In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, retired college coach, and current author, speaker and consultant, Sherri Coale joins the Basketball Podcast to share insights on intention, and the writing and coaching process.
Coale last appeared on EP28 of the Basketball Podcast.
She served as the head coach of the University of Oklahoma Sooners women’s basketball team for 25 years, from 1996 to 2021. During her tenure, her teams won multiple Big 12 championships, qualified for 19 straight NCAA tournaments, and earned their way into three Final Fours. She had the privilege of coaching 4 All-Americans, 14 WNBA draft selections, and a whole bunch of remarkable women who rewarded her still with their lives.
In addition to working the Oklahoma sideline, Coale participated in USA Basketball as an assistant coach in 2001 and as the head coach in the 2013 World University Games where her squad defeated Russia on their home floor to bring home the gold.
Sherri Coale Quotes:
“I don’t know if coaches always realize how much of a skill set they have to offer the world. Coaching creates this wide, broad spectrum of skills . . it’s a great career to be able to parlay into other careers because you have a lot of experience in different types of activities and in different circumstances and with different types of people. . I don’t think that a day goes by in which I don’t use my coaching background.”
“That’s why I loved motion offense so much. There’s just so much room for artistic improvisation. It can get better and better and better based upon the knowledge and the understanding of the players and the connection of the players on the floor. I love that creative process.”
“I would always tell the story of the redwood tree. In order for us to reach as tall as we could possibly reach and to be as strong as we could possibly be, especially in times of adversity, we didn’t need to dig down as much as we needed to reach out and wrap around each other. And so that whole metaphor of wrapping around your roots, wrap around each other to hold one another up.”
“The foundation of what we did when we began to work on motion offense was the basket cut. People are like, ‘Everybody knows how to cut to the basket.’ No, they really don’t. And they don’t practice it like they should. So, that was a big part of two-on-zero passing and cutting and recreating space. Those things had to be in place so that when we got that blank canvas for our motion offense, we had some ability to paint it in the way we wanted it to be.”
“It’s amazing how when we articulate what it is that is challenging us or the impediment that’s out there, how we can find our own way through it. But we need a good, safe listener where we can dislodge all of that so that we can untangle it and find our way through. It’s just like asking players, ‘Tell me why you went there.’ Those open-ended questions are so important in the consulting world. And coaches now more than ever, need thinking partners.”
“The quicker you can move from that phase of teaching to the asking phase, the deeper the understanding of the athlete and the higher the ceiling for her performance. There is no doubt in my mind that that’s the way to do it. As a teacher in a classroom, when you ask questions, students have to think.”
“A couple of things happen when you find your own way. Number one, you build these muscles to be able to find your way again. But number two, you remember it forever. When someone pours it in and you regurgitate it out, you forget it pretty quickly. When you have to find it for yourself, it sticks.”
“We have players who all they want is an opportunity. And I think what you teach, as much as anything, is that every single second of every single day is an opportunity. It’s how we look at it. And for players, practice is an opportunity. So is the weight room. So is watching film. There are all kinds of opportunities that stack up. Helping young people learn to see opportunity everywhere because it is there is part of our charge as coaches.”
Sherri Coale Breakdown:
1:00 – With Intention
5:00 – Inspiration to Write
8:00 – Trusting the Process
11:00 – Importance of Foundations
16:00 – Asking Coach
20:00 – Self Discovery
26:00 – Story Telling
28:30 – Getting Unstuck
33:00 – Human Interaction
38:00 – Being Beside Someone
44:00 – Asking Great Questions
49:30 – Retrieval Practice
52:00 – Conclusion
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