Coaching Improvement: Keys to Effective On-Court Development

December 29, 2015

In my last post, I talked about the need for athletes to recognize mistakes and then quickly move on from them. I’ve found that teaching key points and offering questions that help determine whether the key point was properly executed helps players recover quickly and more effectively. By revisiting their key points, players can make quick corrections to their play.

Doc Rivers said that “good players want to be coached, and great players want to be told the truth.” One of the first steps to being an effective coach is offering actionable insights to your players that help them improve, and among the first steps for players to be “coachable” is a willingness to refer time and again to the key points of feedback received from the coach in order to continue to improve.

Improvement Plans

Defining key points is different for each player based on his or her strengths and weaknesses. Walking through an example — in this case, developing key points to improve a player’s shooting — is useful in showing you what I mean.

What would a set of key points and corresponding helpful questions look like for a player trying to improve their shooting accuracy?

Key Point #1: Double-step into your catch and stay low when you catch. Were you ready to shoot?

Key Point #2: Stay soft with your hands. Good shooters allow their power to come from their legs, and allow their hands to be their touch. Did you use your arms to get the ball to the basket?

Key Point #3: Find the rim with your eyes and go up over the front rim. Did you just look at whole basket or did you find the front rim? Did you go up over the front rim to allow for the right amount of arc?

Key #4: Focus on your follow-through. Did you follow through and snap your wrist? Did you use a “V” with your fingers to spin the ball?

Ingraining these key points and questions into your players’ minds will give them the tools to identify problems and self-correct on the court. Overall, encouraging players to turn their attention away from the miss or the make and focus on the fundamental techniques that define a successful shot will yield better results than a singular emphasis on shooting percentage.

Cases in point: Kyle Korver and Steph Curry, two of the NBA’s best-ever shooters. Korver’s obsession with his jump shot leads him to regularly refer to a 20-point checklist of mechanics, and Curry chalks up his success to constantly practicing a combination of “fundamental and extremely detailed footwork.”

The NBA’s best shooters refer back to their key points time and again to fine-tune their game. Kick the new year off right by incorporating key points into your coaching technique and watch your players take ownership of their own improvement.

Stay tuned each week for more coaching tips and insights into how to bring out the best in your players.