The only reason I was able to start a business and thrive as a full time basketball development coach was due to my education. I moved to the US from Poland right after graduating from a university with a masters degree.
In the beginning I was basing my work solely on the knowledge I had obtained in college. Now, 7 years later, I have created my own programming and very rarely do I look at the notes from school, but if it wasn’t for the theoretical foundation from college, I know that basketball wouldn’t be my full time job now.
The reason for this post is two fold:
1. Uneducated basketball coaches;
2. Uneducated youth.
Lets start with the coaches. Basketball skill training, even though it is a fairly new industry, it is already becoming over saturated with pseudo trainers who promise over night success, who use some crazy sounding vocabulary from YouTube, that makes very little or no sense at all.
Normally their work is a presented nicely whole bunch of nothing.
A coach or a teacher can only take their player or a student as far as their knowledge, and the problem is that most people in our industry are uneducated.
Back in the university I never thought I’d take pride in being an educator, but now as I am getting older and more experienced education has become my number one priority.
Fundamentals are boring and not exciting, but are necessary to succeed in anything that you do in life.
I heard a story once of a skill coach who worked with a team. Unfortunately most of the players didn’t improve, yet his explanation to that was that the players weren’t advanced enough yet for his methods- HUH??? Here’s comes the basic knowledge and the ability to adjust which comes with experience.
But the coaches aren’t the only ones to blame. The players and the parents are looking for a microwave success. They think that if something looks impressive it has to be effective.
I remember one time I was working on basic close out reads of the dribble with a group of players and one of them just started taking a bunch of dribbles and doing some crazy dance floor moves yet couldn’t read my defense. He was too caught up in the microwave success that social media presents and wasn’t willing to slow down and learn the fundamentals.
Learning takes a lot of time and is boring at times, I spent 17 years in school, at first learning how to write and read, then basic math and biology, to finally take anatomy, biomechanics and physiology in college. If I didn’t learn basic biology at first there would be no way for me to understand VO2max, ATP, or oxygen deficit...
Basketball is exactly the same, there’s a process and methodology to it. You don’t teach advanced spacing until a player can drive without loosing the ball, you don’t take threes until you’re a consistent midrange shooter, you don’t teach advanced finishing moves until a player can take a proper layup...
In order to gain experience you need to execute! At first with very little variables, but as your comfort level increases the variables have to start changing and becoming more complex. The more you execute the more experience you gain the slower the game becomes, the better decisions you make.
Basketball all about decision making. Should I drive or not, should I pass or not, should I take this shoot or should I not. The more experienced you are the better the decisions you make based on previous education and execution.
There’s a trend in our culture to discredit formal education and science. Some people say that college does’t really teach you the skills you need to succeed in life. And as this might be true for some, for most people formal education is the way to change their life. Statistically people with higher education earn almost twice as much as people with only high school diploma.
There’s a great mini documentary you can find on YouTube “Mamba doing work”. It’s Kobe doing a voice over, over a Lakers games vs. the Spurs. The documentary really shows the knowledge of the game Kobe had. He had studied every single player on the team, their strengths and weaknesses, he knew everything about San Antonio’s offense and defense, he was able to anticipate a few steps ahead. Even Denis Rodman valued education. “The last dance” shows him taking notes on every player, taking notes on the trajectory of the ball shot from different angles etc. Mark Cuban said that the best thing that could happen to him was to go to college. Besides the basic knowledge he obtained there, he said that college taught him how to learn and research information needed to succeed.
There’s no way you become a successful basketball player playing only games, you need the theoretical foundation upon which you can build further experience.