Make a Difference On Game Days

You CAN make a difference on game day. Sure, every coach has a different style, but they all share a common goal – to get the best out of their team when it really counts

Follow these simple dos and don’ts, and you WILL make a difference on game day.

DON’T micro-manage the game. It is easy to talk particular players through every move, but this is potentially destructive because it stifles their instinct for the game. Positive encouragement gives players confidence. Psychologists tell us that it is better to say “keep shooting” than “don’t miss.”

DO find the right moment. Information needs to be given when players are most receptive, such as when they can concentrate on what YOU are saying – NOT in the middle of a play.

DON’T get distracted. Talk to spectators and the other coaches afterward. Your players need your full attention. Create a bubble for you and your team. Make sure at halftime the bubble continues. Youth teams suffer the most from constant comments from parents, confusing the main message you want to deliver. Your team needs to avoid conflicting messages.

DO watch first, worry later. Keep your emotions under control – keep panic, anger, frustration and fear out of the equation. Players depend on the coach to be the coolest head in the gym.

DO watch from as many different angles as possible. This enhances your perspective on the game. Use all the space inside the coach’s box to get a closer look at the angles on the court and how players are attacking them.

DON’T argue with the referee. It distracts the players. It is also unlikely to have a positive influence on the outcome and is not in the spirit of the game. Referees rarely change a decision once it’s been made and your intervention may turn them against you.

When the ball is tossed for the opening tip, it should start a concentrated period of thought, action and reaction for the coach. Having spent significant time preparing a team for this moment, the coach also needs to be prepared, mentally and emotionally. Whether you can find glory in defeat, humility in victory, can you say you made a difference on the day?

“If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you’re going to have problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot.” Dean Smith, two-time NCAA champion

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