4 Critical Words For Better Game Coaching, Inattentional Blindness, Car Accidents, and Dancing Bears

Check out this video from Bob Bigelow’s Coaching Youth Basketball.

It could be one of the most important videos you watch on game coaching.

You will find out how a common coaching mistake with good intentions could actually be making your team much worse.

As Bob mentions in the video, there has been a trend over the last few decades. It's where coaches stand up more often during games.

Personally, he even told me that if you watched the former coaching greats, you’d rarely see them stand during games. When games started to be broadcasted on TV, for some reason, coaches started to stand more often.

As Bob says, you could be costing yourself and your team by standing up.

You shout out instructions 5 to 10 times more when standing compared to sitting on the bench.

You see the game better when standing. Since you see things better, you see all of the mistakes.

You also can see what the kids on the floor can’t see.

And if you talk too much, you can create hesitant kids who don’t know how to process the game without your coaching. They don’t know how to problem solve.

4 Critical Coaching Words For Better Game Coaching

As Bob says, rather than immediately criticizing players for something they missed, ask the player, “What did you see?”

And this will allow you to make corrections based on what the kids see.

And no players can see all of the possibilities... even the best pros miss plays.

Inattentional Blindness, Missing Open Plays, and Car Accidents

Bob mentions another reason that players will miss plays.

This is when a player might be looking in the direction of a play, but he may not actually SEE or PROCESS the play to make the correct decision.

This is due to Inattentional Blindness.

According to Scholarpedia, “Inattentional blindness is the failure to notice a fully-visible, but unexpected object because attention was engaged on another task, event, or object.”

It’s similar to this.

You’re driving in your car. You glance up in your rearview mirror and you see two cars almost smash into each other.

Your eyes are still forward. However, your attention is on the rearview mirror for a second.

Then you put your attention back to the cars in front of you... And oh crap! There’s a car really close and their brake lights are on. You either smash into their backend or you have a frightful few seconds as you avoid the accident.

It wasn’t like your eyes weren’t looking in that direction. It’s just that your focus was elsewhere… on the maniac or maniacs driving behind you.

This is what your players will experience on the court. They may be looking in the direction of the open player. However, they see and focus on something else. Maybe it's two defenders flying at him or her. So they miss the open teammate cutting through the lane.

Watch this video to test your awareness!

Kind of funny, right? But that’s inattentional blindness.

I’ve definitely been guilty of correcting players too much while they were on the court, especially early in my coaching career.

However, if you yell every time your players miss a play, you will increase their stress levels and cause them to miss even more open plays.

That’s because stress has the opposite effect. It will actually narrow their vision even more.

Additionally, it can make them hesitant because they’re scared to make a mistake. So even if they do see the play, their fear of failure will cause them to miss the opportunity. They simply react too slowly because they don’t want to screw up and let you down.

So as Bob says, always ask “What did you see?”

Kids don’t purposely make the wrong play.

Youth Coaching Solutions and Resources:

Youth Basketball DVDs - Learn The Proper Skills, Drills, Progressions, & Coaching Style To Use With Youth Players

Coaching Youth Basketball - Philosophy, Motivation, Leadership, Player Development, Skills, Practice Planning, Drills, Plays, and More

Coaching Basketball - Game Strategy and Situations

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Jim Dolan says:
12/28/2016 at 11:35:24 AM

I will definitely take Bobs advice seriously and stop standing throughout games and by Asking "What did you see" more often. Thanks, coach Dolan 7th grade boys.


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