one of my seniors come to me and said, you know. That lady was at every game we played in the summer.

She kept a book, you know, endless days. I think it’d be real neat if, if our whole team just loaded up and went to her funeral visitation, and this was come from the kid and I didn’t come up with this. Awesome. You know Logan, that’s probably a really good idea. So he, he organized a meeting. He was our team captain and he got all the kids together.

He said, we’re all going to wear our travel tops. We’re all going to go to this funeral visitation because this lady has helped raise us in this community. And. We loaded up in about four or [00:17:00] five different vehicles and all 20 of us showed up at this, you know, visitation. And,  I, it was a pretty neat deal to see the looks on the people’s faces because these were people that are, they were arrivals, you know, they, during the school year, we, we play against them and want to beat them and everything.

But,  He had organized this for all of us to get together and go over there. And it was really a neat deal, you know? And I,  the family continued to, you know, they thanked me and thanked me. I said, man, you know, I can’t take credit for this. This come from my kids. They wanted to do this. And,  so I think things like that when you have, you know, good kids and people know that they’re good kids and they’ll, they’ll help you out.

You know, they’re not just in it for basketball. They’re trying to, you know, good be good people. Also.

Mike Klinzing: [00:17:42] Yeah. That to me really is what it’s all about. If I could boil down coaching to one thing, I think it’s really having a positive impact on. Kids and using the game of basketball, which we’d love to be able to do that.

And I think that story really illustrates, even though you’re not directly [00:18:00] taking credit for organizing, that I think the fact that you had an influence on that young man that was on your team, and I’m sure his parents obviously had an impact in raising a quality kid who. Again, it’s thinking of others and really that’s something that I don’t think you can put a price tag on that we can all, we all know that ultimately the coaching profession to some degree, depending on what your school administration is like and depending on where, what your community’s like, we all get judged by our one loss record.

To some degree, but yet I think really what’s ultimately most important is the things that you just described is what kind of people are we putting out there into society after our time with those kids is over. And that story speaks volumes about what kind of kid that kid was. And then obviously what your other players who you know followed, you gotta have a leader, but then you’ve gotta have kids who are willing to follow the right leaders because we know there are times where.

Kids can follow the wrong leaders. And so you as a coach are obviously setting the tone for making that happen. [00:19:00] So let me ask you this. When you think about your role as the head varsity coach, and not, obviously, not only is your responsibility to. Coach the varsity team, but you have the responsibility of sort of running the entire K to 12 program and figuring out what that’s gonna look like.

So can you talk to us a little bit about how you develop your youth program and what that looks like and how, what your role is in, in running the youth program?

Marty Smith: [00:19:27] We have a really good, you know, Peewee program. We have some kids that are, I say they’re not, they’re not kids now, but it’s,  some people are, have played for me through the years and, you know, their kids are coming on now and they’ve taken the role of wanting to,  coach,  you know, at an early age.

And,  Then I’m also the junior high basketball coach too. I, and I really enjoy that. I mean, I want to, I want to coach the junior high kids because I want them, I want to have them for that three years before [00:20:00] they, I get them in, you know, the high school and, okay.  but. I just kinda, you know, I’ll, I’ll step in on practices and watch them, watch them workout and stuff, you know?

And it’s, it’s just really neat to see them when they start. And then once they get to play in games, and of course I got to see that with my son and daughter both firsthand, you know, and,  starting as a second or third grader, and then just. Fallen in love with the game and I’ll go a lot of times out on the playgrounds.

You know, when they’re, when they’ve got a five on five game going out there, I like to just go stand and watch, you know, I don’t go as a coach. I just go to watch and support them and, and  somebody does something good. I’ll go give them a high five and just kind of make it. For the, for the younger kids, you know, make it real low key.

You know what, don’t go out there and act like that. You know how you miss that shot? Give me 10 pushups, you know, just try to make it fun for them and hope the, hopefully they continue to fall in love with it. And, and we do a,  an elementary camp here every year, and [00:21:00] we have. So many kids. I mean, it’s, it’s awesome to see it.

And we’ve even, you know, we’ve got a lot of kids from,  from our area schools, you know, around us that will bring their young ones up here. I think we may be the, the only school around here right now that’s doing an elementary,  camp. And we don’t do any, we don’t do the trophies for everything. We don’t do the contest.

It is. Strictly fundamental basketball and,  it’s passing. It’s, you know, dribbling. It’s, but it works, you know, we’re trying to make it fun for them.  but we’re going to try to, that’s what I tell them all the time. You know, we, we got you for three days. We’re not going to be your babysitter. We’re going to try to teach you how to play a little bit.

And,  then it’s, it’s pretty neat when I get them in seventh grade, you know. Seeing these kids that, that have watched, you know, since the first grade, and then all of a sudden they’re sitting in front of me and I’m talking to them about, you know, what I expect from them. And,  it’s pretty cool. You know, they,  I’ve had parents come up to me and say, man, my [00:22:00] son has, has wanted to play for you for three or four years now.

And he is, I can’t, I can’t lie. It’s pretty cool that, that my son’s finally getting to play for you. You know, it’s, it’s pretty neat. They may not feel that after the first. That’s awesome. That was one,

Mike Klinzing: [00:22:15] right? I understand. I understand that. That was, that was going to be my next question I was going to ask you, which is, and I think you, I think you answered it, but we can kind of go into a little bit more depth.

To me, I think what’s very, very important in a high school program is the, the setting up of a situation where kids from the time they’re very, very young, want to. Be a part of that high school program that they aspire eventually to work at their game, to continue to get better so that they can play and put on the Jersey and go out and play on Friday night for coach Smith.

To me, I think that that the setting up that scenario to me is super [00:23:00] valuable. And so I think by you a having the camp and then B bye. Being the junior high coach and getting those kids and having them see you all the time. Those kids, as that parents said. They’re excited. They know you. They know that they’re going to eventually get an opportunity to play for you since you’ve been there for such a long time.

And so as a result of that, I’m sure that that inspires many more kids a to just get involved and then be those kids who are involved to probably work just that much harder because they know what’s coming up ahead of them. To me, that’s invaluable. As a high school coach to set that up. Do you agree with that?

Marty Smith: [00:23:43] I do. I totally do. We have an end zone here in our gym. It’s kind of, you know, students section and, and it’s so funny,  you know, when I start back to the locker room. To talk to my players, a lack at the end of the third [00:24:00] quarter of the girls’ game, and I’ve been doing it this way for, you know, 27 years. I always walk along the baseline, go to our locker room, and the kids will get over on the, they’ll get on that rail when you start walking by and they all want to high five, you know, and you’ll watch them during the game and they’ll just be, they’ll just be leaning over that real watching those kids, you know, and, and I can remember my son doing it, you know, my son.

It would be in the living room with a Nerf Nerf goal. And,  he could, it was so funny. He could, as a second, third grader, he could mimic the shot of every one of my players because he, he had watched them and studied them so much, and he would, it was so funny. He’d say, dad, who’s this? And I’d say, Oh, that’s, that’s Lucas.

Yeah, he’s lefthanded jump up. I said, who’s this here? And it was just so neat, you know? And,  But he was one of those kids, you know, it was always standing on that rail. They all want to high five, and they,  they get behind it. You know.

[00:25:00] Mike Klinzing: [00:24:59] Absolutely. Do your players get involved in the camp? And so are the kids not only seeing you, but are they also seeing your varsity players get involved with them?

