Doc Scheppler is currently the Head Girls Basketball Coach at Pinewood High School located in northern California and has worked closely with Sparta for a number of years. His teams have won over 500 and six Division V state titles in his coaching career. In 2014 he was voted the Cal-Hi Sports State Coach of the Year. Doc has been coaching basketball for 40 years and in addition to his successes at the high school level, he is also the private shooting coach for NBA star Jeremy Lin.
You have worked with elite professional athletes and high school athletes – other than skill, what is the biggest difference between the two?
There many age and gender differences between the athletes I’ve worked with. As a coach, you have to find a manner in which to connect with that athlete on their level. Once you establish that in your initial time, a trust and bond develops. I really like the saying that “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. The key ingredients that I find with all athletes regardless of age is how self-motivated they are, and, if they have a coachable spirit. I find when I work with any athlete of any age, when they have those 2 traits the workouts are productive and you can make a progressive, layered improvement in their skill set.
What’s the one piece of advice advice would you give to the young athlete to get to the “elite” level?
An obvious response is hard work and putting in the time necessary for greatness. But, the athlete must spend that time judiciously on the specific sport skill mastery, tactical knowledge through drills and games, and maximize their athletic ability through disciplined training. All sports have various requirements for being an elite athlete, and it is up to the athlete to understand and implement a detailed plan on how to accomplish that. Working hard isn’t enough. It’s what you’re working hard at that’s also crucial. In basketball, it’s foot skills, ball skills and combining them for offensive proficiency, and lots of 1-1,2-2,3-3, 4-4 playing experience. Basketball is such an open skill sport that you have to train the players to master moves like a gymnast or ice skater and give them lots of repetitions playing to learn to make the right decision at the right time in a constantly changing environment. The other pieces of the puzzle are maximizing your strength level as an athlete as well as following a plan for nutrition and rest. What I tell my athletes is that all we do in practice to develop your skills will mean nothing if you’re not nutritionally and rest prepared.
Where do you see the field of performance and injury prevention opportunities for growth?
Everybody should be in constant quest to do things better… to try and get your athletes better in a more efficient manner. whether it be in their training or skill development. I love the growth mindset! A major part of that is to educate all those in the field to constantly evolve, to do research, to get out of their stubborn box and embrace new, improved ways to make their athletes better. I think all coaches should have the same motivation for personal improvement that they require of their athletes.
In your opinion, what is the biggest problem you see with youth athletics today?
1. Too many games and not enough skill and strength training.
2. Too many adult organized activities. Today’s kids don’t realize the joy of playing sports without adult interference. Going outside to play sports for fun and recreation. I grew up in a neighborhood where every day we played games for the purity of “playing”
3. Parental insanity with their children’s sport career. They are invested in terms of time, money etc. They lose their sense of sports perspective because they are so “invested” in their child’s career, and their behavior can ruin the experience for players and coaches alike. When I got into coaching 40 years ago, the coaching profession was a noble endeavor where the coach was viewed as an authority figure and an integral part of the development of their child. now, in todays world, coaches are viewed as country club employees who are only there to cater to their needs.
With todays “new” athlete, how have you been able to continue to instill a culture of effort and trust with your athletes?
Our standard of excellence is a culmination of doing everything the right way. How we practice, how we train, our style of play. Hard work is fun because getting better is fun. If you do everything with pride and joy success finds you, and not only in your athletic careers.