Eric Spoelstra and Empowerment Coaching

When most people imagine a coach, they picture a commanding presence who controls the team environment. They picture a coach pacing on the sidelines screaming directives to players. 

Some coaches are different. Eric Spoelstra is a championship-winning coach, but he is willing to listen to his players. He empowers his players.

“In certain moments he trusts us to come up with what we feel is best,” Dwyane Wade said. “… We wouldn’t be champions if we didn’t have it. We wouldn’t be the team we are today if we didn’t have the trust from both sides to understand we don’t have all the answers, they don’t have all the answers. We’re figuring it all out together. A lot of it is on the fly at times.”

The public tends to believe that the coach should have all the answers. However, the best coaches – Spoelstra, Popovich – trust their players and use input from their players.

“As long as it’s not something crazy, then I’m always fine with looking at something for a possession that they feel comfortable with, Spoelstra said. “If we need to make a change from there, we will. Those guys have a feel for what’s going on, on the court, even more so than us because they’re out there experiencing it.”

A coach must cultivate this environment where players feel comfortable talking to their coaches, and the coaches have the confidence and security to seek advice from their players.

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

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