The 4 Pillars of Player Development

I believe in the adage “the best way to make the teams better is to make the players better.” Now certainly our job as coaches is to be able to provide an environment that enhances our players’ strengths will minimizing their weaknesses. But player development has been a critical component to the growth of our program, in season and out. We take a holistic approach when evaluating and developing our players, and we use what we call the 4 pillars to do that.

Pillar 1: Technical Skill. As mentioned in my earlier post, I define this as the mechanics, or ability perform the action. Shooting and passing with proper form. Defending in the appropriate stance. Learning a new move. Note that the technical skill does not necessarily refer exclusively to elementary level skills. NBA players are constantly adding new finishes, new evasion moves, etc. It has more to do with the process of learning. It is scripted. It is slow. It’s performing the technique with accuracy and precision. It is the “what to do” and the “how to do it.”

Pillar 2: Tactical Application. This is the “when” and the “why” to perform the move, take the shot, make the pass, etc. This is the game application. This is where decision making comes into play. Understanding the game. We believe this pillar is of paramount importance in developing players as well as creating high level teams. In fact, it’s essentially the namesake of the site.

Pillar 3: Physiological Ability. This is a player’s ability to perform on the court. Strength. Athleticism. Conditioning. Injury prevention. Injury rehabilitation. Rest. Nutrition. Hydration. Some of this is certainly out of my area of expertise, but we tap into all the resources we have available, and we place things like strength training, yoga, agility, etc. as high priority. We make it important to us as coaches to be involved in all areas to assure our players that it should also be important to them.

Pillar 4: Psychological Aptitude. This has to do with a player’s mental and emotional well being. We are learning more now than ever before the importance of this and how it can affect a player, and thus a team. This pillar is a little more like Pillar 2, in that it is difficult to quantify. Confidence. Motivation. Work ethic. Dispositional hope. Adaptive perfectionism. And many, many other big words that I’m not sure how to measure on the court. But I do know the players’ collective desire to improve, their desire to be coached, and their desire to win and belong to something bigger than themselves set the ceiling for our teams.

These quick summaries are just the tip of the iceberg for all they entail and their impact on player development. Good players are encouraged by the opportunity to become great, and we want to do all we can to help them get there.

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