Steve Nash on Mike D’Antoni’s Genius

When I presented for Positive Coaching Alliance working with Ray Lokar, he often said that coaches work in the fish bowl; everyone watches the coach from the outside, often without knowledge of the environment, but the coach always is in front of an audience. This pressure from the fish bowl shapes many of the negative behaviors that we see from coaches: I once watched a coach who would yell loud enough for everyone in the audience to hear him, “Player, we practiced that yesterday for 20 minutes. How can you make that mistake?” There was no information; in essence, he was saying, “Look, I did everything that I could at practice and it is your child who is messing up, not me.” I was appalled, but I see this behavior to some degree fairly often.  Read more

The effect of mixed messages on player performance

Early in an u11 boys soccer tournament championship game, with his team trailing 1-0, a fullback went to take a goal kick. Up to this point, the goalie had taken the goal kicks, but he could not kick over the first line of defense, and the parents on the sideline near the goal kicks were anxious. The players sensed the anxiety and yelled at the biggest player, the fullback, to take the kick. Read more

Whose game is it anyway?

This weekend, I refereed three under-9 boys soccer games (6v6) in a local tournament. At one point, there was confusion between the tournament rules and normal rules, so I stopped the game briefly to clarify with a tournament director. After roughly 10 minutes, the tournament director returned and changed the rules again. Read more

The effects of a coach’s reaction to mistakes

Last weekend, I refereed five u14 girls soccer games. In the opening game on Saturday morning, the host’s u14s played another local team. The hosts won 2-1, and all of the goals were flukes: a striker tried to dribble around the goalie, kicked it too hard, and scored; a fullback tried to clear the ball and it deflected off a striker and bounced over the goalie’s head; and a fullback and goalie ran into each other, leaving the ball at the striker’s feet.  Read more

What’s wrong with being elite?

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, March/April 2013.

During my first season as a college basketball coach, I worked with a player named Matt. The head coach nearly cut Matt on the first day of fall workouts, but he was roommates with his #1 recruit, and he looked like a basketball player when he walked in the gym, so he survived. However, he started the season as the 4th-string point guard, and the head coach wanted to redshirt him, as he could not envision him playing. Read more

A Parent’s Role in Youth Sports

The November issue of Inc. features an interview with comic book legend Stan Lee. Lee says:

“My mother was the greatest mother in the world. She thought I was the greatest thing on two feet. I’d come home with a little composition I had written at school and she’d look at it and say, ‘It’s wonderful! You’re another Shakespeare! I always assumed that I could do anything. It really is amazing how much that has to do with your attitude.”

For more thoughts on parenting through the athletic process, read:

  • 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 →