Coaching Basketball and Innovation

USA Volleyball’s John Kessel’s article “We Coach the Way We Were Coached” questions the standard volleyball practice. As a Kessel fan, I used the thoughts last season when I coached volleyball, and some players and the Athletic Director/Girls’ Volleyball Coach acted as though I had no clue.

After reading the article, I found Dan Pink’s blog and saw an interesting factoid from Jerry de Jaager and Jim Ericson’s See New Now:

“A study of the top fifty game-changing innovations over a hundred-year period showed that nearly 80 percent of those innovations were sparked by someone whose primary expertise was outside the field in which the innovation breakthrough took place.”

The factoid made me think about college education: the hardest part of an elite college is getting admitted.

Unfortunately for innovation, the rules of nearly every industry (coaching included) keep out outsiders.

Think of the most innovative coaches. Many come from different backgrounds. Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach was not a football player; St Louis Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan is the only Major League pitching coach who was not a pitcher; Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony’s off-season workout coach is a former lawyer, Idan Ravin; noted track coach and Velocity Sports Performance founder Loren Seagrave was an ice hockey player.

When we narrow our focus too much when hiring coaches, we potentially miss out on the next innovation.

By Brian McCormick
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League

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