Developing Players Beyond the Game

A few weeks ago, I was able to hear Rob Ketterling speak about his book, Change Before You Have To. He shared a story of when he began to realize his physical health was slipping. In his next doctor’s appointment, he told his doctor to treat him like he just had a life threatening heart attack. He wanted to take prevented action steps before anything devastating happened. While this is a great message and an inspiring thought, it was a minor note in his presentation that caught my attention in regards to coaching. He was giving a room full of pastors some “change before you have to” steps in regards to church operations. One of his suggestions was to continually develop leaders and prepare them for greater roles in the future rather than limit them to an individual talent. Prepare them to be in charge one day.

I started to think about the last time I tried to prepare current players for a possible future as a coach. Most coaches were once players. Some played beyond high school, others did not. And while we observed coaches while we were playing, I don’t think it’s too common for coaches to develop future coaches. What are some ways we can prepare our players in the case that one day they end up being coaches?

This can be a valuable way to further mentor players. Earl Watson of the Portland Trailblazers was recently quoted regarding the way he was mentored by the coaching staff this season.

"This is the only coaching staff that actually prepared me to coach," Watson said. "Like, every day they would quiz me. Every day they would push me. Every day they would teach me. They kind of held me accountable for that next step in life. They did a good job, all of them, each and every one, of preparing me for that next step."

While most high school players are not mature enough to step into a leadership position directly after graduation, we can still give them valuable lessons on how a coach sees the game and what a coach values in their decision making. Our job is to assist in the transition from adolescence to adulthood through the game of basketball. Limiting this to physical performance would be limiting our potential as coaches.