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Learning From the Past

Much of what I stand for is not new, we already know it, it has worked in the past in a myriad of environments but has been rejected as old fashioned, not high tech, not scientific. We have abandoned proven methods in the name of progress. Certainly in every field of endeavor everything old is new again, but because of our society’s rejection of the past we have not studied the coaches who paved the way for us. Read more

GAINcast Episode 22: Simplicity

We often think that the more complex something is, the better it is. Fancy sports cars, new computers, and Swiss watches all revel in their complexity. But in coaching simple is often better. Unnecessarily added elements can distract us from our core focus. On this episode we talk about the value of simplicity and ask how simple is too simple. Read more

Some Thoughts on Changing Practice

Changing practice can change the game only if practice is effective. Here are some of the keys to effective practice that I have found to work: Read more

Coach John Wooden: a Twitter coach

John Wooden died June 4, 2010 at age 99. Twitter was founded in 2006. He retired in 1975 thirty-one years before Twitter yet he was a twitter coach. Why? How? We know that Coach Wooden is acknowledged as one of the greatest coaches of all time in any sport. Fortunately during his last season coaching in 1974-75 two psychologists Roland Tharp & Ronald Gallimore studied his methods and reported on his coaching style. Read more

Leadership and Coaching

Last month I completed a lengthy leadership development program for my day job. Throughout the course of the last year we sat through many lectures and participated in various workshops to better understand leadership. Much of the time was spent on common sense principles, but the whole experience provided a good chance to reflect on a topic that is much deeper than it can initially seem.
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John Wooden – Master Teacher

woodenCoaching is teaching and no one epitomizes that more than John Wooden. He was a teacher of basketball and life; his classroom was the basketball court. It is no coincidence that many of his ideas about coaching were forged in the classroom as a high school English teacher. He was not a complexifier, he kept things basic and fundamental. The emphasis was on repetition and mastery of basics. Read more

The Essence of Coaching

6a00e5521cccd088340192abf329b7970d-320wiCoaching is teaching, no one epitomized this more than John Wooden. Wooden always described his job as teacher, not coach. here is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talking about his coach, John Wooden. “He broke basketball down to its basic elements,” Abdul-Jabbar wrote in The New York Times in 2000. “He always told us basketball was a simple game, but his ability to make the game simple was part of his genius.” Read more

The Quiet Coach

Good coaching is not about yelling and inspiring as much as it is about teaching. Take John Wooden as an example. Photo by AP.

Good coaching is more about teaching than it is about fiery speeches. Take John Wooden as an example. Photo by AP.

Tennis was one of the first sports I played and it remains one of my favorites to watch on television. A unique aspect of tennis is that while coaches are involved intimately in training, often on a one-on-one basis, they have no role at the match. With the exception of some recent rule changes in women’s tennis, it is frowned upon to even look at the coach’s box during a match and communication is forbidden. Watching the ebbs and flows of a five-set grand slam final as athletes must cope alone with the momentum changes and building pressure produces some of the best drama in sports. The tennis coaches may not get much recognition but they are some of the best coaches in the world since they prepare their athletes to do this battle alone.

Talking with coach Harry Marra last week has gotten me to think more about coaching theory. Many of the topics Marra talked about concerned how to improve communication between athlete and coach. Coaches must know their sport, and the great coaches are those that can best convey it to their athletes. The great coaches will have athletes that are not just physical specimens, but also students and active learners. During a competition they are not on their heels waiting for a sideline instruction from their coach; they are proactively deciding their next move because their coach equipped them to learn for themselves.
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