Coaching Nuggets with Coach Kelly Wells

Coaching nuggets. We are all trying to find the newest answers to our coaching problems; Coach Wells shares the right answers for us. Coach Kelly Wells of the University of Pikeville shares some of his championship basketball coaching philosophies and nuggets of wisdom. Follow Coach Wells @coachkellywells on Twitter.

coaching nuggets with coach kelly wells

Championship Coaching Nuggets


StrengthFinder 2.0, by Tom Rath

UBUNTU, by Stephen Lundin (Tribal tradition of TEAMWORK AND COLLABORATION. Philosophy of: I am because we all are! The success of the group MUST outweigh the success of the individual.)

The Little Red Book of Wisdom, by Mark DeMoss

Success is a Choice, by Rick Pitino


  • Hire GREAT coaches (only as good as the people around you)
  • Put your family ahead of basketball
  • Lifelong Learner (Coaches have to be Coachable)
  • Work Ethic, (Required Work vs. Unrequired Work) (Greatest Asset)
  • Power in Belief (In yourself, your players, your situation)
  • Dream bigger than MOST think is possible / Guarantee Little, Deliver Much
  • Relationships Matter: Care about your coaches/players and their lives
  • Shared Commitment: Players love when you sweat with them, more about what you bring than what you know.
  • Self Evaluation: Would you want to play for yourself (why/why not)
  • Take players where they won’t take themselves, best version of each player
  • Have a Philosophy and Beliefs that fit your situation (Be Flexible)
  • Organized
  • Handle Media, Parents and Community Relations (Own PR Department – staff, players, parents, fans, admin, etc.)
  • Communication (truth, upfront, often)


  • Must Defend
  • Eliminate Transition Baskets
  • Take away offensive rebounding
  • Play through runs (Resolve)
  • Eliminate turnovers and Vomit Offense


“Complexity is the enemy of execution” –Brendon Suhr, LSU

“Young men need more models, not critics” -John Wooden, UCLA

“Transactional Coach or Transformational Coach” -Jon Gordon

[bctt tweet=”“We can’t have a championship program without championship actions” -Bob Starkey, Texas A&M WBB” via=”no”]

“A coach will have more impact on lives in a year than most in a lifetime” -Billy Graham

“The greatest sin a coach can commit is to allow kids to slide by. In classroom as well as the court” -Hubie Brown

“Interest VS. Commitment” Interest = Doing it when convenient / Commitment = All the time -Shaka Smart

“No one is bigger than the team. If you can’t do things our way, you’re not getting time here and we don’t care who you are” -Gregg Popovich

“Empower the people around you, from the janitor to the AD. You do that by being sincere, caring about others, and then putting it into practice” -Sue Gunter. LSU WBB

“What we do as basketball players/coaches is abnormal. If you want abnormal results them give abnormal actions. NORMAL=NORMAL” -Billy Donovan, OKC

“YOU determine your value (wage) with what you bring to the table. Our paycheck is OUR responsibility” -Kevin Eastman


Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you’d better BE RUNNING. –African Proverb

Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. –Nido Qubein

There is no passion to be found playing small – In settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. –Nelson Mandella

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends. –Walt Disney

[bctt tweet=”Never let the pressures take away the pleasures. –Kelly Wells, UPIKE” username=”@coachkellywells”]

coaching nuggets by coach kelly wells

FIVE Components to be ALL IN:

1. Unselfishness –
o Remove “Me-ism”
o Sacrifice
o “Check your ego at the door; the only stat that matters is team success.
2. Compassionate –
o Nobody cares what you know until they know you care
o It not the VALUE you receive, but the VALUE you give to others.
3. Goal Oriented –
o A ship with no port of call is sure to get there—NOWHERE!
o Put your plans in writing! “Bucket List”
4. Togetherness –
o It amazing what can be accomplished when nobody cares who gets the credit
o Amway Philosophy: How many people can you help be successful? In return you will be successful.
5. Leadership –
o Action / Not Position
o Be an authentic leader: Show you care, lead by example, develop leaders

Post Game Processing Sheet

Post Game Processing Sheet by Erick Blasing

Post game processing or the time period immediately following the game is an important window of opportunity for players to learn. Coach Erick Blasing shares a simple tool that he uses with his team to utilize this teaching time.

I mentioned in my last post that one of the best decisions I ever made as a coach in Sparta was to research “Train to Be Clutch” by Josh Metcalf and Jamie Gilbert. Their process is directing people to transformational leadership and increasing mental preparation for life. I am currently reading through their book, Burn Your Goals and it is fantastic. I highly recommend it. Please check out their site for more information on everything clutch as well as a lot of free resources:

As a team we spent time pre-game as a team with no noise and used a simple visualization process to prepare for that night’s games.  While we used the pre-game routine every game we never rolled out the post game processing sheet. As I mentioned before, our pre-game went fantastic and made us a better team. The post-game form is very similar and something that I wish I would have utilized. I plan to implement this fully in the future.

