The Basketball Podcast: EP171 Will Weaver Interviews with Chris Oliver on Coach Development

RELEASE DATE : 07/07/2021

In this week’s coaching conversation, Houston Rockets assistant coach Will Weaver joins the Basketball Podcast to interview Basketball Immersion founder and creative director, Chris Oliver, on coaching and coach development.

Will Weaver is currently an assistant coach for the Houston Rockets. After a few years as a coaching assistant in the NCAA, Weaver was hired to coach alongside Brett Brown with the Philadelphia 76ers and eventually landed under Kenny Atkinson with the Brooklyn Nets in 2016. Weaver went on to be the head coach of the Nets’ G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets, and took them to the Finals in the 2018-19 season while winning Coach of the Year.

Weaver was also previously head coach of the Sydney Kings in the NBL (Australian league) and led the team to the league’s best record (20-8) and into the NBL Grand Final.

Chris Oliver is the founder of Basketball Immersion, The Basketball Podcast and Immersion Videos.

As an expert in basketball decision training, he coaches, trains, and mentors coaches to maximize their players’ potential and enjoyment of practices and games. What he is most passionate about in his work is sharing evidence-based coaching ideas that can stimulate your coaching to get better results. The goal is to improve your players’ retention and transfer of the things you teach to their performance. You can learn more about concepts like messy learning, constraints-based coaching, maximizing active learning time, adding decision-making to drills, and much more in the numerous blogs he….Learn More

Learn more from Will Weaver

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The Basketball Podcast Quotes:

CO: “Emotional management has got to be the most complex part of coaching that is the least focused on in so many ways . . how can I better manage that staff that can actually impact the relationship I have with that player or my ability to be able to intervene and help a player truly develop?”

CO: “I think if I’ve been successful at anything, it’s been questioning things, and being okay to step outside and say, ‘Is there a better way?’ And the other thing is to be obsessed with how do we actually make it practical?”

CO: “If we play more small-sided games, and we do more offense versus defense in practice, then we’re doing more to build mindset training than anything else we can do.”

CO: “[Regarding] sports psychology specifically, it’s not enough to just teach it in a classroom or to teach it on air, they [players] have to be able to implement it on offense versus defense.”

CO: “It is next to impossible to learn from on air practice . . how to be resilient, how to make mistakes and learn from mistakes, [how] to park mistakes or throw away mistakes, next play mentality, how to handle winning and losing. So, my number one thing is to play more games, because players are in more situations where they struggle. And if we’re really talking about mindset training, and next level development, then they have to be in that environment so that I can cue them.”

CO: “Record yourself coaching. If you’re an assistant coach, have a peer that can watch the video with you. As a head coach, find an assistant or mentor that can watch the video with you.”

CO: “I got a chance to see Erik Spoelstra before a game. And I asked him, ‘What do you do before the game?’ And he said the thing he does is he reviews the last game with one of his assistants, every decision. And, basically, this assistant is empowered to question all of his decisions. As coaches, we spend all this time on scout and prep. How much time do we spend actually evaluating our decisions from the game?”

WW: “What are some things that from your . . experience thinking and talking to many people that you think might help coaches or that could help all of us?”

CO: “For me, it’s just talking to coaches and hearing them define their cultures and their values and things within that. And I would say the number one thing is this concept of noticing progress.”

CO: “You know what fun is for a player? . . Improving their skills. And let’s make sure that we include decisions as part of skill development, because we too often think of skill as biomechanical, but it’s both biomechanical and decisions . . If I help a player become more skilled, they have more possibilities or solutions within their game, and thus, they have more fun playing the game. So, if we’re talking about retention, or talking about developing the elite athlete to their next level, then I think we have to frame fun as improvement.”

WW: “Talk to me about how when you’re . . an assistant coach, a head coach and athletic director – what are the ways that incentives help create those virtuous cycles [of improvement]?”

CO: “The number one thing is to co-create solutions . . we’re going to treat them like people . . So, to be able to sit down with one of your players, or one of our assistants or someone within our organization, and to be able to co create solutions and to be able to do that as part of the process, I believe empowers them, and inspires them.”

