Note: This is a the second post in a series on the “superpowers” coaches can add to level up in the coaching profession. First entry: Coaching Superpowers: Drill Creation

In the video game world, an adept player earns “superpowers” which help them advance to higher levels in the game. Perhaps, through skillful play and experience, the character in the game earns x-ray vision or some form of advanced weaponry. Those would be the superpowers that give the character an advantage over their foes and help them reach deeper levels of the game. Play the game well and the character earns enough superpowers to be near invincible.

In the coaching world there are superpowers – earned skills that a coach needs to become a master level player in the coaching game. This series will be about those superpowers. The key word here is earned, and earning involves making mistakes, correcting and learning until the superpowers become yours.


If you’ve followed sports long enough this story is one you have heard before. It could be from football or basketball or any number of team sports and at any level.

About midway through the season a team is having mixed results. Maybe they are hovering around .500. Then suddenly they finish the season strong perhaps with a long winning streak.

As the media takes notice of the improved results, microphones and cameras are pointed at the coaches and players and they are asked “what has led to this hot streak and improved play?”

The answers almost always sound like this:

“…we got back to basics.”

“…we simplified. We were thinking too much instead of just reacting.”

“…we cut back and we just started playing ball, having fun instead of thinking.”

It’s never:

“…we added 68 new plays to our playbook and our season just took off!”

In this day and age with information at our fingertips and expectations of immediate results bearing down, it’s easy to see how complexity can creep in. But it does not work. Simple always wins.

But what if you could avoid this cycle? What if you could start simple and stay simple? You can!

If you are looking for a way to set yourself apart from your coaching competition, the answer is easy: simplify. In a world where everyone else is answering problems with “more,” the ability to stay lean in your coaching and simplify is a superpower.

How to Simplify

In our #RAMP Program for coaches, we walk coaches through a four-step process which helps them start simple and stay simple.

  • Step 1 – Decide upon a style of play that will be highly identifiable with your program. This is beginning with the end in mind. How do we want to play? What do we want to be “known for” in terms of style of play?

  • Step 2 – Identify the priority skills needed to play this way optimally. For example, if we are going to be a motion offense program, then setting, reading and using off-ball screens are priority skills in this program. If we are going to be a dribble drive program then the catch-and-shoot three is a priority skill. Identifying how we want to play reduces our teaching menu. We just need to “go big” on the skills we need to play this way successfully.

  • Step 3 – Spell out our teaching points and standards for the priority skills we identified in Step 2. How will we teach those skills? What does our language, terminology and coaching points for those skills sound like? What does mastery of these priority skills look like exactly?

  • Step 4 – Implementation. Implement the style of play at all levels. Implement the player development pathway that instills our priority skills in our players. Use the feeder program to bring both the style of play and priority skills to life. College programs, recruit for it and then continue to develop for it. Pro teams, draft and sign for it and then continue to develop for it.

After this four-step process we have a blueprint. We know who we are (or aim to be). We know just what we need to be good at to play our brand of basketball optimally. We have a plan for teaching the things we must be good at. Ther have a process in place that brings it to life.

Now the hard part, sticking to it when success does not happen overnight. Can we resist the urge to let complexity slip in? It’s hard. That’s why simplification is a superpower.

Continue the conversation:

Suggested reading and listening: “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown and his “Essentialism Podcast”

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Any questions, contact us! Happy to talk hoops any time day or night!