As teams finish their season, we want to help provide some valuable tools, which will launch your program into next season. One of the hardest things for coaches to do, is to turn off their competitive spirit, drop the ego, and effectively self-evaluate. We found a great tool, which is pulled from the book, “The Culture Code,” by Daniel Coyle. An After Action Review (AAR) is used by the U.S. Army to deliver feedback after unit training exercises. The purpose of the AAR is to identify issues, find areas for improvement, and obtain lessons learned. So, how does this relate to your team? The answer to this, is found in the questions associated with the AAR. Take a look at the questions below, and think about your basketball season.
After Action Review Questions
What were our intended results?
What were our actual results?
What caused our results?
What will do we do the same next time?
What will we do differently?
We recommend that you follow this process, in using the AAR questions to evaluate your season.
- If you are the Head Coach, answer these questions by yourself. Do not share your answers with anyone else, but make sure to keep a copy.
- Get your coaching staff together, and have them work together to answer the questions. Have someone document their answers, so you can use them later.
- Have your players work together to answer the AAR questions. This should happen without guidance from the coaches. Simply give them the questions, and let them document their responses. These are group responses, not individual responses from each player.
At the end of these After Action Reviews, the Head Coach has a nice collection of information, which can be used to begin productively planning for next season.
The AAR will provide you with the WHYs, which can lead to the HOWs, and this information will help you effectively plan for next season’s success.
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We are launching a new series that we are calling TELLING vs TEACHING. This is motivated by a recent video that was posted by Brian Kight. Check out the video below, to learn about the most under-coached profession.
How is it possible that coaching is the most under-coached profession? The answer is very simple. There are no clearly defined requirements to get into coaching. To take that a step further, we are seeing more coaches TELLING players what to do, as opposed to TEACHING players how to play the game. Below are some of the examples that you might hear in a gym:
“You’ve got to finish that!”
“Talk on defense!”
“Take care of the ball!”
These are all examples of TELLING, when experienced coaches understand that the key is to spend your time TEACHING your players. Here are some “teaching” examples, which align with the same “telling” statements from above.
“Keep your eyes and chin on the rim!”
“Talk it, touch it, switch it on the ball screen!”
“Get to two feet in the paint and throw to what you see!”
While these are general examples, it is most important that coaches recognize the value of TEACHING players how to play the game. TELLING players what to do is counter productive for an experienced coach, because the goal is to create an environment that is conducive to learning and improving.
The topic of the first blog post is to discuss communication. One common misconception is that players do not want to talk. In most cases, the problem is actually that players do not know what to say. Most coaches have been around teams that talk, laugh, make jokes, and are loud off the floor. As soon as players get into a practice, they stop talking. It is not an unwillingness to talk. The problem is that no one has taught players what to say. How much would your team improve if all of your players communicated like PJ Tucker in the video below?
Before we can teach our players how to communicate effectively, we must equip our coaches with a process to break it down with their teams. If we don’t coach the coaches, then we will be back in the habit of telling our players, instead of teaching them. Here is a great way to break down communication into three phases for your team.
PHASE ONE: What are you doing?
In Phase One, players are encouraged to simply talk through what they are doing individually. This might sound like, “I’m in help. I’ve got the ball. Jump to the ball. I’m in a gap.” This is the starting point for players. The key is to correct terminology, but never tell a player that they are wrong. We want to build confidence!
PHASE TWO: What do you see happening?
In Phase Two, players are talking about what they are doing, but also what they see happening. This is where the communication starts to involve their teammates. This might sound like, “I’m in help. Cutter coming through. Ball screen right. Ball screen right. I’m hedging. You’re back. I’m here.” It is being able to communicate what is happening in that particular moment. Once again, as a coach, we want to hold players accountable to communicating with our terminology, but we do not want players to ever feel like they are wrong. Furthermore, this is where you will see breakdowns in communication between teammates. It is essential that you encourage players to work through it. Coaches should take the role of mediator, to keep communication productive, but should not shut down the back and forth between players.
PHASE THREE: What is going to happen next?
In Phase Three, players reach an elite level of communication. This involves being able to recognize and call out actions before they happen. It is unlikely that you will get your entire team to this level, but the best teams have a couple of these types of communicators on the floor at all times. Phase Three communication might sound like, “Ball screen coming. Ball screen coming. Be ready to switch it. I’ve got help on the slip. I’ve got help on the slip.” In this example, it is recognizing an action early, communicating the plan to teammates, and also acknowledging coverage for a potential counter from the offense.
As you look to create better communication with your team, the key is to TEACH players how to talk. If you find yourself saying, “we need to talk,” then you should consider stopping and going one layer deeper to discover why your players are not talking. A mediocre coach tells the players what to do. A great coach teaches the players how to learn what needs to happen. If you take ownership for becoming a better teacher, your teams will improve, and your program will be on the path to sustainable success.
Do you have thoughts on TEACHING vs TELLING? You can share them by connecting with us on social media (@DynamicCoaches). You can also e-mail us at: INFO@dynamiccoachingtools.com
Go to social media and you will see a constant trend of “coach bashing.” Parents complain about coaches. Players complain about coaches. High school coaches claim that AAU coaches are ruining the game. AAU coaches claim that HS coaches are too political and hold their players back from maximizing their potential. So, do bad coaches exist?
