Guest Author - Lori Collvins
Have you ever thought about coaching a basketball league or becoming a coach as a career choice? Maybe you are a coach already and need to step back and take a fresh look at what it is all about. Have you thought about what it takes to train, advise, teach and sometimes referee players? The first thing you need to have is good basic knowledge of what the game is all about but there is more to it than just that. Here are some tips all coaches need to know whether they are new at the job or a seasoned coach who needs a refresher course.
1. Maintain a positive and fun attitude. If someone isn't having fun playing then why play? If they are not enjoying playing, you will not get the full potential from them. It is a fun game and should not be a dreaded experience. No one puts their heart into something they dread becasue they get yelled at all the time.
2. Tell your players when they do a good job! No player is perfect and trust me, they know that. They need to hear that YOU know they did a good job, so tell them. Don't tell them they played a great game if they did not, try to tell them they made a great pass or tell them you are glad they worked as hard as they did. You can find some way to praise them without lying but never tell them what they did wrong without telling them things they did right!
3. Keep a professional attitude and stay calm. When the pressure is on, the score is tied and your player makes a dire mistake that costs your team the ball. Don't flip out! They feel bad enough already. Call a time out if you have to but don't use it to chew on their ear, you will make them more nervous, tell them something like "Well, that was rough, lets get over it and get out there and play this game like I know you can!" They probably need that time out breather as badly as you do! When you think you are about to lose your grip, refer to #1 above. (Easier said than done.)
4. Respect your players and they will respect you. You deserve the respect of your players so act accordingly, but they deserve your respect also. Never ridicule, demean or use sarcasm during practices and games. Never talk to one player about another in a negative manner. Never talk badly about a player to anyone, even jokingly, it's just not a good idea.
5. Keep your expectations realistic. A "we can win" attitude is wonderful and players will reflect it and go onto the court with confidence and assurance. But EXPECTING a team that is ranked last to beat the number one team is not a very realistic expectation. The players will blame themselves when it all said and done. Try looking at it in a different light: You might be able to win the game by a twist of fate and you might not, but stress how important it is that they have fun playing and try some new things. This can be a chance for a growing experience for the whole team.
6. Show good sportsmanship. A bad attitude can spoil any game, win or lose. Shake the hands of your opponents after each and every game, and insist your players do the same. Don't question a ref's call by throwing a fit. There's a proper way to let your disapproval be known. Treat everyone - the opposing team, its coach and the officials, with courtesy and fairness.
7. Let them know the rules. Lay down the rules for your team early on. Make sure they know what is expected of them at each and every event. Players expect boundaries. They need to know what the rules are, so they know how to act. Your team will respect you for setting and abiding by the rules. Do not set rules and then let them slide, such as: if a player misses a practice, they dont play the next game, and then consistently let one player miss and still let them play and bench another for missing one out of the whole year. That is not setting rules, that is playing favorites.
8. Be there for them. You're not just their coach. During the time spent with your team, you will quickly become someone they look up to. Coaches are called upon to do everything from wrap an ankle to wipe away a tear. Don't think your job stops and starts with the game of basketball. There will always be sprains to be iced and fears to be calmed. But you cannot become friends to the point that coaching takes a back seat or even to the point that others think you are playing favorites because of friendships. Be there for them, but in a professional manner
See you on the court!