CO: “Players are more motivated by implicit motivation, this desire to be better in some way or to have a better experience in some way. So, to have them feel like they’re a part of that solution, or part of that development has got to be an important part of that.”

CO: “Part of this co-creation process is that we coach to the player’s solution, not ours.”

CO: “I am 100% on board that there is value to that [5-on-0 or on-air work] . . If I’m thinking about a new offensive install, though, I’m not starting there . . we’re going to play 5-on-5 to start and that is going to help me decide what I need to focus more on, and it drives me back to 5-on-0 . . 5-on-0 is necessary because 5-on-0 helps give players a structure from which they feel free.”

CO: “It’s really hard for a player to become the best decision maker he can be if he doesn’t first understand the structure . . I think that’s what good conceptual offense is: structured to unstructured.”

CO: “How can we show them and explain to them [the players] that shooting 50 shots with a decision proceeding the shot is more valuable to them than shooting 100 shots from set spots with nobody.”

CO: “The best player development is coach development . . one thing is to reverse engineer your season or your successes, or your needs and improvements and say, ‘Okay, what can we do better? And then what can I do better to be able to help support that and shape that?’”

CO: “We talked about workload and managing the workload of players . . and I think that’s really important. But often we waste so much of their time with useless stuff that doesn’t actually help them in a game.”

CO: “That would be the true mastery of coaches: learning how to get to the point of just what actually helps a player improve and what actually helps our team win. And be very obsessed with that, in terms of managing our practice, and the different things that go with that.”

WW: “I’m highly convinced that some of the anti-fragility that you can build into a team, some of the robustness that you can contribute to the team, comes from the conceptual approach . . getting an advantage through an unstructured format . . and then keeping that advantage . . How can you create . . the ways to get the ball to the player who’s eventually going to be able to finish the possession.”

CO: “As many coaches that have been on the podcast have said, the number one adjustment is, ‘Let’s do it better.’ Right? Let’s do what we do better. And sometimes that involves subbing and getting a different player on the floor or changing matchups or doing different things. But by and large, it’s just do it better because we’ve done this all year.”

CO: [About The Basketball Podcast] “To provide an opportunity for them [coaches, listeners] to get behind the mind of an assistant coach or head coach, wherever they are in the world has just been remarkable to be able to do that and share that.”

CO: “I think every coach in some way talks about culture and talks about the values of relationships. And I would simplify that beyond culture and I would say relationships . . in terms of how, as a coach, am I creating this psychological safety for players . . where I can create an environment for them to be willing to reach beyond their level, to learn, to struggle, and then to feel that they’re better from that process?”

CO: “At the end of the day, I think what people don’t ask enough and get enough out of me is about how [we teach] . . Why is it important? Because it connects with the players, because the players enjoy being taught this way . . We teach the way we teach so that players enjoy and get more satisfaction out of playing basketball.”

The Basketball Podcast Breakdown:

1:00 – Introduction
2:00 – Integration
6:00 – Sports Psychology
12:00 – Constraints
16:00 – Position of Authority
20:00 – Conceptual Offense
24:00 – On Air Training
32:00 – Coach Development
37:00 – Professional Growth
46:00 – Learning from Different Approaches
52:00 – Innovation
55:00 – Learning from Basketball Immersion
1:00:00 – Role Models
1:02:00 – Teaching
1:06:00 – Sharing Through the Podcast
1:08:00 – Conclusion

The Basketball Podcast Links from the Podcast:

Dr. Ronald Smith and Dr. Frank Smoll

Anson Dorrance

Erik Spoelstra

Charlie Munger

Ronald Nored

Alex Sarama

Ryan Richman

Ray Dalio

The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right  

Chase and Simon – Perceptions in Chess

Leonard Zaichkowsky

The Playmaker’s Advantage: How to Raise Your Mental Game to the Next Level

Nate Oats

Tony Bennett

Mike D’Antoni

Jimmer Fridette

Derek Fisher

Moncho Fernandez

DeAndre Ayton

Monty Williams

T.J. Saint

Ryan Pannone

Howard Stern

Terry Gross

Doug Novak

Dave Smart

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