Updated: Apr 15, 2020
I've had so many texts and messages over the past couple of weeks about this podcast and it seems like a lot of coaches enjoyed Tom Crean's message in a number of areas. The first aspect that I really enjoyed about the Tom's insight was the details around getting individuals ready to transition from college to the NBA. In the video below, Tom talks about the fact that you are trying to get players to persevere and learn the mental skills necessary to do things that are potentially not that appealing to a talented college basketball player, but are critical to NBA life. They don't have to love it, he explains, but they have to do it. In addition, I found it really powerful that he judges the success of his development not on their arrival to the NBA, but their ability to stay in the league. If his players can achieve that, he will have succeeded in preparing them for the enormous work-load and commitment levels that go into becoming an established player in the best league in the world. In the interview, he also extends this into how he wants players to leave with the ability to "self-correct" and make their own adjustments without the constant reliance of a coaching staff, which I think is another great piece of advice.
The second aspect that I really enjoyed was Tom's message around "brutal honesty". This point really struck a chord with me because I think there is a big danger in the coaching community of coaches choosing to build a relationship with a player centered around friendship and/or praise. We talk so much about players changing, but are coaches changing too? As Tom says, if you really love the player, you will tell the truth and help them before they are exposed in a game or later in life. It sounds simple, but then if it's that easy why don't more coaches do it? Firstly, in my opinion, it's simply more work. Addressing key issues and delivering critical feedback is a lot more difficult than lavishing praise or constantly saying "well done." It takes more time and more energy to navigate around the situation. It takes a follow up conversation, it takes a level of consistency, and it takes constantly looking at the player and evaluating. That process itself is time consuming. Secondly, I think as coaches today, we seem reluctant to do anything that may put the relationship with the player in jeopardy. Again, I think there are a number of reasons for this. You can't tweet that you and your star player are working through some issues. We don't want to be the 'negative coach' and steer away from testing the relationship or helping to improve the relationship. The fear of 'losing the locker room' is a threat for coaches at so many levels of the game. But by not challenging the relationship, there is also a danger of failing to challenge the player. I think Tom does a phenomenal job in addressing this in this podcast, and presents valuable advice on how you do this in an positive and effective manner.
As with so many of the successful coaches I have interviewed on the MSC Podcast, the consistency of Tom's messaging was something that I was hugely impressed by. That does not mean repeating the same point over and over again. Instead, as the conversation moves towards different aspects of the team environment, you can start to connect the dots with philosophy, messaging, and processes. An example of this is below where Tom talked about how he uses the meeting with the family of the player to gauge whether the player will have a tough time dealing with being challenged in his environment. A reaction of the parent, Tom explains, tells you a lot about the support system and the type of messaging that the player is used to. In addition, Tom's staff must share the same philosophy as he describes:"You don't have to agree with everything I do, but you don't pacify the player." I think this level of clarity is what makes Tom's environment so intense but positive. Staff are on the same page, recruitment is linked towards development, and making people better is at the heart of everything they do every single day.
You can listen to the entire podcast below, or on iTunes. This podcast is brought to you by Bounce Athletics. If you are running a summer camp Bounce Athletics offers fully customized micro-stitched textured premium camp balls for under $9/ball. These are same camp balls that are used by major DI programs like Wake Forest, Creighton, Texas Tech, Michigan State, Florida State, and Clemson to name just a few. Modern Soccer Coach listeners can get a $50 discount on their first order of custom balls or training vests by mentioning the podcast when they email info@BounceAthletics.com to begin the order process.