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Coaches Need to be Responsible Too

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Most coaches often instruct their players to be responsible and accountable.

Players are told to do what they're supposed to do and to be where they're supposed to be and not to take any shortcuts.

If things do go wrong, as they occasionally will when young people are involved, players are expected to own their mistakes and not to blame anyone or anything else. If they want things to get better then they need to get better.

While I agree wholeheartedly that players of all ages need to demonstrate more responsibility and accountability, I also wonder how many coaches need to do the same.

It's easy to grab the stat sheet after the game and tell anyone within earshot that "If Asia could only pass" or "If Chris would only take better shots," or "We can't win if we don't box out."

Better, and ultimately more productive, questions might be "Why can't Asia pass?" "Why is Chris taking bad shots" and "Why aren't we boxing out?"

Often those questions aren't asked because the answers usually point to one person - you as the coach!

Granted, the players have the responsibility to learn and to execute but it is the coach's responsibility to make sure all necessary skills and strategies are thoroughly taught and learned to the point where execution can be possible.

If they are not, is it really the players' fault? When discussing games with your players it's easy and commonplace to point out the mistakes they made. Do you point out the mistakes you made as well?

Older, more established coaches don't like to admit mistakes because they are trying to exude an air of infallibility.

Young and relatively new coaches are often hesitant to admit mistakes or assume their share of responsibility because they see it as a sign of weakness or because it will change their players' perceptions of them.

However, refusing to admit mistakes or assume responsibility is not only going to hurt your current team but it is also sending the wrong message to your players.

Don't forget that as coaches we have the opportunity to not only teach our players basketball skills but life skills as well. When they eventually become parents do we want our current players to shirk responsibility just because they are older than their children? Of course not! So don't set that example for them!

A while back Kentucky lost a hard fought game to bitter in-state rival Louisville 80-77 in front of over 22,000 fans and a national television audience. Down by four points with 33 seconds left, Kentucky guard Archie Goodwin dribbled into a Louisville trap and eventually threw the ball away along with Kentucky's chance of winning the game.

Afterwards it would have been easy for Kentucky's coach, John Calipari, to attribute the loss to a freshman mistake or even to the 12 free throws that the Wildcats missed over the course of the game.

Instead, he blamed himself for not calling timeout when Goodwin was trapped. "Believe me, I'm standing there thinking timeout and I didn't call it," Coach Cal said. "That effectively ended the game. I told them this was on me. They got us right where we wanted to be and I dropped the ball." Do you think any less of Coach Calipari because he admitted a mistake? His players don't. Is it any wonder why they love playing for him?

By all means continue to teach your players to be responsible and accountable. Hold them to high standards and correct their mistakes and then help get them to the point where those mistakes aren't repeated very often. But remember - you are also part of the team. If you do happen to make a mistake, whether it's in a game or in how you're conducting practice, admit it and take on your share of the responsibility. You, your team, and your players will all learn and benefit from it.

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