In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, learn the competitive coaching philosophy of Carleton head coach Dave Smart. Smart has architected one of the most dominant dynasties in collegiate sport history. He served as the head men’s basketball coach at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario from 1999 to 2019, where he led the Ravens to thirteen of the team’s fourteen U Sports national championships in men’s basketball.
Since taking over the Ravens program in 1999-00, Smart won 92 per cent of his games against Canadian opposition between 1999 and 2019. He led the Ravens to a Canadian men’s record of 87 consecutive wins in league and playoff games, from 2002-2005. Smart has been named the Canadian Collegiate Basketball Coach of the Year a record eight times, and the OUA conference coach-of-the-year awards thirteen times.
Dave Smart’s incredible success at the Canadian university level has provided him with several opportunities to work at the national level. In 2012, Smart was named the assistant coach of the Canadian Senior Men’s Basketball National team by head coach Jay Triano. In June 2013, The Development Men’s National Team completed a sweep of the Four Nations’ International Invitational Tournament with a perfect 9-0 record in registering three victories over each of the United States, Latvia and host-nation China.
Additional Notes from Dave Smart
“One of our big things is: it’s impossible to be special at something if you’re not having fun doing it . . in order to be special at basketball you’re going to have to redefine what your fun is.”
“I want them [players] to be successful that minute . . so that they’re putting everything they have into getting it done . . and working as hard as they can in the moment. . . You’re not going to get there if you don’t push the envelope.”
“With really good coaches, practice doesn’t end when practice ends; practice ends after you’ve spoken to all the kids you feel who’ve had a struggle that day.”
“I still think, deep down, most of these kids want to . . have relationships and want to have close connections with their team but they’ve never been given the opportunity.”
“When you make it clear that the way they [talented but self-centered players] are acting is disrespecting their friends, they tend to want to stop disrespecting their friends, they tend to want to change.”
“We encourage it [players to coach each other] but it has to be done the right way . . it has to be done on things that everybody controls.”
“I get very upset when there is not positive or negative reinforcement after every possession in practice . . the leaders on the team . . are expected to care after every single possession. Good or bad they need to care.”
“Without caring, you are really bad at leading.”
“I just think we’ve done a really, really good job of teaching players to own their own confidence and . . not allowing a coach to own it and certainly, not allowing anyone on the other team to own it, not needing to fake it . . “
Q: What is the one thing that stands out that you think coaches could improve the most?
A: Accountability. How you establish that accountability is based on your personality . . if you want to sustain success, you have to have accountability all the time.”
“You can’t run a practice with drills that you think will look good in practice and think that that’s going to translate over to the game.”
“If players aren’t put into uncomfortable situations constantly in your practice environment, they’re not going to react well to uncomfortable situations in a game. There’s always going to be uncomfortable situations against anyone good.”
“I think you need to separate what is development, and they do it at a speed that is only development . . if you’re going to do it at full speed, then it’s a competition.”
“When you graduate university, if you’re not a competitive person you’re almost in worse shape than you would’ve been 20 years ago. Yet, we’re trying to teach people competition isn’t the most important thing.”
“Our guys know their roles . . we just establish roles so early . . I think everybody needs to be good at roles in order to play at the highest level.”
“If you don’t know how to be a role player, it’s going to be really difficult to be successful at the highest level.”
“When we go into games, we don’t spend a lot of time on what people run . . but we’re really all about how we cover each individual.”
Click below to listen in if you listen on:
1:00 – Coaching human being to be better in so many ways
2:30 – What is Fun
4:00 – Don’t like using or talking about the word “PROCESS”
8:00 – Explaining to people his Philosophy
10:00 – Finding Ways to Win
12:30 – Talking about Evil Players
14:50 – Behavior Change
16:00 – “Better than everybody else”
18:30 – Types of People you Coach
24:00 – Never Loses to the Bad Teams
25:00 – Player Led Leadership
30:00 – Player Development
33:00 – “Reactionary” Coaching
35:20 – Mini Conversations
38:30 – Consequences for Players
40:30 – Consequences of Winning and Losing in a Drill
43:00 – What has Most Impacted his Success
46:00 – The Need for Accountability
49:00 – Philosophy of “There is too much…”
51:15 – How Many Shots in Practice
53:00 – Competition-Based Practices
56:00 – Slow Learning
1:04:00 – Things that helped them succeed against Division I Teams
1:08:00 – Conclusion
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