Creativity in coaching basketball

“In action and adventure sports, creativity is always the point,” wrote Steven Kotler in The Rise of Superman. “Football is a matter of creativity and imagination,” said former French footballer David Ginola in Dave Wright’s Performance Soccer Coach. In basketball, one rarely hears creativity mentioned so prominently as in other sports. Soccer coaches constantly mention creativity. Last week, Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger went even further than creativity and invoked beauty: Read more

Illustrating the difference between Peak by Friday and player development philosophies

Last weekend, I was the assistant referee for an u16 state cup semifinal game in which the #1 seed lost. This was the third time that I had refereed the losing team, and they had won 9-1 and 18-0 in the previous games. In the 18-0 game in February, their striker played all but the last five minutes as a striker and scored 11 goals. Their goalie never left the penalty box and touched the ball twice in the entire game. Players never switched positions or tried something new. They scored and scored and scored again.  Read more

Basketball skill trainers, creativity, and following directions

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Chaos, Creativity, and Right & Wrong in Youth Basketball

I am not anti-set play. I tend toward being a set-play coach as opposed to a motion coach. However, I attempt to teach in a way that does not restrict: Our plays are more like entries into a semi-structured freelance offense as opposed to directions to follow explicitly.  Read more

The Predictability and Perfection Traps: Stifling Creativity

There are two general ways to improve performance: decrease negative plays and increase positive plays. In Seeing What Others Don’t: The Remarkable Ways We Gain Insight, Gary Klein used the equation:

Performance Improvements = Reduce Errors and Uncertainty + Increase Insights 

Klein’s focus was improving the creativity or insights of organizations, but many of his thoughts apply to basketball players, coaches, and teams. Klein argued that organizations fall into two traps (predictability and perfection) that stifle insights or original thinking.  Read more

Using the club system to develop a true feeder system

Last week, after watching our club’s youth teams, I asked to organize a coach’s meeting. My purpose was to create a club philosophy. Within our club, coaches change almost every year, as senior players coach most youth teams. There is little consistency from year to year, and the players’ growth and development appears slow and fragmented.  Read more

Differential Learning and Basketball

A BBC article titled “Cracking coaching’s final frontier” focuses on learning in sports. While many coaches pay lip service to their role as a teacher and the hardwood as a classroom, few understand learning. A Belgian soccer coach named Michel Bruyninckx calls his training “brain-centered learning” and approaches his coaching very differently than most coaches. He has developed several of Belgium’s young talents, and his methods have caught the eye of the Belgian Football Association. Read more

Can “Fundamentally Sound” Be a Negative?

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Several years ago, I trained two young players. Joey’s dad was a prominent high school coach. He had perfect shooting technique. His dad did not allow him to play in pick-up games or for an AAU team because he did not want any bad habits. He ran his own mini-clinics for Joey and his friends so they could play, though he structured their play and demanded precise fundamentals throughout. Read more

Coaching talent and management strategies

I started to brainstorm this post after reading the article “Success Can Make You Stupid” in Fast Company. This morning, I visited Vern Gambetta’s blog and he had written this:

If you are a sport coach it is good to have some exposure to the game as a player at some level. With professional baseball the pedigree they often look for is someone who has played Major League baseball, this results in severe inbreeding bordering on incest. It allows little creativity or innovation. I think Bill Belichick is the coach he is because he did not play pro football.

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  • 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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