The coaching world lost the greatest basketball coaching educator that it has possibly ever seen yesterday. The great Don Meyer passed away at the age of 69. If you have coached basketball or researched any aspect of coaching the game, chances are you have come across Coach Meyer. If you are not familiar with him it is probably because he was satisfied coaching at NAIA Lipscomb University and Division II Northern State for most of his career.

Don Meyer

Coach Meyer was well-known for sharing his knowledge of the game through dozens of clinics and instructional videos, as well as hosting the annual Don Meyer Coaches’ Academy. Don Meyer was, quite simply, the ultimate “Coach of Coaches.” And, by the way, Coach Meyer also held the record for most coaching victories in the history of the NCAA for a short while after he broke Bob Knight’s record in 2009.

I was fortunate to hear Coach Meyer speak on a couple of occasions, both of which were some of the most enjoyable learning experiences I have had. One occasion was about seven years at the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches’ Clinic. Coach Meyer had a handout and probably a dozen different motivational Northern State Basketball cards for everyone in attendance. Usually coaches will show up for those clinics with a few notes scribbled down and not much else. Not Coach Meyer. He was in his element sharing his encyclopedia of basketball information. He spared seemingly nothing when it came to sharing his work and what he knew about coaching.

The other time I heard him speak, and had the opportunity to meet him, was at the National Association of Basketball Coaches’ Convention at the Final Four in Indianapolis in 2010. That was one of my favorite basketball days ever – I got to watch one of my favorite teams, Butler, win a Final Four game and hear Don Meyer speak! Coach Meyer was in a wheelchair that day after a horrific car accident and cancer diagnosis just a year-and-a-half earlier. Coach had a quick wit, even referring to his amputated leg as his “Little Buddy” during that speaking engagement.

He also had an affinity for good pens. That may be another reason why I liked Coach Meyer so much. We both love a good pen! He was using a Uniball Signo, my personal favorite, that day in Indianapolis. Coach Meyer loved taking notes. He would stop in the middle of his presentation as a thought came to his mind – you could see his wheels always spinning – and write down the note. He would write down notes based on questions that others asked. He developed learning experiences out of everything.

The detail with which Coach Meyer shared his knowledge showed his tireless work ethic and experience in the game. Buster Olney detailed Coach Meyer’s tremendous life in his 2011 biography How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of Coach Don Meyer. I highly recommend it! I also recently purchased Playing for Coach Meyer, by one of his former players and assistant coaches Steve Smiley. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Here is a collection of my favorite notes from Coach Meyer:

Three Rules for His Players:
1. Everybody takes notes.
2. Everybody says, “Yes, sir,” “Yes, ma’am,” “No, sir,” and “No, ma’am.”
3. Everybody picks up trash.

Five Phases of Great Teaching:
1. Tell them what to do.
2. Show them how to do it.
3. Have them show you how to do it.
4. Correct them.
5. Repetition.

On Shot Selection:
1st Bad Shot = Bad Shot
2nd Bad Shot = Bad Player
3rd Bad Shot = Bad Coach

Northern State’s Field Goal % Grading System:
4 = wide-open layup
3 = Wide open shot by good shooter
2 = Contested shot by good shooter
1 = Terrible shot
0 = Turnover

Offense: Get better shots than your opponent and get more of those better shots. (He learned that from the great Pete Newell.)

“If you want to thank me, go do something for somebody else.” – Don Meyer

R.I.P. Coach Don Meyer. Thanks for teaching all of us.

Resources Mentioned In This Blog
Book: How Lucky You Can Be: The Story of Don Meyer,

Book: Playing for Coach Meyer,

Question: How has Coach Don Meyer impacted your coaching? Please respond in the comments section below.


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