Steve Kerr and players running the show

Originally published in Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletter, 8.3. Subscribe here

Steve Kerr allowed Warrior players to run the huddles during their game against Phoenix last night. His decision has inspired praise from those who view it as empowering players and derision from those who view it as disrespecting an opponent or evidence that the Warriors are so good that they do not need a coach. What’s the big deal?

In nearly every practice, we play a simulated game. We play four quarters with the quarters anywhere from one to three minutes. We have two teams. Players coach themselves. Players substitute themselves. Players set their defense and call their own plays (Occasionally I insist on a specific defense or plays for a quarter to practice for an upcoming opponent, but generally, they choose offenses and defenses for at least two of the quarters). After a quarter, I may ask questions or review a new situation that occurred, but generally they coach themselves to win the game.

I want to win the end of quarters, which is one reason that we spend time on these situations. Last game, we had one more possession in three out of four quarters. That is a potential six to nine extra points in a game because we value the end of periods and practice these situations two to three times per week. I want to be prepared for end-game situations. I do not rely on drawing up a play at the end of a game. I may call a timeout to organize, advance the ball, or substitute, but we run one of our practiced plays, which they choose to run during these scrimmages.

Kerr’s decision is headline news today because it is the NBA and the Warriors generate great dialogue because of their dedicated fans and detractors, but what is the big deal? These are professional players. Do we really believe that they are so clueless about basketball that they have no idea what play to call or defense to run? Do we believe that professional players are mindlessly running around a court following a coach’s directions without any thinking, anticipating, adjusting and adapting? Is that our vision of athletes?

I once wrote on a coach’s message forum that we should develop players who are capable of playing well in pickup games. This was met with derision from high school coaches, as was most everything that I wrote back in the early ‘00s, because many coaches have a negative impression of pickup basketball, at least in terms of its fundamental execution. I still believe that it is true. Successful pickup players do not rely on a coach’s offense or instructions; they can adapt to different teammates, positions, and demands. Why do we believe that the coaches should possess all the knowledge? Why do we not value what players see on the court? Furthermore, how do we improve their knowledge if we never challenge them to think or make decisions?

Offseason leagues and empowerment

I coach an u16 boys team in a small, local league. The teams are unbalanced and range from u15s to teams filled with graduating seniors who are college bound on basketball scholarships.  Read more

Learning from the problems of college basketball practices

Originally published in the Hard2Guard Player Development Newsletter, 7.8. Subscribe here

Because of my books, clinics, and travel, I know coaches and players from Canada and Europe who develop with FIBA rules and matriculate to the United States to play college basketball. Increasingly, I hear from these sources that college basketball is boring. These players appreciate the opportunity to play basketball and receive a free education, but they are dissatisfied, especially with the coaching and the practices. They cannot wait for the season to end, although they plan to play in Europe after graduation. In the most recent instances, this angst has nothing to do with playing time, team’s success, or other issues that lead to common complaints; one player leads her team in minutes on a league champion, and another is the team’s best player and likely all-league selection.  Read more

Coaching is more than punishment and yelling “Play harder!”

This generation blah blah blah

Jeff Walz lost a basketball game and condemned a generation:

Read more

Coaching the individual: Contrast not compare

Contrast, don’t compare. When I speak to parents, this is one of the lessons that I share. Contrast your son or daughter from a previous moment of time until now to measure improvement and see how he or she is progressing, but do not compare your child to another child. Children develop and learn at different rates. Each child, each player is an individual, and should be treated as an individual. This is one of the most important lessons that I learned as a young coach from the HoopMasters director Jerome Green. Read more

The effect of coaching on players’ behaviors

When I referee soccer, and especially when I am an assistant referee, I hear exactly how coaches coach during games. Often, it is apparent that they do not understand how their behaviors affect their players on the field.  Read more

What is a proper reaction to a loss?

One of the biggest criticisms of this generation is that they are immune to losing. Many attribute this flaw to the number of games that children play, as it makes any single game less important.  Read more

How do we develop talented players?

The NBA is not a development league; it is a competition, and most teams strive to win as many games as possible to reach the playoffs and ultimately win an NBA Championship. However, few players are finished products, and many players enter the NBA barely out of their teens, which means that continued player development is imperative for continued team success. Therefore, coaches not on the 76ers have a balancing act: Win games and develop young players to continue to win games.  Read more

Applying lessons from the tennis lab to the basketball court

Every singles tennis match is bound by the same dimensions…. yet each one is a laboratory for innovation, unrestrained by a risk-averse coach or the conflicting desires of teammates (Bialik, 2016).

Basketball often is compared to the improvisational nature of jazz, but it tends to be played more like a well-practiced orchestra with a conductor standing and controlling the action as much as possible. Innovation is more difficult when someone conducts your actions from the sideline, and deviation from the rehearsed plan often is met with disgust and a quick substitution rather than celebrated for its creativity, as it would be in jazz. Read more

Next Page »

  • What Is A Playmaker?

    Who decided that a point guard has to be small? More importantly, what is a point guard? We expect a point guard to be a leader and have a high basketball I.Q. Why don’t we expect or challenge all players to develop this game awareness? Why rely on only one player? Read more →
  • The PBDL Concept

    English soccer academies wait until players are 11 to play full 11v11 soccer; in Italy, youth basketball players participate in skill-oriented clinics at 6-years-old, but start competitive games at 12. In the United States, kids play 5v5 full court games and compete for national championships when they are 8-years-old.

    Read more →

  • Starting A PBDL

    The PBDL emphasizes learning and development. Presently, players and parents have numerous recreation options - leagues based on fun and equal participation, typically for beginners - and numerous competitive opportunities - teams focused on strategy, game preparation and winning. There are few true development leagues - until now.

    Read more →