One thing to keep in mind when coaching elite athletes: The best want to get better. Rarely are they complacent or satisfied with where they are. This is a significant part of what makes them the best. They take pride in their craft.
There is a great article at Training Ground Guru about Rene Meulensteen’s coaching process with some of the best players in the world that illustrates this point. Meulensteen served as the “skill development coach” at Manchester United under Ferguson. He was hired to improve the skills of the first team which employed some of the best players in the game.
Continue reading “The Best Want to Get Better”
Weekend links to sports and money:
Nadal at the French Open The New Yorker
Confidence is crucial for any athlete, but especially a tennis player. After all, he or she has no one else to turn to. The place to look is always inward. It’s existential. Tennis players call it belief, and they talk about it, mostly to themselves, all the time.
Conflict Management The Blizzard Football Quarterly
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Success Equation: Skill Plus Luck
Have you read Michael Maboussin’s book —The Success Equation?
I have been reading different Michael Maboussin for a long time. He is a very successful investor who often writes about luck and its impact on investing and sports.
I find the intersection of these two disciplines fascinating.
Well, he is back out with another persuasive article. This time Maboussin presents compelling information on the need for more and more luck as the skill level of competitors increases. If skill intensifies in a discipline than we find ourselves back in a dynamic in which luck comes into play.
He calls this the “paradox of skill”:
“..This is one of the lessons of the paradox of skill. Getting better in an absolute sense doesn’t matter if it’s offset by the competition. Hitters today are much better than they were in the past, but so are the pitchers. The improvement is obscured by the interaction”
The article also touches briefly on Anders Ericcson work on deliberate training
. Basically he is reminding us that the increase in skill is due to a tremendous increase in training.
The entire article is worth your time. You can read it article here.
(The Coaching Conversation is an affiliate of amazon.com)
The Guardian looks at the remarkable coaching job Gregg Poppovich has done with the San Antonio Spurs this year. Tim Duncan, one of best and most consistent players in the history of the league retired this year. Most franchises would be expected to have a down season, but the Spurs continued to excel.
Popovich has won NBA coach of the year just three times in his 21 seasons. Likewise, LeBron James has only been deemed league MVP four times in 14 seasons and isn’t even a finalist for the award this year. Both men are so consistently excellent that there’s an urge among voters to almost punish them for it and feel the need to honor some other coach or player this year because surely Pop and LeBron will have more opportunities to win individual awards down the road. But if all was fair, each man would have double-digit trophies and no one could rightly complain. Maybe the better idea is to just name the NBA’s coach of the year award the Pop Trophy and then it won’t matter who they give it to.
Poppovich is one of my favorite coaches of all time. I’ve written about him before here and here.
I’ve watched a little of the NCAA basketball tournament this year and read quite a bit about the teams, women’s as well as men’s, that are playing. Two things have stood out to me. One is the tremendous importance of mental toughness in making it deep into the tournament. The other, just how significant a role fundamentals play in getting to the next level. Standing out matters to kids and parents, but you really need to be well versed in the fundamentals to be great.
This week’s links focus in on these two factors beginning with the tremendous resilience shown by the Mississippi State women’s team. We also see the focus on fundamentals and the mental toughness of perennial contender UNC men, who won their game by rebounding well when all else was failing them.
On to the links…
March Madness Mental Toughness
Continue reading “Weekend Links: March Madness Requires Mental Toughness”
Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner, recently endorsed the idea that we will see women coaching in the NBA.
Specifically that there will be a female head coach in the NBA.
The key, he states, is to create a pipeline by which women have the relevant experience.
“There definitely will,” Silver said about female head coaches. “And I think it is on me to sort of insure that it happens sooner rather than later.”
“I would make all the same points in terms of being a head coach in the NBA that there is no physical reason why women can’t officiate in the NBA,” Silver added. “I think it is more a function of the fact that they haven’t been in the pipeline to become NBA officials.”
Of course this means there may not be a woman for some period of time. But some women are getting closer to the qualifications.
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March Madness: Trusting the Process
Trusting the Process (Pac 12 News)
That, says Neighbors, was the moment he decided to do the unthinkable for a coach – banish goals. Goals, he reasons, are limiting and the Huskies had no need to go further once they reached the goal they had set many months before of reaching the NCAA tournament.
Washington in the NCAA Tournament (ESPN)
Elite Eight 2017 (CBS Sports)
Xavier’s Run to the Elite 8 (SB Nation)
South Carolina Coach Bonds with Young Reporter (Yahoo Sports)
“He’ll be back? I got to tell you now, when that young man asked the question he asked yesterday, I’m not trying to get any national attention on this, my SID told me that it’s become like a story,” Martin continued. “I wish I could express myself like that when I was his age. That was, I’m telling you, that is as articulate and good a question as I’ve been asked all year. That was powerful stuff.”
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Dave Wright, editor of the Player Development Project, posted an interview with Dane Coles from the New Zealand rugby team the All Blacks.
The two discuss his player development journey, focusing on the benefits of free play versus coach led training and the role of the coach and teammates in development.
How much of your development as a young player was coach led versus free play?
I was quite lucky really, my old man coached a fair bit and we had another good coach called Ray Hayward. There were elements of coaching, but they kept things pretty basic. Looking back, I think playing with so many of my good mates probably had a bigger influence on me than the coaches. It was mainly about going out and enjoying yourselves and playing with your friends, but my Dad and Ray were a pretty good coaching team. In my last year of school we managed to win division three and they guided us along the way; we had a fantastic team culture.
I’ve written about this topic a few times, but I think it bears repeating. Many successful athletes extol the importance of free play versus coach led training early in their development. Free play encourages love of the game, improves creativity and problem solving, and develops skills that will be valuable off the field as well.
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