John Wooden’s coaching style is best one to follow

Posted Dec. 20, 2010, at 4:30 p.m.
Last modified Dec. 20, 2010, at 8:09 p.m.

Every basketball coach has their own coaching style. There are some “D1 Wannabe High School Coaches” who try to act like Division I college coaches by trying to work the officials, prancing up and down the coaching box and implementing a very physical and athletic game.

There are the John Wooden-style of coaches who are laid back, who do most of their coaching in practices, just call out offenses and defenses, call for timeouts and make substitutions.

There are coaches who are constantly yelling out instructions to their players — who cannot hear the coach or automatically tune the coach out most of the time.

There are coaches who are just supervisors of substitutions and who don’t do much of anything except yell, put in their subs and cheer from the sidelines.

I prefer the low-key, John Wooden-style who signals for certain plays, makes substitutions and calls timeouts. I always felt you should let the officials do their job and do your own job. Once a coach starts to worry about the officiating, then he is subject to poor coaching. You can’t do two very difficult jobs at the same time and be a very effective coach.

It has been said by some educators that you can tell a coach’s true personal character traits by the behavior of the players on the floor and on the bench. Some coaches turn into a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality when it comes to game-time coaching.

Coaches who constantly yell at their players for poor plays and still keep the player on the floor soon find out that the players really tune them out. As long as they remain on the floor, the players don’t really listen to the coaches’ rants and raves.

Coaches don’t have to yell and scream at players for poor play. Just use coach John Wooden’s best friend, the “Wooden Bench,” and that always gets their attention. No need to raise a coach’s blood pressure, so long as the players know why they are coming out of the game. Just have the assistant coach tell the players why they were taken out of the game.

Playing time is what players want, and reducing that is really the only thing that gets their attention. Coaches who bark all the time and never bite don’t fool their players. The only people they are really fooling are themselves if they think that their constant yelling at the officials and their players really pays big-time dividends.

Coaches should expect highly positive behavior during games from their players because they are representing themselves, parents and school. The coach should set the positive example that they want their players to demonstrate.

High school coaches should be teaching the life skills and life lessons that cannot be taught or learned in the academic classrooms, and they cannot do that if they do not set a positive example for their players to follow.

Coaches should expect their players to thank the officials when they receive the ball on all free throws and throw-ins and to get the ball for the official and hand it to them, not toss it.

Coaches should also expect their players to pick up an opponent from the floor. They should expect their players to play with little emotion so you wouldn’t know if the game was a one-pointer or a 20-point margin.

Coaches set the standards for their players by how they act on the sidelines. That positive style is a great one to follow.

Bob Cimbollek is a retired high school basketball coach and former high school and college basketball official.

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