Tag: Adam Bradley

I found it. The best icebreaker & team builder ?? Captains Part 1 of 4

“Being positive won’t guarantee you’ll succeed. But being negative will guarantee you won’t” – Jon Gordon 
If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I am huge on starting practices with energy builders that build team comradery.
​​​​​​​And recently I’ve been fascinated by diving into studying the concept of leadership and captains on teams.
So what could be better than developing your leaders while playing games?
When I first met Adam Bradley a few years ago, he was in the process of developing a curriculum that did just that. The cool thing is that he partnered with an expert company on games, Game On to ‘gamify’ the experience, because we know lecturing kids on leadership isn’t a sticky way for them to learn, getting them involved and participating in activities/games is.
I don’t endorse many products, but the biggest no-brainer of a product I believe in is the curriculum Adam and his team have developed at Lead ‘Em Up. In talking with Adam, I wanted to help spread the word, so he offered a discount for Winning Youth Coaching followers – just enter discount code ‘wyccoaches’ and save 10% off at checkout at leademup.com.
This post starts a 4 part series on captains & leadership, inspired by my friend James Leath’s post about the book The Captain Class. (read that post here).

Here’s the plan for this series:
1 – Captain training – Lead Em UP
2 – The Captain Class
3 – Anatomy of a Teammate – leadership video by Coach Patrick Murphy
4 – Emerging leader groups
​​​​​​​I hope you don’t find this post ‘salesy’, I just wanted to share one of the best coaching tools I have found. I look forward to diving into the a-ha moments I have been having reading through The Captain Class.
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The 4 Cornerstones Of Championship Culture – Part 6 Of 8- Leadership Development

‘If your dreams don’t scare you- you’re not dreaming big enough’ – Chasing the Lion
The 4 Cornerstones of Championship Culture – WYC is excited to partner with Upward Sports to kick off 2017 with an exciting new way for your to raise your coaching game for you and your coaches!
4th Cornerstone – Developing Leaders
This week we have the privilege of being joined by TJ Rosene, head basketball coach and 3x national coach of the year at Emmanuel College, director of coach development at PGC Basketball, and co-host of the Hardwood Hustle podcast.
TJ had a very unique answer when I asked him how his teams choose captains. He said they don’t. I was very interested in this idea, in fact I wrote a previous blog post about this: click here.
When leaders arise who he wouldn’t have chosen – he is honest with them and works to develop them and train them how to be a better leader. He is also honest about what the 2 or 3 behaviors are that will affect their teammates adversely if they don’t work on improving them or eliminating them.
Leadership development
The first step is asking the players who wants to lead. They create levels of leadership around 4 traits: Character, Courage, Consistency, Communication. They define levels 0 to 3 with tangible steps on to how to reach level 3 for each characteristic, which is hard to attain.
Our special thanks to our corporate partner for this series – Upward Sports- check them out at upward.org!
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The Culture Journey Week #23 – The Bus Trip

Week 23
Regular Season week #2
Positive Energy
I continued what I have affectionately self-named ‘Coach Craig’s Goofy Games‘ to start each practice.
This week’s best game:Great Teammate Tips Challenge
After one of our seniors shared the 2 new tips for the week from The Hard Hat, we broke into 4 teams: freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors. I gave them each a page from the sketch pad which we use to write the tips on (by the way – love this sketch pad I bought for $14 on Amazon: link) and gave them each a Sharpie and asked them to write down as many of the 8 teammate tips they could remember. The correct number ranged from 3 to 7 (the seniors obviously had an advantage since they are reading the book.) It was good to get the groups brainstorming together, plus put the emphasis on how much are they really listening to these tips being presented by the seniors.
Culture Update – The Bus Trip
This weekend we had 1 of our 2 bus trips, a 3 hour ride over to Knoxville to play 2 varsity games and 1 JV game. I had been thinking about this for some time, because last year our bus trips were a bit shocking to me how immature and disrespectful much of the conversation was. We discussed this as a coaching staff, and decided rather than trying to ‘police’ the conversation, to instead fill the time with productive activity. We brought a DVD with the 2015 Div II lacrosse national championship game which was 1 hour 45 minutes long and played that as soon as we left. Then we spent the last hour bringing up the different position groups to the front of the bus with the coaches to discuss the gameplan for the day. This seemed to work really well and our mindset getting off the bus seemed to be much more focused and excited to play great lacrosse vs. last year where they were just goofing off and not focused. The results on the field paid off as well as we played a great first half and won the first game.
The return bus trip was less organized but we stopped for pizza then most of the boys fell asleep as it was a long day and we were all pretty exhausted. Overall it was a night and day better experience vs. last year.
We also continue to have the seniors presenting 2 of the teammate tips from Jon Gordon’s The Hard Hat, this weeks we covered points 7 and 8:
7 – Do it for your team, not for applause
8 – Show you are committed

Have a great week and keep fighting for your culture everyday!

