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Coaching, Sports

Building a Team Identity

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org

Teamwork is the most important aspect of any team sport. After all, how is anyone expected to do anything by themselves against a larger group of athletes? It is an ingredient needed in any circumstance against any foe, and here is how to develop that championship teamwork instinct according to BetterBasketballCoaching.com:

Analyzing Personnel

What are the team’s strengths and weaknesses? Who is someone who can be relied on during important times? Are the role players ready to complete a difficult job if necessary? Knowing the squad inside and out will help determine the lineups and tactics against any other team. The biggest advantage of knowing everyone’s attributes in a team is the opportunity to mix and match depending on the opponent and situation.

Fundamentals

There are certain things people in leadership positions look for that cannot be compromised. A leader without a vision is no leader at all. Therefore, there are certain things that someone might take for granted, whether it be attitude or level of skill. Without that fundamental attribute or two, a player may not even make the final roster cuts. Some coaches may value players who hustle all the time regardless of skill level, which could be seen as a way to make the vision work. Some may want a certain type of attitude or skill level. Coaching preferences vary, but a good coach understands the basic skills needed for his or her team’s success.

Communication

A team who is afraid to speak up will never prosper. Perhaps someone sees a deficiency that others don’t; perhaps someone has a good idea. It is important to make people feel welcome and comfortable to have them speak up if they see something. Lines of communication have to be free and clear so that everyone knows what will be expected of them. Among these are playing styles, intelligence in how to play, among the game’s rules and how to take advantage, and much more.

Accountability

Everyone must do their fair share of work. Everyone has a responsibility. If people do not achieve their objectives and do not take responsibility, then this factor must be addressed. Communication again plays into this attribute, as everyone should know what is expected of them and when or why they did poorly. Player rotation also factors into this, as people’s skill levels may change throughout the course of time. This means that everyone needs to be ready to do perform as well as possible, whether that task is a big or a small one.

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Sports

Essential Characteristics in Youth Players for Teamwork

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org

Regardless of what type of sports kids are playing, teamwork is an essential component. Although coaches and trainers generally know this information, understanding how to properly teach teamwork to a group of young people can prove more difficult than one may think. Instead of looking at teamwork as an abstract concept, leaders can provide instruction in more tangible and measurable skills.

Listening and Articulating

If team members cannot properly communicate with one another, establishing a cohesive unit is going to prove difficult. Coaches can implement short icebreaker-inspired activities, such as a game of telephone, to show what happens when communication breaks down. Then, they can take these skills to the field, court or arena.

Staying Positive and Supportive

Understanding what teamwork means is different from actually implementing its skills in a game. Training athletes to have a positive attitude and to remain supportive of one another is important. For example, some team members may blame others when a game is lost because of mistakes that these other players made. Working on self-evaluation and recognizing that even the best players aren’t perfect all of the time are two strategies that can help here.

Involving Others

Even the stars of the game need to learn how to share time in the spotlight. Encouraging children to help one another grow is important. If some team members are never getting passed the ball, instructors can develop drills that give these individuals more power. Also, during practice, coaches can instruct those players who like to hog the ball to give other players an opportunity.

Spending Time Together

Coaches may find that when their players spend more time together outside of practice and games, their performances during these important times improve greatly. Eventually, older children and teenagers are likely to start establishing their own social plans, but coaches can help here too. They may throw a party at the end of every season and plan a couple of lunches or dinners during the season so that team members are given a chance to bond with one another. Friendships on the team can make for better teamwork.

Teamwork is so important regardless of the type of sport. Players need to rely on one another, and they need to communicate well before, after and during the game. Coaches can place an emphasis on these characteristics to improve teamwork.

Coaching

Tough Losses and Bouncing Back in Youth Sports

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org

Playing sports is an excellent way of getting children involved in the community and learning new skills. Although the games may just be for fun, kids can often get upset when they lose to another team. Although there may be a few tough losses throughout the season, there are ways of helping kids bounce back from the physical and emotional defeat.

Set the Example as the Parent

Youth athletes will ultimately reflect the behavior of their parents and will model what you say and do when they win or lose. Instead of becoming negative and making winning a priority, focus more on the development of their skills rather than how well they perform in a game. If the child is enjoying the sport and is becoming more skilled throughout the process, then it is a successful season.

