March 21, 2016
Coach Montana has been at St. Cecilia Academy since 2012 as the varsity girls head coach at St. Cecilia Academy. Coach Montana played high school basketball at Marist (GA), where he helped lead the team to a 32-0 season his senior year, winning the state championship, and being ranked 6th nationally by USA Today. He has been coaching vasity basketball since 1997, since 2003 as head coach. In 2007 and 2008, Montana’s teams were state runner-up. Those same years he was named GISA Coach of the Year. Coach Montana has been serving St. Cecilia as the Vice Principal of Students since 2012. Coach Montana also coaches for Upward Stars Nashville. He and his wife, Shannon, have 8 beautiful children.
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Nothing has worked better to build kids’ confidence than to truthfully tell a child ‘I believe in you’
Coaching your own kids
- Coach Montana has 8 kids- he was recently coaching one of them, the team was down 2 and the team got a steal and his son had a chance to tie the game. Instead he pulled up for a 3 to win the game, it didn’t go in. His son was very upset, but coach was so proud of him for ‘Trusting his instincts’ and having the courage to take the shot – these are the types of life lessons he wants to teach his kids/players. He put his arm around his son and told him how proud he was for taking that courageous shot.
My Cringe & ‘Ah-Ha’ Moments
- Being a passionate coach, early on it was easy to yell at players. Coach has learned there are more effective ways and times to communicate.
- Coach one time was frustrated with another team ‘acting like thugs’ and was upset and threw his dry-erase marker – and it went all the way down the court and hit the opposing coach in the foot. He went on to get to know the other coach and they have since become good friends. One thing he learned from the other coach was that he always believed so much in his own kids that it helped them play better than they actually were. For example he called one of his player who had weird form ‘the shooter’ and it led to that player playing extremely confidently and making a lot of shots.
- Coach Montana learned (from previous WYC guest Kevin Furtado)- to use the term ‘Tough Ball’ instead of ‘triple threat’ – Young kids instinctually catch the ball and turn their back to the basket and dribble with their strong hand away from the basket with their head down. So one of the first things to teach is for the kids to face the basket, with two hands on the ball, and their head up – willing to face their opponent.
- They also echo the coach’s commands – ‘Tough ball’, ‘Rip’, ‘Sweep’ – This echoing becomes fun for the kids and gets them all involved, and increases the energy level in the practice.
- Lay-up drills – they will do without the ball first – for right-handed they say ‘right-hand, right-knee’ as they are jumping and simulating doing a right-handed layup without the ball.
Mental Toughness/Achieving Peak Performance
- One key is to have one-on-one conversations to understand where the kid’s confidence is at. Not by asking them directly – but by asking questions and seeing how confidently they answer them.
- Nothing has worked better to build kids’ confidence than to truthfully tell a child ‘I believe in you’
Culture – Discipline/Rewards/Teambuilding
- Culture will create itself if you don’t create it
- Learned from Bruce Brown at Proactive Coaching – Gather the coaches and 3 captains in preseason and define your Core Covenants – who are you going to be that season. Brainstorm by throwing words up on a board, then narrow it down to 2 or 3 that are going to define your team. Then you can order the livestrong-type bracelets that have those words on it.
- Work with the captains for discipline – it starts with them!
- Post-game shout-outs by the players – complimenting other players is huge.
Connecting with and Impacting Kids
- Coach Montana had a kid Franko who struggled to grow into his body. He stuck with it and the coaches kept believing in him – his senior year he ended up making a left-handed layup as time expired to win a game – it wasn’t the designed play but the play broke down and he had the confidence to create on his own.
The One that Got Away
- In a state championship game – they got the ball with 2 seconds left and down 3 – they called timeout and set up a play – but unfortunately they thought the ball was on the sideline, and when they got out on the court the ref told them it was on the baseline. Lessons learned: Confirm with the official where the ball is; Have a generic play you can run from anywhere by just using the name of the play
Best stolen idea
- Two end-of-game lead-protection strategies: a four-corner offense with a back-door cut built in; and a sidelines inbound play that is very effective
Favorite coaching book/quote
- Anything by John Wooden
- ‘Failure to prepare is preparing to fail’- John Wooden
- ‘All things work for good for those that love God’ – from the Bible
- Give them the book ‘Coaching Basketball Successfully‘ by Morgan Wootten
- You have the freedom to be whatever kind of coach you want to – take that seriously, establish your own core covenants, and think outside the box on how you can positively impact the kids you coach.