One of the things that Maine is known for is their beautiful coast lines and the lighthouses that adorn the shorelines. While these lighthouses have become somewhat of a tourist destination, their original purpose was much greater. The purpose of the lighthouse is to serve as a navigation aid for those at sea. They provide warning to oncoming ships of potential hazards while guiding them through the night and storms safely to shore.
A few years back, I started asking my players “Who is going to be our lighthouse?” Specifically, I brought this up when talking about playing a particularly chaotic pressing team. I wanted to know who was going to be the calm steadying force that would guide us through the storm that was their non stop full court pressure. Since then my definition of a “lighthouse” on the floor has expanded. Here are some of the qualities I now associate with being a lighthouse:
Over the course of the season 8 different players were recognized as the lighthouse of the game. Those who earned the lighthouse ranged from our 2nd team All-Conference players to a swing player who didn’t see more than twenty minutes of floor time on the season. Some days I awarded it, others the assistant coaches did, the team voted a few times, and even once the previous winner awarded it.
What we found is we all started to recognize and appreciate these qualities in ourselves and our teammates. We understood that these qualities had a greater impact on our overall future success than who may have scored the most points or had the most rebounds. In tense moments, I could look at players and simply say “lighthouse”, “come back to shore”, or “don’t get caught in the storm” and they would be reminded of the traits that make us successful.
So to any players reading this, I ask you to think about how you can be a lighthouse for your team? What ways can you be the beacon of light that guides them safely towards where you want them to go?
For the coaches that may be checking it out, how are you at being your teams lighthouse? In the chaos and storm of a game, where is your light guiding them? Also I’m curious, in what ways you instill these or similar traits with your teams?
What are you doing to promote your team culture? If you don’t have an immediate answer, you may want to spend some time this off season coming up with a plan. While it is common for most teams to outline expectations at the beginning of season, building the culture you desire takes constant promotion. Daily reminders to athletes to ensure they are staying on course.
My suggestion today is a simple yet effective tool to celebrate athletes who are displaying the characteristics you want in your culture. Rubber Wrist bands. For less than fifty cents a band you can not only recognize positive culture moments at the time they happen but your athletes will then be wearing a constant reminder of what is expected of them.
Imprint something on them that is meaningful to your program. I used two things this past year, BLUE DEVIL PRIDE and SCHAPE. SCHAPE I borrowed from PGC basketball as the guidelines to what we expected of our team. For those of you unfamiliar with the acronym it stands for Spirit, Communication, Hustle, Approach, Precision, and Enhancement.
Whenever an athlete displayed one of these traits, whether it be in the locker room, bus, practice, school, or game I would make note of it and at the end of practice (or at the next practice in the event it happened outside practice) we would give out our bands. It was a good way to focus on the behaviors and actions we are looking for in our team. Suddenly you began seeing more and more athletes displaying those same behaviors. They also began to take ownership of the process and were handing out their own bands for actions they observed.
What are some things you use in your program? Let me know in comments below
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.