Great Coaches Are Great Demonstrators

Great Coaches Are Great Demonstrators

by Allistair McCaw

Allistair McCaw

Back in 2013, I was invited to attend a 3-day basketball clinic held at the Nike headquarters in Portland, Oregon. It was a coaching clinic for mostly coaches of high school and colleges.

Besides not being the most ‘gifted’ or skilled person in basketball, among other things, we were put through a series of drills and exercises on the court. The reason being, so that we (as coaches) had a deeper understanding of what the drill or exercise feels like. It’s important that we have a better insight of what the athlete will experience learning that particular skill. Also we need to be able to demonstrate it well enough.

I’ve always believed that as coaches we need to be able to demonstrate and relate to what we are teaching. That doesn’t mean we need to be Steve Nash or Kobe out there, but it is important to demonstrate to the athlete what we want to see.

What struck me most, was how well some of these coaches could shoot, dribble and play. Also, just how detailed they were on getting the technique 100% right. They asked for guidance from the clinic instructors over and over. These coaches were scholars of the game and like great athletes who stay after practice to get better, so too do great coaches.

Great coaches are great demonstrators. They don’t only bring their message across in a simple and well understood way, but they can demonstrate well what they expect from their players.

This is definitely one distinct advantage good level ex athletes and players have, an ability to demonstrate the specific drills and technique well.

In my own time, I often pull out some cones or bits of equipment to work on drills and exercises I know I will be showing my athletes that week. I must add that it is usually far away from the crowd and watching eyes!

I just believe that as a coach, I can and have to be better in demonstrating, not just instructing. Great coaches are well prepared, just like a professor or teacher takes a class of students, they do their preparation and homework before hand.

Any athlete will tell you, especially the higher you climb the ladder in level of athlete you are working with, that if you can demonstrate well, you are respected even more. We also need to remember that athletes learn a lot quicker visually (being shown) than verbally (spoken).

Coaches, how must practice do you put into the drills and exercises you demonstrate (or don’t demonstrate) to your athletes? Are you investing that time to better your own skills?

What does it cost to invest 20 minutes a week in getting better in some exercises or drills you frequently use?

All great coaches are well prepared and are great demonstrators.