I was recently speaking with a fellow coach as he was preparing for his upcoming State Championship game. For those who have been a part of any big game in sports, you know it can be a stressful time and there is some pressure associated with being in that position. This is the type of game you’ve spent your life preparing for. It is easy to get lost in that anxiety.
Knowing he may be going through this very inner turmoil, I suggested one simple activity to put everything in perspective. I told him that when he got a chance, I wanted him to sit down and write about all the things he’s grateful for from this season both basketball and non-basketball related. To write down all the accomplishments and things he appreciated about his team. I told him doing this would remind him of how successful a season he had and help remind him that the outcome of the game wouldn’t define him or his players, everything they’d done all season is what would define them.
Later that day I got a text saying, “Damnit coach you didn’t tell me I’d need tissues for this exercise”. I knew the exercise had worked. It is important as coaches and players that we don’t get so lost in the destination that we forget the beauty of the journey. At the end of every season, only one team gets to win their last game but so many more succeed. Don’t wait to appreciate those accomplishments until the season has passed, appreciate them every day.
Unfortunately, my friend’s team was unable to win their game. I had one text to him immediately after the game “Nothing I can say will make you feel better right now, but when you get home reread those things you wrote down and I guarantee that’ll help.” Speaking with him later he said it helped put things back in perspective after the game.
By writing what we are grateful for ahead of time we put ourselves in a position to succeed. We approach the game with a mindset of appreciation for the opportunity. Then if things don’t go our way, we are able to read our own words after to remind us of all the things we have to be grateful for. This simple task could completely change your approach to a game and how you deal with loss following the game.
So next time you have a big game give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
What would you say if I told you that you, as a coach, are not practicing enough? I don’t mean holding practices for your team, I mean practicing your craft of coaching. That’s right I think we as coaches need to spend more time practicing ourselves. I know your first reaction probably sounded a bit like an Allen Iverson rant but hear me out.
How many hours a week do you ask your athletes to spend on their game in the summer? Most coaches I’ve talked to will say they ask their athlete to work 1-2 hours for a total of 7-14 hours a week during the summer. If we say there are 12 weeks in the summer that would amount to anywhere between 84-168 hours spent developing their game. The question is do you spend an equal amount of time developing yours?
As coaches it is our responsibility to bring our best each and every season to our athletes. If we don’t work on our craft we aren’t holding up our part of the bargain. How can we expect an athlete to spend 100+ hours working on their game if we aren’t willing to do the same?
There are many ways as a coach you can develop your skills. I know many of us have full time jobs in addition to coaching and don’t think we have time to spend on basketball outside of the season. I think it’s our duty to make the time though. Here are some suggestions on how you can improve your skills.
1.) Volunteer at a Camp
Local colleges or other basketball organizations are always looking for volunteers to help out with their camps. Those that don’t need any extra help are often open to having observing coaches as well. You may learn new concepts in the camp or ways to teach things differently but most importantly you will surround yourself with other basketball minds with which you can share ideas.
There are thousands of books on basketball out there. Chances are if you have a coach you look up to he’s written a book or there’s one written about him. There’s book on running practices, developing drills, drawing up plays and more. Anything you need to know is available to you. If books aren’t your thing and you can’t commit to extended reading, commit to reading blogs. I have several listed on my website that I regularly follow if you are looking for ideas where to start.
3.) Listen to Podcast
Ok I couldn’t convince you to read, well how about listening to podcasts? You have to be in the car on your ride to work, so why not use that time to learn something new. Two of my favorite basketball specific Podcasts are Hardwood Hustle and Pure Sweat Basketball but there are many more out there if you are interested.
4.) Go to Clinics
Clinics are a great way to get a lot of information in a short amount of time. They are often held over a single day or a weekend. There are major clinics like Coaching U, PGC/Glazier, and Nike Clinics but also many colleges host their own coaching clinics leading up to the season. Do some research and find one that fits your schedule.
5.) Attend other teams practices
Try and go watch other team’s practices. If you are a high school coach, reach out to your local college and see if you can stop in. It’s been my experience coaches are very open to accommodating high school coaches in this. If you’re in college go observe a team that isn’t in your conference or division. You can always learn something from watching how others approach things
There are many more ways you can continue to grow as a coach but these are the top 5 to me. I challenge you to pick a couple and spend time working on your game this offseason. I would dare say the more time you commit the better your next season will be. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Or if you are interested in joining my coaching circle drop me a line with your email. I love having coaching conversations amongst basketball colleagues.
State championship winning basketball coach, Chris Woodside, shares his journey of going from varsity boys coach, to becoming a men's college coach, to currently coaching girls varsity basketball as well as life lessons learned on + off the court.