Written by Scott Bauman
Once the spring concludes there is a shift from player development to program and professional development. Depending on the level varies the amount of time during the summer where players leave campus providing time for coaches to evaluate where they are and how they want to improve.
Is a common theme for programs across the country. Or in coach-speak (so we all understand each other), what are we doing when no one else is watching?
Coaching responsibilities aside (i.e. recruiting, summer leagues, or camps) there is more time allotted for professional development during the summer. The first question to ask is, what do you want to accomplish? Similar to what we would instruct our athletes regarding player development – be purposeful. Simplify the plan with a couple objectives in mind: program and professional.
First Line of Business
Reflect on the season that concluded and identify development opportunities. Coaches can take cues from business management tactics conducting something similar to a S.W.O.T. analysis. This is a tool used to assess internal strengths and weaknesses of an organization with consideration to external variables, opportunities or threats that could impact the sustainability of establishing a competitive advantage. The above example was completed by the University of Nevada Reno, giving an introspective analysis in an effort to reveal a direction of where to go as a program.
This is something that could be done on a program perspective or personal in context. So, after you reflect on the what, have to decide on the how to sustain, adjust, or improve. For myself, (especially myself) it is important not to stretch yourself too thin. Have a growth mentality that is narrow in scope.
Program Objective is enhancing our culture through leadership development.
How? There are two books that I am finishing this summer with hopes to draw some ideas.
You Win in the Locker Room First is a Jon Gordon book (Energy Bus & The No Complaining Rule) covering 7 concepts that aide in the development of program success. From a leadership standpoint, there are instances provided from former Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons, Mike Smith, discussing connectivity in the locker room. I think leadership is cultivated through empowerment, trust, and connection with peers and coaching staff.
“When team members connect and build strong relationships, they don’t just work with each other. They work for each other.”
Calling Up is a book written by a former coach and player at the collegiate level, J.P. Nerbun. The story within the book creates a realistic scenario for any coach that has faced challenges that tend to come with the territory. But, within each chapter, there are reflection opportunities providing practical application of philosophy and program practices. It allows me to gather my thoughts on a variety of areas beyond the X’s and O’s that make an impact on the trajectory of our culture and program.
Professional Objective is to improve my ability to coach defensively and the installation of our system.
How? Through film, more reading material, and attending practices
There is an abundance of accessible resources online; it can be too much at times. But, that is why it can help to stay narrow in focus. There are two primary sources of reading material that I have looked to use over the summer related to schematic installation.
Xavier Packline is a comprehensive breakdown of the packline defense provided with drills, diagrams, and language from three accomplished coaches at the collegiate level. What I am looking for from this are commonalities from all three coaches with their application to this style of defense. With an attempt to synergize our system, I want to ensure that our communication and concepts are uniform with how we operate defensively.
Winning Defense written by Del Harris gives a detailed discussion on a lot of situational man-to-man defense. Regardless of the style of play incorporated within your program, effective defense is arguably a blend of two main ingredients: disruption (i.e. effort) and connectivity. Effort should be culture driven. Connectivity seems more coaching, dependent on comfort with communication and confidence in any given situation. Are we connected with the varied ballscreens (e.g. loaded, empty, flat)? What is the protection coverages for off-ball actions (e.g. shuffles, flex, staggered)? There is a lot of guided analysis within this book that I hope to use to help develop our defense.
This will be one of the first years I have not worked a camp, outside of our own. It is something that I would recommend anyone of any level or experience to embrace. There are a lot of great networking opportunities through this experience, but it also simply gives you a chance to simply continue coaching. Last year, I had the chance to observe PGC Basketball. I have a few kids within my own program that have participated with this organization and I wanted to witness for myself how they operate. The setup allows you to interact with other coaches while taking from what I would consider an advanced structure of skill/player development. Additionally, it provides perspective for me to relate to some of our kids that have enjoyed attending those camps. I think it is beneficial to work or observe camps that could be of interest to your own student-athletes. Or it could provide ideas to utilize for camps that you will put together.
Visit Other Practices & Coaches
Attending pro/college practices are a great way to see behind the curtains of other programs. I have had the opportunity to check out a few practices in New England this Summer with the hopes of traveling to see a few more at the beginning of Fall. These can be revealing in how other coaches approach preparing their players on a daily basis. A few things that I look for when catching a practice:
- Pace of Practice – Is everything timed? Or is to completion based on expectations? Are drills progressive or singularly focused?
- Language – How do coaches interact with their players? Do they stop a lot? A tendency to address the group or pull personnel to the side more?
- Innovative/New – Does anything catch my eye that is unique? Could be a dynamic stretch, or could be how they finish practice for fun. Always look for something that I think could be fresh and effective.
Get Away from Basketball
The final piece of #SummerProjects for me is to balance basketball with my family. As much as I love being in the gym, my family takes priority. So, getting away to be with friends for a wedding or taking a weekend to travel is a mental break that is often overlooked. Coaching takes balance. Hope this gives a little insight into identifying where we can improve and ideas for how to go about doing it.