The value of coaching clinics

Updated: August 6, 2011, 4:25 PM ET
By Jay Bilas

The news surrounding sports can sometimes make coaches appear as competitors rather than colleagues. On the floor and in the recruiting realm, there is no question that coaches are intense competitors. But away from the gym, coaches are colleagues, and coaching levels are hard to spot. In my experience, there is no better place to see coaches as colleagues than at coaching clinics.

Clinics take place all over the country, and at every level of the game. They are invaluable for coaches to share and learn new teaching techniques, new strategies, new concepts, and to network. This summer, I attended "Coaching U Live" in Orlando, Fla., and reviewed notes and materials from Villa 6 by VCU in Las Vegas, and everything I gleaned from those clinics made me feel good about the game, and those that teach and coach it.

Coaching U Live is about the nuts and bolts of coaching, including strategies, concepts and teaching points. Villa 6 is about the business of coaching, and helping coaches prepare to successfully navigate their way through the game and up the ladder in college coaching. Both provide unique perspectives for coaches of any age and any level.

First, while the competitive nature of the game might cause one to perceive that coaches would be loath to share information that might provide them a competitive advantage, nothing could be further from the truth. In my experience, coaches are quick to share what they know, and to advance the game by teaching what they know to others. In fact, the coaches I know believe that sharing basketball knowledge is an obligation.

Second, the humility of the coaches is uplifting. Sitting in the stands at Coaching U Live taking notes and sharing information were current and former NBA head coaches, NBA assistant coaches, college coaches, high school coaches, NBA front office personnel, NBA scouts and college and pro administrators. NBA head coaches were taking notes when college coaches spoke, and when NBA assistants spoke. The voice and opinion of a high school coach was valued as much as any coach in attendance. The clinic wasn't about levels; it was about knowledge and substance.

Coaching U Live is the brainchild of NBA assistant coaches Kevin Eastman and Brendan Suhr, two of the best teachers in basketball. The clinic was two days, and the quality content of teaching techniques, strategies and concepts was staggering. Speakers included Eastman and Suhr, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, former college head coach George Raveling, St. John's assistant coach Mike Dunlap, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.

I am not going to go over all of the X's and O's from Coaching U Live. Suffice it to say, Suhr, Van Gundy and Dunlap were fabulous, and provided more quality X's and O's teaching than could be adequately conveyed and digested here. But there were several points that stood out to me and might be of interest: