Tag Archives: teaching

True But Useless

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear Dena Evans from Point Guard College speak at a clinic on developing S.C.H.A.P.E. leaders (unsolicited plug this is a dynamite program). Dena shared during her talk the importance of leaders offering reminders to those on there team. I am not going to try and replicate her talk but a line resonated with me related to my coaching;  “Reminders are only useful before they are needed – afterwards it’s complaining”

This statement got me to thinking about how much of what we say as coaches  could fall under a category I call ‘true but useless’; meaning the statement may be true but it provides no immediate benefit or help to the recipient.

Below is a sampling of some common things that I hear, and have yelled myself, to players during a game.  Upon reflection I wonder if there is any benefit to players in hearing  these things or are they simply ‘true but useless’ statements to my players.  You decide is there anything about the statements below that provide timely, actionable information to players that will help them take the next best action in a game. You see the players already realize they made a mistake so if what you are yelling is merely pointing out to them something they already know it probably is ‘true but useless’ and serves as a distraction rather than an aide to keep players focused on making the next best action.

“Don’t turn it over”

“Take care of the ball”

“Don’t go there”

“Throw a good pass”

“Rebound” –  Usually screamed after the other team has gotten an offensive rebound

The examples above serve as a reminder to me to constantly evaluate what it is I am communicating to players. Is it helpful? Is it the right time? Does it improve the players chance to take the next best action?  If the answer to those questions is no than that piece of coaching is probably ‘true but useless’.

Great coaches ask great questions – about themselves

Questions are a powerful and often under utilized resource for coaches. 

Using  questioning techniques with players can reveal what they have learned and facilitate an effective method by which they learn. However, asking questions as a learning technique requires a committment by coaches to prepare, observe and listen.

Questions to others about your team/program provides a coach with valuable insight into the effectiveness of their communication and their strategy.  Asking other questions about your performance requires courage, humility and an intense desire to grow and improve.

The reality is that if you want to be in control, if you want to play it safe, and/or if you want to stay at your current level don’t ask questions. However, if you want to achieve new levels of success, help others maximize their potential and discover the true abilities you must ask questions.

Let’s  look at some examples of questions coaches should ask to staff members and/or others close to the team  to recieve valuable insight into the effectiveness of their communication and teaching.  Some examples of great questions to ask others would be:

  • What would you say this program and team is known for?
  • What are non-negiotables in this program? In our offense? In our defense?
  • What would you say is the biggest objective I have for the playes on this team?
  • What are the common goals we have established for this team?  How effective are we at having all activities we do build towards those goals?
  • H0w would you define our style of play?
  • Based on your observations what would you say are the three biggest principles/character traits emphasized to players?

The questions listed above may be hard for coaches to hear honest answers on, but without hearing the geniune feedback we are merely making assumptions on the effectiveness of our communication and if we are progressing toward the vision we have for the team.

In future posts I will look at utilizing questions to develop players.

Devotion: A coaching mantra

Devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community, devote yourself to a purpose or a passion.

Morrie Schwartz 
Tuesdays With Morrie

Coaching provides a great opportunity to live out this mantra.  Love the people and players you work with.  Improve your communty; coaches are fortunate enough to be in a position to impact this.  Be passionate about the opportunities you have; if you aren’t you are probably trying to live someone else’s passion.

Coaches have an unique opportunity to work with young people in a forum that they are truly interested in and desire to excel in.  This opportunity creates a responsibility.  A responsiblity to best serve your athletes in the sport and use the sport to prepare them for their opportunities outside of sport. Coaches need to help players learn to be  devoted to more than themselves and the simple accolades available in sport.  A coach should be devoted to the following goals along with devoted to winning games.  I also think winning comes easier when the following goals are achieved by coaches.

  • Help players identify their gifts and find their passions. 
  • Provide them experiences in which they can benefit others and their community, so that they may see the benefits of living life well.  
  • Help them identify ways in which their unique giftings can be applied withn a team so that they may discover how these gifts can be applied to the larger world around them outside of sport.

 As coaches we need to help players improve their performance and use the on court performance to help them learn how to improve their performance off of it. There is no greater reward for a coach than seeing their devotion displayed through others finding their passion and sharing it