Marty Smith: [00:25:07] Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Yeah. I’ll, we’ll have,  as many that want to help.  of course, some of them have jobs and everything that camp can’t make it, but I’ll usually, you know, I’ve usually got four or five of them out there and,  I’ve gotten old enough now that where I don’t try to demonstrate a whole lot of, of, of dribbling and stuff like that.

I might embarrass myself, but I always have.  and that, and I’ll make a point, you know, every year when I introduce them, you know, this, this guy is a three year starter for us. He’s been all state twice. And you know, he averaged so many points a game. And, and it’s so neat to see the look on those kids’ faces.

You know? It’s like, it’s like they’re looking at LeBron, you know? But. Yeah. It’s really not. Absolutely.

Mike Klinzing: [00:25:48] That’s the way it’s, that’s the way it should be though. I mean that honestly, like that’s the way I think. If you’re a high school coach and you want to have longterm success. In a program, [00:26:00] to me, building that connection between the young kids in your community and your varsity players, and you yourself as the coach, like those kids got to know you.

They got to know your players. They got to be at your games so that there’s that aspiration piece of, someday I want to put on those colors. And I want to run out of the tunnel with the fight song playing and I want to be out on that floor. And too often, I think that nowadays that that is lost because we all know, and we can kind of speak to this too, maybe a little bit, is the amount of time.

That is required of a high school coach today, I think is more than it’s probably ever been in terms of what the baseline is,  as far as the amount of time that’s required from off season workouts to strength and conditioning, to watch and film, to scouting, to all the different things that we all know that coaches do.

But I think they do it more now. Than they ever have. And so [00:27:00] I think it’s really, really important for a coach to be able to put that time in, despite the fact that, again, it’s just one more thing on your plate. But to me it’s, it’s a very, very important thing if you’re going to run a complete program.

Marty Smith: [00:27:14] Right. I agree with you.

Mike Klinzing: [00:27:16] So let me ask you this. When you think about. Those kids coming up and how do you balance, this is what I wanted to ask you from before. How do you balance your time with not only coaching the varsity, but also coaching the junior high? How does that work in terms of time management for you?

Marty Smith: [00:27:32] Well, we practiced the junior high kids a second period, which starts about nine nine Oh five somewhere in there. And our school actually goes, we have a four day work week. We don’t go on a Friday. And,  so we actually don’t let out school to four, 10 that every day. So what we’ll do is we’ll practice from nine to 10.

Oh five, 10, 10, and then,  a few days a week we’ll bring them back. [00:28:00]  and then my senior high goes. We started our practice at three Oh five and then we go to however no long week, you know, need. Usually I, I’ve kind of changed through the years. I don’t, I used to be two and a half hours every day. The switch is going to be, now we’ve shortened it back to, you know, an hour and a half, a hour and 45 now.

That’s a long practice for us. And then that gives me time also to bring back the junior half. I want to do that at the end after, after I get done with them.

Mike Klinzing: [00:28:32] Yeah. Understood.  I’m curious about the, just your change in philosophy in terms of the length of time for practice. Cause this is something that is sort of near and dear to my heart.

 as a college player, I always felt like during our season, there were times when I was playing where I was like, why are we practicing for two hours, two and a half hours the day before the game, or two days before a game? And just. You know, beating ourselves into the ground. And then when I first [00:29:00] started coaching,  I coached my, I coach 13 years at the high school level, but the first, I think 11, we had the exact same staff.

So I was in the assist, I was the assistant varsity coach and we had a head coach.  and then we had a JV coach and we were all relatively young at the time. And none of us,  our head coach was, was married, but the other two of us were single. And we used to have these. Like three, three and a half hour practices.

And then after that we kind of sit in the coach’s office and talk and you know, you just think about it. It seemed like we had endless time. Way back then before I had kids and a wife and you know, a family at home. And I think back on that time now, and I’m like. What, what possibly could we have been accomplishing in that third hour, that last 30 minutes of a three hour and 30 practice?

Like it could have been, it had to be next to nothing. So I’m just curious that, what point did you start to come to a, maybe an understanding or just start to shift your philosophy away from those super long practices to, to shorten them up? What made [00:30:00] you change that?  the practice times,

Marty Smith: [00:30:04] I think it was not.

Eight and 99 we had gone 33 and two and 33 and three and got beaten in the regional tournament both years. And we were one of the top teams in the state. And I mean. I really think I burned them out. I mean, I look back on it now and I think men, we get them the first day of school, you know, cause we don’t have football.

We start practicing in August and then we play, you know, we play 40 games a year. And by the end of the year. They were wore out. They were exhausted. And I was talking to an older coach and he told me, he said, you know, he said,  you want those kids that when they leave practice everyday, they’re still hungry.

They want some more. And he said, that way when it gets, you know, time at the end of the year, they’ll start to peak. He said, [00:31:00] you may be peaking too soon. I thought, well, you know, I don’t know about that. Well, I had twins and in a. August of 1999 and my wife was in graduate school and she would have to go to little rock,  three days a week, which is, you know, hour and 45 minutes from here.

So I was, there wasn’t anybody to keep the kids so. Three 34 o’clock every day. I’d have to be at home because my mother-in-law would have to leave, and so I’d have to go keep to keep two infants, you know? Well, that year we didn’t have near the talent that we had had the year before, two years before. And I mean, we weren’t even close to, I didn’t think is.

As talented or as good. We ended up in the state semi-finals and got, got beat in overtime to keep from going to the championship. And I really look back on it now and I think, man, I really think it was because I would go in and I, my wife would be talking to me all day and look, you’ve got to make sure you’re at home.

You’ve got to be there about three 45 blah, [00:32:00] blah, blah. I’m like, I’ll be there. I’ll be there. So I’ll go into my practice nuts. This is back when we would, you know. We didn’t start at three Oh five we’d start like two 15 or something like that and I’d go in there. I saw it, look us, I need, I need to be out of here in an hour and 10 minutes.

Can I get an hour and 10 minutes of everything you got? And then we’re out of here. And it was like, yeah, yeah, that’s it. We’re going to be out of here by three 45. Absolutely. And I mean, it looked like, I mean, they were at there and they were just all over the place and, and then that’s a great job. Stack it up, let’s go.

And it just seemed like we continued to get better all year long, and we ended up in the state tournament that year and played our best basketball,  in the tournament. So I thought, man, you know, you dummy, if you’d have done this last two years, you, you might’ve won a championship. But,  we kind of figured it out.

And that’s what I’ll tell my players now. I said, I’m on, I won’t get it. I’m gonna get it out of you one way or [00:33:00] the other. We can do it with a ball or without, but you know, you’re going to give me everything you got. We may not be in here, but an hour and a half, but I want everything you got in that hour and a half and a, and it’s, it seemed to work.

It seems like, you know, we, we.  continue to improve, you know, all year long. You know, when you play that many games in a season, there’s going to be, you know, ups and downs, peaks and valleys, and you’re going to beat a good team and then somebody’s going to beat you. And it’s,  we just try to, you know, rebound from it and come back to practice and, and,  work on the things that we need to work on and then get them out of there as quick as we can.

And I really think that I’ve had more kids, more kids during that time that want to stay after. And also, Hey, you want to stay after and shoot, go ahead man. Nobody in the gym. You go ahead and we’ll have kids that may stay up there an extra hour just working on their craft.

