Κυριακή, 14 Οκτωβρίου 2012

A COACH’S OFF SEASON PERIOD


Everyone more or less knows a team or player’s needs during the off season. Basically, the goal is, “improvement of all individual characteristics of the player", to mostly improve his/her weaknesses. It's the only time throughout the whole year that the player has an adequate amount of time to work on his weaknesses without concern of his muscles being overused or exhausted from the heavy weight lifting program or intensive sprints. Also, even the fear of changing, or improving his technique will not cost him performance because there are no official games during this period.
I ask the question, the same philosophy that we teach to our players, can we also apply it to ourselves, as coaches? In my opinion, it definitely can and it must be like that! No matter what level each of us is coaching, this is the only period that we can learn something new, and create new ideas and philosophies. In basketball, every two years presents new tactics and plays, or even brings back old plays in which the new generation of players has never seen before. I believe if we do not involve ourselves to keep up with everything new, we will actually be moving backwards since everything around us is moving very fast forwards. Don’t forget, at exactly the same time that we are trying to convince our players to do something which is totally opposite with our personal moves!
My point is that in exactly the same way that we try to improve our players in the weight room, or practicing on the court on his techniques with shooting, dribbling, passing, etc., are the same way that we must improve ourselves on the skills a coach must have. A quick note, some of these skills a coach must have are:
-Drills and practicing philosophy
-Plays and game philosophy
-Coaching
-Leadership
-Ways of communication
-Modernization of our job
and of course many more which anyone can add.
But now crucial questions appear, in which each one of us must ask ourselves, regarding:
Where do I need improvement?
What am I good at?
How shall I improve?
The answer to these questions is not as difficult as it looks. We live in the era of information that makes it easy to get informed of anything. There are many websites where we can always find something new. Also during the offseason, many clinics take place where the best coaches (at least interesting coaches) are eager to share their experiences and their knowledge, including their drills, plays, and game philosophies. For those that are more familiar comfortable with internet orders, there are plenty of DVD's from the states that can be inside your DVD player in less than a few days.
But the knowledge of the coaching is something that no one clinic can show us. That knowledge can be gained only from the observation of one coach by watching some games. My advice is to choose two or three coaches who you think are really good, download their games (it's very simple and easy to download any NBA, NCAA, or Euroleague game, even with some small amount of payment) and observe them very carefully. I personally prefer to watch Euroleague games, the March Madness of NCAA, KAI and the last playoff rounds of NBA; Also a lot of the Spanish league, and a bit of Italian, Russian, and Turkish league (of course I always follow the Greek league). Some of these games I record, and then watch them during the off season period. All of these games show me new directions of basketball, and help me create new ideas. It may sound strange, but the truth is that often times, communication with other coaches is something that can offer us many things and add a lot to our bag of knowledge.
And don't forget that in this period many important games take place, such as the Olympic Games, and World or European games, of all ages. As much as we want to watch all the games, no one has enough time to, because time is money. I suggest at least choosing the highest level games and analyzing them. Also during the off season those coaches who are unfamiliar with computers and the newest basketball software try to gain access to this equipment to make your lives easier, since this is the goal of technology after all.
Next, I believe that the most important thing for a coach is his inside charisma. It is not only how to show his players how to execute a drill, but how to inspire them to make the drill the best that they possibly can. In general, use basketball to inspire them about life. To be their father, their best friend, but at the same time be the one who everyone trusts as their leader. Some say leaders are born, but I believe that if someone is competent to realize and adapt that role, than anyone can be a leader in his own right.
The background and the education of the coach play a big role in his job, but his best weapons are his words which must touch the hearts of his players. Never forget that a coach is always a manager of personalities, but an even better manager of adversity, so he must have a many-sided multi-dimensional education in order to relate and correspond to his profession.
I dare to say that there are many books, even that have been written hundreds or thousands of years before us, that seem to have been specifically written for coaches, although they may not mention one word about sports. In my opinion, some of these great books are as follows (some are modern):

"The art of war" of Sun Tzou
"The prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli
I would also like to suggest to you the following books, but these will offer insight not just on being a coach, but also for one’s personality as well:
"The leader who had no title" Robin Sharma
"Women are from Venus, men are from Mars", especially suggesting to coaches who want to coach on women's basketball.

"Leading and Coaching Teams to Success: The secret life of teams"

"Personality: How to Unleash Your Hidden Strengths" by the specialist of these books Rob Yeung

"Out of our minds, learning to be creative" by the amazing Ken Robinson

There are of course many more “diamonds” that are hidden in bookstores that can really help improve the culture, attitude, and behavior of a coach towards not only his players, but to the people he works with, as well as his own family, all aspects that are very important and basic for a coach’s job.
I am pretty sure that this list of books on personality could be written even longer because maybe it is more important than the X's and O's. That is why I would be grateful if you could suggest to me any book in which I can positively influence my personality and life as a coach.
Let us never forget that although our job is one of the most difficult jobs in the world, at the same time it is the most beautiful! We help our players not just in basketball, but also build their character and develop their personalities to make them human beings for their futures and careers by establishing the basis foundations of hard work ethic and teamwork. This is a very big responsibility which we always have to be proud of and always try to be worthy.

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