The Basketball Podcast: EP47 Brendan Suhr on Coaching Development

RELEASE DATE : 26/06/2019

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Brendan Suhr joins the podcast to discuss coaching development. Coach Brendan Suhr is viewed as one of the most respected figures in basketball with nearly 30 years as a coach and executive in the NBA and 13 seasons as a coach at the collegiate level.

Suhr has been a part of some of the most historical basketball teams of all time while winning back-to-back NBA Championships with the Detroit Pistons “Bad Boys”, as well as the 1992 “Dream Team” who won the Gold Medal for the United States at the Barcelona Olympic Games. He developed his “Servant Leadership” mentality while working as an Assistant Coach under Hall of Fame coaches Chuck Daly, Hubie Brown and Lenny Wilkins.

Ten years ago, Suhr also founded Coaching U, a coaching, leadership and learning company, that is a technology and live event business that focuses on individual and team development. He also is a consultant to the National Basketball Players Association serving to help current and retired players in the areas of coaching and leadership.

Suhr is also the founder and president of the speaking and consulting firm Off the Court, Inc., a business that features his skills as a keynote speaker, executive coach, author, and consultant for the last 25 years. The Gallup Organization has certified him as a “Master Strengths Coach”, one of only 5 people in the world who shares that distinction.


“The reason I’m coaching right now is because of Hubie [Brown] . . he was a teacher first . . so I think as a high school coach my recommendation would be: be a teacher first.”

“I think a lot of times, at the high school level, . . [coaches] are more concerned about developing a system than about teaching fundamentals.”

“The thing I’m most disappointed with in colleges is the level of coaching . .I see college coaches in the States and they do the same thing every year . . there’s no innovation, there’s no new teaching.

“In the NBA, we used to say the lifespan of a good play that we ran was two weeks . .then you’d better come up with a counter or something new.”

“Our job [as coaches] is to take the players where they can’t take themselves.”

“I coach the best coaches in the world, I teach the best coaches in the world, I go around the world teaching but I am on a journey to learn . . I learned more basketball in the last 10 years than I knew when I was winning world championships [in the NBA].”

“The most important part of coaching . . the art of coaching is . . the communication, the development of trust.”

“One of the great things you have to have if you’re going to be a good coach is . . credibility . .that when you teach something you teach it right, when you tell them something, it’s right.”

“It is one of the great ways to engage people . . let other people’s opinions count.”

“How can they [NBA coaches] get a team ready to play in three days? The best teams . . teach the whole method . . teach kids how to play.

“The transfer of learning from a drill to 5-on-5 is almost non-existent.”

“Take your first three or four days of practice and teach all your fundamentals . . then after that teach 5-on-5 play . . because that’s how we play . . and kids today don’t know how to play.”

“College basketball is the most over-coached, under-taught game in the world.”

“If you’re well coached, in theory, it doesn’t matter what the other team does.”

“How do I get my players to perform under pressure? You don’t do . . drills. Guys want to see it real time, 5-on-5.”

“When you’re a player, at any level, . . it’s all about ‘me’ – how many shots am I getting, how many minutes am I getting, et cetera . .you know when you’re a coach it’s never at all about ‘us’- it’s about the 12-14 players on the team.”

“Are you willing to sacrifice? Are you willing to do things that might even make you uncomfortable to really get better? Because it’s not going to be a smooth ride . . coaching is a suffering business.”

Click below to listen in if you listen on:

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1:00 – Introduction
2:00 – Things that Coaches are Missing
3:30 – Teacher First and Teaching Leadership
5:30 – Things Coaches Have to Keep in Mind in NBA Level
8:00 – College Level
10:30 – Preservation than Innovation; Service
11:30 – Value of Mentorship
14:30 – Certification
15:30 – Coaching is a Nice, Positive Term
16:30 – Art of Coaching
20:30 – Learnings from Hubie Brown
22:00 – Concept of Teaching
25:00 – Informality of Coach Education
26:00 – Passion Component
27:00 – Steve Kerr Likes “Joy”
28:30 – Biggest Tip He Got from Hubie Brown
29:45 – You Need to Have Credibility
32:00 – Advertisement (Dave Smart Program Video)
33:30 – What Do You Do When You’re Wrong?
36:30 – Putting More Effort in the Team
37:30 – The Way Coaches Practice
39:00 – Believing the Whole Method
42:00 – Working on Every Facet of the Game
43:00 – Teaching All Fundamentals Before the 5-on-5 Play
44:00 – Preservation vs Innovation
46:00 – Fear of Coaches
48:00 – Believing to their Head Coach
51:00 – Making Decision
53:00 – Practicing, Teaching and Drawing Up the Plays
56:00 – Hardest Things As Players Transition into Coaching
58:30 – Talking about Players
1:00:00 – Highlights for Coach U Podcast
1:01:30 – Commitment that You Really Need Have to Learn
1:02:40 – Coaching is a Suffering Business
1:04:00 – Conclusion

Brendan Suhr:




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