The official beginning to the high school basketball season is kicking off in a few days if it hasn’t already in your state. It’s an exciting time for both players and coaches. Everyone is excited and ready to go. Besides having energy and enthusiasm, what else is needed for a successful beginning to the season? This week we’re going to discuss five ways for players and coaches to start their seasons off right.
Let’s begin first with the coaches as they set the standards and establish the culture surrounding the program.
- Intentionally Plan—Practice plans should be made every single day. They should be typed and follow a standard outline, not just scribbled on a piece of paper. No player should ever walk into practice not knowing what they’re going to be doing that day. Coaches should plan each practice down to the exact minute, and never just “wing it.” By intentionally planning the practice coaches will get the most out of their players and the minutes they have with them.
- Do the Best Coaching in Practice—The best teams have coaches who understand that their best work is done in practice. One of the greatest coaches of all time, John Wooden, rarely stood up and “coached” during the games. He planned and coached his players during practices so that they would know what to do when the ball was tipped. A sign of a well-coached team is when the players know what to do, and then execute it without the coach’s help. Coach your best in practice so players can play their best in the game.
- Build Up—One of the most important jobs a coach has is to build up their player’s confidence. This needs to be done early and often throughout the season. A great coaching motto to go by is: Praise Loudly and Criticize Softly. In order to perform at their best, players need to know that the coach has confidence in them. Coaches, when you see a player doing something you like, make it a point to praise that action loudly for all to hear. Conversely, when you see something you don’t like, don’t scream at the player in front of the team. Pull them aside to deliver the message at the appropriate time.
- Find Your Team’s Strengths—As coaches we all hope our team has many strength’s but the reality is that our teams are usually only good at three or four things. Early in the season (ideally this is what summer is for) the coach should identify what the strengths will be. Next, coaches should make it a point to work on these things every day in practice. Your team can’t be good at everything, so find what you are good at, and make it stronger.
- Communicate—The best coaches know how important clear and constant communication is. In order to fully reach all players and get the collective buy-in coaches must effectively communicate their messages. This could include: talking in person (a lost art these days), text messages, video clips, a team Facebook page, and team twitter page. Whatever median is chosen, make sure the communication is clear and consistent.
Players, here are five ways to take your game to the next level this season.
- Show Up Mentality—You’ve just had a long day at school and before you hit the court you need to get your mind right. Find a couple of minutes alone where you can clear your head. Go back to the goals you have as a player and the goals your team has and ask yourself, “How can I make us better today?” Then look over the practice schedule and see what is on the agenda. Be thinking about how you can be your best and be mentally prepared for each part of practice.
- Get in Great Shape—The best players are in the best shape. You will not reach your full potential unless your body can handle being pushed to the limits. Make sure you eat healthy, drink plenty of water throughout the day (not right before or during a practice), and get your rest. You will not be the best you can be if you’re not watching what you put into your body, and making sure you’re in the best shape you physically can be in.
- Ask Questions—Ask them early, often, and ask a lot of them. A player who asks a lot of questions tells the coach that he or she is invested. It tells the coach you care and that you want to get better. Coaches love players who ask questions. It’s not enough just to know what to do. To get to the next level, know why you’re being asked to do something and know what all your teammates are doing as well.
- Hold Yourself Accountable—Don’t make excuses. Each day hold yourself to a high standard. What you do in each drill at each practice matters. Once you’re able to hold yourself accountable and to a high standard, you can then start holding teammates accountable. However, there’s nothing worse than a hypocrite. You can’t try to hold your teammates accountable if you’re not “walking the walk” yourself. The best teams have players who hold themselves and their teammates accountable.
- Have Positive Energy—Can you be positive every day? Can you bring energy that’s contagious every day to practice? If so, you’re on your way to becoming a team leader. The best teams have multiple leaders, not just one. Coaches love players who are internally driven and are able to motivate their teammates through their positive energy. There will always be room on a team for those who have positive energy!
Whether you’re a coach or a player, you’ll be well on your way to having a successful season if you’re able to implement these five strategies. Best of luck this season, and if I can ever be of assistance please let me know!
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be an RGP today!