Malcom Gladwell writes about youth sports, Rick Pitino, David & Goliath and war strategy in the New Yorker:
When Vivek Ranadive’ coached his Redwood City – 12 year old girls basketball team to the National Junior Basketball Championships, he was more than a curiosity. Never having played basketball, and coaching because his girls wanted to play – He coached by two rules:
1.) He would Never Ever raise his voice because he knew 12 year old girls don’t respond well to that, and:
2.) He would disguise their weaknesses on offense by playing tenacious defense – every minute of every game.
You can guess that his team was smallish and had no real quality shooters. But what his girls did have was a great attitude and they were superbly conditioned. He knew they would have to do something extraordinary to compete with taller and more seasoned basketball teams. He crafted an unusual, yet remarkably effective approach toward the game crafted from observation of teams at different levels and a keen sense of war strategy. Ultimately, he adopted a way different game plan and proceeded to coach his Redwood City girls basketball team to success, great fun and legendary results. With his assistant coaches, Roger Craig (49ner great NFL star) and Rometra Craig (his daughter – USC and Duke Div. I basketball alum) and, support from far and wide – their Redwood City team almost pulled it off, much to the chagrin of other teams’ coaches, their parents, and even a fair number of referees who didn’t know what to make of it…much less how to play against it.
The beauty of his defensive scheme rested in mastering the fundamentals of the full court press. It’s credence established through an eloquent review of war strategy, David and Goliath, and an insightful study of Rick Pitino – whose press is legendary amongst NCAA coaches. This unusual piece by Gladwell in none other than the New Yorker is intelligent, beautifully written and filled with insights on coaching strategy – leveling the playing field – youth sports – team work – and ATTITUDE!