Don Meyer

The final installment of this three-part series on professional development for coaches pertains to how coaches can grow on their own, or intrapersonally. After providing areas for growth with online resources (Part One: and examples of how coaches can grow interpersonally (Part Two:, I will explore ways that coaches can develop on their own time. Any good educator uses time to reflect on their craft and that is especially true in coaching.

• Find the Top “Coaches’ Coaches” In Your Sport – If you’re an experienced coach you know what I’m talking about. We all want to learn from coaches who coach at higher levels. But let’s face it, some coaches are better at teaching than others. If you have a coach in your sport that is a better “coach of other coaches” than Don Meyer is for basketball then I want to know about him or her. Don Meyer was a career NAIA/NCAA Division 2 coach but has done more for developing other coaches than any other coach. He was the NCAA’s all-time winningest coach until Mike Krzyzewski broke the record. He has run multiple coaches’ clinics, produced coaching videos, and is still a student of the game himself. Read his incredible story in Buster Olney’s ¬How Lucky Can You Be and you’ll understand what a “coach’s coach” is. Coach Meyer has maintained a true commitment to growing the profession throughout his life.

• Observation – A coach can learn so many of the complexities of his game by observing it frequently. Early in my career I would watch the NCAA Tournament games a little differently than most people. Rather than dissecting my tournament picks (they weren’t any good any way), I would take a pad of paper and as I saw a play that I liked, I would diagram it and file it away for the following season. Everyone has their own organization systems, but I have put together a large binder with my own “encyclopedia” of various offensive sets, actions, and out-of-bounds plays simply by watching games.

• Experience – The number-one way for someone to develop professionally in coaching is to go through the experience of a season. The practice planning, game management, and adjustments that you must make with your team on a weekly, even daily basis, are new each year. I was once told that basketball is a game of “infinite situations.” That is probably true of many other sports, as well. The experience of coaching provides you with more of these situations. Learning by doing is so valuable. There will continue to be more situations and strategies to learn.

• Scouting – Scouting works for your development much like the experience of coaching through a season. Depending on your level of coaching, you get so engrained into knowing your opponent that you can’t help but learn more about the game. I loved learning by watching my opponents. They all did something well. In some cases you may be able to add some aspect of their “X’s and O’s” to incorporate into your own system. You may also be able to tweak something you do similar to your opponents in order to make your own coaching better. When I was a head coach one of our biggest rivals had an outstanding transition offense that put a lot of pressure on our early defense. I studied their transition a lot in scouting them. The way their players spread the floor and passed the ball quickly in their secondary break was something I liked and I will utilize when I coach again.

With all of the available resources for coaches to develop now, no two coaches should have the same professional development plan. Each coach should utilize his or her own learning styles and interests to match their coaching philosophies in order to develop their plan. What is important is for you, as a coach, to continually seek out these resources to find ways to continually develop. Assess your areas of weakness and seek out people and resources you know that could help you in those areas. When you find those people it only adds to the enjoyment of the coaching profession.

Question: In what area(s) have you learned the most through the experience of coaching?


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