Coaches and Trainers Why The Disconnect?

Our game as we know it has changed. Summer-club basketball rules grassroots basketball, pick up games at the parks are just about dead, and it seems like every player on the planet has a personal basketball trainer.

The basketball trainer has become a staple at the grassroots level. Like club basketball players with trainers barely existed 20 years ago and now has spread like wild fire. Basketball today is a year round business where players are trying to capture every edge that they can. High school coaches are just getting used to the fact that they need to interact with the summer coaches that their players play for now they have to add one more person to the mix.

It’s a very positive thing for players at the grassroots level to have a good skill development coach. A lot of trainers are high energy and tend to push the players that they work with. With the lack of skill development because of so many tournaments and showcases throughout the off season getting into the gym to work with anyone is a plus. Trainers usually put their clients through individual or group shooting workouts to sharpen their skills.

A trainer usually starts with their clients after the basketball season and runs all the way until their season starts back up in the late fall. Players work with them anywhere from 1-4 times a week depending on the cost and situation. The basketball trainer has become a very powerful force in grassroots basketball today.

In my experience there is a big disconnect between high school coaches and trainers in today’s game. Again this isn’t a reflection of every situation, just of many that I come into contact with attending camps and clinics all over the country. With high school coaches limited to the contact and interaction that they can have with their players during the off season, trainers tend to fill the void of resident guru to players and coaches.

Lack of Respect For One Another

Usually when I bring up the coach to the trainer or a trainer to the coach many times I get the same response from both parties. The coach doesn’t respect the trainer because they feel as though the trainer isn’t a real coach. They feel as though the only thing that is being taught is 1-on-1 moves to make them a better scorer.

Most coaches want their kids learning team concepts and want them spending less time working on their individual skills. Coaches feel as though trainers stroke their client’s ego instead of holding them accountable and pushing them. Very few high school coaches that I come in contact with have respect for trainers that work in skill development.

Trainers that I speak to tend to think that high school coaches don’t spend enough time during the season on skill development and spend too much time on team concepts. They tend to believe that if high school coaches were doing their jobs with player development that their players wouldn’t have to come to them.

Trainers tend to only see players by themselves getting shots up with them in their sessions. Since most trainers only deal with players on an individual basis that sometimes it’s hard for them to see what perspective their high school coaches sees them in.

Lack of Communication on Both Parties

I think the first problem that both trainers and high school coaches have is that they don’t communicate with one another. Just like anything else is when communication breaks down you tend to start hearing voices and seeing tigers on the wall.

As a high school coach you should take an interest in what your player is doing when they aren’t with you. Just like you would get scheduling information from your player’s club coach you should do the same with their trainer. Talk to the trainer on a regular basis and give them your feedback on your player that they are working with. Give them their strengths as well as weaknesses.

Give them an idea of how you want to use the player in your system on both ends of the court. It’s very healthy to start a dialogue with your player’s skill coach as they are a in some cases a big part of your player’s life and the both of you should communicate. Even if you don’t see eye to eye with the trainer’s methods it is good to talk to them to try to get on the same page.

As a trainer you live on referrals. Even if you don’t like a particular coach that coaches your client keeping in contact with them can only help your business. Take the initiative and call your client’s high school coach up to get feedback on their player in which you are working with. Get their take on how your client will be used and what you should be working with them on.

Just like anything else you may not see eye to eye, but you should get an idea on what the coach wants. Keep to your plan as far as what you want them to work on, but its very important that you get where the coach is coming from as well. If you ignore the coach and work on things that will only hurt the player then you aren’t looking out for your client. I think it’s very important to have a good relationship with as many high school coaches as possible as it could only help your training business.

In both cases I think both trainers and coaches should swallow their pride and extend an olive branch to the other. I think that by talking things out and attempting to get on the same page can only make things better for the player.

In closing I’d like to say that there is too much bashing going on behind the scenes. I think that grassroots basketball has so many moving parts that more people need to communicate with one another. Too many people in this business get territorial about things and tend to try to eliminate all comers but them.

There are some great high school coaches as well as bad ones. I know some great basketball trainers and also know some not so great ones. At the end of the day people should make the effort to get on the same page for the greater good of the player.

As a trainer you will encounter a lot of players and parents that want to vent about the high school coach. It’s easy to just go along with them and put your hat in the ring on the bashing session, but that doesn’t help anyone. Having this power means a lot of responsibility, parents and players will lean on you for advice. You should stress to them to talk out their issues with the coach and to get on the same page. As you know it is very hard for a parent to be impartial when dealing with their child. Obviously you want to back your client, but don’t be quick to get on the offensive.

As a high school coach you have to come to grips with the fact that the game is changing and there are a lot of people involved with the sport. Trainers are part of the landscape and you should get to know as many as possible to understand who are the good ones and not so good ones. Give your player options in the off season to better their game. You want to continue to build relationships and tear down walls, not build them in between trainers because they aren’t “coaches”.

You may not see eye to eye with people in the sport, but you can make an effort to do business with them as you are all in this business for the kids.


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