The Basketball Podcast: EP263 with Doug Lemov on Using Video

RELEASE DATE : 12/04/2023

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, international best-selling author, Doug Lemov joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss game coaching and video as a learning tool.

Doug Lemov last appeared on EP153 of the Basketball Podcast and we are grateful to be able to follow up with him on many of the topics that have appeared after he connected with so many coaches after he published the The Coach’s Guide to Teaching.

Doug Lemov is a former teacher and school principal. He helped found Uncommon Schools, a network of high-performing schools in under-served communities. His books on teaching, which include Teach Like a Champion (now Teach Like a Champion 2.0) have been translated into a dozen languages.

Lemov played soccer at Hamilton College, where he was the worst player of the decade, but has still managed to combine his interest in teaching with his love for sports by working with various sports federations and professional franchises to improve their coaching. His new book The Coach’s Guide to Teaching describes much of what he learned from those experiences. Doug Lemov also has obtained an MA in English from Indiana University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. 

Listen Here:

Doug Lemov Quotes:

“The first question that coaches often ask is, ‘What should a halftime talk look like?’ The first thing that I would say is, as a preface to my answer, I think there are two potential goals. We’re trying to win games . . that’s an important purpose. Part of learning is learning how to win. And we’re also trying to teach and teach for long term value in learning for athletes. And sometimes those things work together well and sometimes they happen in conflict.”

“The first thing that we did was divide game day into four moments . . One is the pre-game talk, one is the halftime talk, one is the post-game talk, and one is just live coaching, which is the thing that I’m saying and doing on the sideline while players are playing. I think one of the most important things is to try and link them.”

“Let me start by describing what I think maximizes long term learning for players . . let’s start with the pre-game talk. Players remember what they think about. So, if I want them to think about things during the game, I should not just tell them, but I want them to think about things and I want to tie those things to language cues.”

“Being an elite athlete is controlling your attention and your emotions under challenging situations. So, I’m helping them to guide their attention to and think about the most important things and linking it to the language that I’ll actually use.”

“Halftime is really interesting. The first thing that I want to do is be able to process my own emotions. So I want to probably give players a little bit of time, circle up with my coaches and say, ‘What’s important here? What do we want to talk about? What are the most important points we want to make?’ And then maybe even talk a little bit strategically about and what is the aspect we want to present.”

“I’m only going to be able to cause people to think intentionally about a small number of things. So, I need to be super intentional about them, and I need to link them to the emotional setting in the halftime talk.”

“So much of game day coaching is the art of self-discipline . . you can think of 15 things that can go wrong, but you don’t really help them manage those situations if you name 15. So, you’ve got to step back and think about, ‘What are the important things that I want them to be able to think about here and now?”

“I want players to have a mental model of what right looks like . . I want them thinking about, ‘What is the solution? What does effective play look like? What does our game model look like? What do solutions look like to the problem that we’re facing, as opposed to calling their attention to what’s going wrong . . Describing the problem is not as effective as describing the solution.”

“I think one of the first things that every coach needs on the sideline is a notepad . . if you don’t have another way to channel your observations and put them to productive use, all you will do will be to shout at people in the moment when they’re trying to do something else.”

“Telling her what she did wrong [during play] isn’t going to help her prepare for what’s happening next. All it’s doing is drawing her working memory and her attention to the past as opposed to the next thing . . I’m sure it [the criticism or correction] is accurate, but I’m not sure it helps the athlete much versus waiting for downtime and saying . . [some] forward-looking thing that I can solve, delivered in a moment when my working memory is not focused on playing so I don’t have to choose between listening to you and performing well. Because if you force me to do that, if you shout at me while I’m trying to play, I can listen to you and degrade my own performance, or I can practice ignoring you . . we don’t really want to build a culture where players practice ignoring us.”

“The more disciplined I can be [in what I say], the more the things I do say matter. So, it helps you to communicate more if you can cut out the less important, more impulsive things that you say.”

“Maybe my post game talk is not a post-game talk, but it’s a post-game ritual, like we all shake each other’s hand. There’s something that we always do together, culturally, at the end of the game that cements our sense of belonging and togetherness, and that’s how we end every time.”

“Ultimately, what decides whether someone learns from video is what’s happening in their brain while they’re watching the video. It’s very complex . . the power of video is helping me to understand visual cues . . how players are going to turn what they talk about into long term memory, and . . how players are going to talk to each other about the video. If I can teach one player to recognize something, I can make them a little bit better.”

“The video starts before it starts. You have to start shaping players’ attention before you even put the video up. So, I’m going to show you the video once . . watch first, spacing. Then I’m going to show it to you again. And we’ll go slowly. And I want you to pay particular attention to this because otherwise everyone in the room will be looking at something different and they won’t have a shared perception about what our spacing tells us about what comes next.”

“When I have a video ready, first of all, I should plan my pause points. Where exactly do I want to pause the video? Because what players are looking at when I ask them a question is very important and what question do I want to ask? So, it’s not just showing the video, but it’s showing the video and stopping somewhere and asking a specific question. And maybe, what do I want to direct their attention to even before they watch it?”

“Another example, in addition to interleaving content, is interleaving quality. So often we’re like, ‘Let’s see some good examples, let’s see some bad examples.’ Even [better than] the idea that examples are either good or bad . . is just withholding that information and being like, ‘Here’s us defending, what do you think that?’ That is really teaching players to do the kind of seeing and evaluating that they have to do during the game.”

“The most important part of any video is the pause point. It’s where you stop the video that is the most important thing because it lets me slow down . . Group invasion games, decision games are all about cues, about visual cues that tell us what decision to make.”

Doug Lemov Breakdown:

[00:02:14] In-game coaching

[00:05:22] Halftime talk that focused on attention and role clarity, rather than emotion.

[00:08:34] Model for maximizing long term learning in players.

[00:16:02] Use a notepad or have an assistant to record observations to avoid verbalizing them at the wrong time.

[00:24:51] Video technology in sports has come a long way

[00:30:43] Video preparation needs to include planning pause points, asking specific questions, and using vocabulary that players can use to discuss concepts with their teammates.

[00:42:51] Importance of visualization and random practice

[00:48:01] Video analysis improves shot selection by creating an objective conversation

[00:51:16] Psychological safety allows for mistakes to be seen as learning opportunities

[00:53:19] The key to video analysis is pausing at the right moment

Doug Lemov Selected Links from the Podcast:

Doug Lemov

Teach Like a Champion (blog)

Teach Like A Champion 2.0 (book)

The Coach’s Guide to Teaching


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