While on a campus visit with my son to the University of Dayton in January, I came across a book titled Miller Time – Coach John Miller’s Story. I was drawn to the title recognizing that Archie Miller is the head coach of the University of Dayton men’s basketball team and his brother Sean Miller is the head coach of the University of Arizona men’s basketball team. My son has been accepted to attend University of Dayton and I am a University of Arizona alum. Reading the back cover and the foreward (by another successful college basketball coach – John Calipari), I learned the book is about John Miller, the coaching Millers’ father.
John Miller is himself a legendary high school basketball coach in western Pennsylvania. Over 600 career wins; 4 Pennsylvania state championships; runner-up once; 8 Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League Championships; 17 section championships; a .700 career winning percentage; and a record 111 consecutive section wins from 1990-1999.
The book is the story of a coach whose dedication to and caring for young people has touched the lives of hundreds in Western Pennsylvania. The accomplishments, both on and off the court, of Coach Miller’s former players are a testament to his philosophy and style being more about developing the whole person and not just the basketball player.
I read the book because of the connection of the two coaches – one at my son’s soon-to-be school and the other at my alma mater. I also expected to find some nuggets with respect to my Hustle & Attitude youth coaching philosophy. I was not disappointed. Here are some excellent pieces of advice for youth sports coaches from Coach Miller:
- HUSTLE – “No matter what you’re trying to do, you have to just keep working. You just have to keep banging away. If it’s meant to be, it’ll come. I wish there was more to it than that [keeping a positive attitude and working hard], but there’s not. That’s it”.
- ATTITUDE – “You never whine about calls. You never celebrate on the court. And you retrieve the ball for the referee with respect even if he is the worst referee in the world. You hold yourself responsible no matter what. No excuses”.
- ATTITUDE – “A great mental attitude will overcome physical ability”.
- “My yearly objective was always to get the maximum out of the total squad”
- “Try to stay away from talking about winning. The emphasis should be on working hard every day”.
Miller has a video series and runs clinics called Drill for Skill. The core values are:
- Every child is an athlete. And every child can become a better athlete.
- Talent is never enough. With few exceptions, the best players are the hardest workers.
- We are teachers. And the court is our classroom.
- Relentless focus on the fundamentals is the pathway to mastery.
- We know we’re not important enough to change the world, but we’re important enough to change someone’s world.
- Our lives are a series of habits. It’s important to develop good ones at an early age.
- Trust. It’s everything.
These values are great advice for coaches at all levels. And probably my favorite quote from the book: “Emphasize enthusiasm, hustle, and having a class attitude on the floor”. You can probably guess why.