Mike Klinzing: [00:33:50] One. It’s interesting that sometimes those accidental discoveries end up being the most valuable, and who knows?

Who knows? At what point. You may have come to that on your [00:34:00] own. It just took a, took an extenuating circumstance to kind of drive the point home and then I think you’re 100% right. When you think about. Having a shorter, more intense practice, and then that does, in a lot of cases, encourage kids to stick around and work a little bit on their game.

They’d be on some things that you know are important to them or things that they know they got to work on. Things that you may not have time to do within the confines of your own individual practice. Because we know as important as skill development is, there’s still a lot of team stuff that you have to get in in order to be able to have success out on the court.

And so if kids can be put in some extra time after. The practice in order to deal with do that. To me, that seems like the best, you know? That’s, that’s the best of both worlds, right? Well, we think about. You from the beginning,  the beginning of your coaching career to where you are now, what are one or two things that you feel like you’ve improved that as a coach from when you first started?

If you can narrow that down to a couple of things, maybe that you started out, you’re like, Ooh, if I look back [00:35:00] on the way I used to do those things. Maybe I wasn’t so good at that then and now I feel like I’ve really gotten a handle on that.

Marty Smith: [00:35:07] Well, Tom management being one for sure, you know, managing practice.

But another thing is it, it really changed when I started having kids and, and having, having kids at my house that you hear them talk, you know, and, and my son was, you know, he was. He would just tell me, man, dad, we need some rest. We need a break. And I think I’ve gotten better at, you know, instead of saying, you know, OK, we’re gonna,  we’re gonna run forever.

We’re gonna. I think I’ve gotten a lot better just kind of feeling, you know, not being, not being the coach. It says this my way or the highway. I, a lot of times I’ll get, you know, my seniors together at the end of practice, and I’ll say, what do in your, in your opinion, what do we need to do right now? What do we need to work on from, you know.

The next 10 minutes and you throw it back in their lap. And [00:36:00] your seniors kind of, you know, your captains will say, I think we need to work on our free throw shooting and then y’all, I’ll have one.  my son was always wanted, I think we need to work on our end of game stuff. You know, 30 seconds left on the clock situations.

And before when I was a young coach, I wouldn’t really care what they thought we needed to do. It’s my way or the highway. And I think. You know, I, I started listening more to my kids. I think I just kinda,  had a little bit more compassion for him. Maybe.

Mike Klinzing: [00:36:30] I think having your own kids definitely changes you in that way for sure.

Cause I think when you’re single or you’re married and you don’t have kids, I think it’s very easy to just kind of get caught up in. Me and what I want to do and what I believe. And then of course, just I think in general, if you look at the way the coaching profession has changed over the last 30 years, you go back 30 years ago and there was many more my way or the highway coaches.

And I think that. People who are [00:37:00] of a similar age bracket.  as you and I, a lot of the coaches that we played for,  that was what we saw on TV. That was what, that was how we were coached in many cases. And so I tell people all the time that I think about when I got my first coaching job and I was a pretty bad coach because.

One I thought I knew a lot because I was a division one player and you know, nobody really is going to be able to tell me much of anything. So I thought I bought a new a whole lot. And so there was that piece of it. And then the second piece of it was, is that when I think about what I did in terms of the actual drills and strategies and whatever, like basically it was either my high school coach.

Or my college coach. So really I only took from two guys. I didn’t go out and try to learn from anybody else. I just took and did what I knew and. You know, you think about that now and just the, the wealth of resources that are out there as a coach, if you want to improve and get better. And generally speaking, the coaching profession has [00:38:00] shifted away from that by way of the highway and to more of what you described, which is the communication and the relationship building and trying to get the most out of kids.

You know. In a positive, loving way as opposed to a, Hey, you’re going to do this or else type of situation. So when you think about your evolution as a coach, what are some things, or what are some go-to resources, whether it’s mentors that you talk to or just things that you do to improve your craft over the course of your career?

If you want to go out and you want to learn something, what’s your go to resource that? Is it books? Is it clinics? Is it mentors? Where do you like to go to it. To improve yourself as a coach?

Marty Smith: [00:38:40] Well, I’ve been very fortunate in my whole coaching career to be surrounded by a lot of really, really good coaches.

And that’s always been my thing. And I tell young coaches this all the time, man, do not be afraid to ask for help. I mean, that’s so many young coaches. They’ve [00:39:00] already got it figured out, and I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that. And I’ve always. Then wrap the opposite. I always wanted to reach out and, and  to other coaches.

I mean, not to this day.  I’ve got some retired coaching friends, and when I call them in February, they know what I’m doing when I call him, you know,  I want to know how they did this or how they, you know, attack this. And I’ve even gone as far as as had some of them come to my practices and just watch practice.

And just from an outsider’s view, tell me what you think we need to work on. Okay. What do you think we need to do? Are we doing this correct. And,  this past year I had one of my buddies come down. He drove three and a half hours to work with us on some matchup. A zone defense.  a couple of years ago, I had a friend of mine that has re,  retired and lives in hot Springs.

I had him come over like the week before [00:40:00] we started postseason just to talk to them and just tell him, you know, you know what, what they can do. Kind of give them a motivational speech, you know, and,  it’s kind of, you know, build them up a little bit. And,  that, and plus I do like to go to clinics.  I enjoy that and, but, you know, some of the best clinics are sitting around a hotel when you’re at a clinic and visiting with some of your coaching buddies.

You know, I mean, I’ve gotten so much from guys and,  I can remember being at Tunica, Mississippi for the Knocky clinic one year, and. We’re all fired up. Everybody was going to go see John Calipari play or talk and all this. And I got more from our hotel room that night than I did at the actual clinic, because a lot of the times when a college coach is talking to you, he’s talking about getting it into a six 11 post guy.

We don’t have any of those. So,  you know, it just kind of, I’ve got some, you know, some [00:41:00] GoTo guys that,  That I’ll call loan and I’m, I’m dead. They know I’m not afraid to help and I think they’re the same way. I mean, anytime I can help somebody up, I certainly want to  to be there for him to reach out to.


Mike Klinzing: [00:41:12] think that’s one of the other things too that we found from doing the podcast is just how willing coaches are out there to share what they know and share what they do. And we all know that to some degree we’re all just borrowing or stealing from other people anyway. There’s very few of us who are.

And reinventing the wheel and coming up with something completely unique, just about anything that is new in the game has probably been around in some form or fashion somewhere. And so I think that the internet era and just the fact that we can now, Hey, it’s so easy to share and be, I think even if you wanted to keep things secret and under wraps, it’s almost impossible now with the amount of film that’s out there and just the

The easy connectivity that everybody has. There’s no way to keep anything secret. And so I [00:42:00] think that’s been honestly a great thing for the coaching profession is just how, how much it’s opened up and how much people are willing to share. And that could be people like you described, who are your good friends or their retired coaches, or the people who live across the state that you could call up and talk to or have show up at your practice.

And then you think about. I know you had an opportunity. I saw you tweeting about it.  the virtual coaches clinic, just all those guys that are on there sharing, I mean, that thing, it was incredible. The quality of people that, that they had there. It was just, I mean, it was just amazing. And here you have all these guys again who are super accomplished in the game and at their various levels in their.

