What just happened there then? I had arrived at practice with all the hope and anticipation of a coach that felt like a coach. The season was going well, I had managed to develop some strong relationships within the group, I still had a way to go but felt comfortable with our direction of travel. In fact, we had travelled some distance in a short space of time. We had begun to understand some of our basic principles, such as ball movement, player movement, spacing, communication and engagement. I had stuck to these five offensive principles my entire coaching career, 27 years, and was convinced that these were fundamental to the effective execution of any offensive game model, regardless of what it was you were running. I had written these five principles down whilst working in retail, I still have the scrap of paper that I used to jot them down on. I had pursed them for many years and with multiple teams to varying degrees of success. So what had I just experienced for 90 minutes? What unfolded before me was about as far away from my own personal idea of basketball that I was left questioning my own ability to coach.
Across on the other court I heard a completely different approach to the practice and delivery of coaching, there was a more directive, somewhat coach-centred approach to the session. Yet, the level of intensity, the engagement and the progress appeared to be far greater than I had achieved tonight. It begs the question, how should I coach? What is the more effective methodology? I was no longer sure, I wanted to remain faithful to my thinking, to my research and to what I believed was right for this group of athletes. However, everything around me was telling me something different. I would perhaps put more into my planning (I keep blaming my lack of planning when in actual fact I am spending two hours for a 90 minute session). I know I can do better, I can question more, allow them more time to explore and be patient with what emerges, give it time to grow, like the oak tree, it will not mature over night!!
The next day I continued to battle over my approach, the associated learning theory, the provision of a performance environment and coaching pedagogy. There truly was a great void between the theory and practice of my trade and I was trapped squarely in the middle of not knowing. Every example around me appeared to employ behaviours that were far more stringent, forceful, directive and authoritative. I needed to find my true coach self, a state that I believed in but which was also effective.