Luke Yaklich: Building & Sustaining a Defensive Culture (Notes by Chris Filios)

Luke Yaklich

Written by Coach Peterman

I have coached at the NCAA Division 2 (Southwestern Oklahoma State University), NAIA (USAO), and JUCO Levels (Blinn College and Carl Albert State College) as well as high school. I just felt that fellow coaches especially young coaches need to constantly work on their “game”. Just like the basketball players that we coach. We as coaches need to improve ourselves. That is my story and why I do this blog.

March 27, 2020

A talk by Luke Yaklich

Associate Head Coach, University of Texas

OFFICIAL: Yaklich named Head Basketball Coach at UIC

Click here to download the basketball clinic notes


General coaching thoughts by Luke Yaklich:   Building & Sustaining a Defensive Culture

  • Begin with the end in mind. Where do we need to be at the end of the season for us to be successful and get us to where we want to be?
  • You haven’t taught until they’ve learned. 
  • Be the coach and teacher that you would want your child to experience 
  • Leadership starts at the top. -Beilein
  • 4 stages of learning:
    • Unconsciously incompetent 
    • Consciously incoimpetent
    • Consciously competent
    • Unconsciously competent
  • You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want. Prioritize what you want to be known for. –Beilein
  • Assistant coaches- What can I take off your plate today? -Kevin Eastman
    • 90% Evaluation, 10% emotion
  • It’s simple, but not easy
    • Keep things that aren’t easy…simple
    • Make it as simple as possible, but never simpler
  • Things you need to tell your team- instills trust/confidence in your team and frees you up to be yourself:
    • I screwed that up
    • I believe in you
    • I haven’t taught you well enough 
    • I don’t know…yet


Defense by Luke Yaklich

  • Building a defensive culture- DEVELOP A MISSION STATEMENT!
    • What is your MISSION on defense? (1 sentence)
      • Yaklich- “Give up 1 contested 2 point shot per possession”
    • What are your VALUES that you emphasize on defense? (4 Max)
      • Yaklich- chart contested shots, transition defense, rebounding, etc
      • Keep it to a minimum- you cannot do everything
        • Carril- “When players start to think, their feet slow down”
    • What PRINCIPLES on defense? (5 max)
    • What are you going to hold your TEAM ACCOUNTABLE to on defense?
      • After every game, evaluate and share
      • Benchmarks
    • What are you going to hold your PLAYERS ACCOUNTABLE to on defense?
      • Yaklich- contesting shots
  • You have to be passionate about what you are doing on defense- be OBSESSED! This determines identity on the court.
  • You are really only 2-4 more stops a game from becoming a better defensive team
    • Ex. Michigan- 3 more stops per game away from 70s to top 10 defensive team
    • Ex. Texas- 2 stops per game away from being Top 10 defense
    • How many games did you lose by 6-8 points this year?
  • Add defensive rebounding to all shooting drills if possible
    • Steal time
    • Hard to do rebounding drills in middle/late part of season
  • No better time to want to be a great defender- NEED to guard multiple positions
  • Study your team on defense like you would on offense- build your defensive system based on your personnel/skill sets
  • Establishing a defensive culture
    • What is essential to you?
      • What does a perfect possession look like to you? What are you willing to give up?
        • Yaklich- 1 contested 2 pt shot, take away 3,no 2nd chances- rebound
      • What is your transition plan?
        • Get back v who’s back? Shot balance- responsibility
        • Yaklich- back in tandem
      • Where can your team pick-up the ball?
        • Changes the way the offense starts
      • What is your ball screen plan for your 4 man? 5 man?
        • Can be game to game basis, but need to have a philosophy
      • How are you going to defend the post?
      • How are you teaching box outs?
      • How are you going to teach closeouts?
    • What is your communication plan?
      • You get what you put up with. DEMAND IT.
      • If communication is a skill, are you teaching that skill?
      • Communication eliminates assumption
      • Standing, Staring, Silent = Sitting
      • Know your terms & teach your talk
        • You can’t expect your players to talk if you don’t teach them what to say 
        • Demand it. Practice it. 
      • Do drills with goal is a certain number of talk (not time)
      • Voice pressure
        • Describe level of talk. You have to be quiet as a coach.
      • You’re only as good as your most silent defender


Defensive Bingo by Luke Yaklich:


Put all your defensive terminology in the boxes. Or have them write down every word they know. 


Had managers/GA’s replicate a term on the court.


Have a name for everything in your program.


Gives coaches a greater understanding of what guys know and don’t know. 


Had players highlight yellow every term in the boxes that players could explain to a 6th grader in depth at basketball camp. Blue- don’t know, but you are close. Red- something totally foreign.


Must have a very specific language. They need to know it. They must recite it over and over. 


Did this with guys in summer, then did again in October. Asked “what is your grade?”


Asked guys what top values are?



What is the one thing that we are willing to give up?


Video Breakdown by Luke Yaklich:


    • Put video (where you did things well) to video in some type of organizer.
      • Can go back and show 
      • Called it “Champion stuff”
        • No paint touch
        • Tough 2’s
        • General stuff
        • Multiple efforts
        • Etc
      • All terms appear on this “highlight video”





“Take your vitamins.”- Beilein + Yalkich…vitamins= something you take every day to be healthy. Communication=vitamins. 


Use of decibel level app in drills. Do shell (or whatever drill) + decibel level app to drill. Team that talks the loudest wins. Losers punish (down and back, etc).


  • What is your accountability plan?
    • If you try to be good at alot of things, you will be great at nothing
    • That which gets measured gets done
    • Watch film of practice
    • Individual challenges to players
    • Share post game stats
      • What matters after every game and its impact on winning


Special Ops group- best defenders. Meet with Coach Beilein. Sticker or plaque in locker. Reward system. 

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