I am excited to walk this journey with you. I welcome any feedback, ideas, and suggestions you might have as you read through this. You are also welcome to share this with any other coaches you think could benefit from it, and please have them email me at [email protected] if they would like to be added to this email list.

If you are interested in diving deeper on building culture we have started a mastermind group that meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 12:30 pm EST, see the details at: winningyouthcoaching.com/the-culture-bus-mastermind/. It is exciting to be with likeminded world-changers.

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WYC 110 – Championship Culture Part 6 – TJ Rosene talks Chasing the Lion & Leadership Development

TJ Rosene is a 3x National  Coach of the year. He has already compiled over 300 wins as a college coach and has most recently put together 8 straight 20-win seasons. TJ also serves as the Director of Coach Development for PGC Basketball, and co-hosts the Hardwood Hustle podcast.

Twitter: @CoachTJRosene

Websites: pgcbasketball.comhardwoodhustle.com

Listen Now:

Listen on iTunes: iTunes link

Listen on Stitcher: Stitcher link

Listen on Google Play Music: Google Play link


‘If your dreams don’t scare you- you’re not dreaming big enough’ – Chasing the Lion

1st steps in building culture

  • The first step is believing
  • Then define key cornerstones

Buy-in & Building great teammates

  • Have your players brainstorm about what the characteristics are of the best teammates. Then ask the players whether you have their permission to hold them accountable to those standards.

Empowering players

  • The best time to have players figuring things out on their own is when there is less on the line. That’s true of lower levels of youth sports. That’s true of early in the season even at higher levels of athletics.

Communication needs 3 things:

  1. Truth
  2. Love
  3. Transparency

Start each practice talking for 5 to 8 minutes

  • This helps everyone to get to know each other and
  • My commitment Monday
  • Tough Tuesday
  • Thankful Thursday

Communication – Life skills

  • They have their athletes do the following when ordering at a fast-food restaurant:
    • Eye contact
    • Call the person by name
    • Ask them how their day is going
    • Express gratitude

Caz McCaslin’s 2 minute Coaching tips

  • Tough love – Set standards that build not just great athletes but great leaders
  • Remember the off the court impact you have is more important than what happens on the court


  • TJ’s teams have never elected captains. He just lets the natural leaders emerge.
  • When leaders arise who he wouldn’t have chosen – he is honest with them and works to develop them and train them how to be a better leader. He is also honest about what the 2 or 3 behaviors are that will affect their teammates adversely if they don’t work on improving them or eliminating them.

Leadership development

  • The first step is asking the players who wants to lead
  • They create levels of leadership around 4 traits: Character, Courage, Consistency, Communication
  • They define levels 0 to 3 with tangible steps

Connecting with kids

  • Sometimes you have to draw lines. It’s scary because we don’t want to alienate a player, but it is important.

The One that got away

  • Losing a national championship game – TJ had not prepared himself for what could go wrong.
  • You have to learn from the adversity and not live in the adversity

Best Stolen Idea

  • Don Meyer – Sent TJ a note and book within 48 hours of his passing. TJ learned that you’re never too big for any situation or person.
  • Be a lifelong learner!

PGC Basketball Clinics

  • 10,000 kids go through their camps every summer – check them out at: pgcbasketball.com

Parting Advice

  • Keep perspective. Define your legacy.


Today’s Sponsors

Established in 1995, Upward Sports is the world’s largest Christian youth sports provider. Approximately 100,000 leaders and coaches deliver Upward Sports programming to half a million young athletes around the country.

Upward Sports promotes the discovery of Jesus through sports, by providing a fun, encouraging environment in which young athletes can learn technical skills and a love of the game. We use sports like basketball, volleyball, soccer and flag football to help young athletes develop mentally, athletically, spiritually, and socially. We are about the whole athlete—that’s our 360 Progression.

