Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You cannot coach without factoring in the human equation

With legendary Pete Carril joining SAC as a consultant, I pulled off the shelf last night his 1997 book "The Smart Take From the Strong" to go back through it. If you've not read it, it's absolutely worth the investment.

Here's an excerpt from Coach Carril's book:

In America today, coaches are judged by whether they win or lose and not by how well they teach. So winning is what you worry about most -- winning and all the factors that affect the chances of winning.

I define success as having a chance to win every game. It's my job to my players the chance to have their character, their drive to win, determine the outcome.

Overemphasizing winning is bad, but singling out winning as the most important thing you can do is good, and you should do everything you can to prepare so you can win.

Winning is the only objective measure for a team; all the rest is subjective.

A typical squad has fifteen guys and at least seven think they should be playing and at least two more think they aren't playing because you the coach don't like the way they look at you, or the length of their hair, or their father, or their uncle; one guy thinks he's working harder than the next; one guy says he feel discriminated against; and so on.

Fifteen players and it's chaos, but if you're winning, it's harder for the malcontent, for the overly ambitious parent, whoever, to argue that the team is suffering because his son isn't playing. Winning solves a lot of problems.

A very important part of my life is teaching. For me, the basic thing has to be teaching. When you teach basketball, it has technical parts and it has life parts. It has to be that way, because it's played by humans. You'd be surprised how many people forget that. It's the human who gets tired, who stops trying, who gets mad at his girlfriend, or his father, or his coach. And it's the human who doesn't care enough to do every single time what he has to do to win.

When you draw X's and O's on a board, you can change them around easily and predictably. But put a human being in there and the symbols won't predict what will happen. That changes the essence of all sports.

What you must realize is that you cannot coach without factoring in the human equation.

Why do some players get tired and give up and some players get tired and keep on going? This is what I mean when I talk about a life part. I don't know that you can teach it, but you must stress it. Stressing it is how you find out who has it.

And sometimes those who don't seem to have it really do, but the circumstances of their life before you got them have been such they've never had to demonstrate it. You have to help them change. That's what education is: Changing behavior.

Two words to avoid in teaching are "always" and "never." There is nothing that happens a certain way 100 percent of the time. Flexibility is the key. Coaches and players who recognize that will not make the mistake of doing something the same way all the time.

If you always do something one way, it will kill you.

Shooting layups, for example: We shoot layups every day for eight minutes, and I insist my players develop different ways of laying the ball up. Nothing in basketball is done 100 percent the same way every time. Conditions change, and if you shoot layups the same way every time, you may not be able to adjust.