It’s February and light is at the end of the tunnel. District playoffs are fast approaching. It’s almost playoff time. Teams and coaches are all over the place. Some are peaking and can’t wait for the playoffs, while some are checked out and ready for spring. Basketball is a long season, but why begin the journey if you’re not going to see it through?
Why start if you’re not going to finish strong?
Why put in the summer hours?
Why pay for summer league and camps?
Why wake up early?
Why be involved and invested since late October if you’re going to say, “I’m ready for it to be over?”
Whether you have a winning season, you’re in the middle of the pack, or it’s been a long one for you these five keys will help you and your team finish strong.
Remember your why. Why do you coach? Surely, it’s not only about the wins and losses? If it is, you’re in it for the wrong reasons. What do you enjoy most about coaching? Focus on that and be sure to make it a part of your daily routine as you finish the season. I’m willing to bet you love coaching because of the relationships you build. Schedule brief 1-on-1 meetings with your players and just talk. Engage with your players. Continue to utilize team and character building exercises. Every coach will experience good and bad seasons. No matter what type of season you’re having, remembering your “why” will give you clarity needed to finish it strong.
Think about the fun and joy high school basketball brings to so many people
Have fun. One of the great aspects and attractions to high school sports is the nostalgia surrounding it. It reminds us of care free days. Of times we thought we were stressed and were always so busy. (Ha, that’s funny now isn’t it?!) But there’s something about high school sports. I believe it’s the purity, competition, and shared joy we all experience. This past week I was sitting behind our JV bench during the game and I took a few moments to watch the crowd. Our team was up big, but what brought a smile to my face wasn’t something one of our girls did. Rather, it was a little old grandma from the opposing team. Her granddaughter’s team was getting crushed, but she had the biggest smile on her face. She clapped, cheered, and seemed to be having the best time watching her granddaughter have fun competing. To me that’s what high school sports is all about. So, if you’re struggling to find motivation in the last couple of weeks, think about the fun and joy high school basketball brings to so many people.
Celebrate small victories. Don’t focus on the scoreboard; especially if wins have been hard to come by. Focus on the effort given. Focus on the fundamentals and the progress your team has made. One idea is to set individual player goals and small team goals for each game. Look at a player’s season rebounding average and challenge them to get a couple more boards a game. Set a goal for your team to have less turnovers, more made free-throws, and more assists each game. Never be satisfied with where you’re at. Find ways to improve as the season winds down, and celebrate those small victories with your players.
To be a big achiever, you have to be a big believer.
Look at the big picture. You have to be a true believer in your team. If you’re not, there’s NO way your players are going to be. Dabo Swinney is a great example to follow. No one was a bigger believer in his players and team than Dabo. His supreme belief led his program to heights once thought impossible and this year’s National Championship. To be a big achiever, you have to be a big believer. Stay true to the vision and philosophy of your program. Don’t compromise the vision, if anything, now’s the time to reinforce it for your returning players next year. Make it a daily goal to collectively work with your players and coaches to reach your full potential before the last horn of the season. Never give up, never give in. Strive to be and reach your best until the end. (that sounded a little like Dr. Seuss, didn’t it? Oh well)
Have perspective and practice gratitude. Okay, so the season might not have gone exactly the way you wanted it to. Or maybe you’re one of the lucky coaches who has a ton of talent. Either way remember this statement: “Somebody, somewhere has it worse than you.” It’s true. There’s somebody in the world who would die or kill to be in the situation you are in. Remember, you are leading young people. Whether you’re winning games or not is besides the point. What are you teaching them about life? What tools are you giving them to win in the game of life? In 20 years, you and your players won’t remember the scores of games, but you will remember the time spent together. Be grateful for the opportunity to teach this beautiful game to the wonderful group of athletes you have. Tell them you love them. Enjoy every minute of it, because it will all be over in a blink of an eye. Don’t waste the opportunity you’re fortunate enough to have, remember somebody, somewhere would trade you in a heartbeat.
What tips do you have to help coaches finish their season strong? Please share!
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!
Coach Elmendorf is available to speak to your team, group, or organization message him for details.