The Carolina Way: Dean Smith and Gerald D. Bell with John Kilgo


The Carolina Way is a detailed description and explanation of the philosophy that Dean Smith successfully executed at The University of North Carolina.  He was an incredible coach that was morally and ethically sound and had a teaching first perspective. The Carolina Way highlights team culture while applying those ideas and concepts to the business world. He includes details and explanations for how he dealt with his players and found the way to get the best out of them. Below are ideas from the book as well as top quotes.

Ideas and Concepts From The Carolina Way:

  1. The off season is focused on doing what is best for each individual while the season is focused on doing what is best for the entire team.
  • The Blue Team was players number 8-13 on the bench. They were guaranteed to play two minutes in the first half of every game.
  • Why? Then the other team had to scout 2 teams and it kept these guys motivated to do well in practice and work hard. Regardless of great or poor performances, they would only get two minutes.
  1. We didn’t care how many points another team or player scored as long as their shooting percentage was low.
  2. Every day in practice Coach Smith had an offensive and defensive emphasis of the day and if a player was called upon during the practice and could not recite either, he would make the whole team run.
  3. Coach Smith made it a point to never say things to his players about his job at stake or his career at stake. They had too much pressure on them already they didn’t need to hear that “this is how I feed my family”.
  4. He graded everything. Every practice, players were graded and evaluated by his staff on paper. As well he graded every single possession of the game. It could take up to 5 hours to do this but he believed it was worth it.
  5. In his business section, he refers to a CEO leader who had a book of the mont for employees. If the people in the office read the book and presented it to them in a meeting that is 15-20 minutes long they get a bonus of $50. He translated this to his team, but instead of the $50 they could be rewarded with playing time or extra practice sessions or gear or some sort of external stimulus.
  6. Coach always changed roommates on the road so that clicks would not form and it helped everyone to get to know each other better.
  7. He didn’t believe in taking what the defense gives you. Why would you want to play into their game? There’s a reason they are giving you what they are giving you.
  8. To improve shooting mechanics, we’d have our players stand fifteen feet from the wall and shoot the ball at it. We wanted them to work on spinning the ball correctly, getting the proper arch on it, releasing it properly, and the ball correctly and keeping their eyes on the target. Shooting at the wall instead of at the basket allowed the players to focus ENTIRELY ON THE FUNDAMENTALS INSTEAD OF ON MAKING THE SHOT.
  9. His tired signal was a fist to the bench. If players took themselves out of the game they were allowed to put themselves back into the game when they were ready. Coach didn’t want them to be afraid to take themselves out of the game because he might not put them back in. This way they could be honest and get the little break that they needed.
  10. People will never change unless they see the NEED to change and truly BELIEVE they need to change.
  11. Posted a “Coaches Honor Roll” the day after the game with the stats that the coach found important. Included who was most unselfish, defensive stats, offensive rebounding, deflections, charges, etc.
  12. Scout minimally; focus on your team, not the other team.

Top Quotes From The Book:

“You must be what you want your players to become (as a leader)”

“I wanted our players to be quietly confident”

“However if a player needed the afternoon to catch up on their school work they could have it. It had to be for valid reason though and was a very occasional thing.“

“We didn’t make our drills competitive until they were learned. The players would have concentrated on winning instead of learning.”

“Don’t get angry with employees for having their self-interests at heart. Find what those interests are and then help employees fulfill them by contributing to your team.”

“Studies show that the maximum most people can work and be consistently effective is ten hours a day, five days a week.”

“Look to the past to learn, forward to live.”


2 thoughts on “The Carolina Way: Dean Smith and Gerald D. Bell with John Kilgo

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