Bill Walsh on Teaching and Player Development

These notes on Bill Walsh’s Philosophy are from Bob Starkey’s Basketball Coaching Blog,

Coach Starkey said, “The following comes from one of the absolute best coaching books I’ve every read, Finding the Winning Edge by Bill Walsh. I agree that it is one of the best coaching books I have read as well.

Drive the players to concentrate. Be assertive in your insistence that they focus on the task at hand.

Individualize your teaching approach to fit certain individuals, when necessary. Give extra time to those players who need it.

Be as precise as possible when teaching. Always use the system’s terminology as a common language.

Be patient, but demanding. Require your players to adhere to proper techniques at all times.

Teach the skills progressively. Adhere to a systematic methodology of teaching that allows the players to improve and enhances their level of confidence in your competence and professionalism.

Keep your finger on the pulse of the situation. Be alert to the intensity level of the players. Be sensitive to signs of those factors which can affect the learning curve. Never overlook the fundamental reality of the teaching axiom, “quality repetitions are the mother of all learning.”

Keep the meetings quality, not quantity, oriented. Use a variety of learning tools to enhance the learning environment and to help stimulate the players’ level of concentration and focus.

Demonstrate the highest level of knowledge about the subject matter being taught.

Teach the players in a professional manner. Unless you’re trying to elicit a specific emotional response from your players, refrain from screaming and demonstrative behavior. Keep in mind that such behavior seldom, if ever, enhances the learning curve particularly if the subject matter involves technical information.

Evaluate the players’ performance on a daily basis to ensure that they are progressively mastering the techniques required to perform the tasks they are assigned in an effective and efficient manner.

Rapidity is the essence of war; take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attach unguarded spots.

Another teaching technique that has proven to be very effective is to have players emulate the techniques and actions of other athletes. For example, if players watch videos showing Jerry Rice run a particular pattern in a certain way, you (as the head coach) can single out and stress particular coaching points, by using Rice as the case in point.

All factors considered, players tend to respond more favorably to an actual visual representation of a particular teaching point than to tan abstract illustration of that point drawn up on a chalkboard or written up in a playbook. This learning technique is typically referred to as “modeling.”

“Win the war, then win the fight.”

And, a few more notes from Bill Walsh on Decision Making

A big part of coaching is the ability to make decisions.  When you think about it, coaches have numerous decisions that they must make on a daily basis.  All are relevant to our programs though certainly some are more important than others.  Here is a great list of thoughts in regard to decision making from Bill Walsh from his book “Finding The Winning Edge.”

-One of the main attributes a leader must have is the ability to discriminate from what is often contradictory information. In this matter, it takes a thorough understanding of the situation and of the sources of information to act effectively.

-Decision making involves more risk and responsibility than any other managerial activity. The work of problem analysis and evaluation can be delegated to others in the organization, but the responsibility for decision making is ultimately assigned to one individual. Choosing among various alternatives often demands courage and moral judgment, as well as intelligence.

-Effective decision making is vital to the growth of any organization.

-Toward that end, there is a series of questions that you should address when making a decision, including:

  • What difference does it make what course of action you decide to adopt?
  • Do you have sufficient information to fully analyze the issue/matter under consideration?
  • If you are lacking essential information, do you know how to get it?
  • How critic al to implementing your decision is its acceptance by those who will be affected by it?
  • To what degree does the commitment of others to your decision depend on their active participation in the decision-making process?
  • Is everyone affected by your decision in general agreement with its basic objectives?
  • To what degree will those who will be affected by your decision disagree over possible alternative solutions?
  • Do the individuals involved in your decision have the capability to implement the decision as planned?

– An educated guess is just as accurate and far faster than compiled errors. – George Patton

You can click the link below to find out more about the book:

Bill Walsh: Finding the Winning Edge

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