Offseason leagues and empowerment

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. 

I do very little coaching. The games are 16-minute running clock with 2 minutes between games and 1 minute for halftime. Time-outs last roughly 20 seconds. Also, between my schedule, the gym schedule, and more, we have not practiced in weeks.

We led an u15 team late in the game and gave away the lead with some bad shots and turnovers. I did not call a timeout. I did not panic substitute. I let them play.

Eventually, the other coach called a timeout to set up his defense. My point guard and best player gathered the players and took over the huddle. He got their attention.

When TNT shows Tony Parker taking over a huddle for the Spurs, most people praise Popovich because of his success; when LeBron James took over the huddle when David Blatt coached the Cavaliers, the media used it as a sign that Blatt did not know what he was doing and James ran the team. There is a danger in terms of perception when a coach empowers players.

Personally, I thought it was great that he stepped up. One reason that I do not call timeouts in this league is because I want the players to work together on the court and solve the problems and organize themselves. If this was a bigger tournament or more important game, I may involve myself more; I do not want to leave players floundering in front of college scouts, as an example.

In this league, it is our practice. It is a learning experience. Part of that learning experience is playing with different players from different schools and learning to communicate with each other. This was the first time that one of the players has shown the desire to lead and pull players together. Hopefully, it is a starting point; hopefully, it encourages more communication and more togetherness from the group.

By Brian McCormick, PhD
Director of Coaching, Playmakers Basketball Development League
Author, The 21st Century Basketball Practice and Fake Fundamentals

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