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Is a coach a guru?

Posted by Trish18 on May 1, 2006 11:23:00 AM



(A great essay on the role of basketball coaches by guest blogger Coach Brian McCormick)




While reading If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him!, I came across this passage:


"The teaching mission of the guru is an attempt to free his followers from him."

The teaching mission of a coach is similar. Unfortunately, coaches coach in a manner that makes players need the coach more, not less. A teacher prepares his students for a test and trusts his efforts result in an understanding of the curriculum and a passing grade.




A coach, however, prepares players for a game, yet fails to free his players, choosing instead to dictate the game through his use of set plays, timeouts, changing defenses, etc. The players lose imagination and creativity because they must play within the rules defined by the coach or the coach may choose to bench the insubordinate player.




True teachers teach the game and the skills necessary to succeed while playing basketball and allow the players opportunities to make decisions that directly influence the outcome of the game. While the teaching is sometimes lost because we do not see the coach actively directing the action during the game, the well-coached team plays as though a coach is superfluous.




In the NBA, the Suns Mike D'Antoni allows his players this freedom. In college basketball, Coach K likely comes closest, as he appears to run fewer set plays and allow his playmakers to make plays and find the open man.




Coaches are nervous when relinquishing power and control to the players. They fear what may happen. If the players fail, the coach is often blamed for his lackadaisical approach or his lack of discipline. If the players succeed, they believe the coach is unnecessary, and he may lose some of his authority, or an outsider may imagine how much greater the team would be with more control and direction.




In our society, we de-value the coach who empowers his athletes fully, and thus our athletes are unable to fully realize the life benefits of playing sports. Coaches do not coach in an attempt to free the players of their constant commands, but to heighten the need for the coach's omnipotence.




(Brian McCormick, CSCS, a basketball trainer, coach and writer in Sacramento. Visit to purchase his recently published book, Cross Over: The New Model of Youth Basketball Development or for more information.)




Also check out the basketball message boards to see what other members of the eteamz community are

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