Manny Johnson: Blog 15 at 2008 HP Youth Holiday Camp

Jan. 21, 2009, 5:22 p.m. (ET)

Day 8 coaches lunch. 

Over lunch Neil went over some coaching philosophies and tactics with us.  We started by discussing gym culture, what is it and how do you establish it.  Neil defined gym culture as expectation, responsibility, consistency, focus, discipline, structure, perseverance, mental diligence, and emotional endurance.  These words by themselves are just that words; when coaches hold the girls accountable to these words they become "Gym Culture."  All of the things that make up gym culture are in the players control, they control the effort they give, they control how hard they want to work, they control how mindful they are, and they control how much they care when teammates are slacking. 

Neil also talked to us about creating and audience when setting up drills or teaching a new skill.  Coaches want to make sure that all the players can see them and that they can see all the players.  This helps the coach know the players are listening and involved.  When explaining a new skill coaches need to introduce the skill without a ball and break it down.  Coaches should not demo the skill (players don't look like coaches) but rather have a player demo.  If the player knows the skill great, if not coaches can walk the demo player through the necessary steps to successfully complete the skill.  If someone asks a question, repeat the question so everyone hears it then answer it.  When introducing a drill make sure the drill has a name, make sure you explain how the drill will run, make sure to explain the scoring, and make sure to explain the focus of the drill.  Many drills can be done over and over as long as you change the focus every time.   To summarize; coaches should 1) tell the skill (hear) 2) show the girls the skill, demo (see) 3) let them do the skill (understand).  This follows the principal of "I hear, I forget.  I see, I remember.  I do, I understand.

Neil then talked to us about the 4 types of communication coaches' use.  First is Conversation, think "hey what did you see on that play?"  This is most common in professional sports where the coaches make less than the players and wield little authority.  Second is Instruction, think "you should use four steps on your approach."  Third is Reprimand, "we can't keep over passing, if it happens again we will run."  The fourth kind of communication is Go Crazy, this is where the coach tosses the clipboard, makes kids run for the slightest transgression, starts yelling so loud that a vein pops out of their forehead.  Coaches should use the Instruction and Reprimand most of the time particularly at the beginning of the season.  As the team gets better and understands the system and philosophy the coach is running then the coach can shift over to the Conversation mode of communication.  It's okay for a coach to sprinkle in some Go Crazy later in the season not during the cognitive part though.  Also coaches must be very careful not to over use the Go Crazy method or it loses its effectiveness.