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Pat Summitt at Practice


Molly and Coach Summitt

Molly and Coach Summitt

It’s my opinion that University of Tennessee Lady Vol basketball is the best sports program in the country.  I also believe that Coach Pat Summitt is the best coach in America.  I’m not a big Tennessee fan, but I am a fan of excellence, and Lady Vol basketball produces more of it than any other team in any sport.

Last December 1, Molly and I got to attend a Lady Vol practice.  This was one day before a big showdown with the North Carolina Lady Tar Heels – a very big game.  Naturally, I observed with the intent of learning what I could.  Below are some notes I made.

  • They spent more time working on fundamentals – shooting, dribbling, blocking out – than on game planning.
  • Everyone talked about nothing but basketball – before, during, and after practice.  Even just shooting around before practice, all the talk was who could sink this or that shot, who could guard whom, etc.  No school, fun, boys, money, family – nothing but basketball.
  • Coach Summitt delegated almost everything.  The assistants ran the drills; Coach Summitt was an executive observer engaging only when needed.
  • Drills were position specific.  Post players practiced one thing, guards another.
  • Coach Summitt was very gracious.  She posed for pictures, signed autographs, etc.
  • Assistant coaches were constantly correcting and instructing, but Coach Summitt seldom corrected anyone.  The only time she corrected anything was when it was a habitual problem.  If she saw someone repeating a mistake, she corrected it.
  • All the coaches offered encouragement for performing well far more than they corrected mistakes.
  • The mood was very relaxed.  This surprised me considering the magnitude of the next day’s game.
  • Time was a consideration, but not as much as I expected.  They worked to the clock, but they weren’t restricted by it.  They scheduled 5 minutes for this, 15 minutes for that, but if Coach wanted something cut short or extended, she did.  The clock was a guide, not the boss.
  • They scrimmaged against men.  I knew about this and was not surprised.
  • The men used football dummies for defending the Lady Vols.  That was a surprise.

I always like to observe the best at work, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Coach Summitt and the Lady Vols are the best in their business.  Thanks to Coach Summitt and Lady Vol basketball for allowing us to observe.