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The coach’s role

Basketball book explores the mental game

People often think of coachability as a one-way street, referring to how readily and positively players respond to the coaching staff's directives. But that's not the whole story. How coaches set up, present, and conduct their program has much to do with how players respond.

The administration must also be supportive and allow coaches to make the final calls on matters that are important to their program. Players need to know that the buck stops with the coaching staff.

Once the clear line of authority is established, the coaching staff must then specify exactly what the expectations are for players in terms of behavior and performance-what is desired, acceptable, unsatisfactory, and forbidden. The coach's explanation of those guidelines will help players understand the rationale for the policies.

Keys to getting players to want to play for you include the following:

  • Explain the why behind strategies and rules. Don't just tell players what to do. Sell them on why doing it will help them. This is a good principle to begin any instruction with.
  • Get to know your players by talking with them and learning as much as possible about them.
  • Know the limits of how much criticism each player can take. Nip problems in the bud by talking with players one on one when they become overly frustrated.
  • Show honesty, loyalty, and caring toward players, especially with regard to their personal lives.
  • Do not emotionally beat up the players when they are losing. If a coach is constantly blaming players during a losing streak, the coach can "lose" the team. Problem solving, increased effort, and encouragement are what is needed during a losing streak.
  • Publicly praise individuals, and limit criticism to individual or team situations.
  • Allow for fun and enjoyment to take place whenever possible (in ways that do not take away from focus and effort).

This is adapted from Court Sense.