Friday, August 10, 2018

Basketball: PEAK Performance, Seth Davis Style

Two key components of learning are self-examination and spaced repetition. Seth Davis' Getting to Us studies how elite coaches operate. Internalize their lessons taught by watching film, attending clinics, mentoring, and reading. But use caution before putting mortals on pedestals.   

Coaches often come in two flavors, relationship-oriented or task-oriented. The former are called "players' coaches" and the latter taskmasters or hard guys. Players can wear out the player-friendly coach and the authoritarians sometimes grind down the players. What stands out is that substance and style both matter, although no one approach works. 


Davis uses the acronym PEAK to summarize the qualities of successful coaches. 

Calvin Coolidge owns the most famous persistence quote..."nothing in this world can take the place of persistence." John Wooden won his first NCAA title during his sixteenth year at UCLA. Dean Smith won his first at Carolina in his twenty-first season. Winners are too-often labeled unsuccessful until they've won a championship. 

Davis believes that empathy is the most critical quality of the great coach. Leaders care about their players and their feelings. We've all met technically solid coaches lacking communication skills, humanity, or both. Getting to us demands getting the players to buy in

Although we study leadership, we recognize that great coaches are comfortable in their own skin. Some are vocal and demonstrative like a John Harbaugh; others are reserved like Brad Stevens. Judge neither on style alone. 


Steven M.R. Covey uses a tree to depict character and competence of leaders in The Speed of Trust. Without integrity and good intent, capable people can work great wrongs. Knowledge is necessary but not sufficient for success. Applied knowledge requires real-time analysis, flexibility, and teams that can execute based on those inputs. 

Ironically, Davis first profiles Urban Meyer and Tom Izzo. Meyer has three NCAA titles, Izzo one and a legion of Final Four appearances. But Meyer is currently suspended and Izzo reticent on scandals surrounding their programs. It's fair to ask how and to whom their empathy extends. 

Lagniappe: 
Chris Oliver shares a complex sequence with 'floppy-like' action, leading to a flare screen into screen-the-screener action. Too complex for my young'uns but maybe good for you. 

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