How much of a coach’s job is player development?

The April 19th ESPN the Magazine features an interesting question and answer with Stuart Scott in relation to former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow:

Alex [Japan]: But why wasn’t his [Tebow’s] motion fixed at Florida?

Stuart: Did it need to be fixed? He won a Heisman and two titles there. Maybe he’s not NFL ready, but he did what was necessary in Florida and is willing to do what’s necessary in the NFL. He’s a dedicated athlete.

Stuart Scott’s answer begs a question: what is the coach’s responsibility to his players and his team? Is his sole job to maximize the potential of the player at the college level or is he responsible for preparing the player to succeed at the next level?

College coaches cry about their role as teachers. However, if their job is to maximize their players’ performance at their level, with no responsibility to the future, is that really the role of a teacher? Is an Algebra teacher solely responsible for ensuring that her students pass an Algebra test or is there some responsibility that they are prepared for the next year of math work?

If we accept that the job of a millionaire college coach is to maximize his players’ and team’s talents at the college level – just win baby! – because it is essentially a professional level, what about a high school coach? Is a high school coach’s job to maximize his players’ and team’s talents and win a league, section, area or state championship or does he have a responsibility to develop his players for the next level, too?

For instance, if I have a great 6’4 player, should I maximize his potential as a high school post player, without developing the tools to play on the wing in college, because it gives my team the best chance to win a championship or am I responsible for also developing those wing skills that allow the player to move on and play at the next level?

At what point does a coach’s primary role shift from teaching and developing skills to maximizing potential and winning games?

By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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