Monday, February 2, 2009

Young, Losing Teams

If you coach long enough, I think everyone will coach an extremely young team in terms of experience or maturity. A lot of young teams struggle to win. Experience is usually an underrated trait. The fact you have been through something before helps you grow and you learn how to handle it better the next time. As a coach you hope that learning comes through successes but a lot of the time it doesn't. Young teams often lose a lot of close games because they work hard but they just don't make enough good decisions to win the close game.

The main problem is when young teams lose a lot of close games and a lot of games overall. It is natural to lose some confidence and the only thing that truly builds confidence is success. I really do not think confidence can be built any other way. Encouragement or re-enforcing they are talented does not build confidence. Winning close games builds confidence, coming back when they were challenged creates confidence.

So, you have a young team with no confidence...what can you do to keep them working hard? Effort and determination to get better is key. They must see the big picture. I believe they must see a "real life" connection. Rough times in basketball is nothing compared to a man losing his job with kids to feed. That's true pressure. You can use basketball to help build mental toughness though which would help you in that position.

I think the team also needs to know what it means to respect the game. How the game is "supposed" to be played. That has nothing to do with zone defense or offensive schemes. It's about always running back to stop a easy basket. It's about sliding over to take a charge. It's about making the extra pass instead of taking a bad shot. It's about executing fundamentally. The game is bigger than they are. They need to be doing all the small things. Sprinting the floor on offense and defense will lead to good things especially if your man isn't sprinting. Some players will jog back on defense if the guy they are guarding is behind them instead they should be sprinting the floor and helping out their teammates by providing extra help until his guy gets into the half court set.

Cliff notes...I believe they must see the big picture in life. They must have a good mindset to get things done and they must be determined not to fail. They must know how to play the game correctly, fundamentally and in terms of effort and unselfishness. Many players fail in all these areas even great players.