A Breakthrough Strategy: Getting Your Players to Think

Most coaches want their players to be highly responsive robots, which hardly prepares them for situations in which there's no coach to tell them what to do. Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson-he of 9, count 'em, 9 NBA titles-has long made it a point to not call timeouts during certain rough patches of games during the regular season (actually, he even did it in playoff contests during the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls days). His notion is that players learn how to work as a unit on the basketball court, overcoming, say, a run by the other team or severe defensive pressure.

Coaches should use sports as an opportunity to develop thinking skills. Coaches have thousands of opportunities to tell players what to do. Resist this temptation and look for opportunities to ask your players what they should do - this will improve their decision-making over time.

Adapted from "Positive Coaching in a Nutshell" by Jim Thompson.

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