I remember starting out in coaching about 20 years ago. Wanting to learn form anyone that would talk to me about the game. Growing up the philosophy that I was taught was when you are young shut up and listen to others that have been there before. So many great teachers and people impacted my coaching development that I feel so blessed to come in contact with them.
For me, working camp throughout the summer was my best education. After a long days work, usually there would be a coaches get togethers talking about every aspect of the game. The night usually started with pizza and diet cokes and ended with 25 coaches huddled around a chalk board drawing up countless plays and drills. There were countless sleepless nights of talking to coaches and sharing information.
Back then it seemed like sharing information to help one another was something that was normal. It was a glorious time in the game as there was such a brotherhood to the profession that seemed to be there for one another. I remember the countless stories of older coaches telling their tales of going to games in the middle of nowhere to recruit players and seeing their competition in the stands. They would sit in the stands in the same section yucking it up throughout the night until the game was over. Each coach would give the recruit(s) their pitch and then they would all leave the gym. Later that evening they would meet up at the local watering hole and talk hoops until the place closed. Diagraming plays on napkins and rearranging salt & pepper shakers for effect. Even though they were enemies during games of the season they can always enjoy each others company and share their passion for teaching the game.
In present day you don’t hear stories like that any more. The act of sharing in our game isn’t extinct, but it’s cut down dramatically. It seems like circles in our game are a lot smaller for one reason or another. Before you would go to tournaments and events and coaches would speak well of each other. Now it seems like all you hear is gossip and negativity of others. I don’t know what fuels this talk as it could be jealousy, pressure, stress. I’m not saying that there us no more sharing or togetherness in our game, but it’s definitely depleted compared to where it used to be.
The only way young coaches can get better and mature is to learn from their peers and their elders in our game. There should be more coaching sit downs where coaches throughout the same leagues get together and share or form different leagues. There are no secrets in this game, everyone for the most part does the same things. Our teams all fall victim to the talent that we have.
Maybe with the emergence of social media and the internet there is more accountability and coaches feel the need to shelter themselves and get edges to continue in their profession. Maybe the younger generation of coaches are glued to the screens of their phones and don’t possess the social skills of the “characters” in coaching that we had in the 70’s, 80’s, & 90’s.
Coaching is a fantastic profession that should bring together people from all different backgrounds. The way that most coaches learned and got better was from the sharing of others. I hope it gets back to that time in which I grew up with. There are so many great teachers of the game out there and it would be a shame if there wasn’t an outlet where others can share from one another to continue the greatness of our game.