If you are a coach, there is one basic thing to understand: the process (not the Sam Hinkie type). With this understanding comes the following:
- Where are we?
- Where do we want to be?
- What will it take to get there?
- What are obstacles to that destination?
- Are we win now or are we win the right way?
At the end of the day, this is the process that every coach goes through. Most of us have the same destination (and even more so in America than Europe): Winning.
However, understand the repercussions of your decisions. I will use basketball as an example.
You are coaching a youth team (u12) that plays in a league of lesser skilled players. You have a size advantage and the rest of the league cannot shoot. The team is highly motivated and it is more than just a social thing.
- Win Now mentality: Pack in a 2-3 zone on defense. Dump it in down low on offense.
- Process mentality: Develop players with a large skill set that can play inside and outside. Force them to learn how to play 1v1 Defense, especially against the quicker teams.
Many coaches, especially if they are volunteering, take option 1. It makes them look good, makes the parents happy, and the kids enjoy the winning.
Fast forward two years when everyone can shoot better and you enter tournaments that pressure you on every possession, full length of the court. Kids are no longer having fun because they are not winning. You are getting frustrated with the kids or just telling them that the competition is better, nothing you can do. Or, worse yet, you tell them that they need work harder… when nothing can be further from the truth.
They do not know how to defend 1v1.
They do not know play against pressure (kept on practicing that zone!!)
They do not know how to create.
Why? Because those are the habits that YOU as the coach, have created. Sorry to say, that is on you. It is one of the biggest issues I have needed to address as a Consultant. Some coaches do this unknowingly…. and even more frustratingly, some coaches do it KNOWINGLY.
Or here is another basketball example: Doing a pick and roll before a player cannot even go to their weak hand, finish with their weakhand, or create 1v1!!
When I was speaking to one of my coaching friends from Spain, I had this discussion with him. He laughed. He said it was something that Spain had learned from some 15 years ago when playing against the United States and other elite international competition. The more athletic teams would just switch ball screens. All of a sudden, there was no mismatch, and players did not know what to do. They were getting destroyed. Why? Because players did not know how to create. They always relied on a number or size mismatch to come from the Screen and Roll. All of a sudden, it was not there. And the 1v1 skills were not there.
What did they do? Spain banned screen and rolls in youth leagues up until a certain age (cannot remember what age… I will have to follow this up and find out). They did this so players learned how to play 1v1 better. And Spain’s Domestic Youth Program absolutely skyrocketed after that.
Oh, and zones are banned in many European countries up until u14, sometimes u16 (depending on the league). And they play with a shot clock from u14.
So, see the entire process. Get your kids to master the fundamentals, get them to see and fall in love with process. Set goals in accordance to what level they are and where they want to be. The coaching ego needs to take a back seat.
And the best part? If you take care of the process, you will WIN, players become more intrinsically motivated, play longer, and take more satisfaction in the game.