As is sometimes the case, the venue closes its doors to us leaving us homeless with nowhere to practice. Today was one of those day’s, no drive to the north of the city, no planning, not for today anyway, and no coaching. In a way, the closure offered me the opportunity to reflect on our first six games, the direction of our practices and my relationship with some of the players.
Following a brief conversation with an authoritative figure at the weekend and after our victory, I started to think about what we were covering in our practice sessions, about the content or curriculum if you like. It wasn’t very broad, we had committed to doing a number of things well. Central to this was the creation of independent thinking, to the development of each athletes ability to problem-solve and make decisions based on the information presented to them at any given moment of the game. My thinking was simple, challenge the players mentally, tasks them to lead, self-direct, hold each other to account and to mentally engage in a thought process. I found myself now questioning the approach, was I selling short the provision of basketball? I felt as though we worked on the technical, tactical, physical and mental as best as we could in our allotted time. Maybe it wasn’t enough?
Haven just written seven pages stuffed with detail for a three hour session at an elevated level of play I was aware that so much could be forced into a practice unit. That if the planning was accurate and well thought out you could actually achieve a great deal in ninety-minutes. In fact, my late afternoon lecture today was on effective planning. We discussed form and function, what we considered to be the appropriate content and how such a task should be completed. It is interesting just how much you can learn from the practice of others, even from young inexperienced coaches just entering into the world of coaching. I was beginning to think that I could actually change the structure of my planning to help direct my thinking and ensure that I cover more of what is needed. The question remained, what was needed? How would I fit it all in?
Like many other practitioners, something that bothered me was time, time to coach, time to develop strong relationships with the 14 charges that I shared a court with for the 2018-2019 season and time to do more. I was certain that I was missing a trick here. My engagement with social media was well above par, in fact, I wouldn’t get on to a municipal course with my handicap. I needed to do better. In my mind I pictured the use of a digital playbook, images and video footage to help support the players and provide models for them to visualise and work through. I often saw the benefit of a webpage stocked with hints, tips and my philosophy, accessible to all and at a time that was convenient to them. Certainly, I could do more, more with applications such as WhatsApp. This blended approach to learning and coaching was something that I was well aware of, I had been recognised nationally for my teaching practice and the use of ICT to support learners in their academic journey. So why had I not engaged more within my coaching? We did have a WhatsApp group and we do communicate with each other. However, how much did I actually engage with the tool? Was I using it as a means for general and specific communication to better understand the young men I spend five to six hours a week with. Unfortunately, the answer is not very much. I am no digital native, I barely pass as a digital immigrant, I lack the patients to self teach beyond the bare minimum and so accept, reluctantly, that I am on the outside of the digital world. perhaps I will ask the players, they are very much the experts in this area, their digital skills would far out shine mine.