The wannabe artist remains in the building

In an attempt to move myself forward into the twenty-first century I had begun to engage with the concept of Podcasts, a statement that I am confident will sound redundant to the masses, yet I offer it as a proclamation to the New Year and the improved coach in me. In doing so, I stole a part of my morning listening to a coach development offering from a respected UK based basketball coach. Unfortunately, the coach did not feature in the contemporary landscape of practice, at any level of performance, or within the development field for which he is so often remembered. The coach put forward a number of interesting concepts regarding the journey in to coach development, many of which are argued within the literature to be common ‘moments’, experiences and generally a pattern of learning engaged in, to some extent, by the majority of coaches. The programme forced me in to a revisit of my own coach journey, and more, to what it was I currently sought. I have persistently verbalised my wish to improve, to be more effective and to advance my practice as a coach. To this end I have engaged in various opportunities to improve my coach self, yet it appeared that I was still not content with my lot. I make this point as I feel as though it reflects on my practice and my pursuit of the ‘flawless’ session, the perfect game and the pristine delivery of my coaching.

I arrived at our training facility ‘buzzing’ (a popular word among my students’ and one that I shall employ as a statement of youth), ready to engage with the players and take them on a journey. I wanted to improve our ability to reduce penetrating moves, in short, I wanted us to guard the ball better. We started with some uptempo hustle drills, an opportunity to raise the players pulse and intensity in a competitive manner. The activities were well received, the players engaged in various competitive attempts to achieve the tasks set and demonstrate their ability to execute the various skills (shooting, rebounding and passing). I then proceeded to construct various scenarios, disadvantage-based that forced the defender(s) to communicate, to make decisions and to employ high degrees of effort in order to achieve a minimal return. A return that we sought within our game model and that would lead to improved team defence. Again, the players’ gave it their all, they encouraged each other, they retained a sense of game-based reality within their execution and they sought to improve throughout each repetition.

As we moved into our reenactment of competition I was eager for the players to reproduce what they had constructed within the small game-based scenarios. I felt that this would really signify a resounding success and a high degree of achievement towards our session goals. However, I didn’t quite get what it was I was looking for, the effort was there but the execution, at times, had gone somewhat missing. I became impatient and stopped practice to make the point that we were not where we wanted to be. That what we currently had to offer would not be enough. On reflection am I going to suggest that both statements were somewhat unfair and perhaps didn’t hold much water. I had however, returned to my vision, my Sistine Chapel, a bricolage of ball and player movement, aggressive cuts to the basket, constant displays of confidence through communication, physical presence and solid decision making, all of which achieved iconic standing and equaled only by the ranks of the junior national teams.

I once more took the drive home listening to the stern words of my inner coach self, the central theme of the discussion was a simple one, a greater degree of reflection in action would allow for a more objective rendering of my canvas. Patients would be a key trait to develop within my practice. Why? Because we had set our parameters, established our goals and moved towards the task of achieving said goals with enthusiasm, commitment and a sense of pride. Could I ask for more? Should I ask for more? Or perhaps I should merely change the lens with which I view my work?

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