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Tuesday, April 29, 2014


With the passing of Dr. Jack Ramsay, I took the opportunity to read of my notes from one of my favorite books, "The Coach's Art" written by Coach Ramsay.  It is a timeless book that still holds tremendous advice for coaches on all levels.  This is Part I or two parts from only one of the chapters in the book titled: "The Team Game."

Coaching is a means of self-expression.  Successful coaches, like artist, have a characteristic style.  No coach lacking a firm sense of what he wants to accomplish through his team can succeed.
A coach’s personality, and hence the character of his team, is reflected in his philosophy of the game.
There are no original ideas left in basketball.
Determining his philosophy is, therefore, a coach’s primary task; he must decide, before anything else, what it is he wants to say of himself through the game.
A coach’s style will evolve.
Simply imitating the style of a successful coach is not the same thing as determining one’s own coaching philosophy.  Good coaching begins with self-scrutiny, which, in turn, leads to a selection of a playing style.
No team can win in any sport without skillful athletes.  Desire along can’t substitute for talent.  A highly motivated player with insufficient talent just can’t do the job, no matter how hard he tries.  However, a highly skilled but poorly motivated player can, with proper coaching, learn to integrate his skills into a team’s overall style of play.
The best attitudes in the world won’t help win ball games if they’re not accompanied by fundamental competence in the game.
Though they may play fewer minutes, the bench players are no less significant to the team than the starters.  Each player has personal needs to which the coach must be sensitive.
Setting attainable goals for each player is an essential part of good coaching.  Players need to know exactly what’s expected of them, both at practice and during games.  Defining the responsibilities of each position, and drilling the players in them, helps set reasonable goals.
A player who neither knows what is expected of him nor has had an opportunity to practice his position can’t perform well.
I don’t think personal goals beyond meeting the responsibilities of one’s playing position have much meaning in basketball.
Even high figures in apparently unselfish statistical categories can be misleading.
What finally matters is who wins and loses. And if we win, the team statistics will come out right.
When we do play well, I want the players to know that their efforts are appreciated.  I will praise them privately, before the team or in the press.  We all need a little recognition when we do something well.
It’s important to every player well. I have many conversations with each player during the season. It may be in an airport or on a bus, or in a hotel coffee shop.
In the course of a long NBA season, every player will make a significant contribution at one time or another, but keeping players ready who are seeing little action is not always easy.  Part of keeping a player ready is simply explaining to him the role he has one the team.  A good bench player knows what he’s supposed to do and why he’s doing it.  How to I keep the bench players ready?  I include everyone player in every game plan, first of all, reviewing the assignments and match-ups as thoroughly for the substitutes as for the regulars.
I also give the short-minute players extra attention in practice, working with them to improve their skills.  In practice the day after a hard game, particularly, the players who played least know they’ll have the hardest workout.
Coaching is a private act sometimes performed in public places.  Coaching in a game is only part of the job, but it’s the part that finally counts the most.
I hate to lose, but I know that one a game is over I have to put it out of mind in order to prepare for the next one.