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

Coaching in a blowout: Developing good habits

I refereed a junior varsity girls soccer game this afternoon, and it was clear from the beginning that one team was better than the other. The winning team played possession soccer and regularly strung 10+ passes together before a shot or turnover.  Read more

Creating the idea

The mark of a great coach is sustained success. Success often breeds success, so once you win, it makes it easier. 8th graders enroll at the high school with the most success, so it continues to feature the best players. Colleges recruit based on success, as the more successful programs have a better chance to go to the Final Four, so they get better players who make it easier to get back to the Final Four.

However, is it that simple? Is Duke University good every year because Coach K regularly signs 3-4 McDonald’s All-Americans per class? Or, do the great programs do something that others don’t?

I don’t really know. I’ve never been around Coach K or Ben Howland or Roy Williams or Tom Izzo to know how they maintain their success. However, in The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber, I found a clue. A hotel manager explains to Gerber why his hotel differs from others. The manager says about his first day on the job when he met the owner:

Somehow the idea of what we do here is his idea. And that’s what he took so long to communicate to me on that first day – his idea of this place and what that meant to him.

I did work the Gonzaga basketball camp one summer. Gonzaga uses this idea. They sell players on the idea of Gonzaga basketball. They recruit similar players and give the current players veto power over any recruit. If the players do not think the player fits with their group, they do not offer a scholarship. Gonzaga’s sustained success has largely been due to this philosophy. They recruit gym rats who want to play basketball all the time. That’s the idea they sell. I am sure they expand on the idea, but that is what I felt when I was there. I have rarely seen a team that seemed to like each other as much.

The hotel manager continues:

“He said, ‘The work we do is a reflection of who we are. If we’re sloppy at it, it’s because we’re sloppy inside…How we do our work becomes a mirror of how we are inside.”

The best coaches create a similar ethos. It is more than a coach telling the players to play hard. It is what being a part of the program means. How can you go to Duke, knowing its history, and not play hard, dive on the floor, take pride in your defense, etc? The idea is set forth, players know what they have to do and the coaching becomes easier, as the idea polices the players.

Gerber writes that the most frequent question he receives is: “How do I get my people to do what I want?” He writes:

You can’t…If you want it done, I tell them, you’re going to have to create an environment in which ‘doing it’ is more important to your people than not doing it. Where ‘doing it well’ becomes a way of life for them.

Coaches think that motivation is the pre-game speech. I believe that if the players need a rah-rah speech before the game, something is wrong. To build a successful program, coaches must create the environment which breeds success and which makes doing things the right way – all the time – more important than doing things the easy way. When the environment is there, players police themselves and coaching and maintaining success become easier because it is built into the every day habits of the team.

  • 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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