Mistakes in motor learning: The fallacy of the expert shooting coach

On another site, I saw a prominent shooting coach admonishing other coaches for failing to teach the perfect shooting technique. The expert justified his opinion by giving one example of a player who he trained who the expert wrote had gone from making 82/100 to 92/100 in one day. The expert called this measured improvement. […]

Coaching the End of the Bench

Playing time is one of the hardest issues of coaching. Last season, I struggled with my commitment to play every player, as it is hard to make that many substitutions in a game and to give players enough time to get comfortable on the court. While there are reasons to play everyone, when I started as a coach, I tended to stick to an eight-person rotation. […]

The Spiraling Learning Process: Practicing on the Edge

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, July/August 2012.

Learning spirals. We tend to view learning as a linear process: An athlete practices and gets incrementally better at performing the skill. The view is captured by coachisms like “perfect practice makes perfect.” The goal of practice, however, is improvement, not perfection, and these differ. […]

How to Maximize Coaching Hours for Coaching Performance

In another article, I suggested that if we believe that coaching is a learned skill, and not an innate talent, the 10,000-hour rule popularized by Dan Coyle, Malcolm Gladwell, and others should apply to coaching as well as to our athletes.

When I was young, I coached as much as possible. During college, I coached a different team during every season and coached AAU too. By the time that I graduated from college, I had a dozen years of head coaching experience in volleyball and basketball from nine-year-olds through junior-varsity and with boys and girls. Additionally, I spent my first few summers after college working 8-10 weeks of summer camps which provided even more coaching opportunities to teach skills and manage teams. When other coaches rested during lunch, I ran my own individual workouts teaching skills that were ignored by the normal camp schedule. By the time I was hired for a head coaching job in a professional league when I was 25 years-old, I had considerable coaching experience even though I had not played college basketball or coached at any level above NCAA D3.  […]

AAU, high school basketball, and the question of the offseason

The debate about AAU/club basketball and high-school basketball is nothing new. Every year, it seems, supporters of each faction argue about the pros and cons of each, as if each is a single entity. As I have written previously, the problem is not one or the other, but both.  […]