They’re all willing to share. To me, that’s completely invaluable. Then I just wanted to follow up with what you said about bringing somebody in to watch your practice. Do you find that when you bring somebody in to watch that they sometimes catch something that in their mind when they talk to you, they’re like, God, it’s so obvious that you guys need to do this, and you’re like, well, I never really.

[00:43:00] I never really noticed that I, that that to me, I think would be the biggest insight. And you find that to be

Marty Smith: [00:43:05] absolutely. Yeah. No question about it. I mean, they’ll sit there and they’ll watch for a little bit and it’s like the  so you always do this. And I was like, always do what? Yeah. I had, I had a college coach in here one time that was recruiting one of my players,  and he walked in the front door and.

He,  comes in, introduces himself to me, and he said, ah, that’s him right there, isn’t it? I said, yeah, big left-hander. I said, yeah, that’s him. He said, can I, can I tell him something real quick? I said, sure. Yeah, go ahead, coach. And he stepped out on the court. He goes, he introduced himself and he said, Hey,  you’re taking that, you’re taking that ball, you know, you’re, you, there’s too much wasted motion.

Shorten that stroke up a little bit. You know, you’re taking it from, from down low and you know, get it right here and just shorten it up. And I’ve been sitting here watching this kid all year long and he’s a heck of a good player. [00:44:00] And man, he started wearing it out. And that’s like, well, that makes me feel real good.

And he started laughing. He said, man, he said, I just come in off the street. And he said, you see it every day. You’ve gotten used to it. He said, you could do the same thing at my college practice if you want it to. You could walk in and you’d see something that I’d need to change. He said, you know, that’s just part of it.

But yeah, it made me feel real, real great to hear it. He just walks in, introduces itself, and corrects one of my players right off the bat. Made him better, so I was good with it.

Mike Klinzing: [00:44:30] There you go. That’s, that is very funny. I think that there’s, there’s definitely truth in that and I think not only in that form or fashion, but I think one of the things, especially if you’re an inexperienced coach, and I’ve talked about this, my first job as a, coming out, coming out of college, I was a JV head coach and I remember my first day of practice and company and thinking I knew everything and then I was going to be this great coach and the first five minutes of us.

Go in and do it some five on five at some point during the practice. I just [00:45:00] remember being completely and utterly overwhelmed by all the things I saw that I wanted to correct in that first five minutes, I’m like, there is like 500 things going wrong here and I want to try to figure, I want to try to fix every single one of them.

And I think that’s one of the things that I learned. Pretty quickly over the course of my coaching career was that you can’t fix 500 things at once. You better zero in on the one or two things that are most important to you in the moment and fix them one at a time instead of trying to focus on 500 things.

Cause then you never get anything accomplished.

Marty Smith: [00:45:32] Yes. I’ve, I’ve had that overwhelming feeling of bunch. I’ll walk out. Sometimes I’ll like, man, I don’t even know where to start. And,  it’s so funny. You know, you get frustrated and then the next day you come out there. Well, Hey, we’ve, we’ve corrected that. So, Hey, yeah, well, you know, it doesn’t take much, you know, little small victories and you’re right back at it, ready to go.

Mike Klinzing: [00:45:53] there’s no debt, there’s, there’s no doubt about that. That those, those small victories that you get as a coach, I think [00:46:00] are really important to keep you coming back and build those relationships with kids. And that’s really what ends up giving you the most satisfaction. You know, you think about your one loss record and obviously that’s what keeps you in your job long term to some degree.

But really it’s those small moments with kids and, you know, the things that we talked about earlier in terms of just. Developing kids with character and building those relationships, and that ends up being something that is really, really important over the course of your coaching career. The other thing that’s really important is, especially in today’s game, is the relationship between a coach and parents.

So I wanted to ask you a little bit about how you involve the parents of your players in your program. How do you go about reaching out to them and making sure that you have them on the same page with you so that everybody’s pulling in the same direction and you don’t. Have issues with parents. How do you get out in front of those, those issues and those potential problems with parents to make sure that you have everybody on the same page?

Marty Smith: [00:46:58] Well, [00:47:00] we, we, I haven’t had many parent problems as far as, you know,  You know, of course, you know, the biggest one you always have is play in time. And you know, we, we talked when I talked to parents, you know, all the time, it’s, it’s always, you know, when is my kid going to get to play more? You know, why?

And I have found that, you know, when you’re. Brutally honest from the get go.  it really makes it a lot easier, easier. And, you know, I tell kids all the time,  you know, when you’re, when we’re at the gym and it’s always the kids that are wanting to play in time that they’re not willing to put the work in.

And I’ll tell a man, here, here’s the deal. You know, right now. We’re going to play, you know, nine kids, you’re number 11. And the rehears the reason for that. And, and a lot of times the kid, you know, if they go home and the parent says something to them, that the kid will say, Hey, coach, explain this to me and I’ve got to be able to do this more.

So, [00:48:00]  it’s, it’s really been pretty, I don’t know, I really hadn’t had any, you know. Apparent problems as far as that go last few years, because I think everybody, they know the, and I try to tell them, I don’t try to, you know. You sugarcoat it, and I don’t try to say, Hey, you’re gonna, I’m gonna play you tonight.

You know, I’ll just tell him, you got to get out. I had a kid this past year. I told him, I said, man, here’s, here’s what you have to do to help our team. Okay? We’ve got kids that can fill it up. We’ve got, you know, we’ve got kids that can score. When you come in, you’ve got to bring us something off the bench.

You’ve got to defend and you’ve got to rebound. Okay. That’s really basically all you gotta do in the find the open guy. I’m not expecting you to do a lot of scoring. Now, if you want to play in the game, you’ve gotta be able to do those things. You can’t go stand out there. You’re going to have to compete.

And this kid was five, nine, okay, five, eight, five, nine and you know, he ended up playing a lot because he understood his role. He understood what I expected him to [00:49:00] do, and he ended up playing more than another kid. And. The kid asked me, coach what I gotta do to play more? I said, well, you know, I’ve told you the same as I did Luke.

Right? You’ve gotta be able to defend and rebound. You refuse to do either one of them. Okay?  so therefore he plays in. You don’t, I mean, that’s, that’s as plain as I can put it. I mean, I said, I love every one of you kids. I love you to death. I’d do anything in the world for you. But. You’re playing times, it’s going to be earned.

You’re not going to be given it to you because I love you because I love all of you. And,  if you proved to me that you can go out there and not turn it over and, and, and be a team guy and defend and rebound, you’re going to get your minutes. And I had one kid is the parent told me, he said, you know, I wanted to come up here and talk to you, and I wanted to, you know, find out about it.

He said, but he told me, he said, dad, there’s no needy. You going up there and talking to him. He’s already told me why I’m not playing because I don’t defend it. I don’t read my, he said, okay, well the dad was laughing [00:50:00] about it. You know, he come back and said, well, I figured that out. I didn’t have to come talk to you.

And so it was pretty neat, you know, that he told him that. But I mean, it’s just a. You know, I felt, you know, parents are, it’s funny how they’ll end, you know, they, they might just stop by sometime and casual conversation and just kinda drop a hint to you, you know? And they’ll say, yeah man, my son’s kind of getting, you know, you don’t have much confidence right now.

