Simon Sinek's book "Start with Why," is a must read for coaches (among many other people. Without going into a whole book review, Sinek discusses three concepts which boil down to: WHAT we do, HOW we do it, and ultimately WHY we do it (see TEDx talk below). There are so many avenues this can be applied but for this blog we are talking about basketball coaching.
The basics of this concept for this particular discussion are as follows:
If as a coach you can't "find your WHY," when structuring your offense/defense/drills in practice, etc, then you need to dig a little deeper, or just re-evaluate what you are doing altogether. There are many different philosophies and approaches, but the constant among successful coaches and programs would be they can tell you their WHY.
Jim Boeheim has used a 2-3 zone defense, pretty exclusively, for decades. He has the ability to recruit players to fit his style, not a luxury for the vast majority of coaches out there. I have no doubt he can tell you Syracuse's WHY.
Mike Krzyzewski takes the philosophy of going out and getting the best players and then tailoring his systems to fit the players. His WHY could be so he can get the most out of the individual talents of his players.
Someone who runs the Triangle or Princeton offense is looking for, or looking to develop universal players who can pass/dribble/shoot and can play all 5 positions on the floor, with many chances within each system to take advantage of individual talents. Again coaches can adhere to the various ways of playing the game, they just need to be able to say WHY.
Is a coach's WHY constant and unchanging?
- I do not believe so....... If you run, for instance, a continuity offense without fail that was developed when the spacing of the floor and the shot-clock was longer or non-existent then perhaps you haven't considered WHY you are still playing that way. "This is the way we have always done it here...." does not suffice. Your WHY needs to be frequently reflected on, revised, and evolving. If you are playing FIBA rules and are running concepts based on a 30-35 second shot-clock then once again, your WHY should probably be revisited. IMPORTANT POINT - this does not mean what you are doing is necessarily wrong. It just means you need to be able to reflect and confirm you do
The concept and framework presented by Sinek speaks to thoughtful and reflective practice. The ability to self-evaluate the way you are running your basketball team is very important. This process can obviously be aided by having a strong coaching staff, or a mentor coach. People who will not just be 'Yes-People', always agreeing with what you say, but rather will challenge and seek explanations. The biggest trick and shift in attitude will be overcoming your own confirmation bias.
To conclude let's revisit Albert Einstein's definition of insanity....
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
Simon Sinek's TEDx talk from 2009, which has been viewed over 28,000,000 times!
Coach Matt - Father, Coach, Life Long Learner, Basketball Addict