I'm a young coach. I'll turn 36 in August. (I'll accept gifts from now through November for your convenience though). I've coached high school basketball since 2000. My first coaching job was at the YMCA as a high school senior for a 5 year old team. Wow. I haven't thought about that in a long time. I was a head high school coach at 22 right out of college at a small school here in Arkansas. I heard early in my career that I wasn't experienced enough to be a head coach? When you think about it, when are you experienced enough? Is there a secret chart somewhere that shows when you achieve the desired about of experience? Is it age related? I definitely think not but it appears to be the norm. Shouldn't experience be the final assessment of a career, not what future success is based on? Are we still calling the winner of the 1976 100meter dash the fastest man on the planet? No, because someone currently is better than he was at the time he was the best. Granted what he did is a great accomplishment but does that guarantee he is good now or will be later? So does good ever wear off? Is there an expiration date on success? So why is it that we try to judge future success on the past experience of someone? Here are a couple of my thoughts on what the experts think about experience.
1. Wisdom doesn't come with age, it comes with work
If longevity makes you a master at something, they why don't companies promote the doorman or a custodian with 20 plus years experience with the company to CEO? They've put in the time. They've earned the right, right? I know a lot of older coaches who still think like they did when they started. The wisdom they've acquired is a routine. Nothing changes for them. I agree that a routine is important to a program but the game has changed in the last 2 years, so if your ideology is from the 70s, 80s you're mistaken about what is taking place around you.
To be a leader, you have to be a learner. I read about everything I can when it comes to leadership & basketball. Does it change my mind? Sometimes. More times than none it just makes me think. Thinking is good. It causes us to grow.
One of the wisest basketball people I listen to is 13 years younger than I am. Drew Hanlen works hard at being the best. It'd be real easy for anyone to scoff at the idea of learning from someone his age. I dealt with the same thing as a head coach at that age. However, when you see his work ethic, attention to detail, & the amount of work he puts in, that's where you see his genius at work. Another too young to be this good guy is Alan Stein. He has transformed the way people think about basketball strength training over the last 6 years with the birth of the StrongerTeam. A revolutionist. Kids everywhere now can't wait to work out and prepare. When the masses thought there was only one way, Alan found a better way.
2. Experience is a polite name for excuses
If been fortunate to speak to a college class the past two years of future coaches. We talk about interviews, what the "real" job consists of. I explain to them that adding the first job is the hardest. Your résumé is looked at as what would qualify you for the position, not what qualities you have that you would bring to the position. Experience means you've made mistakes.
Lets say I offer you a candy bar. i then set two of the same type in front of you. One has definitely had a bite taken out of it & there is a note that tells you how good it is. The other appears brand new but It's note says no one has tried it yet. Which do you choose? Why didn't you prefer the experienced bar?
3. Believe in yourself
A lot is being said about the Celtics hiring Brad Stevens. He doesn't have any NBA experience. He also never had any Head Coach experience when he was selected at Butler. He had never coached in the Final Four so he led the Bulldogs to back to back appearances in the Championship game. Based on his experience he shouldn't even be a Head Coach. After all, he was a volunteer to start his career. His experience should have never allowed him to be hired as an assistant & an assistant without previous head coaching experience shouldn't be hired as a head coach, correct? The expert opinion would be find a coach that was a head coach with previous success because that's the smart thing to do.
Coach Stevens knew he good be a great coach. He just needed a shot. His shot came when he quit a job to take a non paying volunteer spot. He figured out the number of days he could survive on Ramon noodles. It's true. He was prepared to do anything. That preparation is why today he's the head coach for the Celtics.
Ignore the experts. Believe in yourself. Focus on what you can do & are doing versus what you've done.