It's fine to just be Clark Kent and not Superman

Feb. 17—One of the problems in our society is that too many parents want to be friends with their kids. Parents don't need to be friends with their children until it's time to discuss assisted living.

I want to continue where I left off with discussing 'practice'. With today's kids, the mental approach to practice is everything. Practice can't be as long as it was when I began coaching in 1973 (50 years ago) therefore, organization is a must.

The mentality should be that we GET to practice, not that we have to practice. The emphasis should be let's WIN practice today, not LOSE practice today. After all, you either win or lose a game. True? Also, try to end practice on a positive note, and if a player or two had a great practice, tell them.

At the end of practice and during conditioning, ask, "We'll be done if someone can make a 1 and 1 free throw." You are fortunate if you have a Danny DeMoss because he will always step up and want to do it. But, occasionally select that 10th or 12th player to do it and see what happens. It makes that kid feel special, and you'll see his teammates pulling for him out loud. A 'team-builder'.

I want to say this to you young coaches- "Don't be afraid to fail." Growing up in Hugo there were high school dances on Friday nights following high school football and basketball games at the Elks Lodge. When I was a little freshman at the dance, I boldly made my way down to the sacred senior section, so I could plagiarize some new dance moves and was later told to go back to the freshman area. It didn't bother me one bit to return, because, for a time, I lived in the vaunted senior section amongst all the good-looking girls and could now abandon the outdated, campy 'twist'. Don't fear failure.

I may be wrong about this....but I doubt it.

A successful coach will understand what each player is capable of giving him and then expect that from him. Some kids regardless of how hard they work just never get better.

I once had THAT kid, and he became an Airborne Ranger Special Forces Commander in Iraq. Your country says, "Thank You, Mike".

Another thing-forget is perfectionism but instead, expect improvement. This is why ducks don't go to eagle school. Now, I've seen some ducks who thought they should be in eagle school, but just be a good duck and don't try to do too much. In other words, just be Clark Kent and don't try to be Superman.

Okay, what I'll disclose next is Basketball 101. It's imperative that a coach also be a teacher and be able to transcend learning from practice to games. I always felt it was important to communicate the HOW and the WHY and not just the WHAT. You don't just learn WHAT you're doing, you should also learn HOW you're doing it and perhaps even more importantly, WHY you're doing it.

Case in point. On defense, your opponent goes to a full-court ball denial on your next possession. Don't waste a timeout to spoon-feed your team on what to do next.

Your players should recognize WHAT is happening with the sudden pressure, know HOW to score against pressure, and next, the WHY you're going to utilize two of the most successful answers versus pressure defense- the back-cut and slipping screens.

Every pressure defense hates to get back-cut, no exceptions.

Next, we'd a l be excited to see our vaunted, back door play, Roy 2 work to perfection. It's possible to beat quicker, more athletic teams by making them pay for overplaying defensively. Just lay it on the glass.

By the way, there have always been those 'select school teachers' who thought that coaches didn't teach. You might want to rethink that one.

I may be wrong about this....but I doubt it.

Your team should aspire to improve till the last day of the season. "When you're through improving-you're through."

During Christmas break in 1985, we were scrimmaging at Bishop McGuinness, and we absolutely could not win a quarter. I wanted to just win one quarter, so we could go eat. Didn't happen. I was livid and considered going straight home. Over two months later, we played them in the state finals and won, 53-44. A great day to be a Byng Pirate.

The lesson learned- the last time I checked, the state tournament is NOT played in December.

Also, I'm glad I took the kids to eat after the scrimmage.


— Alan Simpson