The Basketball Podcast: EP227 with Jim Larrañaga on Teaching Methods
In this week’s coaching conversation, University of Miami head coach Jim Larrañaga joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on teaching methods, flexibility and 5-Out offense.
At the University of Miami, head coach Jim Larrañaga has led the Hurricanes the NCAA tournament five times, while advancing to the Sweet 16 twice, and earning an Elite 8 appearance once. He has been named the Associated Press, Naismith, USBWA and Henry Iba National Coach of the Year, twice was both the ACC and USBWA District Coach of the Year and was the 2013 NABC District Coach of the Year.
Larrañaga has posted three 25-win seasons at UM – the only Miami coach to do so – and five in his career. He also has recorded six 20-win campaigns at Miami and 12 in his career. In conference action, the Canes have won nine or more league games in six of nine seasons, while prior to Larrañaga’s arrival, Miami had never won more than eight ACC games in a season. Larrañaga has helped the Canes to 18 postseason victories, including four in the NCAA Tournament (three appearances), nine in the ACC Tournament (eight) and five in the NIT (two).
Before joining the University of Miami, he served as the head men’s basketball coach at American International College from 1977 to 1979, Bowling Green State University from 1986 to 1997, and George Mason University from 1997 to 2011, where he coached the Patriots to 13 consecutive winning seasons and became a media sensation during the Patriots’ improbable run to the Final Four of the 2006 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament. Larrañaga has won several national coach of the year awards and over 600 games as a head coach since the late 1970s.
Jim Larrañaga Coach Quotes:
“We looked at everybody’s team. When we looked at Duke they were just so big. Carolina was the same way and Virginia the same way. So, what we ended up deciding is we didn’t really match them in the post . . so, what we decided to do was employ a spread offense, five-out.”
“That’s always been our goal, to take advantage of what our guys do very well individually and put it together collectively.”
“We have a five step method of teaching our players. Explanation is one. So, either me or one of my assistants will explain a drill or an offense or defense, and then the players have to be able to understand and then execute.”
“After you explain something, you want someone who really knows how to do it, to demonstrate the correct skill . . so the newcomers can learn from the veterans. That’s very, very important to us.”
“Once we explain what we want done, and a veteran group has demonstrated it, then the younger guys, the newcomers are going to imitate that . . when they imitate it, they don’t often imitate it perfectly , so then the next step of the teaching method comes into play.”
“The coaches have a job to do to be sure you’re doing things correctly. Because if you start doing things incorrectly, . . then you’re going to have mistakes constantly. So, we have explanation, demonstration, imitation, correction, and then the fifth and final step, which is repetition.”
“It’s our belief that you play basketball based on your habits, the habits you develop in practice. And the way you develop a habit is through repetition.”
“My favorite of those tips is, ‘Think like a gardener, work like a carpenter.’ What a gardener does is plant seeds, nurtures those seeds, and lets them grow. But it takes time, you have to have patience. It’s the same thing for a coach with his players, you can’t explain something in one day and expect them just to know it and do it correctly all the time.”
“I tend to believe that my job is to build self-esteem and confidence. And you don’t get that by tearing someone down. You get that by reinforcing all the fundamentals that you’re trying to teach and get them to do it correctly, over and over again.”
“We’ve always tried to use analytics to help our players understand the value of a possession . . we make a strong push for our players to understand we have to score more than one point per possession and we’ve got to hold our opponent to less than one point per possession, if we want to succeed.”
“We’re always emphasizing to our players . . it’s four times more important to be mentally right than the physical. Every player we have is physically capable. But are you the one that makes good decisions? Are you smart? Are you someone that understands the game mentally?”
“Everybody wants to earn the green light. And because we do that drill every single day, we can show them, ‘Look, I’m not telling you not to shoot the three, you’re telling me you can’t make it high enough for us to win.’ We want to win. That’s the objective. And if you’re shooting shots that are bad shots for you, we’re likely going to lose.”
Jim Larrañaga Breakdown:
1:00 – Very Flexible Coach
4:00 – Bowling Green Years
6:00 – Value of Teaching
8:00 – 5-Out Offense
13:00 – Repetitions Using Constraints
19:21 – 19:59 – JUST PLAY ADS
20:00 – Constraints to Analytics
27:00 – Rebounding
31:00 – Freedom
36:30 – SDSA BS
41:00 – Ball Screen Success
42:01 – 42:44 – DR. DISH ADS
47:00 – Proactive Connection
52:00 – Effective Ball Screen
55:30 – Penetrating and Pitching
57:00 – Creating Gaps
1:00:30 – Game Preparation and Flexibility
Jim Larrañaga Links from the Podcast:
The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
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