Don Showalter: Dedicated To Youth Development, On And Off The Court
When Don Showalter led the USA Basketball Men’s U17 Team to gold at the 2014 FIBA World Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in August, it marked the sixth title in the last six summers for a Showalter-coached USA team.
With more than 40 years of experience as a high school coach, the current head coach at Iowa City High School continues to dedicate himself to youth basketball at every level. He recently completed USA Basketball’s successful Junior National Team mini-camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The week before his Iowa City High School team begins practice in mid-November, Showalter will be conducting a basketball clinic in Medellin, Columbia. That’s just one of many places that basketball has taken Showalter – he’s also conducted clinics in Russia, Egypt and Belgium, among other places.
Between various clinics and USA Basketball competition, Showalter has traveled the world. It’s been a great experience for him, but an even greater one for the young athletes.
“We really get to know the kids when you’re traveling that far from home,” said Showalter. “The players get to know each other on a very intimate basis, for the most part. We stay in the same hotel, and we’re eating together all the time. So we’re together almost 24/7 and that builds great relationships between coaches and players, and players and players. And that’s one of the unique things about USA Basketball, the relationships you build because of these trips. You have to depend on each other a little bit, which is really a good thing.”
Regardless of whether or not traveling to far-away places is involved, team-building is an important aspect of youth development at all levels.
“That’s really a significant thing with any team,” said Showalter. “You have to build a certain team culture within a team, within a group of players, where you’re playing for somebody else – something bigger than you are, whether it be your school or your teammates, let alone your country. That’s really an important factor of basketball, which is a high-level team game. The better the players know each other at any level, the more that they understand the culture of what it takes to be a good basketball team, the more success they’re going to have individually as well.”
Of course, skill development is a major component. Like any coach, Showalter works hard with his players on skill development – starting with the basics and building from there. Still, Showalter’s philosophy is rooted in teaching kids the skills they need to succeed even when they are not playing basketball.
“Skill development is really important -- we talk to kids about developing their skills. But also doing things off the court that will help them become a better player and a better person.”
Specifically, Showalter preaches to his players the “four C’s” of developing a culture within a team: Choices, Comfort zone, Communication, Compete.
“We really emphasize those to our young players, our high school team and our USA Basketball players as well,” said Showalter. “Those four C’s are really important in whatever they do. We hope it sinks in as they continue their playing careers and get older. “
Whether it’s USA Basketball players, his high school team or younger kids just beginning their basketball journey, Showalter sees this philosophy as being significant in a player’s development.
Have a question for Coach Showalter? Go to Facebook or Twitter now to submit your questions and Coach Showalter will answer them in a feature that will run on USAB.com Friday. Be sure to use #AskCoachDon.