Posts Tagged ‘empowerment’

Offseason leagues and empowerment

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

I coach an u16 boys team in a small, local league. The teams are unbalanced and range from u15s to teams filled with graduating seniors who are college bound on basketball scholarships.  (more…)

How do we develop talented players?

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

The NBA is not a development league; it is a competition, and most teams strive to win as many games as possible to reach the playoffs and ultimately win an NBA Championship. However, few players are finished products, and many players enter the NBA barely out of their teens, which means that continued player development is imperative for continued team success. Therefore, coaches not on the 76ers have a balancing act: Win games and develop young players to continue to win games.  (more…)

Applying lessons from the tennis lab to the basketball court

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Every singles tennis match is bound by the same dimensions…. yet each one is a laboratory for innovation, unrestrained by a risk-averse coach or the conflicting desires of teammates (Bialik, 2016).

Basketball often is compared to the improvisational nature of jazz, but it tends to be played more like a well-practiced orchestra with a conductor standing and controlling the action as much as possible. Innovation is more difficult when someone conducts your actions from the sideline, and deviation from the rehearsed plan often is met with disgust and a quick substitution rather than celebrated for its creativity, as it would be in jazz. (more…)

The problem with using an empowerment coaching style

Friday, June 5th, 2015

I use an empowerment coaching style, which means that I strive to create opportunities for the players to develop autonomy and build ownership in their learning, development and success in sports settings (Kidman, 2001). To develop autonomy and build ownership, I ask questions and involve the players in many decisions, on and off the court. (more…)

All-Blacks and Pep Guardiola: Two articles on expert coaching

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

In “Pep Guardiola: The Man Behind the Manager”, Jamie Scrupps wrote that there are three things that separate Guardiola from his peers: Never ending quest to learn, relationship with players, and never ending tactical innovations.  (more…)

Coaching isn’t yelling

Friday, September 12th, 2014


Coaching a European Club – Week 30: Semifinals

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

We entered the week down 1-0 to the top seed (21-1 in regular season). We had two practices to prepare after a 14-point loss. Nobody in the club gave us much of a chance; the club manager stopped me Thursday before our game and asked if we were going to practice on Friday. He was implying that we would lose Thursday night, and our season would be over. I said, “Of course we’re practicing. We’re not losing at home,” and walked away. He told me over the Christmas break that reaching the play-offs would be a good accomplishment, but not reaching them wouldn’t be the end of the world. The club hadn’t beaten our semifinal opponent in four seasons or  been past the semifinals, and nobody believed that would change now. (more…)

Athlete-Centered Coaching And Empowerment

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

My College Teaching class is designed to promote more student-centered learning, but the students are reluctant to embrace this idea. (more…)

Key Coaching Concepts with Mike Woodson

Sunday, January 17th, 2010

Earlier this week, Henry Abbott linked to an article by Lang Whitaker about Atlanta’s Head Coach Mike Woodson. The article describes a scene that we rarely see (team meeting at the hotel on the morning of a game), but is an essential aspect of coaching, especially at higher levels.

This team has a chance to do something special if you believe in each other. If you feel like what we’re trying to do on the court isn’t going to work, speak up! I have zero ego as a coach, none. If you think you see something that’s going to work better than what we’re trying to do, speak up! Say something to me!

I take this approach though many coaches will not. I want my players to feel comfortable making decisions and making the play that they think is best. I want to run things that are comfortable for them. I have no problem discussing (arguing) with a player about something and I don’t hold a grudge. That would be silly. Coaching is not about job preservation: it’s about getting the most out of a group of players. Too many coaches seem to make adversaries of their own players.

But what I’m telling you guys is that if you guys will just consistently do what we’re asking you to do on defense, we’ll win games. I don’t give a s— about the offense; you guys can score more than enough points to win games. The offense isn’t the problem. But you have to get stops on defense, and if you’ll listen to what we’re telling you, I promise you’ll get stops. The s— works, okay? The s— works, but you guys just have to have the pride and the heart to buy into it and do what we’re asking you to do every time down the court. …

It’s not the X’s and the O’s, but the Jimmy’s and the Joe’s. I forgot who said that. However, in my league, coaches yell out play after play, but their players cannot shoot, dribble or pass. They play multiple defenses and none works. We run the same offense against man and zone, and it works becuse the players believe that it will work. I hear other teams telling their coach that “this play isn’t working” and they are right; however, it’s generally not the scheme, but the way they run the play. If they bought into the scheme, they would be fine. Seriously, we run a middle pick-and-roll against 2-3-zones and it works. Almost anything works if you have players who believe and players who can pass, shoot and dribble.

After a win against the Mavericks, the following transpires in the locker room:

“Guys, great win,” Woodson rasped. “Remember what I said? You can win playing defense! We struggled with the offense but your defense was terrific.”

“The s— works!” blurted out [rookie Jeff] Teague, cracking up the entire room.

“That’s right, it does, it works,” Woodson said, smiling. “Alright guys, let’s get home. You’ve got tomorrow off, and then we’ll come back in on Monday and get back to work. No more let ups, guys!”

“No excuses!” yelled [Al] Horford.

“No sir, no excuses, guys,” Woodson said. “Oh, and guys, today is Josh Smith’s birthday. Jeff Teague, get up here and sing Happy Birthday, rook.”

For some reasons, coaches often seem to think that humor is bad and that basketball should be a solemn experience. Why? A coach showing a sense of humor is humanizing and players develop a better relationship with the coach than one who stands aloof. It’s basketball. It’s a game. Players and coaches should have fun.

In this excerpt, Woodson shows a willingness to communicate openly with his team without ego, empowers his team to come to him with ideas, creates a sense of belief in their system and uses humor to relate to the players and develop a better bond.

By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

Phil Jackson and Servant Leadership in Coaching

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

In The Way of Adventure, Jeff Salz writes about his adventure travels throughout the world and the lessons that he learned and conveys to companies through his public speaking engagements. In one chapter, he talks about Servant Leadership and growing invisible as a leader:

Leaders of successful expeditions gradually stop taking the lead and start sharing both responsibility and credit. Having given their best effort and having faith in the overall process, they gradually melt into the group so that a newcomer might not spot the leader right away.

People often criticize Phil Jackson, saying that Kobe Bryant is really the coach of the Lakers and Jackson does not really do anything. Before Rick Adelman was let go in Sacramento, people said the same things: Adelman did not stalk the sidelines and bark orders all game, so people believed that he was not coaching.

Coaches like Adelman and Jackson trust the process. They teach and prepare players during practice and trust the process during games. They empower their players and allow players to play through mistakes.

Lao-tzu, the Chinese philosopher-sage of the sixth century B.C., described a leader who is acclaimed by the public as being not so good. A good leader is one who people hardly know exists. According to Lao-tzu, under the guidance of a great leader, when the job is done, people say only, “We did this ourselves.”

Sounds like Jackson, Adelman, Jerry Sloan and some others.

By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League