Clarifying player roles is an essential part of your systems and strategies.
We know these roles aren’t permanent, they’re fluid. And as your team journeys through the season, roles will certainly evolve and grow.
As coaches we’ve wisely learned to ‘define’ player roles or tell players their “job.”
We say, “your job is to make open shots,” your job is to get offensive rebounds,” “your role is to push the tempo and facilitate the offense,” but we don’t always give them the how. As in, why it matters, when it matters, and “how” they play a role in the big picture.
John Wooden once stated, “You haven’t taught until they’ve learned.”
And as you define and communicate offensive and defensive roles including game and practice roles this season, make sure you also teach each role in its totality.
We preach the importance of individual roles large and small, but isn’t it true we don’t teach and coach every player (and every role) with the same amount of detail and enthusiasm?
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, we can’t tell players everything they need to do. We must also leave room for them to figure a few things out on their own.
Sometimes lessons learned from those moments are the stickiest.
But we should help them ask the right questions. Even if we don’t give them all the answers, we must have the answers. The how’s, when’s, and why’s are all part of the process and are too often left out of our teaching plans.
We want players to know and appreciate everyone’s roles, but we’ve merely created broad labels without fully developed applications and reasons.
We must grow our players’ understanding of the game so they can see how all the parts fit within the whole.
When this takes place, we put players on a path toward excellence and growth within their role as the season progresses.
Here are four questions every player needs answered (even if they aren’t asking them):
– What is my role within this offense/defense?
– Why is my role vital to our team’s success?
– Within our structure and system, how do I execute and where do I provide the most value?
– Within each possession when and how am I needed the most?
When we don’t answer these questions we leave room for interpretation and assume our players know they provide real value to the team.
Although we feel like we’ve communicated and defined roles, we take for granted the mindset each player needs to have, namely ‘my role matters.’ If they can understand the big picture they can begin to put the pieces of the puzzle together themselves.
And when players are the ones assembling the puzzle, we can rest assured “we’ve taught” because they’ve learned.