Throughout the NBA playoffs, USA Basketball has run commercials like the one above. I tend to coach differently than most, and have many specific ideas on the way that the game should be taught (FYI, Fake Fundamentals: Volume 2 is now available), so I am never going to agree with a program designed to reach hundreds of thousands of coaches and children. However, every time that I see the commercial, I cringe when I hear, “make sure your child is taught the right way.”
What is the right way to coach? I have invested several months researching and writing 3 books (The 21st Century Basketball Practice, Fake Fundamentals, and Fake Fundamentals: Volume 2) that argue that the right way is very different than the popular or most common way. Now, I will admit that my way, or the approach that I espouse in these books, is not the only way to coach. It is the way that I believe to be the best or the correct way in the situations and environment in which I have coached, but I know many successful coaches coach differently than do I. Who decides what is right and what should be taught to thousands of coaches as the right way? Do we want a basketball system where every coach coaches in exactly the same way? I don’t.
In many ways, I argue against the coaching behaviors and practice design that are considered the right way simply because they have stood the test of time and are used by prominent coaches. Last weekend, I received a flurry of texts from a friend who was watching an NBA skill development coach run a youth clinic. According to my friend, he violated nearly everything that appeared in Fake Fundamentals. However, he has huge name recognition and the NBA name to provide credibility to his instructions. Youth players, parents, and coaches attend the clinic, listen to his instructions, and see his drills and believe that they are the right way to teach the game. Of course they are: He’s an NBA coach! To be hired in the NBA, he must be the best of the best, the most knowledgeable coach around. These instructions and drills are perpetuated in this way regardless of their efficacy.
My fear is that USA Basketball will decide that the right way to coach is the old-school approach that I used as the counter example in The 21st Century Basketball Practice and continue to perpetuate outdated teaching models.