When the team isn’t ready to play, physically or mentally, you’re on the back foot, so punctuality and preparation are key to starting a game on the right track
Sometimes, due to poor directions, or traffic, or just plain bad timing, teams stagger onto the court just before the whistle blows. And boy does it tell. The coaches are in a bad mood and your players are finding themselves inbounding the ball over and over after the opposition continues scoring easy baskets.
Encourage punctuality by preparing a routine and making sure that every player and parent understands its purpose. If a player is late, then it’s simple – he or she doesn’t start the game. Game day preparations should include a time for warm-up, so parents know what time to arrive. Make sure directions are correct and include parking arrangements. A routine that takes 20 to 30 minutes is adequate.
Make sure the players are properly dressed – jerseys are tucked in, shoes are tied, etc.
Loosen up. As players arrive, take the time to have a word with each of them. “Is your ankle still sore?” “Going to knock down some big shots today?” “Did you enjoy the game last week?” Talk to your point guard about how well he or she is playing. Get players moving, dribbling, passing and shooting. Get them to focus on what they are here for – to play basketball!
Get your captain to lead dynamic stretching, which is done at an easy jog pace. Jog. Jog backward, shuffle side to side to the left, and then to the right. Hit outstretched hands with knees. Kick open hands behind your back with your heels. Bend down, touch the ground with left hand, then right hand, then both hands.
Everyone get a drink of water. Introduce calm static stretching. Finalize your starting line-up. If a player is late, dock him or her some early playing time.
Give encouragement to your guards and your posts. Try to keep your remarks to less than two minutes.
Step up a gear. Get the team into game mode. This is not the time for slow, uncontested jump shots. Create gamelike conditions. This is the time to build a sweat and get the body ready for action.
Have your captains ready for the pregame meeting with the officials. When they return, bring the team together for a very brief pep talk. End with a big cheer and have starts make their way to midcourt for the jump ball. Get out there and have fun!
“Success is a result of consistent practice of winning skills and actions. There is nothing miraculous about the process. There is no luck involved. Amateurs hope, professionals work.” Bill Russell, 11-time NBA champion