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  • Jack Fleming

Mike Dunlap - Discussion Notes

In May 2018, I was fortunate enough to be part of a round table discussion lead by Mike Dunlap head coach of Loyola Marymount University. Here are the notes below.


  • Work Ethic — too hard is better

  • Sacrifice — without commitment there’s no chance

  • Managing outside influence — get ahead, be proactive. “In every program the faces are different, the problems are the sam

e.” — John Chaney

  • Deal with Discouragement — have a formula for mistakes, how to manage losing. Sign of great culture is when player coaches player.

Practice Philosophy

  • Build positive momentum from the first drill, like a drum roll.

  • How you start is how you finish, inertia is everything.

  • In every gym there is a heart beat, your best player.

  • Reinforce the behaviour that you want. Show the good through modelling.

  • Inner Game of Tennis: modelling = IMAGES ARE BETTER THAN WORDS

  • Accountability should be on the lighter side, amplify

the things they did well.


  • Do you have 3–4 automatics in your practice? No talk drills where the score or time determines the win or loss.

  • Allows productivity in your practice, repetition. They should have names and your players should know them.

  • Publish your team and personal records, all about personal best daily.

  • Example: Superman Drill — 36 lay ups in 2 minutes. We rather get it or we don’t.

  • Do you have 3 drills that challenge your players mental toughness? eg. defensive cutthroat, 3v3 full court no dribble.

The Energy Vampire

If you call them out consistently, they’re making you the issue. That’s a win for them.

  • Exclude them from the group, don’t expend your energy.

  • Expectations: set them in the first meeting before problems arise.

  • There must be consequences for actions, most importantly positive and negative.

  • If necessary take those 8 guys in the positive directi

on and leave the others behind. They will rather sink or swim.


  1. Tell them

  1. Show them

  2. Have them show you

  3. Correct it

  4. Lord and master = repetition.

  • When we do less, we can do more.

  • Is your philosophy simplicity with execution or change

and surprise?

  • Slow down your teaching, the building blocks matter.

  • Are you a ‘just get there’ or a technique coach?


  1. Rotation: teach this to the point you want. Offence or defence?

  2. Advantage/Disadvantage: give your kids an opportunity for success. Example = 2–2–1 press, play it 5 defenders vs 2 offence.

  3. Confusion: build a conditioned response to mistakes, shit happens out on the floor you can’t slow down. Example = Bob Knight,

on the whistle put the ball down and now offence becomes defence.

  1. Rebounding: every drill, because we know it determines winning and losing.

  2. Time and Score: 5–10 minutes, no longer. Get a winner and a loser.

  3. Communication: what is your language? Do you have a glossary?


  • Live and act in priority, coach accordingly.

  • What is your 60 minute individual workout, in priority?

  • Offence & Defence: what are your 3 musts for each?

  • Special Situations: do you have 3 plays you’ve practiced that your team can do without making it up? Example Brad Stevens: they’ve rehearsed it all before, sometimes small tweaks but nothing is new.

  • Does your practice planning reflect that?

  • You are what you emphasise? Could your players tell you if somebody asked what are you about?

  • Example: Lindsay Gaze — for the game winner, if you miss it’s minus 2. He values performance under pressure.

  • Popovich: talk and touch your players every single day.


  • Rebounding, Turnovers, Shooting %

  • Turnovers: decision making is critical. If it is not the how, then who is spending too much time with the ball in their hands?

  • Shooting %: do you know how many shots your players are getting at practice?

  • Specificity separates good from great, know the numbers that equal a win.


  • Cut your practice concepts in half, simplify.

  • 2–3 concepts, work it for 5–10 minutes drill it then come back to it.

  • Create the game within a game, don’t over complicate it.


  • The day you wake up and think you know a lot, atrophy happens.

  • Feed yourself to grow your brain.

  • You are what you DO not what you say, you are who you surround yourself with.

  • Journalling: carry a notebook at all times, write down anything good you hear or see. Doesn’t have to be basketball related. I have 30 years worth of these notebooks at my home.

  • Mentors: those ahead of you can be your greatest teachers.

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