Monday, August 7, 2017

Player Development: What A Coach Needs to Stress

The late summer & early fall months are a great time of year for player development. Coaches anxiously await to see who will put on a couple inches & to see who is working on their game. In most instances their Coach sees them at open gyms, team camps or other workouts. Some players spend quite a bit of time traveling & when they return it will be a surprise; either a good one or bad one. Players that get "out of the system" tend to develop habits that their coach isn't to fond of. A lot of that is based on what is being stressed. 
I believe that every player, regardless or height or position, should be working on their complete skill set while having a focal point on their strong areas of their game. When I say complete skill set, that includes the cognitive & leadership aspects on the game as well.  Here are the 3 areas I think are important to player development. 

1. Create Reactions and Habits
I love teaching the Ball Screen System because it stresses reading the defense and creating habits. Some would argue that I'm building robots by putting them in a system. I would argue habits create players. 
Do you know what a habit is? A habit is what you return to in a time of stress. When a player is under stress, they return to their habits. Maybe that's a player shooting a layup with their right hand on the left side. When we are continuously stressing, teaching & most importantly practicing reactions to certain situations, you'll eventually eliminate any bad habit & have a smarter player in the long run. 

2. Actions & Words, not just Words
If you only lead by words, you're a poor leader. Your "vocal leader" needs to be an "active leader". This is not an actions speak louder than words situation but an actions speak louder WITH words. There isn't a coach anywhere that doesn't want his team to be more vocal. What we should be stressing is be vocal & active. A talking defender is an active defender, both mentally & physically. If we teach players to verbalize what they are doing, especially at a younger age, they will automatically be mentally engaged & develop a better skill set. You need the leads in the locker room to be leading with this principle. It is almost imperative that the guy talking can do the walking. Heck, Rudy didnt give any rah-rah speeches. Neither should your 15th man. The voice has to come from a top level player. 

3. Be the Thermostat, Not the Thermometer
I use this a lot with our top players, especially our Point Guard. Don't wait to get a feel for how you should play or what your body language should be based on how your teammates are playing or behaving. A really good player is the thermostat. He controls the temperature instead of just measuring it. Whether the intensity needs to be turned up or if when a  tight situation occurs & a cooler head is needed to prevail, being able to control the environment separates a great player from a good one. 

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