The Sound of Silence


Karl Malone, hall of famer, truck driver and wearer of one of the Association’s best draft night ensembles, recently said he would prefer Scotty Pippin to Michael Jordan as a teammate. Ordinarily, I would prefer the sound of silence over anything that Malone has to say, but in this instance it drew a response that the Bulls should release footage of practice from the Jordan-Pippin, or as Malone would have it, Pippin-Jordan Bulls. The Bulls practiced behind a screen at the Berto Center sequestered from the public. The Bulls were a traveling circus, but Phil Jackson constructed a sanctuary around the most sacred aspect of their dynasty….their preparation.

Stories have trickled out since of Jordan and Pippin going against each other, and Jordan’s ongoing battle against softness, and his own competitive demons, but in that time, the team was protected from the noise and judgments behind the screen. It served them well.

One of my frustrations as a JV coach at Winter Springs, is that we have only one gym, and limited practice time. At summer practice, we will have 15-25 guys representing all three levels of the program at once. The disparity of talent precludes working together for long periods of time resulting in multiple drills going on at once. The noise and activity is distracting to our younger, immature players. There is the obvious lesson in concentration to be learned, but this comes at the expense of valuable teaching time.

Teaching is a vital part of improvement, and it is best done in a tranquil environment. Teaching the game involves instruction on the detailed components of technique and tactics, and must be open for discussion to insure comprehension.

A few weeks ago, I had a dreadful run of losses at a Friday open gym. The entire time, we had music playing loudly. My team lacked structure on both ends, made poor decisions and grew disjointed and frustrated. This is rare when I am on the floor, but it happened because I was deprived of my greatest asset…..communication. I could not hold my team together because they couldn’t hear me speak.

Last night, Mr. Charm work-out one of my players one on one. We talked after, and he expressed how he spent half the session individually going over how to play a spot in our zone defense. I know their will be immediate improvement from this player, not simply because Mr. Charm is an excellent coach, but the teaching was the only sound in the silence.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

2 thoughts on “The Sound of Silence

  1. sounds like the reason some football teams practice with loud music so that the players get used to overcoming the road noise – see to it that you teach your players to overcome the loss of the preferred environment and that communication becomes less reliant upon the verbal

  2. I agree to the extent that noise can be a valuable part of preparation to play in a hostile environment and thus a component of training, but I believe teaching the game at a basic level, technical and tactical requires an environment of minimal distration.

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