I’m thinking, well, I don’t have much confidence in him either cause I’m not playing him. I don’t have any confidence. And he can go and defend, rebound and. Yeah. And  but you know, they’re, they’re real subtle about it. They don’t just come up there and mad and all that they want. They want to just kind of drop it in there to you, to your real easy.

And I ended up telling them, look man, here’s the deal. Love your kid like a lot of you. But man, when it comes down to play in town, he’s going to have to earn it. So we go from there.

Mike Klinzing: [00:50:55] Absolutely. Do you think that you’ve gotten better at those? I don’t [00:51:00] want to say difficult conversations, but just that in terms of talking to kids, talking to parents, being able to tell the brutal, honest truth to kids and parents that you think that’s something that you got better at, or do you think that was something that you were pretty good with right from the beginning of your coaching career, that you understood that that was going to be necessary if you were going to head off potential issues moving forward?

Marty Smith: [00:51:20]

I think I’ve always had a pretty good handle on it because. I’ve always had a good relationship with the kids. And in a small town like this, I mean, you know, everybody, you know him personally. And you know, I’ve had some difficult conversations with, you know, really close people. And I’ll tell him, I said, you know, I don’t want this to be weird.

I mean, if you want to ask me a question, I want to answer it.  I don’t, I don’t want to take affect anything. And I think one of the things that I’ve gotten a lot better at is as I, as I don’t hold a grudge against the kid or the parent, you know, I’ll just. I tell him how it is, and, and as long as they’re talking to me and we’re being [00:52:00] civil and they’re understanding what I’m saying,  I think, you know, I’ve had, I’ve had more conversations that when they leave, it is more possible, a positive than it did when it started.

You know,  I had had one this year and it wasn’t anything about play in time. It was just,  I could tell that the, you know, the guy was mad, he was upset and it wasn’t me, but it was just another things. And I come in and let him talk a little bit, and I said, well, you know, I won’t tell you something. I said, you’re, I don’t know if somebody made your kid feel like he wasn’t good or wasn’t playing well or didn’t give it all. But I can tell you right now your, your son was an absolute warrior to that and he’s the only reason that we were in the game. So I said, I really don’t know who said anything. Obviously I didn’t. I said, so I just want to tell you,  you should be real proud of your kid and,  go home and [00:53:00] hug his neck cause he did everything he could to not.

Yeah. And after talking to him, he give me a hug. He walked out. He said, man, I’m proud. I stopped by and talked to you. He wasn’t mad at me, but he was mad when he got here. But,  anyway, we had a good conversation and he left and everything was good.

Mike Klinzing: [00:53:15] I think that’s something that I know that speaking for myself, that that’s one of the things that I, I think I almost learned that more.

As a teacher then as a coach and that you get parents. A lot of times what I find both in coaching and in teaching is that when you have somebody who’s upset with you for whatever reason, a lot of times when they call you up or they come and meet with you. A lot of times they’re upset because they just don’t have all the information or they don’t have the facts or they think that something was said or that something is going on that really isn’t going on.

And what I’ve found to be successful, and it sounds like you have sort of the same philosophy is if you speak to [00:54:00] someone calmly and you listen to their concerns, and then you explain. The truth to them. More often than not, you’re going to end up getting a positive result out of that conversation. I think there’s a lesson there to be learned for any coach and especially for young coaches or young teachers that are out there.

Cause a lot of times I think that the natural reaction is when someone comes at you is to be defensive and go back at them. And then we all know that that turns into a situation where. Nobody leaves happy and it’s not a positive ending, unlike what you described where, again, you’re able to talk sense into the person and tell them the truth and make sure that you’re on the same page and usually when you do that, then you end up with that positive reaction.

Marty Smith: [00:54:44] Yeah. I tell, I ask parents, I said, do it. Do you, do you trust me? And they’ll say, absolutely. Trust you. I’ve always, yeah. All right. Do you, do you believe I’m going to do what’s best for our team? Okay. Not, not for you individually. Do you think I’m to do what’s best for our team? [00:55:00] Yeah. No, you will. I send them.

You’d have to believe that I know what I’m doing and I’m playing the right guys. And, and here it is. I mean, I’m, I’ve given you the blueprint, you know, if you’ll do these things, you’re going to help our team.  but you know, so many times.  you know, that a lot of kids, if you know, let’s face it, the only work that they’ve ever done has been, you know, in basketball, they’ve been handed, you know, brand new trucks or, you know, brand new phone.

And it never really had to work a whole lot for anything. And then all of a sudden they get in sports and man, I’m going to have to work. You know, and it’s, it’s so funny how some of them would just, you know, they don’t, they’re not willing to put forth that effort because they, you know. I’m, I’m all about, you know, yeah.

Preparing the child for the road, not preparing the road for the child, you know? Did I say that right? Anyway, you know, having, having kids that, you know, don’t, don’t pave the [00:56:00] way for a man. Make them get out there and work for it. And,  you know, they come out on the other side and they’re so thankful that they had to work for it.

They didn’t have it give to them.

Mike Klinzing: [00:56:10] Absolutely. I think in our society today, I think there’s just with kids, I think there’s just a disconnect between effort and then results or the things that you get. And too often, as you said, kids get things handed to them without the work being put behind it. And then when we do ask them to work for something.

It makes it tough on them cause they just don’t have a lot of experience. And that’s where I think sports plays such a vital role in the development of young people is it’s sort of a microcosm of what life was like. You know, too often now in society, everybody, it’s the, everybody gets a trophy mentality.

And I think in competitive sports we have to understand that what you put into it, the work that you put in equals what you get out of it. And you’re going to get rewarded [00:57:00] if you put in. A tremendous amount of effort. And if you don’t put effort into it, you’re not going to get anything out. And I think that life is certainly that same way.

And I think team sports does really a fantastic job of being able to teach those kinds of lessons to our young people. And to me, that’s again, something that good coaches do all the time. And just as we were talking here, I started thinking about. How when you’re having these conversations, so clearly you’re communicating to your players what your expectation is for them if they’re going to get out on the floor.

So how do you go about communicating a player’s role to them? Is that done. On the practice floor, just through the course of discussion. Is it a formal meeting at some point during the season, after a practice? Just talk a little bit about how you communicate the players, what’s expected of them kind of day in, day out, heading into the season.

Marty Smith: [00:57:56] Well, a lot of times, like during practice [00:58:00] when you know we’re.  shooting free throws, or maybe we’re stretching at the beginning or something like that. I’ll have one of them, you know, or just kinda,  a lot of times before practice when they’re just after shooting, you know, everybody’s getting dressed yet waiting to get out there and I’ll just kind of go up here and put my arm around one of them and, and walking down the sideline with me and say, you know, this is what I’ve got to have you to do.

A lot of times it happens, like at team camp, you know, we go to.  camps. Usually we try to go to three or four in the summer. And,  I’ll tell them like when I take them out.  I can remember vividly one kid this past year, I took him out. We were at Fayetteville at, at the camp up there. And when I took him out, he hadn’t been in probably a minute, minute and a half, and he comes running off the court and I just stopped him, you know, away from the bench and everything.

I put my arm around him. I said, look, you know, you’re, you’re not a starter on this team. You know, that, you see that,  [00:59:00] This is what you’re going to have to do. I’m going to have to see this before you get very mean much playing time. And I said, I’m going to tell you, it’s going to be one of those things that when the season gets here and you still haven’t corrected this, you’re going to be wondering why you’re not getting to play.

