Motivating Without Losing It

As a coach at any level you want to be able to get your message and point across to all of the players that you coach. You spend countless hours preparing for your team’s practices and games. We all want our players to be as invested and dialed in to the task at hand like we are, but that is not a reality for all players.

Sometimes players will underachieve or not give the effort that you expect them to. The first thing that comes to mind is to scream and yell at the top of our lungs to get your point across to them to voice your frustration with them. This tactic more often than not came from the coach that you played or worked for while coming up in the ranks of coaching.

The coaches that I grew up playing for or spending time with were mostly all screamers. It was a trait that I adopted in my coaching for most of my jobs in basketball. It was something that I found to be acceptable because that’s all I knew . I thought that a player will never get your point without getting in their face and screaming at them calling them every name in the book.

When working camps in the summer, or coaching JV, or even working with college/NBA players in the off season yelling was always the answer for some reason. I thought that they really got the point if you screamed, not knowing that players mostly lose respect for you or shut you off at some point. Common sense should have told me this a long time ago, but it didn’t reach my brain until a few years ago.

The best thing that you can do to get through to your players is to take the time to talk and get to know them. Connecting to your players and getting their views on different topics in basketball can be a great help to you. That is something that I adopted early in my coaching career and it has helped me get through to them. I ask them every question in the book to help get better presence with not only them but any player that works with me.

As a coach you control a lot of aspects of your team. The number one thing that you control is who plays and who doesn’t. Playing time is the lifeblood of any player and when you take that away from them they have very few options, but to do things your way. You can’t bench players for every mistake or every deficiency that they may have. Every player will make mistakes, like you they are human. Don’t ever think that you can coach a player to be perfect as that player doesn’t exist.

I think effort across the board from your best players to your worst should be judged the same. Respect to the team players/coaches again should be universal. There should be rules that are black and white that your team lives by. You need to draw the line in the sand that these rules can’t be bent or broken or their will be consequences. Yes, you can run guys and put them on the line, but just like yelling at them that will only go so far.

By using the tactic of sitting players, you have to understand a few things. First off you have to be willing to do this to all of your players. You can’t just do this for the players who come off the bench from top to bottom this has to apply. Secondly sitting players for missing shots will never get anything accomplished. As long as they are playing within their role, giving effort, and playing unselfishly sitting them shouldn’t apply. Here are some of the reasons to sit players.

1.) Not giving effort

2.) Playing outside of their role

3.) Being Selfish on the court, not contributing to winning

4.) Not knowing plays

5.) Any sign of disrespect to teammates and staff

6.) Not playing on both ends of the court

There are times where coaches will have to lose their cool during certain situations. I think it’s human nature to get upset by a lack of effort etc. It’s good for players to know and understand when you are frustrated with their play, but pick your spots and don’t make it an every day thing. In the end we are all teachers and players need to be taught.

We have all heard the phrase treat people the way you want t be taught. It’s amusing to me to interact with coaches that scream, yell, and go nuts. They all want to lose their cool with players, but HATE when people are confrontation with them. No one wants to be cussed out on a regular basis. We want to be treated with respect and the same should be for your players.

In the end 99.9% of the players that are out there aren’t making the Professional ranks. They are kids that are going to graduate high school/ college and go into the real world. Make their experience with you a positive one that are taught life lessons and how to compete. I think your most important teaching points to any player that you coach is respecting authority, preparing for competition, and to be an unselfish person willing to help others.

Don’t be that coach that players hate to be around and are afraid to make mistakes with. Be that coach that players want to learn from and will be fair to the whole team. In the end teach them how to get better and how to compete. If they are on your page reward them with opportunity, if they are not on your page reward them with the bench. Both will be great teaching points that will teach them the most important point.. NO PLAYER IS BIGGER THAN THE TEAM.

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