For Coaches
Lessons from Lute: Treating players equally

Lessons from Lute: Treating players equally


By Greg Bach

University of Arizona basketball great Miles Simon – the Most Outstanding Player at the 1997 Final Four – learned countless lessons playing for legendary coach Lute Olson.

One of the most important was treating everyone equally, which he leans on these days as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

“One thing about Lute Olson is that from the first guy to the 15th guy he coached them hard, he taught them the right way to play, and he treated everybody the same,” Simon said before heading into the bubble in Orlando for the NBA playoffs. “So in my experiences of coaching with USA Basketball, in college and now in the NBA, I try to treat everybody the same and coach everybody just as hard and just as fairly, no matter who you are on the team. And that was a great lesson that I took from Coach Olson.”

And it’s a strong reminder for youth coaches of all sports to treat every youngster on the team the same and avoid the trap of directing more attention on the best players.

Growing up in Southern California, Simon fell in love with basketball early. A gifted athlete and relentless worker, his name is entrenched in March Madness lore.

While leading Arizona to that 1997 championship they toppled three No. 1 seeds in a row: Kansas, North Carolina and, in the title game, Kentucky. Simon had a game-high 24 points in the semifinal win over the Tar Heels and he delivered a game-high 30 points in the title game.

Check out what Simon shared about coaching kids that you can use to be a positive influence with your players:

Mistake Management

How do you help young players move on from a mistake? It’s pretty simple, explains Simon.

“I think it just comes from good coaching,” he says. “For me, my coaches let you know that you made a mistake, they corrected the mistake and then you moved on. It wasn’t something that was harped on.”

Tuned into Teaching

“If you’re coaching young players you have to be able to be a teacher,” Simon says. “It’s like being an elementary school teacher and if the student gets some questions wrong on the math homework you just don’t get mad at them and drill them like they’re not very smart – you teach them the right way to do those math problems and that’s the same thing that would happen in coaching. You teach those young players that this is why that turnover happened and let’s try to not make that same mistake again instead of getting mad or yelling at them.”

Focus on the Fundamentals 

“I think if you focus along the lines of the fundamentals offensively and defensively – passing, dribbling, shooting, being a team player and working hard – then you can help those young people have success,” he says. “Ultimately, when you’re the volunteer coach that’s what you’re searching for. It’s not about you as the coach. You have to make it about the kids.”

Miles Simon Coaching Teaching Fundamentals Mistakes Equal Treatment Leadership

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