A great 1-on-1 interview with Stanford women's head coach Tara VanDerveer on the subject of coaching. She talked about a number of things including the dedication and passion it requires, what to look for in a coach, and coaches around the PAC-10. This passage though I found most interesting:
You now have several former players coaching on the collegiate level including the two currently with Stanford, and some former assistants have moved on to become head coaches. How do you feel about your growing “coaching tree?” What do assistants need to learn or change to step up to a head-coaching job?I like VanDerveer's analogy of the tandem bicycle. It implies a shared learning experience, hand-holding you could say. In my opinion, the head coach / assistant coach relationship is one of the most important relationships in coaching. I think some people undervalue the experience of being an assistant coach because of the perceived and real differences between being a head coach and an assistant coach, the "sixteen inches" VanDerveer refers to. It's easy to see the role of an assistant as a temporary placeholder, an inevitable stepping stone to a head coaching position. And thus, they don't take the opportunity to learn the critical lessons of what worked and what didn't.
It’s like being on a tandem bicycle on the back where you’re just pedaling to going to the front where you have to pedal and steer. It’s really different. That sixteen inches, or whatever, from one seat to the other (on the bench) is really, really different. Being decisive, being able to make decisions, is key. You make the final decision on who you are recruiting, what your schedule is, whether you press, whether you don’t, who you put in the games. I’m really proud of the number of women that I’ve worked with either as players or assistant coaches that have gone on to become coaches in women’s basketball and that they do such great jobs.
I think that as an assistant coach aspiring to be a head coach, one should always be thinking critically about game-time decisions, practice organization, player motivation. Conversely, as a head coach mentoring assistants, I think it helps tremendously to involve assistants in all decision-making, talk things out, to go through hypotheticals, game them out so to say. I also think that every program should have a mechanism for two-way evaluations, head coach to assistant, and assistant to head coach.
For more offensive drill pointers, take a look at Coach VanDerveer's DVD on 25 Offensive Drills for Success.