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Friday, February 8, 2008

Bobby Knight Resigns

Robert Montgomery Knight is known for his shocking moments. This week he added to those moments by abruptly resigning as Head Basketball Coach at Texas Tech University. Many people speculated that Coach Knight was near the end of his coaching career, but no one expected it to happen with games left in the 2007-2008 season. He has said he is tired of coaching and right now seems like the perfect opportunity to let his son start his head coaching career.

Bobby Knight is the winningest coach is Division I college basketball. He has won 3 national championships. He has won an Olympic gold medal. When it comes to college basketball coaching Bobby Knight has done it all. He was an innovator of many concepts used by the majority of coaches. Most of his unique ideas came in the area of man to man defense, but he was also one of the first coaches to use the motion offense.

Of course, all of Coach Knight's accolades and accomplishments are overshadowed by his outrageous temper. His temper got him in trouble on and off the court. Although, I would argue while he was on the court he used his temper in a controlled way to motivate his players and to intimidate officials. Knight's temper did get out of control on a few occasions though. He is not one to be disrespected. Bobby was never one to let things slide by him or to just ignore little things. That is one reason why he was such a great coach, but also why he got in trouble often.

I am a lifelong Indiana University fan. I grew up watching Indiana basketball and Bobby Knight. It was my dream to play for him. So, I am little bit biased towards him. I have his book "Knight-My Story" and he puts his own spin on events that have happened to him. I love the book though. He is a master of human psychology. He wanted to break every player down and build them into a great competitor just like the military does. Knight started off his coaching career at West Point so that is probably the basis of that technique.

As a coach myself, I hope Bob Knight is remembered for his whole coaching career and not just his worst moments. If you judge any persons' life on their worst moments then everyone will appear to be less than admirable. I will remember Bob Knight for getting the most out of his players, on and off the court. He admitted in his book that he often skipped classes at Ohio State, but he checks to make sure his players went to class everyday. He did not want his players to make the mistakes he did. I know I will always think of Coach Knight as one of the greatest coaches of all-time. He won championships without ever breaking a single recruiting violation. Today, that is unheard of in major college basketball. Coach Bob Knight is a coaching legend and he should be remembered for that.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Moral Victory-Does It Exist?

The common definition of the moral victory is losing the competition, but feeling as though you won. A moral victory might be forcing a more talented team to their limits and almost winning the competition with less skillful players. Most people do not believe in the moral victory. They will say that you either win or you lose, there is no middle ground.

I have always been ultra competitive. I want to win no matter what. There was nothing worse in life than losing a competition in my mind for many years. If someone told me "good job" after losing a game, they might as well have been spiting in my face. It insulted me. I did not believe you could have done a "good job" if you had lost a game. The game did not have to be very significant. The game could be as small as a friendly game of miniature golf. I wanted to win!

Now, I am a coach. I still have the competitive drive to win. It might be even greater now than ever before. The will to want to win can numb you or worse it can blind you. It can numb you during stressful situations because you are focused on winning instead of doing what it takes to win. Wanting to win can blind you by overlooking mistakes because of the fact you won. That is being results oriented. The mind is trained to be results oriented. If you have good results, you must have done things correctly. Then, you repeat what things you did to get good results. Most times in life, being results oriented is incorrect. You must examine if you did things correctly or if you got lucky.

A coach cannot be results oriented. If you are coaching a less talented team, you will not make any progress by just looking at the win-loss column. If you are coaching an extremely talented team, you will overlook mistakes and that will probably lead to your failure down the road. So, you are not supposed to be focused on results...what should you concentrate on then? Every person in a competition should be playing against the game itself instead of their opponent(s).

The athlete should be trying to play the perfect game. They should be concentrating on their fundamentals. The athlete should be trying to execute at a higher level than they ever have before. The basketball player should be focused on footwork, passing, dribbling, shooting, and playing defense without making mental errors. Physical errors will happen in any sporting event. Mental errors do not have to happen.

The coach should be closely watching each athlete. The coach must watch for fundamental mistakes and mental errors. If an athlete is out of position, it might not cost the team immediately but at some point it will come back to haunt them. Ther time it bites you could be when you cannot afford it like at the end of a tied game.

Do I believe in the moral victory? I do believe in the moral victory, now. I believe it is rare though. A moral victory would include playing a near perfect game at near the team's potential. Both of those things are extremely rare. I do not believe anyone can achieve their full potential because you can always improve. It is just like giving 100%. It is impossible to give your full 100% in a sporting event. You might be able to get to 90% for a short time, but it's not sustainable. So, I do believe in the moral victory, but only on specific occasions.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

What Makes a Good Youth Coach?

Go to any youth sporting event and you will see it from grade school to high school. It is hurting today's youth more than they know. What is it? Out of control youth coaches. The out of control coach wants to win at all costs. They do not allow the lesser players to participate and they verbally abuse the players that get to participate.

So, what makes a good youth coach? It starts with their outlook on the game and life. Competitiveness is an important part of sports, but it is not the only part. No one cares if you won the Little League state championship when you were twelve years old during a job interview.

Youth coaches should, instead, focus on playing the game the right way. The right way being the fundamentally sound way. Athletes are made from the ground up. If the athlete does not get taught how to do basic skills, they will never be able to progress. For example, in basketball, coaches should be teaching the young athlete to dribble, pass, and shoot without making mistakes. When they do make mistakes they should be corrected immediately. Overcoming mistakes is a huge part of sports and young athletes need to understand that.

A good youth coach will combine teaching fundamental skills with teaching life lessons at the same time. They have to take their knowledge of the sport and mix it into a "big picture" perspective. Today's youth are more protected and shielded from reality than generations before. Most young athletes lack mental toughness. Athletes can be taught mental toughness and fortitude, but it is a slow process. Verbal abuse is not the best medicine. Constructive criticism should be given, but you must be aware of how the athlete reacts to the criticism. No one likes to hear criticism. As you grow up, it is important to learn to accept criticism and not to take it personally.

If coaches ignore the score and try to get young athletes to compete against the game itself, it will benefit everyone greatly. I'm not saying wins and loses should not be recorded. Score should still be kept in sporting events. Winning at all costs should not be the motivation of coaches though. Youth coaches should put their effort towards getting the athletes to play the game correctly and to the best of their ability.