Here in Missouri we are in the final two weeks of the regular season. It is an exciting time with district playoffs right around the corner. At this point in the season, teams can either count down the days until it’s over or continue to work at becoming the best they can possibly be. This week I am going to offer five thoughts for the final stretch of the season.
My first thought, don’t over coach. Last week I was talking to my dad about a game and a team in particular we were watching. He said something that stood out, “I think the coach over-coaches sometimes. You don’t have to call a set every time down the court.” This stood out to me. As a coach, I like to call sets to get initial movement and ball reversal for our offense. However, I also teach and instill motion concepts for both man and zone defenses and like to let our kids just play. This past Monday we were in a close game with the lead. Instead of calling out sets, I let our girls just flow into an offense and play. We extended our lead because I trusted what I had taught my players. As coaches we need to let go and trust our players. We don’t have to control every possession. If we’ve done our jobs during the season, our players are prepared to play with guidelines. The best teams allow players freedom to play.
At the end of the season, shorten your on court time. In the stretch run coaches need to save players’ legs for games. Your on court time should be no greater than 1:15 minutes. Most teams are playing 2-4 games a week, especially with make up games from this brutal winter weather. Keep things fresh at practice by mixing in a few new drills that teach the same fundamental concepts you’ve taught all year. Keep things short and to the point. While your on the court time must be shortened, your time spent watching film should increase, especially if you’re playing a team for the second or third time. Coaches, make a point to show your players clips of what they do best. Players respond to this best and will take the constructive criticism if you show them their highlights!
In order to keep things fresh, add variations to your sets. By now all coaches should know what their team does well and doesn’t do well. I highly recommend using @krossovr as your source for film breakdown, they are a game changer. By adding wrinkles to your sets, not only can you throw teams for a loss who have you scouted, but your players’ interest is held. By adding slight variations to what you do, it shows your players that you care and are still working hard late in the season. And most importantly, it can give you the extra advantage in a close game!
As the season winds down, make time for team bonding. This might some crazy to some, but cancel practice one day. We played on Monday and Tuesday nights this week. On Wednesday, we didn’t practice so we could have a team-bonding event. Some coaches will just give the players the day off, but I don’t see the point of that. I think there’s much to be gained by having a team-bonding event rather than just a day off. In previous years we have gone out to dinner and gone bowling. Another option could include going to the movies. This year we played games in the gym, then ordered pizza and just hung out as a team. Whatever it is, just make time to have fun together as a team. One day away from the court isn’t going to kill the team. In fact, it might rejuvenate the players for your stretch run!
My final thought this week is to be a beacon of hope. In high school different programs have different goals at the beginning of the season. Hopefully they were realistic and have been addressed throughout the season. Our job as coaches is to keep hope alive. Success is measured by getting up after we’ve been knocked down. It’s measured by maintaining a high level of enthusiasm for what we do no matter how many defeats we’ve faced. So in the final weeks of your regular season, be a beacon of hope for your team. Keep your players motivated and believing that they can accomplish your season’s goals. If you don’t do this as a coach, then no one will. No team can win a championship without hope and a great belief in itself. This starts from the top with the coach.
What are some of your end of season thoughts and ideas? Any team-bonding events or activities you’d suggest?
As always, thanks for reading, have a great week, and be and RGP today!