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  • Jack Fleming

Coaching: Learning Without Doing?

It’s possible.

But it’s unlikely that you learn how to coach really well in games by watching a lot of NBA basketball.

Or teach an athlete how to shoot.

Or teach a kid how to walk.

This is why university lectures suck.

You can try to learn with out doing. But why? — Seth Godin

What’s in your head?

What have you learned recently, that you need to go out and teach? To go out and experiment with?

How will you know what value your new information is if you don’t go out and try to use it?

Perfectionism is the Enemy of Productivity

“Perfection is the enemy of profit.” — Mark Cuban

Don’t feel that you have to understand something to the depth of an NBA coach to to teach it. The perfect opportunity doesn’t exist, if you have information to share or experiment with the time is now. The perfect opportunity is your ego protecting you, the feeling of potential failure. While you are gathering all the information in your head, somebody else is getting in the repetition teaching and course correcting along the way. Make decisions fast and firm, and correct as you go.

Disclaimer: by no means am I aggregating you turn your team into a science experiment and chop and change things every week. Be willing to take the leap on something you have learned and want to try. Consider low cost environments, not the championship game.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” — Chinese Proverb

Your current development in coaching is a reflection of your previous experiences, teaching and choices. If you want to accelerate, you’ll need to make some immediate choices to have more experiences right now. Consider your coaching like an apprenticeship, with more experiences comes greater clarity and conviction in what your beliefs are. Experience equals feedback, that is how you grow.

If I had have waited until I was an ‘expert, experienced coach’ to start a blog I would have been waiting 20 years! But because I started I have improved, grown and had so many great experiences by teaching and sharing.

“If we stop going, we stop learning… and if we’re not willing to keep learning, we should probably stop going.”

Best Environment for Experimental Teaching

1. Individual Workouts — just like you encourage your players to try something new, try and teach something new or a different way.

2. Team/Fundamental Warm Ups — in the first 15 minutes of practice, use a different method for teaching your skill package.

3. Coaches Coffee — something you have seen in a clinic or while watching basketball , teach it to your peers.

4. Writing articles — starting a blog has consolidated my learnings across countless experiences, by ‘teaching’ or sharing information with others. Write an e-mail about a topic about basketball and send it to your peers or players.

5. Tournaments — want to try a new offence or defence? New line up? Put it in the week at practice before as an experiment with your team. The consequences are very low, assuming that your seasonal competition is the main thing you’re playing for.

Create Your Own List to Expand Your Coaching Toolbox

Things I Have Learned About I Want to Teach/Experience

1. Pressure Denial Defence

2. 1–3–1 Zone

3. Spain Pick & Roll

4. Scram Switching

5. Teaching shooting from the ‘top down’ instead of the ‘bottom up.’

A coaching mentor once told me, there’s nothing worse than the asshole who has all the information in his head — but never shares it with anybody.

“Learn it one day, teach it the next.” — Peter Lonergan

You learn through doing.

It’s your story.

It’s up to you to write it.

Stop reading and start creating.

Want to Connect?

If you would like to continue the basketball conversation, provide your thoughts or ideas please message me on Twitter @jackfleming1 or e-mail me at

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