Grittier athletes more likely to succeed

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, March/April 2016.

After the annual NCAA football signing day, NFL.com wrote that 57.3% of the 288 Rivals.com five-star prospects between 2002-11 went un-drafted by the NFL. Five-star prospects are the elite 18-year-old football players; NFL draft picks are the elite 21 or 22-year-old football players. Only 40% of those who are considered elite at 18 years old remain elite three to four years later, despite five-star prospects generally playing for more prominent football programs with more prominent coaches, bigger budgets, better facilities, and better competition, advantages that should widen the gap between the elite and non-elite rather than shrinking this gap. […]

How to get a job coaching in Europe

Last week, I signed my contract to coach a club in Europe next season. One question that I am asked frequently is how to get a job coaching in Europe. My go to answer is generally “persistence” or “know someone.” Of course, knowing someone sometimes is not enough – a friend who coaches in Europe has twice recommended me for jobs with his hometown club, and I missed out to a local both times. His reply after finding out that I had signed for next season was “it’s best just to get over here.”  […]

How does one recognize coaching talent when making a coaching hire

An athletic director emailed and said that I lacked head-coaching experience for a job despite over 20 seasons of head-coaching experience. I don’t really believe experience is the only answer. I watched a college coach with 20+ years of head coaching experience at the college level, and he was not a good coach: Poor use of personnel, poor interpersonal relationships with players, visibly played favorites, poor communication on and off the court, inability to maximize talent, looked at what team lacked and made excuses rather than looking at what the team had, etc. Plenty of experience, yet failing miserably at so many important elements of coaching. […]

The Myth of the Talented Basketball Player

There is a gross misunderstanding of talent in basketball. I read articles that suggest that the coaches of the uber-talented must “let them play” or that the uber-talented cannot fit into a style other than a stereotypical AAU game. Is a player talented if he excels only in 3v2 fast-breaks, isolations, or catch and dunk lobs? […]

The Importance of a Long Term Athlete Development Approach

Originally published by Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, January/February 2012.

When I coached a professional women’s basketball team in Sweden, I assisted my best player with her u15 girls team. When I returned to the States after the season, I assisted an u14 girls’ AAU team. The teams were vastly different. The U.S. team was bigger, faster, stronger, and more skilled. The team went to AAU Nationals and finished pretty well, top 12 if I remember correctly. They were a good team, and the core of the team had been together for several years and attended the same school. […]

Coaching talent and management strategies

I started to brainstorm this post after reading the article “Success Can Make You Stupid” in Fast Company. This morning, I visited Vern Gambetta’s blog and he had written this:

If you are a sport coach it is good to have some exposure to the game as a player at some level. With professional baseball the pedigree they often look for is someone who has played Major League baseball, this results in severe inbreeding bordering on incest. It allows little creativity or innovation. I think Bill Belichick is the coach he is because he did not play pro football.

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Coaching a pro women’s team: The big win

Published by Full Court Press, January 30, 2003

The National Team coach traveled to the island to watch our team play Telge Energi, a team he picked as a co-favorite at the beginning of the year in a re-match of a game that we won on the road after trailing by 13 at half time (he picked us as one of the league’s worst teams). Telge featured three players who played over the Christmas break with the National Team, which did not count their best player, a young power forward who’s father was an American professional player, who was somehow left off the roster (we had nobody who was considered, and the National coach told my assistant he did not think my best player, averaging 18 points and 9 boards, was very good). […]