Keeping an Open Mind for Coaches


 Throughout the past few years, Pro Shot has sent out newsletters discussing the importance of always improving an individual’s coaching and teaching skills. We firmly believe that quality coaching is an art form and that if you want to be successful in it, there are definite rights and wrongs that you need to be aware of.The one aspect of coaching that we believe is critical to becoming a better coach is to always keep an open mind to new knowledge. We have actually met coaches who have proclaimed proudly, “I know everything there is to know about basketball.” When we hear this (and we have heard it often), we just shake our heads and cringe.

Great coaches are always about improving their knowledge of the game. Recently I was talking to Craig Impelman, the director of the John R Wooden Course. Craig informed me that when Coach Wooden would speak at clinics, he would always go early, listen to coach speaking and take notes. He would also always sit in the front row.

We have also heard that Hall of Fame Coach, Bob Hurley does the same thing as Coach Wooden. When we worked with Coach Hurley’s program two years ago, he took notes the whole time. A true student of the game.

As coaches, we always expect our players to be students of the game. To listen and learn. To be a sponge on and off the court. I have never heard a coach say, “You don’t have to know basketball. You just play it.”

And yet, we see coaches everyday who preach one thing and do the complete opposite.

All coaches should ask themselves, “Do I do what I tell my players to do?” In other words, don’t tell your players to be students of the game if you’re not willing to be one. It’s only makes sense.

Last year I spoke for 75 minutes at the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Clinic in Wisconsin Dells. I would estimate there were 1,000 coaches in attendance. What really surprised me was that only 10% of coaches took notes. Most just sat there without a notebook or pen in hand.

Now I realize some people have photographic memories, but I don’t believe it’s 90%. I couldn’t imagine attending a basketball clinic without writing notes throughout a speaker.

Lastly, we still believe that to become a quality coach you might have to do some research. When I first started coaching back in the early 80’s, there was very few coaching materials available. There were few basketball games on the TV and instructional materials were sparse. Hubie Brown had a 30 minute show on USA and that was about it. During breaks between my college classes at Long Beach State I would go to the library and read Coach Wooden’s “Practical Modern Basketball” from cover to cover.

Today’s young coaches are spoiled. They have the ability to not only watch endless games, but information is only a click away. If your team struggles with a facet of basketball, you can find answers via the internet or YouTube. But it may take you 30 minutes or an hour to find that information.

We hear the same line, “I don’t have time.” Everybody has time. You simply have to make time. Is being a successful coach important to you? We guarantee your players hope it’s important to their coach.

Be open minded, keep learning and research your team’s weaknesses and turn those negatives into positives.