I spoke with Andover High Coach Alan Hibino recently. Coach Hibino has a unique background. He started out as a manager at Andover High. He went onto the University of Michigan and was a manager for a major Division I program. Life took him back to Andover where he served as the boys JV coach for many years. Now he finds himself as the head coach for the Andover High girls varsity team. Given his experience, I was interested in getting to learn his viewpoints on the game. Three quotes stood out to me from Coach Hibino during our conversation.
“Plan your work and work your plan.”
Right away I told him about my goal and the social goals of the players on the team. Immediately he added some constructive insights. He liked the idea of having short, medium, and long term goals. The commonalities for all of these goals is that they needed to be measurable and needed to have follow through.
An example of a measurable goal before our conversation was, “I’m going to shoot for 45 minutes.” Coach Hibino poked holes in this statement. For one thing, follow through is unlikely. Without a firm schedule to follow, willpower would often lose the battle against procrastination. Suzy might go to bed and say I’m going to shoot for 45 minutes tomorrow morning. Then, Suzy wakes up and says I’m going to wait until the afternoon it seems cloudy. Before you know it, the afternoon turns into tomorrow. To confront this issue, players should workout with a buddy, an alumnus, or someone that can hold them accountable outside of themselves.
Assuming that a player is going to the court for 45 minutes, that player might be satisfied. This is where follow through needs to happen. Are you shooting at the court for 45 minutes, or are you going to the court for 45 minutes? The quality of a workout needs to be included. Static dribbling and jump-roping are two different physical requirements. Time is not always the best unit of measurement. One player making one hundred shots in 15 minutes looks different than another player making two hundred shots in two hours. Specificity in the plan is crucial before actually going out and saying “I’m working on my game.”
“Time is the most valuable thing you have.”
Coach Hibino took me through a stereotypical day of a very committed high school player in the summer time. They might do some type of weight training or plyometric training early in the morning, working some type of basketball or other camp for five hours during the day, shooting for 45 minutes after camp, and going to a summer league game at night. That is a full day. And yet, if you break it down there are still huge gaps of time with no structure.
7:00 – 8:15 Workout
9:00 – 2:00 Camp
3:00 – 3:45 Shooting
6:00 – 7:00 Summer league Game
His conclusion for young people with goals is simple. If you don’t have 45 minutes per day to work on your goal, then it is not a priority.
“Culture, playing harder, and being organized can win you a lot of games.”
I asked Coach Hibino about the primary difference he noticed between coaching males versus coaching females. He said that the guys do not form the bonds that the girls do. Boys do not communicate with each other as well as girls communicate with each other. He did add the caveat that girls coaches need to be careful that girls are talking to each other rather than about each other in that communication. I saw the Andover High girls compete in a jamboree a few weekends back. The energy that the team plays with and exudes from the bench is impressive considering there is no coach directing it. Coach Hibino told me he wants the players to be self-sustainable. He is confident that without a coach in the gym, the players would follow the plan.
For years, I had the opportunity to watch the Andover boys’ basketball teams play. First, as a player and then in support of my brother who was a JV coach that opposed Coach Hibino for years. I always admired the way that Andover’s players took charges. Coach Hibino credited positioning and effort. In that effort, Andover players had a toughness to get to that spot and stay in that spot. Some coaches argue that moving at the last instant is what causes injury.
Coach Hibino talked to me about the relationship between the high school players and the younger players in the community at Andover. Middle school travel teams typically go to high school games, but at Andover the high school players often go to the travel games. The high school players will even do the book at the travel games in Andover. Like many programs, the older players mentor younger players at clinics. Coach Hibino said that many of the drills that they taught second graders are the exact same drills that they use with high school players. The objective of these clinics was to teach. A travel practice should spend at least two-thirds of the time on fundamental skills. Coach Hibino pushed for games smaller than five on five because lower numbers creates better teaching opportunities.