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Developing phenomenal, elite decision makers

November 27, 2016


I have produced a few blogs on coaching and development.  My colleagues and friends have done guest blogs on these subjects too.  I'm always on the hunt for guest bloggers that can offer outstanding content, and have some great guest blogs in the pipeline coming up.


I really hope that the concepts in this blog get some consideration and analysis from those that hope to develop outstanding talent, division 1 college prospects and Australian Representatives. I am really getting into some nuts and bolts ideas here on my views on how to really develop talent in the following blog.  


First, lets think about a decision.


"Decision-making is a fundamental element of any sport, especially open, fast, dynamic team sports such as volleyball, football, soccer, rugby, and basketball. In order to succeed in winning any game and competition at national and international level in all individual and team sports there is a need to reconsider all success factors in order to make a better decision to win. At the elite level, coaches and athletes appear to consistently make good decisions in situations that are highly temporally constrained." -


Typical decisions we need to make when playing include, should I;

- shoot or drive?

- layup or kickout?

- fade away or step through?

- kick ahead to lane runner on right or left?

- gamble for the defensive steal or not?


I have not fully appreciated the phenomenal decision making of some of the elite kids I have been lucky to coach until I have had the chance to watch them play in detail on video.  It is the minor details, the small, rapid decisions that they make quickly and accurately that is noticeable.  Their ability to tune in and listen to feedback and rapidly put it into practice, into their decision making framework, is one of the main things that sets them apart.


I want to discuss some of the methods we (my coaching teams, their team mates) have developed to instill expert decision making capabilities.


Coaches' mindset - risk mitigation vs risk encouragement


In a previous blog I talk about risk mitigation coaching vs pro risk coaching.  Risk mitigation I feel is what you do to minimize poor performance, you are more worried about protecting a losing margin, rather than rewarding and developing talent that will win you games.  Many of the ideas here can only work when a fear of losing is removed from the coaches' mindset. 


Pro-risk encouragement means that if you need to make a decision, make the RIGHT one with no thought of risk, or fear of making a mistake, in that decision. If you don't understand what I mean about risk encouragement; We use phrases with players like "shoot the open shot without consciousness", "hand down, man down", "you reach, I teach", "no matter how you guard me I will counter it and beat you".  In defense "If you go to the coffin corner, we will bury you", "if they go to the coffin corner, double aggressively, if they go past the Ts then double, if they back turn in the back-court double, if you feel like doubling anytime just go and double it".  These are confident, aggressive pro-risk phrases.


Guys in my teams get yelled at for not backing themselves, not playing with confidence, they don't get yelled at for taking the wrong shot.  


This is pro-risk encouragement.

Featured athlete Isaac White (Class of 2017) footage: 12 points vs NCAA Powerhouse UCLA.  Isaac is g