30 years coaching experience/Worked Camps/Clinics on 5 Continents

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's Important?

I have had the discussion a few times with other coaches about what is most important in coaching high school basketball.  Some agree with me on certain issues, others not at all.  Many say "winning" is the most important thing, and it is, I guess, to some extent if you want to continue on as the head coach of your current school.  If you don't do enough of that in Indiana pertaining to basketball you will probably be looking for another job.  But in coaching high school basketball or high school sports what's most important?  What should we be doing as a coaches in our programs?

Here are five things that I think are important as a high school coach.

Teach to compete: Life is hard.  Many people want to quit when the proverbial going gets tough, but you can't, you just can't.  Quitting on life can never be an option.  Mental toughness is everything in basketball and in life.  Yes, there are serious issues that arise throughout life, but it is not important that these issues arise, it is how you deal with them.  Fight for your marriage, fight for your children and other things that are worth fighting for. 

Teach to give back: The basketball program was there before them and will continue on after they are gone, after you are gone.  It is important to teach them that they have been blessed with something that many others would love, playing high school basketball in Indiana, so they have a duty to give back.  Show them what it is like to be a servant leader and that there is something greater than themselves. 

Teach them that giving much could mean they don't get what they desire: Hard work does not guarantee success, but I know what guarantees failure; not working hard.  Life is hard, I said that before, I think, so they must learn that just because they put many hours in, life isn't fair and you may not get what you deserve.  Or, you just might get what you deserve.  It says a lot about how mentally tough you are in how you react to this situation.  Do you mope and whine because "it's not fair", or do you move on and make the best of the situation given to you?

Teach them how to deal with success and failure: Your players are watching you.  You must teach them how to handle success and failure with class that it isn't the end of the world.  Winning is important, but it isn't dealing with cancer and it isn't life threatening (maybe).  Teach them proper perspective.  Life is longer than just their high school years, if their greatest years of their lives is that four year window, how sad can that be?

Be their best teacher in the building: Students sometimes come back and thank me for what I did for them as a teacher.  Those, however, who played sports under me say the same things, but there is an emotion that is more sincere, something they feel to the inside of their core.  I am not patting myself on the back, because it happens to most if not all high school coaches.  Understand that you are the teacher in the building that they will remember the lessons they learned under you for much of their life.  Those lessons could be intentional or unintentional it just depends on what you, as a coach, thinks is important.

You can be intentional in doing these things and realize that it is going to happen whether you want them to or not, or you can not worry about those things.  Either way, your players are learning from you much more, probably, from your actions than from your words. 

With basketball starting up and watching fall sports ending with my two children watching the actions of athletes and immulating them, I was reminded of how important it is for the players be great examples.  If they are to be great examples, besides their parents, who should be the great example for them?  Us.