6.17 Always Assess Coaching in Its Context

This is Chapter 6.17 of the e-book Complex Basketball Coaching.

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Almost all media attention is geared towards a small portion of basketball: NBA, Euroleague, NCAA men’s D1, Olympic games, national men’s leagues. This makes us forget how varied the coaching contexts actually are. For example:

  1. Diana is an NBA head coach. She has an army of assistants to run a practice for a dozen millionaires in a state-of-art facility.
  2. Elina coaches 20 eight-year-olds on an outdoors court where there is no rim at the other basket. It’s starting to rain. She is the head coach simply because she has no assistants.

How can you tell whether it’s Diana or Elina coaching more effectively?

When put this way – explicitly – the question should sound absurd. Certainly you can’t tell. The two coaches’ performances can’t be compared because the contexts are so different.

Yet implicitly, we tend to ignore this. Implicitly, we set the criteria of effective coaching based on high-performance contexts. We may even say that the currently hot NBA or WNBA coach is the best coach in the world.

You do better, Coach. Always assess coaching in its proper context. This regards your own coaching but also that of the others. Apply the relevant criteria – and only them.

Remember, there is no such thing as the best coach in the world, in the country, or even in your region. Rather there are coaches doing more or less effective jobs in wildly varied contexts. The publicity they meet says close to nothing about their effectiveness.

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