Coaches Corner: Empowering your players

*Coach of the year will receive a free 13×19 framed poster compliments of Popscout.

What’s the focal point of your program…wait don’t answer.  Are you empowering your players to be the best they can be?  If so, then how?  The ability for coaches to (1) know the game of basketball and (2) the skill-set to administer that philosophy, is becoming critical for the long term success of a program.

Player/Coach Relationships

It’s a slippery slope these days, with so many players jumping ship at any and every discomfort. Developing chemistry and unity among teams used to evolve around a year on JV then you’d be bumped up to Varsity.  Kids these days want immediate gratification/satisfaction upon entering the high school bball arena.  JV is seen as a bummer and unattractive. Parents are enraged that one kid is playing over another and decides to try a greener pasture.

With that being said, let’s take a look at a few coaches who’ve stood the test of time.  Those who continue to draw something up, empowering their players to perform, excel, and evolve over the course of their high school playing careers.  Coaches who excel at meeting their players halfway, showing a unique ability to craft a game-plan that allows their team to grow and ultimately their program to flourish as a result.

Windward Head Coach Vanessa Nygaard heads to the locker room during halftime of their first meeting with Harvard Westlake. Popscout

Windward Head Coach Vanessa Nygaard
We’ve watched Windward play 5 or so games this season and would like to give a shout out to Coach Vanessa Nygaard.  The relationship she has with her players is special.  Rarely will you see her pull players and berate them, if ever.  She empowers her players by allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them, rather than pull a player for making an error and place them in the dog house.  It’s no wonder Windward is currently 17-3, 4-0, with a State ranking of #3, #7 nationally per Maxpreps.  We love the way coach interjects her younger players in the mix as well, empowering them for years to come.  With her knowledge of the game and her ability to relate to her players and empower them, just speaks volumes.  Kudos coach.

Taft Head Coach Derrick Taylor reacts to a call during the 2017 Culver City Finale Tourney. Popscout

Taft Head Coach Derrick Taylor
No one on the high school circuit communicates with their players so eloquently as Coach Taylor does.  Talk about a coach who allows you to take your game to the next level.  Had a chance to sit with content provider Hoopcodes as he was editing some footage of Taft where he had the mic hooked up to Coach Taylor during the Rolling Hills Prep Fall Classic.  Never had I heard a coach communicate, empowering players with his knowledge of the game like coach Taylor does.  It’s no surprise why he’s been picked to coach a McDonald’s All American game, as well as produced PG’s such as Jordan Farmer, Larry Drew, Kihei Clark, and others – out of a city section school you feel me (Taft).  We love the way he communicates with his players as it shows, from the output of D1 Players, that they are listening to a sound basketball mind who knows the game and passes on his knowledge and passion to his players.


Etiwanda Head Coach David Kleckner
Etiwanda has been a staple in the IE for quite some time.  Coach David Kleckner has proven that his philosophy and style of play yields results.  The Eagles are sitting pretty at 25-1, 8-0 with a State Ranking of #3 and national ranking of #7 (Maxpreps).  No one but Kleckner and his staff probably knew how good they could be – and become – under his tutelage.  He does a masterful job at allowing his players to play through their mistakes while still holding them accountable for their actions.  As a result, the Eagles are one of the 8 favorites to make some noise in the CIF SS Open Division playoffs.  Players buy into his teachings and gain a wealth of knowledge as a result.  Continue to be special coach.  We see you.

Where legends are Born.


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