And you know this, this is why. And I had a kid, a different kid last year. Yeah.  we were actually on the bus getting ready to come home and. You could tell, you know, we’d played really well to camp, but he was kinda down, you didn’t get to play much. And,  we stopped it, a restaurant to go in to eat, and he was kind of lagging behind.

And. And of course, I don’t, I don’t like to have this conversation, you know, with, with the bigger kids. You know, I’d, I didn’t want to say, look, dude, you need to lose weight. You’re out of shape.  you know, he’s, he’s a big boy. I mean, he’s really was, he was just not in good shape. He hadn’t been a weight work ass.

He hadn’t been spending any time in the gym. And it was just one of those things where he kinda let it. Be on the back burner [01:00:00] and he just kind of thought he was going to get to play. And I told him, I said, Tanner, man, I love you. You know I do. I said, but you have gonna have to get in shape. If you’re going to help this team, we’re going to get up and down.

And I said, there’s no question you can help us, but you’re going to have to get in shape. And yes, sir. I said, I just want you to know that. And it was so funny is his dad calls me later and. How many, like a week or two later. And he said, well, I don’t, I’ve done told my kid he’s too fat to play. That’s it.

He’s good. He said he’s going to have to lose some weight before he gets out there. He knows that you’ve told him. I’ve told him. Everybody’s told him if he don’t want to do it, he can just sit his butt on the bench all year. And of course I coached, I coached his dad several years ago and  he said he knows.

He said he’s going to have to do it if he’s going to play. So,  

Mike Klinzing: [01:00:53] that was one that was one step up in brutal honesty.

Marty Smith: [01:00:56] Yeah, it sure was. And,  but [01:01:00] you know, I, a lot of times I’ll have a formal meeting,  I’ll get them, like as they come out of the, come out of a locker room, you know, my, my office is right there and I’ll, I’ll say, Hey, step in here.

I need to talk to you for a second. And.  we just, you know, just lay it all out there and I’ll, I’ll tell him, you know, what, what are your, what are you thinking? And you know, it’s amazing when you ask them what they think about a situation, how often, you know, they, they really agree with you. They don’t like the situation, but they agree.

They agree with what you’re doing. Yeah.

Mike Klinzing: [01:01:30] I think that’s one of the things too, that sometimes I think it’s lost. And I think that when I think about meetings that I’ve had with. Parents over the course of my coaching career, and you’re talking about playing time where you’re talking about a situation on a team.

And so often when you have those conversations and you have the parent and you have the kid in the room, I think more often [01:02:00] than not, deep down. The kid knows why they’re not playing right. The kid knows why the person next to them is, is playing ahead of them. It’s, it’s very, very rare that now the kid might have bravado, the kid might be walking around school telling kids that you should be playing ahead of somebody else, but you put them in a room with his parents and with a coaching staff, and it comes right down to it.

I’d say in 95% of the cases, the kid knows the reason why he’s not playing and. Oftentimes it’s the parent and just doesn’t understand or hasn’t heard the whole story from them from the kid. And it’s important that in that case, to make sure that the parent hears the truth about the situation too. And I think if you do that, again, it’s like we’ve said for the last 15 or 20 minutes, having the ability to be honest and tell the truth regardless of the situation ends up.

Heading off a lot of problems where if you’re kind of wishy washy from the beginning, that’s when you get yourself in trouble as a coach. [01:03:00]

Mike Klinzing: [01:03:02] No question. All right. Talk to me a little bit about your methodology for putting together a practice plan, cause I know that’s something that coaches out there are often interested in hearing about is just what’s your, how do you go about designing a practice, putting it together, and then what do you want to have be a part of.

Every single one of your practice? Is there a, is there a certain amount of time you want to spend on, we want to make sure we do this every single day, or just explain to me what your process looks like.

Marty Smith: [01:03:32] Well, we start,  you know, every day we’ll do,  we, we want to get up and down. You know, we’ll do some 11, man break four man break.

A lot of things like that. And we’ve got a,  a drill that we, we’ve run, we started doing it,  this past year, and I got it from, actually got it from Fred Hoiberg, I think he calls it the speed drill or something like that. Anyway, it’s, it’s really good. It’s [01:04:00] timed and you know, they like make 40 free throws the first time, or not free throw, I’m sorry, layups the first time.

Then they’re always trying to beat that. And you know, it’s a. It gets pretty intense, which we started doing the week. We quit doing it every day because,  well we had some kids on there that couldn’t catch the ball and it, the, the, some of the other players were getting mad at him, you know, cause they were missing the drill up cause they were trying to beat their record.

But,  but we’ll, we’ll do, we’ll do that. You know, about the first 30 minutes of our practices is a up and down, you know, drills lock that,  we’ll spin. Mmm. Like I said, we get them in August, so we spend a lot of time on individual stuff, you know, dribbling, passing,  doing a lot of the cones stuff. I’ve got a really good friend that’s a, a basketball trainer and I’ve gotten so much good stuff from him.

His name’s John Parker. I don’t know if [01:05:00] you’ve ever heard of him or not, but he’s, he’s in our area now and he’s a former college coach and he’s a. Really helped help me and our girls coach out a lot about, we’ll go watch his, you know, the kids and, and I’ll tell him, man, I’m stealing that and I’m taking that home with me.

But,  he does a lot of stuff, you know. You know, just ball handling. And then,  we’ll spend the, probably the next 15, 20 minutes working on defense and a, we’ll work, go through our shale stuff and man to man, and we run a lot of one three, one defense. We’ll go through,  some progressions on that, how we’re going to cover things.

And Mmm. Then we’ll spend about the next 20 this is early. I’m talking about it and you know, early in the year we’ll spend about the next 2030 minutes just going up and down and running our fast break and not necessarily so much worried about running her office, just letting them play. Just, you know, getting to get them up and down and let them, you know, instead of being robots, I want them to be ballplayers.

You know? And,  [01:06:00] we’ll do that. And then,  we’ll do our, you know, shooting at the end. A lot of times we’ll do a, we do a two minute shooting grill in a three minute shooting grill. And,  of course it’s, you know, it’s timed and we keep up with their score and, and how they did, you know, from the day, from, you know, day to day.

And so then we’ll do a little conditioning at the end. So

Mike Klinzing: [01:06:19] when you chart, do you chart the shooting? Are the kids aware of what their shooting percentages are, what their shooting stats are within a practice? Like do you utilize with that with them in terms of talking about who gets to shoot on the team or who gets more shots?

Is that something that you use the statistics for or are you just more keeping it for your own. You know, just for your own to see if it matches up with your eye test.

Marty Smith: [01:06:43] Yeah, that’s, that’s just seeing if it matches up with our artists. And, and it’s, it’s, it’s funny, after you do those shooting drills and you’ve got a guy that’s, you know, in a three minute shooting grill, he may be making, you know, 27 threes or something like that.

And then you’ve got one on the other end. How many did you [01:07:00] make. I made 11 and then you’ll hear them after a couple of days. They’ll say, coach, I’m no three point shooter anyway. I’m proud you figured that out. I already knew that. But now, you know.

Mike Klinzing: [01:07:15] Exactly. That’s funny. Sometimes, sometimes statistics don’t lie, right? You match them up and  you know, you can, you can figure it out real fast where you stand in that, in that particular hierarchy.

