Head Men's Basketball Coach – Pratt Cannoneers
I just registered for the 2015 Bob Walsh Dynamic Leadership Academy on June 8-9. It will be the second straight year that I’ve attended. Last year’s Academy, held on the campus of Walsh’s former employer, Rhode Island College, taught me countless valuable items that I was able to bring back to Bard and suggest to Coach Turner for implementation into our team and culture.
I look forward to this year’s lineup of speakers and highly recommend the two-day interactive course for any coach, especially young ones like myself.
There are too many things in my notes from last year to list them all, but I wanted to highlight some of what I felt were the most poignant ideas that I took home last summer.
Coach Walsh, who was just beginning his tenure as the new head coach of the University of Maine men’s basketball team opened the Academy with a discussion of Cultivating Leadership. Walsh asked, “Could your players define leadership?” He emphasized that buzzwords like leadership, toughness, chemistry and intensity were thrown around a lot, but significantly less effective if they are not given defined values. For example, replace “We’ve got to be tougher” with “Tough players do not get screened” and potentially show a video of players melting on screens and other fighting through them.
Another great suggestion Coach Walsh had was to make responsibility tangible. A strong example was Silent Days, a tactic Phil Jackson used to use. These days stress the importance of communication by not allowing players to talk during drills. It becomes very clear, very quickly, just how integral the responsibility of talking on the court actually is.
I thought Seton Hall Athletic Director Pat Lyons made some very interesting point about leadership, including encouraging coaches to empower players to lead themselves and their teammates and figuring out when to get involved and when not to, an underrated aspect of developing leadership.
Former Rutgers and Robert Morris head coach Mike Rice was very honest, upfront and forthright about his past experiences in coaching, be them tactics that have worked or those that may have led to some issues. Coach Rice believed that “players must be comfortable in chaos” and therefore would ensure that his players trained in chaos, making it even more challenging than a game. What does chaos entail? Making practices and conditioning into loud, hectic atmospheres that replicate hostile away gyms.
Coach Rice also gave an incredible perspective on what it was like coaching at the highest level of college basketball and gave incredible insight into the day-long discussion of player treatment. Can you treat #12 the same as #1? Do you have to change the way you treat a 20 point, 12 rebound player in different aspects of coaching him?
Providence radio personality Dan York gave a very different perspective from those that are roaming a college sideline. The biggest thing I took from York was “If I say it, you doubt it. If YOU say it, YOU believe it.” Asking questions can be an incredible tool to sell and convince others.
The last speaker was Brown University head coach Mike Martin. Martin definitely touched on leadership and culture building in his program, but he catered to the younger assistant coaches in the crowd and gave the seven things that head coaches value most. These are imperative in order to sell yourself when applying for the next job, but mostly to ensure that you are the best possible assistant coach and helping your current boss and team as much as possible. I try to look over Martin’s suggestions at least once a month to make sure that I am doing as great of a job as I know I am capable of.
I will try to do a blog in the next few days just about Coach Martin’s seven most valued things and be sure to check back in mid June for a recap of the 2015 Bob Walsh Dynamic Leadership Academy.