I think a major piece that is often missing from teams is the ability to comprehend the ending of the game.

Often players will either internalize the responsibility for the game’s outcome or place blame on others around them to an extreme that is not proportional with reality.

Using the processing sheets, players can attempt to bring their emotions in check and understand what can be improved upon.

Game 2 of the Western Conference’s 2nd Round, San Antonio and Oklahoma City is a prime example of a game where post game processing could help the team improve. In a crazy ending that saw multiple missed calls against San Antonio, the Spurs still had a shot for the win in the end but did not prevail. While everyone is focusing on that high pressure ending with miscues and sloppy execution, processing sheets can help the players understand that in a 1 point loss, a turnover in the first half could have made the actual difference in the game. If you encounter a similar scenario, the processing sheet can help players look at the game with a clearer vision and understanding.

Coach Sherri Coale of the University of Oklahoma shared something very similar that they do every post game.

The post-game is a little more in-depth and would be very useful to have players complete immediately after the game or on the bus ride home.  These sheets would be a great help for the players during film study. I hope these help you and your team improve down the road!

Check out this link for your Post Game Processing Sheet

Enjoy the journey,


Culture – Step 1: Cast Your Vision

Culture – Step 1: Cast Your Vision

Create Culture with Vision

Culture. Ah, the buzz word for every high school, college, and professional team right now. Most people can recognize great cultures when they see them: the San Antonio Spurs, the Seattle Seahawks, the Michigan State Spartans.

One of the scariest things about culture is the fact that one exists whether you intend for it to or not. So, if you are not being intentional about the development, and advancement, of your culture; then the culture of your will reflect that.

There is always a culture to a team or program.

Angela Duckworth, notable grit and culture expert, recently had this to say in a Seattle Times article by Jayson Jenks:

“My sense is that great coaches are able to create, to forge, a team or identity that says, ‘This is the kind of person we want. This is what it means to be on this team.’ “

(Full article

There are four key pieces to culture: a vision for the program, the core values of the program, the standards in the program, and accountability within the program. Each is vital to a program reaching its full potential and must be consistently emphasized by the leader. If the leader isn’t capable or willing to sell the vision, to filter through the core values, and to uphold the standards set in the program with relentless accountability; no program will reach its potential. BUT … if the leader shares the vision with passion, lives by the core values, and refuses to waiver from the standards of the program; there is no limit to the impact a program can have on team members, fans, and the community.

We’ll focus on vision first. The vision should show team members what can be; it should stretch comfort zones and stir passion within the team. As Henry Ford said, “If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said faster horses.” Those following don’t know. The leader of the team or program must set the vision.

The vision must also clarify direction and purpose while setting a standard of excellence. Vision statements by big corporations often become too vague. And, as a result, are completely useless. Effective vision statements are easily understood by team members and provide a guide to where they are supposed to be going. If the program has no vision, or if no one in the program knows what that vision is, then team members have no idea of what they are working for or where they are trying to go. Great leaders will paint a picture that team members can see. It changes the daily work – making it meaningful, purposeful because the work is leading to something better than what currently exists.

CathedralBricks, Walls, or Cathedrals?

A man came upon a construction site where three people were working.  He asked the first, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am laying bricks.” He asked the second, “What are you doing?” and the man replied: “I am building a wall.” As he approached the third, he heard him humming a tune as he worked, and asked, “What are you doing?” The man stood, looked up at the sky, and smiled, “I am building a cathedral!” –unknown

All three men were doing the same thing, but the vision of what the ultimate goal looked like completely changes the attitude, drive, and quality of the work being done – all because it is now purposeful work in line with an appealing vision.

Here are some examples of simple, clear, and inspiring vision statements:

USA Swimming            To inspire and enable our members to achieve excellence in the sport of swimming and in life.

Ohio State Athletics            We foster a culture that provides the opportunity to develop our student-athletes through success in academics and competition to achieve excellence in life.

George Fox University            To be “the team to beat” in NCAA DIII sports with the most formative athletic experience in the country.

Under Armor            To empower athletes everywhere.

Centerville Basketball            Hunt – better our best every day.

In order for a leader to create the team or program that others dream about; that can change the lives of team members; the leader must craft a vision that presses the limits of what seems possible. If you haven’t taken the time to create a vision for your team or program, I urge you to do so. And, if you have a vision for your program, examine it regularly to be sure that you are pursuing it daily.

Up next: Determining the core values for your team and using them as the decision-making filter for everything in your program!