It’s a different era for basketball players these days, even at the youth and high school level. With team rankings, influences of the internet and advances of television as just a few examples, there’s so much information coming at young players today that it’s easy for them to be influenced in a negative way.
With that said, coaching the mind is just as important as coaching on the basketball court. Therefore, it’s key for players today to understand what’s coming at them in all directions – and it’s as influential as teaching a kid how to shoot a jumper. Check out these tips from University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari and see how you can make a difference with your own players.
According to Calipari, trust is very important between a coach and an athlete. It’s where you start with a player, and at the college level, it all begins at the recruiting process and the meetings you have with a particular young person. For instance at Kentucky, Calipari never promises minutes in the recruiting process and aims at under-selling and over-delivering. Meanwhile, it’s key to remember that their trust in you is also at stake.
It’s also important to create a family atmosphere on your team where the players know that everyone on the team is there for each other. This builds unity and chemistry over time.
As a coach, you are always trying to earn respect, and you do that by being honest and making commitments you can stand by. If you are worried about affection and saying whatever you have to say to get the players to like you, then you’re not going to be long for this profession.
But by creating respect between you and a player, by doing the things you say you are going to do, by spending that extra time to communicate or figure out who a particular person is, that respect turns into affection over time. As far as trying to hold players accountable, you must be willing to say no as a coach.
The most critical aspect when sitting down with players is to create a dialogue and communicate openly, but it’s especially important that you listen to them. Remember, as a coach, that individual player wants to know first and foremost, “What’s in it for me?”
Meanwhile, don’t forget that a player’s perception is their reality. You must deal with that perception no matter what it is and address it.