YouTube Won't Make You a Coach
When learning drills or plays from a brief YouTube video there is so much that is missing.
In a world where we seemingly have everything at our fingertips, it can be all too easy to rely on the internet to solve all of our problems. “Just Google it” or “I saw that on YouTube” are regularly uttered in our day-to-day lives. Unfortunately, the internet and its overwhelming abundance of resources/information cannot substitute real life experiences and interactions. Most of us can identify with this - many basketball players are kinesthetic learners and absorb information best from hands-on activities with specific instructions and feedback. As former players, many coaches are the same way. By simply watching a video with minimal instruction built around the focus of the drill, how effective can coaches really be introducing the drill, providing feedback or making adjustments? Furthermore, what do our players gain from merely imitating a drill described to them second hand?
Where are we going with this? While they may provide you with ideas or inspiration, watching YouTube coaching videos won’t make you a coach. There is nothing wrong with accessing many of the great online resources out there for basketball coaches, but there is so much lost when watching YouTube videos to inform yourself as a coach.
Here are some things to consider when you go searching online for that next coaching gem:
More than just learning the drill.
That drill you've finally found online after hours of searching, may look great when demonstrated by a university team and you may even learn it well enough to get your young team to run it at your next practice ... but what are you looking for when they run it? What fundamentals need to be emphasized for it to be run correctly? How can you “load” or “unload” the drill to make it more effective or appropriate for your team? What should be taught BEFORE you actually run the drill? Are the players developing their decision making ability in this drill or is it simply to get repetitions and build base fundamental skills? There is so much more to simply “running” a drill you've seen on the internet.
There is conflicting information on just about everything you find online.
Many new coaches may not be able to decipher between how to teach certain skills or drills when their online search comes up with conflicting information. Sometimes the conflicting information is just minor and does not really impact what is being taught, however, there are other instances when it really does matter. As a coach you must understand the implications of teaching certain fundamentals especially to younger athletes. Players will form habits and as a coach you want to make sure they are forming the best possible habits to give them them the greatest opportunity for success down the road.
The scope and role of a coach is much larger than drills, skills and plays.
How do you engage the 'disinterested' player on your team? How do you manage parent expectations? How do you foster a team-first culture? How do you create accountability within your team? How do you help your players grow into becoming better people off the court through the lessons learned on the court? These are just a few of the many questions that are not easily answered in a well-edited YouTube video clip. We would argue that these types of questions are the most important ones when it comes to developing your own coaching philosophy. If you jump right to YouTube to inform your practice planning before you’ve established your “coaching voice” and philosophy as a coach then you are missing out on the greater role of the coach.
Now that we've identified some potential problems with relying too heavily on YouTube as your source for all things basketball, we will offer some alternative solutions or tips when engaging with online resources. Here is what we would suggest for coaches looking to grow in their knowledge and understanding of the game:
Identify your need.
You must identify the need or goal BEFORE perusing the millions of video clips available. What is the specific area of need or skill development you would like to address? This approach will help you weed out many of the drills or instructional videos that don’t directly apply to meeting the goal you’ve set out for that specific area of instruction. Do not simply go looking for drills to fill an opening in your practice. Being more intentional with your search will help prevent you from getting caught in the abyss of suggested or “up next” videos on the right hand side of the screen, or worse selecting a drill because it looks “cool” yet does not address the specific area you originally set out for.
Not all YouTube channels are created equal.
Similar to doing academic research, one must attempt to distinguish between credible and not-so credible resources. This does not mean the person conducting the video must have won 5 NBA Championships or played 15 years of professional basketball to be credible (oftentimes it's actually quite the opposite). Look beyond the fancy editing and shiny gym to see if they are explaining why a drill is performed and what fundamentals or skills should be emphasized throughout the progression of the drill. YouTube channels that specialize in youth development are a good place to start. Properly executing a drill with 12/13 year olds on your house league team may prove to be quite the challenge if you are extracting your resources from an NCAA Division 1 coach that is assuming many of the basic skills and fundamentals have already been acquired because s/he is dealing with elite level players. A good instructional video (especially for youth basketball) will provide the goals for a given drill/play, put it in a game context, and also explain what the coach should be looking for when it is run.
Do your homework, and maybe seek out a mentor.
Lastly, our advice would be to seek out a coaching mentor, attend an in-person coaching clinic or at least start to write down some of your coaching questions (technical, philosophical or otherwise). The best answers as a coach come from well-thought out questions that will direct your coaching practice. Having a more experienced coach come out and work with you in a practice setting is an invaluable experience that will help you understand how a practice should flow, when specific drills should be woven into a given practice structure, when a drill should be stopped for correction and when it should be allowed to continue despite mistakes, how to properly “load” or “unload” a drill to meet the needs of your specific team, etc.
So next time you feel the urge to run to YouTube to build your coaching repertoire perhaps think about some of the questions we’ve raised in this post. YouTube and other online coaching resources can be of great value if used in moderation and with a discerning approach. Blindly executing drills you learned on the internet will not provide your players with the necessary understanding for the greater purpose of the drill and will result in you running back to the well of endless YouTube drills in order to keep things fresh and fill those gaps in your practices. Understanding and being able to teach the fundamentals in everything you do as a team will help you maximize the return on your investment in terms of learning new things on the internet. Lastly, the technical side of coaching is often over-emphasized and romanticized especially by coaches that love talking about x’s and o’s (please see this short clip for more insight on this). In the end, Theodore Roosevelt said it best, “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Establish your overarching coaching philosophy then get down to the technical side of the game.
If you have questions about anything we’ve covered in this post or would like more guidance as to how to best inform your coaching practice, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Thanks for reading!