Marty Smith: [01:07:27] We had a drill this year where I had 16 kids on my team and I, I put them in our own, the bench over there, all 16 of, I said, everybody goes, sit down in those 16 chairs on the bench.

And you know, of course there wasn’t no, you know, order or anything. And I took number one and I put him against number 16 and we went to each end of the court. And we shot for two minutes. Whoever made the most threes, he advances. And then we went number two versus 15, and we did it all the way down. And,  we didn’t see them or [01:08:00] anything.

It was just wherever you were sitting. And the ended up, we had two of our mystery shooters were, you know, going against each other in the first round because of where they sit. But it ended up, you know, when we got done our best. Our best two shooters were in the finals and,  everybody pulling for them and they were, it was a lot of fun cause everybody was rooting for him.

And,  it just kind of, I don’t know, just if, you know, the whole team kind of rallied around it and lays like, you know, there’s a reason why those two guys right there get most of the shots cause they can flat shoot it. So,  but you know, I didn’t go. All right, number one, you’re going against the 16 best player on the team.

We’re not doing that. We’re going to do forever. I said, right. That’s who you’re going against. So,  but it worked out good and the kids really enjoyed it.

Mike Klinzing: [01:08:44] Yeah, it’s fun. I think it’s fun to mix it up and do some different things like that. And just, especially when it’s unexpected, you don’t do it all the time.

I think that the kids really enjoy getting a chance to root for, and. You know, mockingly against,  you know, their [01:09:00] teammates at times. And to me, I think that’s something that, you know, if you’re, if you’re running a practice, it’s a Porter, a member as a coach. And I think, you know, it goes back to what we talked about earlier a little bit with the my way or the highway.

I think coaches now are probably a lot more willing to do some of those things like what you just described that are quote more. Fun.  maybe then you would have seen in the past. And I think when you do that, you break up the sort of, the, the level of, you know, just again, we all know that we want our practice to be serious.

We want the kids to have, there’s a difference between being fun and being funny.  you know, two, two totally different things. And we want our practices to be fun. And I think sometimes when you throw in a little competition, like what you just described, that makes all the difference in. Then being able to come back and wrap up,  you know, ramp up the intensity again, where you can get your team back playing and competing at a high level.

And to me, that’s something that I think, I think it’s important to do. I think you can throw something like that in, you know, every day in a [01:10:00] practice and a random moment where you can. Kind of keep it light and then you get back and you know, allows you to refocus them and get them back to where you want them to be in terms of really getting after and competing and they can show their better

Marty Smith: [01:10:11] when we have them as much as we, you know, like when we start in August, and then you get them all the way to March.

 as far as practice goes, man, I think being able to break up the monotony and, you know, just doing something fun,  It makes a difference, you know, the kind of, I know they get tired of hearing my voice all the time. And,  so that’s, that’s what I was going to say.  it just kinda go out there and do something that you don’t normally do and just kind of may pick up the intensity.

Mike Klinzing: [01:10:46] Absolutely. If you look back at the totality of your time at Kirby and you had to pin. Your success on one or two things, and you had to look back and say, what are you most proud of [01:11:00] in terms of what you’ve built there? What would be the things that you’d say, boy, we hung our hat over the course of my coaching career.

This is where we’ve really found our successful on the floor and with the type of kid that we’re able to produce in terms of being good citizens, being the type of kids that we can be proud of.

Marty Smith: [01:11:19] I think,  The expectation of, you know,  how hard they were. You know, out here beyond lots of coaches have told me, you know,  we can’t get our kids to work as hard as your kids do.

And that, that’s one of those things that, you know, I’ve, I’ve really, it’s one of the greatest compliments as a coach you could ever have, in my opinion. And Mmm. I had a good friend of mine told me all day, said, you know, we all, we all want our kids to play hard. You always get them to play hard. And that’s.

That’s why, you know, y’all have been successful. You know, how hard the kids play. I don’t take it, you know, all the credit for that, because they come, [01:12:00] you know, from, you know, working class families and, and there’s a lot of tradition and they all want to, you know, play here and all that.  but I think, you know, one of the things that we’ve can kind of tried to do is.

Is a, you know, I love these kids and they know I love them. And I would take a bullet for them. And they know that. And I think they, they’ll play harder for you when they know how you feel about your, you know, each of them. And, and, and I think you can coach them hard. You know, you can, if they know when it’s over, you’re going to hug their neck.

And, you know, I’ll tell them every, I said, man, I’m going to be there for you. And you know, it don’t matter. Good times or bad times. I’m going to be there for you. And. I think that they, you know, they won’t play for you know, that you love ’em like that. Does that make any sense at all?

Mike Klinzing: [01:12:50] It makes a ton of sense.

I think then the follow up question to that is. How do you get that? Cause I think that [01:13:00] that’s something that it’s sort of an intangible quality of a coach is to be able to communicate that to your pro players. The feeling that I’m going to have your back, I’m going to be here for you no matter what.

And I think one of the things that coaches sometimes struggle with with that is, is to disconnect the basketball player from. The kid. And so often you have coaches that will just look at the relationship with the basketball player. And so therefore, who gets the majority of the coach’s time, energy, love, attention, the best players, the starters.

Those are the guys that get the most attention. So I guess the question then that I would have for you is how do you go about connecting with everybody from. The star of your team down to the last player on your roster. What do you do? What do you attribute your ability to make [01:14:00] that connection with every player on your roster?

How do you go about doing that? And I know part of the answer is. Everyday, just through your interactions, but can you point to anything, maybe specifics, just, just some general guidelines for what you do to try to make sure the kids understand how much you care about them?

Marty Smith: [01:14:18] Well, we’ll have kids and, and it won’t always be your best player, but, you know, kids from come, they come from a, you know,  a bad background,  rough home life, things like that.

And  Mmm. Oh, you know, a lot of times I’ll get those kids in here and you know, or we’re ordering shoes or, or travel,  gear or, you know, practice gear and stuff like that. And, well, you know, you always have that kid that, Hey. He doesn’t raise his hand, he’s not going to order. And I’ll go to him and I’ll say, Hey, I’ve got you, man.

I’ll  take care of you. And you ended up buying it for them. And any, you know, you don’t do it for [01:15:00] everybody to see, Hey coach, you know, coach is doing this for him. But you know, a lot of times, like when we go for a go off on a basketball trip and, and  we’re coming back on the bus late at night and we stop and eat, and you’ll have those kids that sit on the bus, you know, they don’t, they don’t want to get off.

And. Because they don’t have any money. And I’ll tell him, come on, let’s go. And they’ll say, I don’t, I don’t have any Marine money coach. And I’ve got you a skill. I’m, I’m paying the not, I’m buying tonight. I said, I’ve got a rule that I don’t eat unless everybody eats. And I’m pretty hungry and I’m pretty big, so let’s go.

And,  and I’ll go get them an offer, you know, it’s awesome. And then I don’t expect them to ever pay me back. You know, I just tell them, you know,  a few years ago I had a. A kid that moved over here from another school and he. Was going to just quit school. I mean, he was just going to come in and, and one of our players come to me, he said, Hey, we’ve got a pretty good point [01:16:00] guard over there walking the halls.

I don’t know if you know this or not. And I said, well, who is he? And he told me his name and okay, I didn’t know him. And I said, well, is he going to play basketball? And he said, no. He says, he’s going to quit school. He’s going to be an eligible the first semester. Anyway. I said, well. Bring him over here.

