I need a quick timeout before I continue on about the Hurricane Motion Offense. It's actually kind of connected as it touches upon the idea of giving players freedom (the essence of a good motion offense) or being a control freak type of coach. But I came across an excerpt from an interview with San Antonio Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich as transcribed by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News (via PBT). In it he talks of why he often leaves solving certain problems up to his players:
A lot depends on the competitiveness and the character of the player. Often times, I’ll appeal to that. Like, I can’t make every decision for you. I don’t have 14 timeouts. You guys got to get together and talk. You guys might see a mismatch that I don’t see. You guys need to communicate constantly — talk, talk, talk to each other about what’s going on on the court.
“I think that communication thing really helps them. It engenders a feeling that they can actually be in charge. I think competitive character people don’t want to be manipulated constantly to do what one individual wants them to do. It’s a great feeling when players get together and do things as a group. Whatever can be done to empower those people …
“Sometimes in timeouts I’ll say, ‘I’ve got nothing for you. What do you want me to do? We just turned it over six times. Everybody’s holding the ball. What else do you want me to do here? Figure it out.’ And I’ll get up and walk away. Because it’s true. There’s nothing else I can do for them. I can give them some bulls—, and act like I’m a coach or something, but it’s on them.
“If they’re holding the ball, they’re holding the ball. I certainly didn’t tell them to hold the ball. Just like, if they make five in a row, I didn’t do that. If they get a great rebound, I didn’t do that. It’s a players’ game and they’ve got to perform. The better you can get that across, the more they take over and the more smoothly it runs.
“Then you interject here or there. You call a play during the game at some point or make a substitution, that kind of thing that helps the team win. But they basically have to take charge or you never get to the top of the mountain.”
I loved reading this by a coach I admire because I sometimes wonder if I give my players too much freedom. I'll ponder whether or not I need to run more of a set-play offense, give them a more shot-specific play. Then I realize, it's not me. It's not who I am as a person. I've heard many a coach say in some fashion, "You have to let players figure it out on their own." And they're right, I can't always hold their hand. I want players/students who feel empowered. I think to how I was raised. I was raised in a disciplined household, but yet I had parents who still gave me space to grow and find myself. Looking back on it, I realize now that a good parent, teacher or coach can achieve success with their child/student/player by three things: 1) Give them a structure/system that reflects your integrity; 2) Hold them accountable; and most importantly 3) Demand that they live by a high standard.