The Coaching Connection

Beyond the Game: Perpetual Revelation

Jim Burson blog: The Coaching Connection; Beyond the Game: Perpetual Revelation; www.JimBurson.com

El Castillo, the Kukulkan Temple of Chichen Itza; Mayan pyramid in Yucatan, Mexico. Look for perpetual revelation that endures beyond the game, like pyramids endure.

I have taken a couple months off from my blog-writing – I’ve been very busy for nearly 12 straight weekends with basketball, Nike and life. I am very happy to see many new subscribers come in in recent weeks. Thank you! I’m ready to get back at it and hope to hear from you too.

One of my former players, Mike Tartara, has been coaching at Cuyahoga Heights High School for the past decade or more, and regularly brings his teams to work with me. Last week I worked with them during a shootout weekend at Denison University.

Triple Stack and Princeton Offense – worth a new look

We talked about elements of the Triple Stack and the Princeton Offense. Those are out of vogue right now, but I believe they have great value for any program. Both offenses have enduring merit, particularly in the execution of the basic fundamentals of dribbling, passing and shooting, spacing, cutting and screening.

Let’s say you’re working with the Side High Screen, a very popular offense today. You’ll get far more versatility if you add elements of the Triple Stack or the Princeton.

By going back to the basic patterns of the Triple Stack and the Princeton, your players will learn to dribble better, pass better, shoot better shots and have better shot selection. In other words, they’ll make better choices!

If you’re interested in more on this, take a look at my video “Phase in the Princeton.”

Listeners make great learners

I had a great time because I could tell the players were having a great time too. They were willing to listen and learn. This is a key to success in teaching: willingness and excitement about learning.

Thanks, Mike, for helping instill those qualities in your players year after year. It takes a knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher/coach to make that happen.

You may think that your influence as a coach wanes over the years. I coached Mike 20 years ago and it has been eleven years since I retired as a head coach and professor. But I am always heartened with days spent learning and teaching like my time with Mike’s players and with my readers, clients and subscribers.

Beyond the game: perpetual revelation

I always tried to teach both soft skills and hard skills to my players at Muskingum by having them read philosophy from the masters. One of my favorites was Ralph Waldo Emerson and in particular his “Essay on Compensation.”

I gave a copy to Mike Tartara over twenty years ago and thought that was that. When he called a month ago to request the clinic, I was stunned when he mentioned that he had re-read Emerson’s “Essay on Compensation” and that it actually started to make sense this time.

I was pleased, excited and somewhat bewildered that at this point in his life he took the time to re-look at the essay. I asked him about this, and was blown away when he replied,

“It made more sense when I saw Emerson as a basketball coach. Now I am married and have four beautiful children. I am being compensated for exactly what I deserve. Nothing more, nothing less. I am in a state of perpetual revelation as my family teaches me every day what is really important.”

Like all of us, Mike has really grown and matured over the past 20 years.

The Doctrine of Inner Light is the theme of the Quakers, expressed by George Fox, one of its founders. I transformed the concept into the Doctrine of Inner Value. What I mean by this is that a good coach – good teacher, good parent, good grandparent, good friend – can transform themselves into better people and in turn transform those around them into better players – or better students, better children, better grandchildren, better friends.

This means if you want your team to get better, you must get better yourself.

To paraphrase Emerson’s introduction to all his Essays*:

The true path of coaching is to transform fundamentals into practical skills and knowledge into wisdom!

Have a great week. I am heading to St. Louis with the Real Head Coach for Nike’s Elite 100 to help those players go beyond the game.

Be in a state of perpetual revelation!

(Don’t you just love it?!)

* Original Emerson quote: “Never mind the ridicule, never mind the defeat – up again old heart, there is victory yet for all justice; and the true romance which the world exists to realize will be the transformation of genius into practical power.”


Coaches: You might have a very specific situation you’re trying to improve. I can help: I offer program and departmental advising services. I also offer one-to-one private coaching and I invite you to schedule a discovery session to see whether private coaching is right for you. The discovery session is free and lasts about 20 minutes. Click here to learn more and schedule your discovery session.

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Photo: © Jose Ignacio Soto Fotolia

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