[IUFR] The Teaching and Coaching Philosophies of Bob Knight
Coach Adragna presents a variety of archival video clips of Bob Knight explaining his approach to coaching basketball, leading teams, and getting the most of out of players.
[Editor’s note: Our weekly IU Film Room posts by are typically only for our paid subscribers and come out on Fridays. But we’re making this week’s edition about Coach Knight available to everyone and sending it out a day early.]
Bob Knight, the iconic figure who led the Indiana University men’s basketball program to its greatest heights, passed away yesterday.
He leaves a profound void in the world of college basketball.
Because of my age, my first memories of Bob Knight aren’t of watching him in action on the sidelines of Assembly Hall, but rather the echoes of his legacy.
Whether you recall the fiery intensity, the meticulous attention to detail, or the uncompromising dedication to excellence that defined his coaching style, we can all agree that Knight was an irreplaceable figure in the sport.
Over the years, I’ve had to delve into the archives to study and appreciate his teams and coaching philosophy. My earliest connection with the man came in the aftermath of his departure from IU, but that didn't stop me from diving deep into the history and video recordings that encapsulated his extraordinary career.
In this special edition of IU Film Room, I want to share some of my favorite YouTube videos that capture the essence of Bob Knight's coaching brilliance.
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While I may not have had the privilege of witnessing some of his greatest live coaching moments at Indiana, I've grown to admire and respect the legacy he left behind. Bob Knight's influence extended far beyond the basketball court, and his impact on the game, the players he mentored, and the fans who followed him will be felt for generations to come.
Join me in this edition of IU Film Room as we honor the memory of a coaching icon and explore the enduring lessons we can learn from his time at Indiana. Together, we'll gain a deeper understanding of the man, the legend, and the unwavering commitment to excellence that defined Bob Knight's storied career.
Thank you for being a part of the IU Film Room community, and let's continue to celebrate the game of basketball in the spirit of a true legend.
His Approach To Teaching
I’ve long appreciated Bob Knight’s belief that he was just a teacher and his subject matter was basketball. In the below video, he articulates his coaching style so well in six minutes.
Some of my favorite tidbits:
“Imagination is one of the most important things a basketball player can have. If you don’t have an imagination, then it’s very tough to recognize and anticipate.”
“One gun is all you need if you know how to use it.”
“Basketball is the most overcoached and undertaught game in the world.”
His Teaching Method
As a young coach who watched this video (and have since watched it many times after), I took so much from such a short clip that I’ve tried to apply to my own practices.
Break everything you do into parts that make the whole successful
The parts are the drills
“Any time there’s a problem with something in basketball, I think it’s incumbent upon you as a coach to develop a drill situation that will work to combat the problem that you have, that will work to straighten out the deficiencies that you have.”
“Set up situations that we continually go over that are important to our success.”
Every drill rotates from offense to defense, to the end of the line. This makes the defense a little tired because they just got done performing as the offense.
Emphasize the points that are most pertinent to what you’re doing in all phases of play.
“You are what you emphasize.”
“Constantly emphasize points going from one drill to another. What we work on today, we’re going to work on tomorrow.”
Correct mistakes as quickly as possible.
Coaches talk too much and work too little.
A pre-practice routine, in my opinion, is what can give a program an edge over what other programs do. How many times have you seen a practice in which “pre-practice” consists of players goofing around, shooting silly shots, chatting with their buddies, and not really getting into true “practice mode?”
Coach Knight was having none of that. Some things I gathered from this short clip:
He gave his assistant coaches opportunities to coach
Pre-practice individual work
Not afraid to correct his coaches if he didn’t like what they had devised
‘Pretend you’re shooting over King Kong.’
Prepare to Win
This one is lengthy, but I’m not sure there’s a better all-encompassing leadership video on the internet. Coach Knight touches on numerous matters to be an effective leader. Some tidbits from the video:
”If you want 70% results, you can’t take 40% shots.”
Your people have to know what you want.
Are you giving everything you’ve got as a leader as you’re expecting from your people?
‘Mental is to physical as 4 is to 1.’
Are you looking or are you seeing?
Are you hearing or are you listening?
4 ingredients of a disciplined person
“It’s not my team, it’s our team.”
Always be inquisitive.
Force your people to get involved.
Demanding - Don’t accept anything other than the best.
The difference between being liked and being respected.
The importance of organization as a leader.
The greatest compliment you can ever receive is “you got more out of me than I thought I could ever give.”
“When you’re up to your ass in alligators, remind yourself that your initial objective was to drain the swamp.”
Time is man’s most important asset.
“Be a flexible leader if you’re going to be an effective leader.”
There are certainly numerous other resources on the internet that showcase who Bob Knight was as a coach and leader (including this incredible Twitter thread), but those above are my favorite and really helped peel back the onion on leadership tactics.
RIP Coach Knight
Founder, IU Film Room