I got to participate on a coaches zoom call recently with Dave Niland, the very successful long-time head coach at Penn State – Behrend. Coach Niland has a terrific approach to basketball and is a great guy to have a conversation with if you ever get the chance.

He was talking about communication and the issues we all have with getting our players to talk more. He brought up the idea that before you can get them to talk, you have to make sure they can see what is really happening on the court. They have to be aware, and be able to process exactly what is happening in order to be able to communicate properly. Many guys have trouble seeing the game very clearly and processing it quickly, and that inhibits their ability to communicate.

Coach Niland’s point was before you can ask them to communicate, ask them what they see. Get them to describe for you what they saw on a certain play, and see if it matches with what you saw. You have to get on the same page with how to read and process plays before you can communicate to one another.

I love the point and think it’s a really good way to approach communication. You can scream at your guys all day about taking on the court, but if you don’t get to the bottom of what they are seeing and how they process it, you’ll never get them to talk.

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