Fred Litzenberger – a Coach’s Coach

Lessons LearnedLast week I had the opportunity to talk to one of the best basketball minds I’ve ever met – FredĀ Litzenberger, who is currently helping Luke Jackson put the Northwest Christian University men’s team on the map.

Coach “Litz” has been teaching and coaching basketball for over 40 years and has coached at Northern Colorado, Hamline University, Northwestern State, Eastern Washington, Fresno State, Colorado State, the University of Miami, Oregon (both men and women) and Vanguard University.

He has also worked with the United States Basketball Academy and the Chinese Junior National team. His teams have been in 18 NCAA Tournaments and have lead the country in scoring defense four times.

Several years ago he produced some defensive instructional tapes that were nothing short of awesome. Unfortunately, those tapes aren’t being sold anymore and so even a bootleg copy is considered by many to be coaching “gold,”

The thing that has always impressed me about Litz is his accessibility to other coaches. I first met him at a basketball camp over 20 years ago and was immediately in awe of his ability to enthusiastically and passionately teach a gym full of campers how to front pivot and reverse pivot for nearly an hour.

The time flew by and the kids were genuinely disappointed when the session ended. Ever since then when I’ve been lucky enough to bump into him in a gym somewhere, Litz has greeted me like a long lost friend instead of just a coaching colleague.

During the last 20 years I’ve called or emailed Litz four or five times with a question or strategy that I’ve wanted his opinion on and he’s never been too busy to help.

No one answers his phone for him or screens his emails and if you don’t realize how rare that is these days then you probably haven’t been coaching very long yet.

If you ever have a chance to see one of Coach Litzenberger’s instructional tapes or better yet, see him teach in person, then by all means do yourself a favor and do it. You’ll be a better coach because of it!

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