John Kessell of USA Volleyball wrote a compelling article about coaches and their self-improvement titled “We Coach the Way We Were Coached.“
Well intentioned and even trained coaches enter gyms all over America, and train their athletes the way they were trained. That the science of sport – of biomechanics and motor learning and other disciplines – have researched and found better, more efficient and more successful ways of training, simply seems not to matter, or this information has not reached down to these levels.
In one instance, I sent a fellow coach several articles showing that static stretching before practice does not prevent injuries, nor does it warm up an athlete for dynamic performance. The coach, however, insisted that despite the research, his players needed to stretch before practice. Why? Coaches constantly complain about the lack of on-court practice time, yet spend 10-15 minutes stretching despite its irrelevance to injury prevention and performance enhancement.
Has nobody seen the extensive Center for Disease Control study showing that in over 300 stretching programs viewed, none reduced injuries? Was it that long ago that these players would sit at a desk for hours, practically immobile, and then hear the recess bell ring, and fly out to 15 minutes of all out activity, and come back in with maybe a scraped knee? None of them ran and stretched in advance of their chosen recess activity, they just went straight to playing.
Beyond stretching, many teams use drills that have little relevance to the game or in some cases develop bad habits.
Why spend 10-15 minutes doing stationary ball handling drills? Why spend 10 minutes doing a three-man weave (with players traveling all over the place), but then run a fast break where players do not pass and run behind the pass receiver? Or, teams run a two-man fast break where the rebounder outlets and fills the wing, but in 5v5 action, the rebounder trails on the opposite side of the court as the ball handler.
With limited practice time, these drills should reinforce your system of play, rather than contradict it.
Many coaches love to condition at practice. In some cases, it appears like the only thing that they feel confident doing.
Anson Dorrance, who has won almost 20 NCAA Division One soccer titles, writes in his book Training Soccer Champions – “Conditioning is homework.” I see coaches creating conditioning stations vs. skill development stations all over the US. Athletes with only 100 hours of practice total until season’s end, yet there they are, learning to hop hop hop…doing situps, jumping rope, etc. What do these kids need to get better at most of all? Playing volleyball…yet we continue to run and condition them. WHY?
Sure, conditioning is a part of basketball. But, if you run an active practice without wasting time, conditioning comes through the skill development. Even at the high school and college level, I play a lot of 2v2 and 3v3 fullcourt which works on conditioning better than running line drills or, even worse, hitting the track. I have no idea why high school and college programs use the mile or 2-mile test as their fitness test, and youth teams certainly do not need to waste their time with this type of conditioning.
Not to mention the coaches who make players run when they violate some rule of the coach. What are they learning by running? That getting in shape is not good is one thing that comes to mind…Teachers know that mistakes are simply opportunities to teach. Coaches it seems think that mistakes are opportunities to make kids run, not teach.
Nobody gets better without making mistakes. When coaches demand perfect practice, players lack the opportunity to challenge themselves outside their comfort zone because they cannot risk a mistake.
Some coaches played for great coaches in their careers, and they should use what they learned. However, not everything that your coach did was sacrosanct. Every year, we continue to learn more about coaching, learning, performance training and other subjects pertaining to team and individual player development.
Rather than coaching as you were coached, the Youth Basketball Coaching Association was founded to (1) make you think about the way that you coach and (2) provide resources, courses and clinics for coaches looking for the latest information pertaining to coaching youth basketball.