Joystick coaching

This past weekend, I attended 2 AAU basketball tournaments. Reason being, to support current and past Youth Hoop campers! It was a blast watching, encouraging and recapping everything that occurred in the games!

While observing the basketball games, it’s very natural for me to study coaches, as well. I’m always looking to learn something from them that I may be able to add to my arsenal. Sometimes you learn what to do. And other times, you learn what not to do.

On this day, one coach, in particular, caught my eye! He was telling his players what to do, and how to do it at all times! In other words, the coach was playing the game for his players, dictating all their decisions for them from the sideline. “Pass it to Bob!” “Dribble inside!” “Double team! Double team!”

This phenomenon is called joystick coaching!

Short-term, joystick coaching “may” win the game. Long-term, it could be detrimental to a kid’s confidence, and development. Why? The kid will constantly be looking over their shoulder for direction, and won’t play the game with any sense of freedom. Ouch!!!

Truth be told, early in my basketball coaching career, I was guilty of joystick coaching! When I saw this coach, I immediately realized how bad I looked! You live and you learn! This is definitely not the case now.

At Youth Hoops Basketball Camps, my coaching approach is as follows: teach player new skill, ensure player understands skill, and then allow player to get repetitions.

The key is, coaches should never over coach! Once player understands what’s being asked or demonstrated, allow him or her to work through their kinks. Later on, the coach may chime in. In the long run, the player will be far better off.

About the author 

Coach Berry

John Berry (a.k.a. Coach Berry) has been a basketball coach and skill development trainer since 1993 and has coached hundreds of games and instructed 1,000’s of kids. Coach Berry is, and always has been committed to helping youth in life and on the basketball court.