30 second time outs

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Basketball Development, iHoops and where to go from here

We've pretty much agreed that in a perfect world the club and HS coaches should work together in the best interest of the kid. In reality, we also realize that in a majority of cases that probably doesn't happen. So now what? How do we create change? We've pretty much identified the problems and rehashed them - now we need to do SOMETHING.

I spoke at Stanford University with Chip Heath, the author of "Made to Stick:Why some ideas Survive and Others Die", who came and visited with us at Positive Coaching Alliance (http://www.positivecoach.org). We talked about his new book coming out in 2010 titled "Switch:How to Change Things When Change is Hard. I read a manuscript and really like the concepts. Keep an eye out for it because it is pretty good. I think this situation applies because this is a very difficult change to make. I will attempt to briefly summarize and avoid his unique metaphors and examples that Chip uses to make the book great, but essentially it is this:

In order to effect the most amount of change in the shortest amount of time there are a few things we need to do.

1) Educate. Every discussion on developing a plan mentions the necessity of Coach Education. Brian's The Crossover Movement outlines a comprehensive plan. People need to know how.

2) Motivate. People need to be motivated for change and there are all kinds of reasons to do so. But the one that resonates with the most people is "what's in it for me?"

3) Simplify. In order to get the change started it is most effective to pick one thing that you think will have the maximum impact.

So we know we need Education. Now how do we answer the question, "what's in it for me?" For everybody involved, Why should I change? After all... I'm right! (isn't that what everyone thinks?) And finally... what is the one, simple thing we can do to provide a good developmental environment for the players

Absent blowing up the entire system and starting from scratch (which can't/won't happen) what ONE thing can be done? My hope is that iHoops will figure that out. With the joint efforts of the NBA & NCAA and the announced funding of $50M, we're light years ahead of where we were two years ago - yet haven't gone anywhere yet, probably because their is so much to do, and so many different perspectives. Some want more school involvement (Weiberg), others want to help fix AAU/Club (Coach K), and the shoe guys would like the camps protected.

Get all states to go along with allowing the HS coach with more year-round access, California being the latest to open this up. The NFHS should join forces as well. Create a summer culture that will convince the good HS coaches that the summer/club/AAU circuit is not "slimy & corrupt" so they will join the fray. Create incentives for those same HS coaches to join forces and develop "clubs" of their own with 3 or 4 team "coalitions" that would create a few levels to compete on the summer circuit. Top 3 players from each program form their top group, and divide the remaining players to create 3 or 4 groups that could compete in the summer showcase/evaluation events. The better players will get an opportunity to be seen and the bottom group will be in the secondary gym on court #8... but those same kids are there now anyway on someone else's club.

The simplest 1st step within the iHoops Web portal framework (if the NCAA is REALLY going to buy into this) might be to only allow their NCAA coaches to attend iHoops certified events. Certification may require at least a minimum of training - online or otherwise. The more education the better, but start somewhere. Clearly skills & drills can be, at least, superficially addressed but the "Art of Coaching" is what may be most lacking. All the Xs & Os are out there for everybody to learn - what separates the good coaches are those that manage the other side of the ball. At Positive Coaching Alliance we have the Double-Goal Coach model that discusses the importance of teaching Life Lessons while you are preparing your team to Win. If that creates a more "sterile" culture to convince good coaches that this is the place to be, we've addressed a bit of the education piece.

High School coaches that try to run a quality program play a bundle of summer games already anyway. They are in any number of meaningless tournaments and team camps (which most are mostly tournaments in disguise) often with their better players off playing with their club, so why not play somewhere else and be around your kids. A system that encourages them to get to these showcase/evaluation events may open their eyes to the value of players playing outside their "system" - of which many are skeptical. Yet they will still be around their players to a certain extent, so they can teach all the "fundamentals" that they worry the AAU coaches aren't teaching. The 3 or 4 team coalitions would allow them to align with coaches they trust and not fear the "transfer railroad" that they are so leery of.

This initial step would place more influence (if "influence"l is good?) in the hands of the HS coach, involve more coaches with the desired "education", and create an opportunity for those coaches to share some of that club revenue to get them through the summer (also answering the question "what's in it for me?") First step? A small one, but maybe the path of least resistance that can get the flywheel moving.

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