YEAR 2 TAKEAWAYS
Updated: Jul 30, 2022
I absolutely love sharing my experiences and what I'm learning in my first few years as a full time college basketball assistant coach. I try to be as transparent as possible, not just sharing the highs and the great moments but also discussing my mistakes, moments of uncertainty and the challenges that come up on a day to day basis. I've wanted to recap this past season for a few months now but have 100% procrastinated on getting it done, but here we are now... better late than never right!?
1) You're not going to have the right answer to every question - AND THAT'S OKAY!
Like anything when you first get started, you learn by putting in the time and doing! Reading about something is nowhere near as beneficial as trial by fire. Most new coaches can probably relate when I say that you want to have the all the answers and know exactly what to say when a player asks a question during a film session or practice. Even more nerve wracking can be the daily staff meeting when a topic that you're not familiar with or haven't been exposed to yet is discussed and you don't have a "good" answer when it's your time to speak up. You shouldn't be expected to have all the answers at the current moment but as a coach you should want to seek out those answers and learn something new everyday. I try my best to research a topic or find an answer to a question I was unsure about in the basketball world almost everyday. This can be as simple as taking 5 minutes to look up a recruiting rule that you may have be unsure about in the NCAA handbook. You now have that information forever and doing the work yourself goes a long way in terms of retention. Before we can begin to grow we have to be willing to acknowledge what we don't know and then eager to seek out those answers!
2) Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
This is a quote that we used to have painted in the locker room at Quinnipiac when I was a player and I appreciate it even more now as a coach. When it comes to practice planning, watching film, presenting scouting reports, talking to recruits, leading individual workouts etc, preparation is KEY.
When you're in your first few seasons as an assistant speaking in front of the group or on the phone with recruits and their families can be uncomfortable - especially when they don't have much to say or are tough conversations haha... I promise if you prepare and plan ahead your confidence will sky rocket, along with just getting reps over and over again to hone your craft. I remember my first recruiting call and being soooo nervous about what I was going to ask and how the conversation would go. Overtime, the more you do it the easier it gets and now I'm always excited to get on the phone with recruits and continue to build and establish relationships!
When it comes to scouting, planning ahead is critical. You must give yourself enough time to watch your opponent thoroughly, create the video edits/paper scout - (however your program operates), and then most importantly come up with the actual game plan in terms of how you're going to give your team the best opportunity to win the game. The worst thing in the world is feeling rushed and flustered the day of a scout presentation. It's easy to tell when someone isn't fully prepared and players can sniff it out a mile away. So give yourself MORE time than you think and print your shit the night before!! I learned this the hard way in my first season when the printer didn't work the morning of and I was supposed to lead a film session an hour later... You can imagine how I felt and how chaotic that day was. Do yourself a favor and prepare ahead!
3) Watch More Film!
The absolute best thing I've done consistently for the last 2-3 years (pretty much since COVID) is devour film. Whether it's our team or other NCAA games during the season, NBA/WNBA or FIBA in the off season, I'm always watching basketball. This might be something that is harder to get yourself to do consistently if you don't truly love the X's & O's, but establishing a film routine daily has allowed me to grow my understanding and feel for the game probably more than anything else. Nobody forces me to watch film at night when I get home, I just LOVE doing it. Some people think I'm crazy because I'd rather watch 100 possessions of the best pick and roll teams in the WNBA/NBA or a 2 hour coaching clinic on YouTube over any Netflix or HBO show any day of the week. Now I'm not saying that you need to be obsessed to this extent but creating some sort of routine that you can stick to and more importantly enjoy doing will go a long way for helping to recognize patterns, terminology, concepts and late game situations. Having the ability to rewind and really dissect actions and study coaches is where we have the chance to get better by bringing new idea to the staff and better ways to teach our players. Start with 10-15 minutes daily - or even better than time, 20-30 possessions or one half of a game. Pick a one or two teams to focus on and dive into what makes them successful. Can you find 1 or 2 things that you can incorporate into what your team does?
Reflecting on this past season by writing and sharing my thoughts has been a lot of fun and has forced me to think deeply in order to provide value. Hopefully one of these concepts can help you or at least get you thinking about ways to continuing growing on your coaching journey!