Coaching by the Book

The March 2011 Wired features an article title “Mad Science” about former Microsoft CTO and current cookbook author Nathan Myhrvold. In the article Myhrvold says:

“If all you want to do is follow recipes, you don’t need insights…if you want to do new things, you have to understand what the hell you’re doing.”

Many coaches are happy to follow others – they do what their coaches did or what they did as a player. They do not have to understand. They do not need insight.

I wrote about traditions vs. truths last week. When a coach justifies his teaching concepts by copying a more well-known coach, he is following recipes. Many coaches follow recipes, especially novice or inexperienced coaches.

However, to do something new or to improve your coaching, you have to understand. Often, the understanding required has nothing to do with basketball, yet it has everything to do with basketball.

Myhrvold uses physics to explain cooking. Basketball coaching depends on a number of different fields from psychology to biomechanics to motor learning. If one wants to improve his coaching beyond following other’s recipes, he needs to expand his understanding of these other related subjects.

If you understand movement, physics and biomechanics, you look at defensive movement with a different perspective than when you follow a recipe for teaching defensive movement.

For a beginning coach, following recipes is a good place to start. However, as one progresses as a coach, understanding the basic concepts underlying basketball performance enhance one’s insight into the game and the teaching of the game.

By Brian McCormick
Brian McCormick Basketball
Author, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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