Driving home tonight from a pre-season workout with my high school girls basketball team, I started thinking about some of my favorite phrases/sayings/quotes that I've heard coaches use to motivate their teams. I've always loved the challenge of finding the perfect quote to share with my team to fire them up before a practice or game. As these quotes bounced around in my mind, I started thinking about what I need to do to be the best possible coach for my team this year. What gets me fired up to give my all? I came up with a list of five things I must do to help my team have a great experience this season.
1. People first. I want to connect with my players on a human level and try to understand them as people instead of just basketball players. I have to be open and honest with my players about who I am as a person and really get to know who they are as people. Ganon Baker, one of the top basketball trainers in the country, says "You have to reach them before you can teach them!"
2. Little things. My own high school coach's mantra was "The little things are the big things." A player who reminds her teammate what type of defense we are playing during the game is doing a "little thing" to help the team. However, communication on a team is BIG thing. I feel like I will have done my job if my players understand how important the little things are to our success as a team.
3. Attitude is everything. "Great thoughts attract great results; mediocre thoughts attract mediocre results." I don't remember where I read that quote but it has shaped the way I think about the season. This year, my goal is to make sure my team knows that I am going to give them my all for two hours every time we practice and that I absolutely believe that we will learn and grow as a team every time we step on the court together.
4. Next Play. "Next Play" is a phrase that Coach Mike Krzyzewski (hall of fame NCAA men's basketball coach) has used for 33 seasons at Duke University (one of the most successful teams in all of sports) to help his players stay in the moment. "Next play" is a phrase that I'd like to hear everyday with my team this year." Coach K explains it best:
"In basketball and in life, I have always maintained the philosophy of 'next play.' Essentially what it means is that what you have just done is not nearly as important as what you are doing right now. This philosophy emphasizes the fact that the most important play of the game or life moment on which you should always focus is the next one... To waste time lamenting a mistake or celebrating success is distracting and can leave you and your team unprepared for what you are about to face. It robs you of the ability to do your best at that moment and to give your full concentration."
5. Simplify. The great UCLA coach John Wooden told his players, "Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." I love the game of basketball so much and sometimes I get excited and try to do too much with my team. My goal this year is for my team to do a few things really well based on what my players CAN do (*sometimes coaches try to coach the team they wish they had versus the team they actually have*). Focusing on what we CAN do will set us up for success.
There are many more things to add to this list but, in the spirit of #5, I'm stopping here for now.
Much more to come!
PS. Even though I said I was stopping at 5, I think number 6 should be: Remember that these are all about much more than basketball.