Cause and Effect in the realm of Basketball

For this special blog post, we are happy to have guest-blogger Sean J. McCaw on this. As a Player Education Specialist, Sean is using his experience and knowledge from almost 30 years of playing, coaching, and living in Europe to educate players, provide real-world guidance that helps players flatten the learning curve, avoid mistakes, maximize their talent and succeed as a pro in Europe.

Hi everyone,

I recently tuned into a podcast featuring a renowned college basketball coach, and what he shared about Cause and Effect in the realm of basketball got me thinking. He went into the notion that many coaches prioritize the CAUSE of winning or losing games rather than the EFFECT.

Picture this: coaches are engrossed in meticulous preparation, crafting scouting reports, analyzing game tapes, and strategizing to expose opponents’ weaknesses while shielding their team’s shortcomings. However, when it comes to the actual game, coaches lack direct influence on the EFFECT or the final outcome. They’re not out on the court; they can only hope that their exhaustive preparation translates into players executing the envisioned actions.

On the flip side, players are laser-focused on the outcome—winning or losing. On the court, the intensity of the game demands they rely more on instinct than on the prescribed game plan. While players may understand the strategy, they might act instinctively if they believe they can control the offensive player in a pick-and-roll differently from what the coach demands. Players have a more personal stake in the result, emphasizing the outcome over the preparation.

Curious about others’ perspectives, I conducted a poll on my Instagram story, asking my “teammates” (followers) which they deemed more important. Surprisingly, 71% leaned towards the Cause, while 29% championed the Effect. A closer look revealed that all those in the 29% were current players, while the majority in the 71% were either coaches or retired players.

This aligns with the coach’s theory: players tend to focus on winning and losing, while coaches (or those now on the sidelines) appreciate the value of meticulous preparation. Having experienced both roles as a professional player and coach, I found it intriguing to consider. Yes, poor preparation often results in subpar performance, but there are instances where I’ve won games despite feeling underprepared and lost games while thinking the game plan was flawless.

Deciding which is more crucial is complex; they are intertwined. In the short term, talent might secure a win or two without meticulous preparation. However, in the long run, I’m skeptical that a talented team can clinch a championship without thorough preparation. That’s just my humble opinion.

About Sean J. McCaw

Sean spent over thirteen-years playing professionally in Austria’s first league, France’s second league, Portugal’s first league, England’s first league, Switzerland’s first league, and Germany’s first and second leagues. He won multiple titles and also played for Austria’s National team as a Neutralized Austrian citizen. After retiring as a player, Sean coached at various levels in Germany, including the first league, for over eight years. Currently, he lives in Germany with his family and is working as an Educator at an International School and of course, educator of hoopers.

Learn more about his consultation service on

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