The Art of Coaching

“Bruce had a fine line to tread. He had to teach me to be more disciplined without dampening my love for chess or suppressing my natural voice. Many teachers have no feel for this balance and try to force their students into cookie-cutter molds. I have run into quite a few egomaniacal instructors like this over the years and have come to believe that their method is profoundly destructive for students in the long run.” – Josh Waitzkin, The Art of Learning (p. 9) Read more

A critique of coaches and the misunderstanding of learning

Last week, a friend attended a college basketball practice. As he watched, and grew frustrated by what he witnessed, he sent me a series of texts. The texts began:

The poor skill level in WBB is sickening.

I should mention that he watched the practice of a program with many highly-rated players that likely will be a top-25 team this season. To provide some context, my friend played and coached college basketball and has trained at least two All-Americans. I value his insight. Read more

Questioning as a Teaching Approach

Here is a short video from a recent clinic in Amherst, MA talking about using questioning as a teaching approach. Read more

Limitation of a drill: How to make a coach more effective

I ran a clinic today for some local basketball coaches and introduced simple ball-handling and passing progressions. The idea was to show drills that could be utilized in a practice environment where 40-60 players could be on one court. Read more

Double-Edge Sword of Demonstrations and Instructions

During my presentation, one question focused on the timing of block practice and random practice. In a traditional coaching methodology, coaches start with the block practice with lots of instruction and feedback and isolated drills. Once players show improvement, the coach adds a new element or puts the skill into a scrimmage. The decision-training style of coaching starts with competition-like drills and “hard-first instruction.” Read more

Athlete-Centered Coaching And Empowerment

My College Teaching class is designed to promote more student-centered learning, but the students are reluctant to embrace this idea. Read more

The Purpose of Practice

Last week, I spent the week running basketball camps for a high school coach. We had sessions for high school players; 6th-8th graders; and 3rd-5th graders.

With each session, I had a different purpose. However, I managed the camp based on the players’ enthusiasm: if they appeared to enjoy something, we continued; if they did not, we stopped. Read more

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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