Let Them Coach

By December 12, 2014 No Comments

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Everyone has their own coaching style and philosophy. Basketball season allows you to see many styles and philosophies on display with it’s length and frequency of games. One of the most important things for any coach at any level to do is to continue developing. This week we’ll discuss the role a head coach plays in the development of assistant coaches.

One thing I’ve never understood is when varsity coaches sit on jv benches and run the game. Now, I understand that sometimes you might be hamstrung on who is hired as the coach and it may be necessary to do this. However, I would I say that 85% of the time, the person in that role is capable of the task. I’ve seen many games where the varsity head coach will call and run everything on the lower levels while the jv coach just sits there. What is this accomplishing? How does this make the program better? I don’t believe it does.

I was fortunate as a lower level coach to have head coaches who let me coach my team. I was given direction and then allowed to run my jv team as I would any varsity team. This is where I really developed as a coach. Those experiences have helped to shape my philosophy as a coach. I believe lower level coaches need freedom to coach their teams and run their games as they see fit. I want them to be competitive and win, but that’s not what’s important to me as a head coach. What is important is the players learn, develop, and begin to master fundamental skills. It’s also important for them to develop the skill of being competitive. If I take over and do those things for my assistants, how is that helping the program?

The negative effects of varsity coaches running lower level practices and games are many, and we’ll discuss three in this post. As I stated above, it doesn’t allow for the coaches to learn and grow. It’s just like teaching. You can take as many classes as you want and read as many books as you want, but it doesn’t matter. One must get hands on experience and you never really learn anything valuable until you go through it. Another negative effect is that players will begin tuning out the varsity coach. If all players know and hear is one voice, it starts to become stale. By letting your coaches coach, you are getting a different voice that can deliver that same message. Then by the time they reach the varsity level your voice is new, fresh, and exciting. A final negative effect would be staff resentment. A lower level coach may not come out and say it, but if the head coach is running their practice and games for them resentment will inevitably build. Coaches want to coach. It’s not all about one person. It’s about the PROGRAM, and unfortunately that is forgotten sometimes.

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The positive effects of letting coaches coach are many as well. Let’s discuss three of them. First, the more experience a coach has the more competent they become. The more competent coaches you have, the competent players you will have. It goes hand in hand. Secondly, a true program emerges. It’s easy to tune one voice out. However, if there is an entire staff on the same page players can’t help but get the message. Successful programs develop coaches who help build a vision and unified voice. Lastly, a legacy will be created. The game was here before the head coach and it will be here long after. The true legacy of a coach is what they leave behind. Successful leaders understand their primary goal is to develop more leaders. That cannot happen if you don’t allow people under you to learn and grow through experience. Successful teams have multiple leaders, not just one.

There are times when a head coach must step in and take over. As with any job or career, if someone is not committed to the job, they should be replaced. It’s a difficult decision but one leaders must make. This is an interesting topic, and one that we’ll discuss in a future post.

As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!