What Every Young Coach Should Know
By Bob Brown, Former High School and College Coach
The thing that a young coach should do is break down the fundamental sheets.
When I practiced at Cheverus, at the high school level, at the college level, I had two sheets: One of the sheets, were the team sheets: our offense, our out of bounds plays – all of those. The other sheets were the fundamental skills of basketball: all of the different passes, the overhead, the bounce pass, the two handed chest pass, the skip pass, and so fourth; the dribbling, the different dribble moves, can they use both hands and so fourth – all of the fundamental traits and fundamental skills that they need to have.
I would use a self regulated checks and balance system to keep track: after every practice, I would go through that list of fundamental skills and check off the ones that we as a team were lacking at or certain people needed to work on.
The problem that exists today is where does somebody learn the exact way to teach a skill?
Way back in the 70s and 80s, we used to run basketball camps, where kids would come not as a team but as an individual, and the fundamental skills were worked on and they were demonstrated in front of an entire camp. A coach could sit there and look at and see what they should be teaching. At night they had coaches’ meeting so that they could ask questions, “Well, how do you teach this?”
I always remember Dick Whitemore, Tom Maines, Art Dyer, and I ran a clinic. We called it a “clinic in the woods”. We went up to my camp at Moosehead Lake, and we sat there and we talked basketball, we talked basketball skills. This is an absolute truth; now, we left the South Portland area and drove to my camp at Moosehead, and it took us over two hours, and the entire time was the fundamental skills of shooting foul shots.
Now, you think about that. That was all we talked about. Whether the elbow’s in, whether the elbow’s out, how many dribble — everything to follow through the ball on the hand, everything.
Unfortunately, I don’t think young coaches get into that. Certainly when I look in a basketball game, or work with youngsters today, the fundamental skills are not there, and they have to be taught. But they have to be known by the coaches themselves.
This to me is where I think a lot of young coaches are lacking. They don’t pick up the phone and call, and if you take a look at some of these coaches around here, and I mentioned a number of them with Jimmy Ray and Joe Russo and so forth, as well as retired coaches like Whitemore and Tommy Maines and myself. There are female coaches around too. Pick up the phone and say, “Can I come and talk to you and will you show me exactly what you mean.”
Now every year I get coaches that come and talk with me mostly about team things because their college coaches or varsity coaches. A younger coach, pick up the phone and call somebody that you know of and say, “Will you help me?” The people that I mentioned before, they all have one philosophy, we have to pay back because people helped us on our way up.
We talked about what should they learn at certain level: For example a program for fourth graders may have: proper passing, proper ways to dribble a basketball, dribbling with two hands. At the lower level, I’m watching some of these younger kids play today, for the fourth and fifth graders, the scores in the games are 50-60 and you say, “Woo woo, wait, how could they be –?” well, we put the basket at 8 feet or 6 feet, so they didn’t have to learn bad form of trying to throw the ball. We let them use girls’ basketball, so they were smaller, and they could develop it. So kids get turned on.
It’s not soccer where you score one goal and go home happy, it’s scoring in those games. They kids had a ball so they’re turned on, but everybody had a plan of what level, what skills should be taught. Again, this can be easily done, if a coach doesn’t know, pick up the phone and say, “Help me,” and there a lot of coaches around that would help.