Yes. Bad coaches are everywhere. There are bad high school coaches, bad AAU coaches, and bad collegiate coaches. “Bad” is a relative term, which depends on who is judging the performance of each coach. Before this starts to sound too negative, which we might have already passed that point, we need to explore what makes a “bad coach.” Below you will find the ABC’s of “bad coaching.”
A| About Me
This is the coach that thinks that the 45-point win is about his coaching ability and not the massive talent advantage on his roster. When a coach makes the success of the team about themselves, they lose sight of the number one objective for all coaches, which is to serve their student-athletes. The “about me” coach can not move past their ego, which prevents them from empowering their players, and ultimately stunts the development of the people within their program.
B| Blame Others
Some coaches are undefeated, if it weren’t for those darn officials. Bad coaches find countless reasons to avoid taking ownership for the challenging moments that come with the job. When the team suffers a loss, the players are referred to as “they.” You might hear something like, “they didn’t want it bad enough.” Good coaches are able to take ownership for the challenging moments, and maintain the focus on what “WE” need to do to work through challenging moments. Bad coaches that “blame others” survive by pointing a finger at the uncontrollable things, which take the attention on things that the coach could be doing better. Blaming others is like vomiting around your team. You feel better afterwards, but everyone around is disgusted, doesn’t want to be there anymore, or is also vomiting out the same blame that started with you.
This bad coach is always talking about what could be accomplished, if they had the same advantages as everyone else. Complaining is frustrating to everyone else, does you no good, and does not move your team forward. Instead of being jealous and complaining about what a successful program has, use that energy to study other successful programs. Unfortunately, complaining gives a bad coach the satisfaction of deflecting the negative attention. All coaching jobs are not created equal, but all coaches are also not created equal. Bad coaches complain, because it makes them feel better about themselves. Good coaches spend their energy attacking the challenges, so that their competition will eventually complain about the program that they have built. Bad coaches are about themselves, they blame others, and there is always something to complain about which establishes a negative and losing culture.
Thankfully, we can find incredible examples of coaches who are avoiding the ABC’s of bad coaching. These coaches take ownership and accountability for everything in their program. By taking ownership, the coach is empowered to find a way to embrace challenges, improve each day, and eventually build a championship culture. Coaching is a challenging job and the ABC’s of bad coaching will tempt all of us. Put your players first, take ownership for challenging moments, and maintain a positive outlook and your program is destined for a bright future.
We all want our players to be great teammates. We are constantly telling our players to put the team first, but are we intentional about teaching players how to do it? If you are teaching players how to be a great teammate, then it should be explained, players should learn how it sounds, as well as what it looks like to put the team first. Below are five steps to create great teammates in your program.
EXPLAIN WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A GOOD TEAMMATE
If this is important to your program, then it needs to be outlined within your core values. For example, two of our core values connect to being a great teammate. The first is RELATIONSHIPS. We talk about what it means to develop relationships and how it connects everyone within our program. The second is SERVANT LEADERSHIP. The purpose is to seek ways to serve others, which includes our teammates. By connecting being a great teammate to two of our core values, it empowers the fact that being a great teammate is more than an expectation. It is who we are and what we do.
TEACH PLAYERS WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE TO BE A GREAT TEAMMATE
One of our favorite activities to do is the “Rock, Paper, Scissors Challenge.” In this activity, players do a best of three series of the game Rock, Paper, Scissors. The winner finds another teammate to play against. The loser becomes a “HYPE GUY” for the winner. You continue this until you have two players remaining in the Championship. At that point, they have a team of “HYPE GUYS” behind them. It creates a fun environment. At the conclusion of the Championship, we let our players know that we expect our bench to be full of “HYPE GUYS.” Now that we have taught our players what it sounds like to be a great teammate, it can be an expectation for the players.
Is your bench quiet/lacks enthusiasm? Stop complaing & TEACH THEM!
— Doug Brotherton (@CoachBrotherton) June 10, 2017
TEACH PLAYERS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE TO BE A GREAT TEAMMATE
Similar to teaching players what it sounds like to be a great teammate, this lesson allows us to hold players accountable. The best tool for teaching players what it looks like to be a great teammate is film. We will use clips from other teams at the beginning of the season. As the season continues, we will use clips of our own team. It could be all four players sprinting to help up a teammate who has gotten on the floor. It might be our bench celebrating a positive play. It could be a teammate giving positive reinforcement to a frustrated teammate. Too many coaches want to point out the negative behavior on the bench. While this is a form of accountability, it is also highlighting the behavior that we do not want. It can be much more powerful to show positive examples, and then find a way to reward that behavior. Another way to teach players what it looks like to be a great teammate is to meet them on their level. In this case, we are talking about social media. A tweet or instagram post that promotes being a good teammate will reach some of your players better than a lecture. A social media post is a great way to utilize messaging that players want to absorb.
— Doug Brotherton (@CoachBrotherton) November 18, 2014
SHARPEN THE SWORD
Like a fundamental skill, being a great teammate requires repetition. If you want your players to be great teammates, you must continue to “sharpen the sword,” to avoid the message becoming dull. Like any fundamental skill that we teach, you should be constantly looking for positive examples to reinforce your expectations.
After you have taken the steps to teach and reinforce the expectations of being a great teammate, it is time to hold your players accountable. One common mistake is that coaches hold their bench players more accountable for this behavior. While all players must be held accountable, your best players must be held to the highest standard. This will resonate with your players and it highlights the importance of being a great teammate.
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