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Ask the Expert: Don Showalter Answers Your Questions

  • Date:
    Oct 17, 2014

• VIDEO: Showalter On Skill Development

Don Showalter has led USA Basketball junior squads to gold six times in the last six years and compiled a sterling 38-0 overall record. As a high school coach since 1976, he has won over 580 games. He took over as head coach at Iowa City High School in 2012 and was one win away from the 2014 Iowa state tournament in his second year of rebuilding the Iowa City team. Showalter has been USA Basketball’s Junior National Team head coach since 2009, having just presided over another successful USA Basketball Junior National Team mini-camp in Colorado Springs, Colorado, earlier this month.

We asked youth players and coaches to submit questions for Coach Showalter this week via Facebook and Twitter, and here are his responses:

What's the best advice you can provide an aspiring young coach? -- @TheFlyestHoopa

I think the main thing is as a young coach to develop some relationships with your players so they have a great trust in what you do -- continue to learn by going to clinics and working camps, which will increase your level of understanding and also develop a good network system.

What is the most important thing in building a high school program? -- @coachlmcnutt

I think the most important thing is to develop a culture with your team that is based on standards that team members adhere to. We refer to standards as opposed to rules -- individual standards are what each player adheres to and team standards are what players make each other accountable for. The coach then must make sure and hold each player accountable.

In the half-court set, do you teach defenders to force player baseline or to middle of floor? -- @forpeteforce

We prefer to force baseline, but not necessarily to give up the baseline -- forcing the player baseline gives us a much cleaner and easier rotation with our help side defense. However, if I had a big shot blocker in the middle, I may be tempted to force to the middle.

What zone defense is best capable of hiding a center lacking much agility? -- ‏@iAMgoldenstate

I would say the basic 2-3 zone defense would be the best for a big, slow center, as he does not have to move much outside the lane. The other zone defenses, including a match up, force that center to come away from the lane area.

What's the best way to deal with negative attitude on a young player? -- ‏@milto_xavi

I think one of the things a coach must do is to develop a positive relationship with his players both off and on the court, as they must be willing to trust you as a coach that you are doing what is best for them. Be very direct in how you speak to the player -- letting him know what you see and observe in his attitude.

My 14-year-old son has the skill but lacks drive. How can I motivate him to get out and practice and get to the next level? Thx -- Todd Tsudama

Probably the more you push him the less he will be motivated. If you could have some older players that he looks up to visit or, better yet, practice with him that may motivate him. Keep giving him opportunities but don't be pushing opportunities on him.

Can you see the very American system of 3-on-3 as an essential building stone developing youth athletes in the long-term perspective?

We do have a quite rigid generation of coaches here in the Czech Republic emphasizing the 5-on-5 from the very beginning of the basketball training, pushing those kids to play it even from their early experiences with the game (7 to 9 year of age) - despite the lack of any meaningful results for our country on the World scale. -- Jan Hladík

I think the three-on-three is a great method to practice individual and team skills. Playing three-on-three always puts the player in a much tougher situation defensively and offensively than the player would be in during five-on-five situations. We always would like to have practices be more difficult than games and three-on-three helps do this for the player. 

If you could build a dream 5 from the players you coached who would it be? -- @iammaliknewman

Yes, Malik, I would probably have to put you in my top five!!! (Editor’s note: Malik Newman is a member of the USA Basketball Junior National Team and was MVP of the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship, playing for Coach Showalter.)



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