30 second time outs

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Coaching today

I apologize in advance - I'm about to vent, ramble, and get on my
soapbox. You've been warned!

The days of the dictator coach are behind us. We need to find other
methods of teaching and relating to players that are more meaningful
than "My way or the highway." There are too many "highways" for kids
to choose from. These days persuading is far more effective long
term, than coersion. It is not my way, or my X's & O's that help us
succeed. It is their daily efforts. You want kids to learn to do
things because it is the right thing to do - not because they are
afraid of the consequence or looking forward to a reward.

Methods are adjusting for classroom teachers, and the basketball
community needs to keep up with the times. In the classroom,
teachers are continually finding ways of making their subjects more
relevant and useful to their students, and applicable to the world
that they live in. Most players(and students) now want to know “why”
something is being done. It would benefit the coach to have an
answer ready. Let the player know how it is going to help him/her
individually, as well as helping the team. A good example might be
setting a screen. A screen may be a method of helping a teammate get
open. However, a good screen forces the screeners defender to "help"
and becomes one of the best ways to free yourself for a shot. I have
found that players set better screens after they are told that it
can also help THEM! I'm reminded of the scene in "Field of Dreams"
when Costner says, "I've done EVERYTHING that you've asked and not
once have I asked 'What's in it for me?'" To which Shoeless Joe
asked, "What are you saying, Ray?" and Costner said, "What's in it
for me?" Deep down, we are all a little like Ray Cansella, kids just
a little more than others!

We talk all the time to our staff about coaching the way that we
would want our son or daughter coached. We would expect the coach,
first and foremost, to be fair. We would want the coach to display
patience and understanding with our child and the team. We want to
be clear and concise in how we teach, giving the player the know how
to perform, and then help them towards improvement, encouraging them
all the way.

Most of all we want to treat the player with the same respect that
we ask of them. Scold and discipline when necessary, but re-teach
and praise immediately following. We never want a player to leave
the gym with a negative impression of how the coaches feel about

I remember something that I wrote in a paper in college. "As a coach
you should 1)Be knowledgeable and organized. 2)Love your players
equally, unconditionally, and care about them off the floor. 3)Work
FOR them as hard as you expect them to work FOR you.
Do these three things and your players will: 1) Listen and try to
understand; 2) Show the desire to be a good team player and 3) PLAY
HARD. I don't think that has changed over the decades.

This concept of "Servant-Leadership", or "Servant-Coaching", might be
more prevalent than you`d think. First, Servant-leaders have a deep
belief in the unlimited potential of each person player. Robert
Greenleaf points out that a Servant-Leader is a servant first…wanting
to bring value by lifting up others and doing what supports the
greater good for all. I think that most good coaches desire that.
This is sharply different from those who see themselves as a leader
first. Those coaches are usually motivated by the need for power,
wins, prestige and/or material rewards.

Common characteristics of the "SERVANT-COACH" are:
1. Listening: Seeking to identify the needs of the TEAM and to work
on those in practice. Listening needs to be coupled with reflection.
2. Empathy: Players need to be recognized and accepted for their
special gifts and talents.
3. Awareness: Especially self-awareness. Coaches need to have
develop their own inner serenity.
4. Persuasion: Seeking to convince the team rather than coerce
compliance; SERVANT-COACHES are effective at building consensus
within THE TEAM.
5. Conceptualization: "SERVANT-COACHES dream great dreams"; seeking
balance between visioning (thinking outside the boxes) and a day to
day focused approach.
6. Foresight: SERVANT-COACHES understand the lessons from the past,
the realities of the present, and the likely consequence of a
decision for the future. They use these to develop their game plans
on a weekly basis.
7. Stewardship: "Holding something in trust for another"; a
commitment to serving the needs of others. The TEAM is everyones
TEAM, past, present and future.
8. Commitment to the Growth of Players: Recognizing that players
have value beyond basketball.
9Building a program: This may be one of the main things a
SERVANT-COACHING holds that the primary purpose of a team should be
to create a positive impact on its players and community, rather
than using winning games as the sole motivation.

Whom do you serve? For what purpose? I`d ask: Are we that kind of a
coach? Strive to be!
That is when you develop trust from your players. Then they will buy
in when you try to build that trust between teammates.

They should learn to trust their teammates, and to play with that
trust. For the TEAM to be successful, work to build trust with yje
teammates and work together with them. Then the day will come when
they know NO OTHER WAY to play.

If they trust one another they'll play a different kind of game.
They'll play a team game. They'll play a game where They'll want to
pass off the ball and let their teammate score rather than pull up
and take their own shot. They'll play a game where They'll strive to
make their teammates look good - They'll make a real effort to find
the open man.

Convince them to ignore some of the struggles of others that have
been irritating them. Instead, learn to value their strengths. Look
for areas in which they may be in a power struggle with someone and
give it up, it`s not about the power - it`s about the team. Take the
focus off themself and put it on others, it will come back to,

Be more transparent. Recognize the high potential in someone’s
talents and allow them the opportunity to utilize them. Give someone
your trust and let that person know that you are confident that he
or she will succeed. Then give them your undending loyalty. That is
missing in many teams, staffs, organizations, and schools these

Get them to commit to a common cause and sell out for each other.
The fruits of your victories will be much sweeter.

And they'll know no other way.

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