skip navigation

Know What Matters When

By Joe Crispin, 09/07/17, 11:45PM EDT


When it comes to coaching and playing sports, I have always believed that true wisdom comes not in knowing a lot about a lot of things, but in knowing what few things bring you exponential benefit. 

Great coaching doesn't consist in sharing everything you know, but in knowing what you really need to share. Players can only handle so much. Try to give them too much and you end up giving them nothing at all. 

I understand the temptation. I know I know more than my players. I know I see things they can't really see or sense things they are not aware of. But how did I get such information? Why do I see things they don't? 

Because of my experience. Because I lived it. And because I made all the necessary mistakes to make that knowledge my own. 

There is more to it of course. There were times that coaches guided me on certain concepts and pointed me in a certain direction, but at the end of the day, the real reason I see things they don't is because I played long enough to live it. 

That's true for my college players. Now just imagine the 4th graders I am working with. I played 11 years of professional basketball and I have so much to share! But guess what? They don't really care and can't even comprehend 90% of what I would love to share with them, because when push comes to shove, they aren't even playing the same game. At least not yet. 

So I need to decide what matters. I need to help them take the next step. I can't be like many youth coaches who talk like college professors to kids who are in elementary school. Or worse, yell at such kids as if they can't understand why they can't handle high school material. 

Think about it: we don't throw algebra at 3rd graders. We decide what matters for their mathematical development and help them take the next step. And so it is with hoops. What's the next thing they need to know? And how can we best communicate it with them? What matters now?

It's probably simpler than you might think. But the tough part is, it probably requires you to be a lot quieter than you would like! 

Know what matters when. And keep that list short. Very short in order to help your youth players. Help them take the next step and they will be much more open to you when it is time to move on.