Spencer Wood Coaching U Basketball Coaching Clinic Notes

Spencer Wood Coaching U 2010 Basketball Coaching Clinic Notes


These notes were taken by Lason Perkins, who was in attendance at the Coaching U 2010 Basketball Clinic. Spencer Wood is known for his ability to train athletes physically as well as mentally. He is an author as well as a public speaker and is known worldwide. Coach Wood is one of the best when it comes to an athlete’s mental skills and toughness training. Here are his basketball coaching clinic notes from when he spoke. Notes were taken by Lason Perkins.


Basketball Coaching Clinic Notes


Mental toughness does not guarantee a championship.

Research on Top Athletes.

  • Competitiveness.
  • Ability to work hard and sustain intensity.
  • Sport-specific skills.
  • SAQ.
  • Clutch performance (poise, focus, confidence).
  • Sacrifice to be part of a larger team.
  • Coping with failure, success, criticism.
  • Ability to execute a game strategy.
  • Passion for the game.

How do you react to your mistakes?

Sport at the highest level is 50% mental. If that is the case, why do we not work at mental skills half the time?

Incorporate mental skills into basketball drills.

Be proactive in developing mental skills.

4 C’s of Mental Toughness.

  • Composure.
  • Confidence.
  • Concentration.
  • Commitment.

Brain Under Stress.

  • Fight or flight reaction.
  • Breathing changes.
  • Heart rate changes.
  • The digestive system shuts down.
  • Muscular tension increases.

Skills learned typically in a stress-free setting.

Common Responses.

  • Practice More (Cannot fully mimic game conditions).
  • Coach admonishment/Self admonishment (“Don’t screw up,” etc.).

Emotion/Intensity (E/I) needed.

Each player has a different E/I level they perform at.

Once you are hyped, nothing should take you out of it.

  • Recognize/get to your E/I number.
  • How do you stay there?

The best performers play at a 5 on E/I level consistently.  You do not want them too low or too high.

Individual Internal Check for E/I Level.

  • Coming off the bus.
  • In the locker room.
  • During Warm-Ups.
  • Before tip in the huddle.

Mistake Management:  You will never outperform your own self-belief system.

Great athletes are great because of how they react to mistakes vs. actual mistakes that occurred.

Reaction: Above and below the surface.

We have to teach more than “Keep your head, chin, and eyes up.”

Athletes need a mental toughness routine.

Take out the trash.

  • Remove the mistake from the mind.
  • Don’t let them pile up.
  • No natural method to remove mental thoughts that clutter up.
  • Create a visual in the mind of a mistake/action being tossed out.
  • Replace with a positive image.

Two views in mind: Inside-Out and Outside-In.

Mirror situation to simulate conditions (Inside-Out view, involve all senses).

Most athletes use Outside-In view when visualizing.


Self Talk

  • Best friend or worst enemy.
  • What would show up if your self-talk was projected onto a big screen for all to see?
  • Positive statements in your mental script.

Law of Dominant Thought:  Brain/body does not distinguish between do/don’t (Example: Don’t think of a pink elephant).

Talk about what you will do.  Have 1-2 statements you use every day/game.

  • Examples: “I am at my best when it counts.”  “I love shooting clutch FT’s.”

Clutch Attitude:  We cannot know what is going on inside a player’s mind.

Choking: An absence of 1 or more of the 4 C’s of mental toughness.

Focus on the present, not the outcome.

Create a team culture of stepping up.

  • Concept of arête.
  • Remove the fear of failure.

Three questions to ask yourself:

  • Where am I now?
  • Where am I going?
  • How do I get there?

Conduct individual assessments in the pre-season. Have coaches do one for each player and compare results.

Coachability:  Level of response, attention, execution.

Knowledge is not the key.  Knowledge plus application is key.

“Every day of my career, I improved in one area”- Mark Spitz


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One Response

  1. I received a phone call from someone that sounded like Kalem Marks about getting something in the Citizen Newspaper about an event for Spencer Woods in March. He did not leave a phone number. I am just trying to return his call. I can be reached at 770-692-2531.

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