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Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch – Part 5: O Captain My Captain

Part 5 – Captains
It’s easy for coaches to be control freaks. I am. It’s very hard for me to give up control of anything. I have trouble giving up control to assistant coaches, so it’s even harder for me to give up control to kids, i.e. captains.
But that is the old me, the one who often would get distracted by winning instead of developing young men. And ironically, the winning actually happens more for teams that have full buy-in. So this has become a huge learning point for me, developing captains that lead the team. Here is the breakdown:
Why are they important?
  • It’s your chance to develop the next generation of leaders! Teach them to be problem solvers, don’t do it all for them.
  • Buy-in. Work with the captains for establishing your team’s standards. Brainstorm with them on how to handle discipline – it starts with them!
  • Ask the captains what they are seeing in the game. Gametime should be minimal instruction – let the captains be your vocal leaders. Janis Meredith from Positive Sports Parenting teaches parents to use the acronym WAIT – Why Am I Talking – this often applies to coaches too. Listen more, talk less.
How do you pick ’em?
Your captains are held to a higher standard. If they are cutting corners when you are running laps then they probably aren’t good candidates to be a good captain.
There a tons of theories on how to pick them: do the coaches pick them, do the players vote, or a combination of these choices (coaches narrow it down to 5 then players vote, or visa versa.) I don’t know if there is an absolute wrong or right, but here’s what I have found works well:
  • Let the kids vote for 3 people
  • Tally the results, then look it over to see if there is a big gap between the totals. That can help you decide if there are 2, 3, or 4 captains.
  • You then pull aside each of them individually and let them know the responsibilities of being a captain. This is your chance as a coach to vet out anybody you have a concern over.
When do you pick em?
Waiting until the season starts is too late for a school team. Ideally at the end of a season, have all the non-seniors (returning players) vote for next year’s captains. That way you can be meeting in the offseason with the captains to plan for next year’s season.
How do I train them?
My friend Adam Bradley has developed a resource that is entirely dedicated to training captains how to lead teams. The cool thing is knows kids have short attention spans so he has made all the lessons in his 8 week character development series into games. It’s an awesome resource, go check it out:
What about non-recurring teams (travel teams, youth sports teams)?
All of the above applies, except for the timing. You probably will want to have several weeks of practice then have the team vote. Since you won’t have the benefit of an offseason to plan with the captains, the coaches will have to establish the standards and get buy in from the captains as early as possible.
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WYC 067 – Leadership Development – Adam Bradley talks Lead ‘Em Up

 hardwood hustle pic

Adam is an expert in leadership & character development speaking and training coaches all over the country. He is the founder of Leademup – Lead ‘Em Up is a turn-key sports leadership and character program designed to equip coaches with the tools to implement a dynamic leadership program. They provide coaches the season-long curriculum and teaching materials to lead their team every week through a powerful 30-minute session. The Lead ‘Em Up curriculum includes teaching lessons, engaging team assignments, week-long player exercises and fun interactive game dynamics from their friends at Game On Nation.

Adam also currently serves as a Leadership Coach for various sports teams in the Baltimore/Washington area, and is the co-host of the nationally recognized Hardwood Hustle podcast.


Website: leademup.com

Facebook: /LeadEmUp

Twitter: @Lead_Em_Up

Hardwood Hustle Podcast

Website: hardwoodhustle.com

Facebook: /HardwoodHustle

Twitter: @Hardwood_Hustle

Listen Now:

Listen in ITunes: Itunes link

Listen in Stitcher: Stitcher link


‘The drug of choice amongst the youth of today is popularity’ – Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California

Hardwood Hustle Podcast

  • Website: hardwoodhustle.com
  • Designed for players, coaches, and parents
  • Episodes are either basketball focused or hustle related
  • New episodes every Monday and Thursday

Character development

  • Adam teaches kids that being cool and being a leader don’t have to be either/or, you can do both
  • Many kids would rather be cool than be great, but they don’t realize that it’s when they become great that they become cool
  • Think about the word the kids will call each other: ‘Try-hard.’  Why is that a bad thing?

Lead ‘Em Up

  • Website: leademup.com
  • Adam partnered with Game On to gamify his leadership curriculum so that he can really engage the kids and get them excited to learn how to be leaders. Game On’s created an acronym for gaming, people are drawn to games because of the MILE: Mystery, Incentive, Laughter, Empowerment.  During the games – they often forget to try acting cool.
  • Lead Em Up has developed a plug-and-play curriculum you can use with your teams – It’s a 12 week program with a new theme each week to be done in a 30 minute session with your team.

Parting Advice

  • The first thing you have to evaluate as a coach – is how much you really care

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