Let’s talk. So I brought him over here and we were talking and he said, I’m just going to quit school. I can’t play basketball. I’m just going to drop out. And I said, well, why don’t you come and watch us work out? And if you don’t like what you see, you can go ahead and quit. Or if you stay in school, you can stay out here in the bleachers at least and watch our team and you don’t have to go to that home economics class over there.

And he said, okay, okay. I will ask them. I said, Hey, bring your, bring your shoes tomorrow too, because we’re going to scrimmage. And he said, you’ll let me scream and just said, yeah, I’ll let you play with them. And I had some really good players, some guys that could really jump and real athletic. And so he comes out and he, it was a Friday, you know, early in the year, [01:17:00] August.

And they, he’s an alley use to these guys and they’re hammering it and he’s, you know, he feels important, you know, he kind of, so he comes over to me and he says, Hey,  I don’t think I’m going to quit school anymore. I’m going to come on. I’m going to go get my physical so I can practice with the acid.

Hey, the state tournament’s not till the second semester. Anyway. I said, you can sit here and you can learn everything we do. Watch and go through practice and everything. Then after Christmas, you’ll be ready. So he does, he ends up hitting the shot in the quarter finals to put us in the semifinals in double overtime.

He hits the shot to make us advance. And,  you know, he’s crying and after the game and everything, and he’s hugging my neck, or,  you know, he was only a junior that year. So the next year he comes to me at the beginning of the year and he says, coach, I’m homeless. And I said, what do you mean you’re homeless?

He said, well, my mom is moving back to hot Springs. And she had a drug problem and his [01:18:00] dad had passed away and he was, he didn’t have anywhere to go. So he said, I, I just, I’m 18 I need a house that I can rent. And so we, we found him a place in the district and his mom actually moved with him for a little while and I go over to his house one day and he has no food in the house.

He is. Is a phone. His, his mom had taken his,  Phone card or is is food card and food stamp card and sold it to somebody I’m sure for, you know, droves or whatever and is card, his truck was broke down and it broke my heart. Man. I was just, I walk in his house and he’s got canned soup and water to drink and that was it.

You know, he’s a 17 year old boy, so I called my wife and I say, . You go to the store and you buy this kid some groceries. I mean, loading down. This is heartbreaking. [01:19:00] So we end up, you know, I know it’s a long story, but,  he ends up Taryn, his ACL this senior year, and he had nobody to take care of him.

Basketball was the only thing he really had going for him. His family was awful. So. Since he wasn’t playing. My wife and I moved him in with us. He ended up, we took him to a surgery and we’ve, you know, nursing back to health, and I told him, I said, he said, I can’t play basketball. I’m just lost. I said, well, your role changes now.

I said, you get to be a coach. I said, you’re going to, you may be in a, you know, own crutches. I said, but you’re going to be at every practice. You’re going to be coaching these kids. You’re not playing anymore. You’re going to coach. And. He goes, he comes back, ends up instead of, you know, not being eligible.

And he ended up graduating with a 3.8 grade point average,  lived with us,  throughout the rest of his high school. [01:20:00] And I told him, I said, man, if you want to go to college, you can live with us. He ended up going to college for five years. Mmm. Got his degree. And he’s actually a basketball coach here in Arkansas.

Yeah. And,  You know, it was one of those deals where I got it. You know, I’ve got 20 year old twins, I’ve told you that, and they were born on August 10th and one day I just asked him, I said, Hey, , when’s your birthday? I said, my son wants to buy you something for birthday. And he said, well, my birthday’s on August 10th.

So I’ve actually got three, three kids at my house with all the same birthday. And it was just one of those things where, you know, if I hadn’t gone to his house, I would have never had any idea. But it all started falling into place. You saw for his grades were so bad. You know, you saw why every time you saw a picture of him, he was never smiling.

He didn’t have anything to smile about. You know, he had a brother that was. Shot when Levin was a young kid, you know, 10 or [01:21:00] 12 years old, his brother was accidentally a shot and, and, and he died, you know, and this kid basically had everything in the world going against him. And the only thing that he really had was the game of basketball.

And he thought that was taken away from him. But okay. Hindsight now. Okay.  the good Lord had a plan and that, you know, he took it away from him his senior year for him now to be out coaching and, and making his own way. You know, I asked him one time, you know, what’s your dream job? He said, my dream job is doing exactly what you do.

And now he’s out coaching and making, you know, making his own living and doing really well for herself. So, okay. I know that’s a long story, but,  it just kinda, that’s what popped into my head when you asked that.  just making that connection. I, I see kids all the time and, and going through this adoption process that we have, you know, it made me really realize that.

Man, there’s a reason why some of these kids act like they do. [01:22:00] If you spent a day in their shoes and see what they, you know, dealt with at home every day,  you might understand a little bit more about why they’re the behaviors the way it is. And I’ve really tried, I’ve tried my best to open myself up to that and just kind of see, you know, if there’s a need and anything I can do, I want to help them.


Mike Klinzing: [01:22:19] that’s just, again, that’s an unbelievable story. It’s a fantastic story. I think it’s a tremendous way to wrap up the episode because I think back  to what we first started talking about almost an hour and a half ago, and that was. The influence that your high school coach had on you too. Sort of get you to think about the fact that maybe you wanted to follow in his footsteps and become a high school coach and have the same kind of impact on kids that he had on you.

And now we wrap up the podcast with a story of you having that same impact on one of your players and what I’m sure you consider to be one of your kids. And so I think for [01:23:00] coaches out there, that was just. A phenomenal story,  from a very simple question that I asked you of. How do you demonstrate. The love that you have for your players, how do you get them to know that you care about them as human beings?

And I think that story illustrates it perfectly, not only for the young man that you were able to turn his life around, but as you were telling that story, I was not only thinking about the impact that you probably had obviously on him, but the impact that you had on. The other players who are a part of your team at that time, who saw all the things that you were doing to help that young man to turn his life around.

And to me, there’s nothing more powerful in coaching and that story that you just shared. So just thank you. Honestly for sharing that, it was, it was very moving and very powerful. And I think that, to me, that’s really, that’s the story of coaching. That’s what coaching is all about. We can get into all the nuts and bolts is that X’s and O’s and building the program and all [01:24:00] the things we talked about tonight, but ultimately having an impact on other human beings is really what coaching is all about.

So I think as we’re coming up here on an hour and a half, that’s a perfect place for us to stop and start to wrap things up. So before we do. I want you to share where people can get in contact with you, how they can reach out to you. If they’ve heard the podcast, they want to ask you a question, they want to connect with you, and then if there’s any final point that you want to make before we wrap up, you can go ahead and do that and then I’ll jump back in and we’ll finish up the episode.

Marty Smith: [01:24:31] Okay.  well, my email address is, and,  also I’m on Twitter.  It’s a hat. Marty Smith OBC 22, I think is what it is. And,  I don’t do Facebook, but,  I also have my personal email account that is a coach

Mike Klinzing: [01:24:57] Perfect. Marty, we can’t thank you enough for [01:25:00] spending almost an hour and a half with us tonight.

It has been a pleasure getting a chance to know you, learn more about you and your program there at Kirby and we can’t thank you enough for spending that time and taking it out of your schedule. So to everyone out there, thanks for listening and we will catch you on our next episode. Thanks.

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