Big Result for 2015?

Happy Holidays!

Having a nice restful break is a great thing.  It provides an opportunity to reflect on the year that was, and to think about the upcoming year.  I have some big challenges ahead next year as most others do as well.

This next year needs to be different for me.  I need to think differently, act differently and lead differently.  My management is expecting a breakthrough result, but the good news is I believe I have a plan.

While I can’t discuss the plan, I can describe some of the key considerations I made going into the development of the plan.  These elements are answering the “why” question, developing a clear set of expectations (down to every team member from Day 1 of the new year) for higher levels of performance, strategies for rewarding team members who rise to the challenge as well as plans to deal with those who don’t make it (and that’s OK) and developing the metrics to figure out how we are doing.

Answering the “why” question is probably the most important part to get right.  People will want to know why this plan, why we need a certain result, among other things.  From there they will be able to better connect to the plan once it is communicated.

I will keep track of my progress here and share any lessons learned.  No doubt there will be some.


Coaches, What Are We Doing?

This video is a few years ago, but the message Coach Van Gundy delivers is spot on.  Our role as youth coaches is to teach skills. Period.

This year is my first season as an assistant coach on my son’s traveling basketball team.  We are a “C” level team which means most of the kids have developing fundamentals – bringing the basketball up the court is enough of a challenge, let alone dealing with zone defenses, presses and the like.

In our first few tournaments we encountered situations where pressing and zone were allowed. Unfortunately, we ran into teams that decided that it was more important to press as long as the tournament rules allowed, then fall back into a zone trap once they had established big leads. What is the purpose of doing that? I think it’s exactly what Coach says in the video – the coaches are more interested in bragging to their buddies about their coaching prowess, rather than building skills. Even in a 40 point win, I argue by employing pressing they are not building skills either. Stealing the ball becomes their offense.

The other part that stinks, is that to attempt to avoid potential embarrassment in a tournament we have to spend over 50% of our practice time on press breaking. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get away from that and teach the kids how to dribble, pass and shoot? I’d like to propose that at lower levels we ban everything but man-to-man defenses.

On a positive note, we did run into one tournament where pressing was banned. It was a much better experience for the kids overall. Why can’t that be the rule?

I’m done, and it’s too bad, really…

I thought I went into this for all of the right reasons — love of the game of baseball, desire to spend time with my son, help kids learn baseball and so on.  I have one week to go in a long summer of baseball coaching, and the one thing I have learned for sure – I am done volunteering as a head baseball coach in exactly 7 days (3 games to go) and I am SO looking forward to it.

I know I am not the greatest coach in the world.  Not even close.

I am a human who makes mistakes but my overall intention is to do good by the kids.  I am capable of learning from my mistakes, and I have indeed made some and learned from them.  I also realized that for some, I am not allowed to even so much as raise an eyebrow if their son is misbehaving.  I have parents “pointing out” that their son is either pitching too much or too little.  I have spent far too much time processing all of this information trying to figure out how to adapt to this new reality.  I lost sleep while stewing over it.  I have been accused of trying to live vicarously through my son because I managed to teach him how to throw the ball across the plate consistently for his age.  In the face of conduct issues during games and practices, my choices about action or inaction toward an “offender” have been questioned consistently, albeit in a very subtle manner.  I get paid how much? 

Coaching Basketball 2009
Coaching Basketball 2009

If I were doing this for a living, I’d say that’s part of the job description.  For a volunteer, I have decided as of today that it’s not worth the effort.  It’s not worth cutting out of work early to pitch early batting practice, not worth losing sleep, not worth missing the opportunity to just sit outside on a summer evening and watching the kids play.

Jacob Catchin
Coaching Baseball 2010

It’s too bad, really.  We need more people to step up and volunteer to coach the kids.  In today’s society where it’s way easier to question or criticize, it’s no wonder we don’t have more agree to help.  I’ll probably stick to assistant coaching or just watching.