The Coaches Network: Resources That Can Help Coaches Raise Their Game
Good coaches are always looking for ways to help their players improve. Often, this requires improving themselves – learning new drills and strategies, or just better communicating with their players. So this week’s question to the USA Basketball Coaches Network:
What are some resources that have helped you improve as a coach, and what resources would you recommend for youth basketball coaches?
Mike Jones, head coach, DeMatha Catholic High School (Md.)
I have always found that the best way to improve and to keep my mind fresh as a coach is exposure to other coaches. Attending clinics, watching instructional videos, or simply watching games on the internet and TV -- all of these ways allow me to think differently or see the game differently. Coaches that speak at clinics normally will give out their contact information to the audience. Use this! Asking specific questions and tailoring other philosophies to fit your team is a way to continue to work on your craft.
So many industries have seminars, clinics, retreats, symposiums, etc., to improve people in that profession. Basketball is the same. Take advantage.
Scott Fitch, head coach, Fairport High School (N.Y.)
I recommend the Coaches Network on USAB.com!
Coaching has really changed in the last 20 years. You have more than enough resources and tools at your fingertips with your internet access. I still believe there is no substitution for going to a coach’s practice. It can be a coach at any level you respect.
I have had some of my best coaching days watching a coach that I really respect run his or her practice and then sit down with them for a few minutes afterwards. Most coaches will welcome you to their practice if you ask. This time of year you may be able to ask a coach to lunch and talk about strategies or even go to their camp. I love watching the way coaches interact with their players. I feel youth coaches should still be trying to integrate skill work in everything they do -- trying to make sure you are comfortable in teaching the skills and then figuring out ways to keep it fresh and fun for the kids. The more they have fun, the more they will work at the game.
Sue Phillips, head coach, Archbishop Mitty High School (Calif.)
Successful coaches tend to be life-learners and relish opportunities for self-improvement. The offseason is a great time to increase one’s knowledge base by tapping into various resources. Firstly, USA Basketball's Youth Development website is a tremendous resource to improve your coaching skills. This site consists of on-line courses, instructional videos, and diagrams to expand your knowledge of the game. In addition, USAB provides a coaching certification and licensing program, which is designed to educate coaches and provides a “safe sport” stamp of approval.
Secondly, coaching clinics are always great sources of information. Nike Championship Basketball Clinics are conducted throughout the country, and tend to be the most popular means of sharing ideas. Whether you learn a new “UOB” play or an “early-O” quick hitter, coaching clinics will always provide useful info. If attending a clinic isn’t possible, consider visiting a local high school or college practice to gain additional insight into the game.
Thirdly, instructional videos are yet another fruitful resource. Purchase a basketball video on a topic that you find interesting or is a self-identified area of growth.
Lastly, reading books in the offseason will undoubtedly prove to be useful. For example, strive to improve your storage bank of motivational tactics or develop a mental skills strategy. It's not about what you know; it's all about how you package it. Suggestions on how to reformulate “your packing,” and to further develop your player’s mental muscles can be found in Jim Afremow's book The Champion's Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train & Thrive.
In summary, coaching websites, clinics, videos and books are all great ways to improve. Getter better! There’s no time like the present.
Don Showalter, head coach, Iowa City High School (Iowa)
There are many resources available to coaches who really want to improve themselves during the offseason. A coach can pretty much go to the Internet and find anything they are looking for from offenses to defenses to drills and individual improvement skills that will help him or her become a better coach. The key to all this is deciding what is useful specifically for your program.
I still think one of the best ways to really learn the game is to attend clinics -- that way you get to interact with other coaches as well as hear some really good speakers. Before all the information was on the Internet, coaches would gather together and exchange ideas, which I still think is one of the best ways to learn the game.
Another learning experience that I enjoy is to go watch other practices at the college or professional level. You get great ideas not only of drills but how exactly to teach the game.
In addition, I would say working some very good teaching basketball camps such as Snow Valley basketball school would be a great learning experience for young coaches as these camps are similar to attending a weeklong clinic.
DVDs are also a great way to learn. You can watch other coaches present their topic on any offense or defense that you would like to hear.
There are many avenues for a young coach to improve if they really want to get better at their craft of coaching basketball.
Brian Robinson, head coach, Bishop McGuinness High School (N.C.)
Resources that have helped my personal growth as a high school basketball coach and club operator have been everything from attending coaching clinics to watching basketball programs at all levels practice. I don't, however, limit the learning process to basketball programs. I think exploring what makes other consistently successful sports teams or businesses tick can be applied to building your own team or program.
The key is to be willing to make the time and give the effort towards your professional development. For youth or beginning coaches, ask to sit in on a high school practice for a program that you respect, then go watch the team play and see how those skills and drills in practice are transferred to the game. It is important to learn as much as you can about skills and drills, but it is also important to know how to teach and when to use these skills and drills.