Create a Routine After the Game

Your post-game routine should remain consistent whether they win or lose to ensure that they understand that winning or losing isn’t as important as enjoying one’s self. Consider going out for celebratory pizza after each game despite the outcome, which can allow the athletes to have something to look forward to, and avoid focusing so much on how they performed on the court.

Offer Encouragement

Make encouragement a priority to ensure that the child understands what they did well during the game and feels better about themselves. Talk more about what they did well, whether they defended the goal or made a shot so that they feel praised and don’t allow their mood to be influenced by the outcome of the game. In the same regard, you can discuss what they can improve on in the future to allow them to continue to develop their skills.

Avoid Making Their Athletic Ability Their Identity

Many parents make the mistake of making their child’s athletic performance their identity, which can affect the child’s view of themselves, harming their self esteem and putting too much pressure on them during games. Remind them that failing is a part of life and that they are skilled athletes despite how well they may have performed in the game. Don’t place so much emphasis on how many points were scored or plays they made. Focus more on their characteristics and who they are as a person.

Basketball

Easy Ways to Improve Your Ball Handling Skills

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.com

Becoming a proficient basketball player requires time dedicated to practice. That is no secret and should not be news to anyone. Developing basic skills and fundamentals is the foundation of a talented basketball player, and ball handling is one of the most important.

Dribbling and ball handling are two of the most basic skills needed in order to successfully perform the others within the sport. Basketball is a fast-paced game with various situations that require players to protect, pass, and shoot the ball efficiently. Poor handling skills will only result in turnovers and missed opportunities. In order to avoid this, the following are just some of many ways players can improve their dribbling and ball handling.

Fingertip Exercises

Dribbling involves controlling the ball with your fingers, pads, and palms of your hands. Your fingertips come into play when you are getting ready to shoot or dribbling on the run. Therefore, drills and exercises involving this dribbling strategy are highly effective in developing players’ overall ball handling. Try those that incorporate quick movements with quick dribbling. This will help players grow more comfortable when driving to the basket, passing through open lanes, and preparing for open shots.

Dribble Stronger

Simply dribbling the ball harder forces it to return to your hand faster, which, in turn, gives you more control. This is also essential in learning how to dribble while keeping one’s head up. Players cannot effectively play the court if they are constantly looking down at the ball. Dribbling stronger and pushing the ball down with more force allows it to return quickly, allowing players to keep their eyes forward.

Dribble Low

A similar principle to dribbling harder, dribbling at a lower position limits the area in which the ball can move, allowing for more control. Apply this strategy on the court, and opponents will have a much harder time trying to steal the ball away. Drills that incorporate low dribbling can not only develop better ball handling skills, but also the ability to go from stand-still positions to short bursts of speed.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Repetition breeds success. As we all know, practice makes perfect. Performing these practices and exercises over and over again will only result in improved skills. No matter how basic the drill, have your players repeat these exercises for extended periods of time until they become second nature movements. Very rarely will flash on the court be an advantage over comfortability.

Basketball

Connecting Youth Basketball with the NBA

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.com

The NBA is bolstering its commitment to youth and basketball with innovative strategies to improve and increase youth involvement. The most recent high-profile effort was the league’s first Jr. NBA World Championship held in early August 2018 in Orlando. This tournament featured girls and boys divisions with American and international teams. The NBA secured an agreement with FOX Sports to cover the event for three years. The tournament is evidence of the league’s amped-up approach to youth sports under the guidance of Commissioner Adam Silver, an outspoken proponent of the NBA’s increased involvement in grass-roots basketball.

The 2017 Simmons National Consumer Study found that basketball is the leading team sport among American youth with over 20 million children participating. As the numbers continue to grow, the Jr. NBA program demonstrates the NBA’s focus on enhancing the basketball experience for young athletes, coaches, and parents. While the league has always implemented programs for children to connect with them and help them learn the game correctly, it has stepped up its efforts to ensure that everyone involved in youth basketball is having the most positive experience possible.

The NBA has collaborated with USA Basketball to draft rules and health standards for encouraging participation and making the game more attractive to youth. Currently, about 26 million youth around the world are playing in the Jr. NBA program, and more are anticipated to join. The league is not working to replace AAU and other youth travel sport programs; it hopes to partner with those groups to cultivate and protect the kids who play sports. The NBA is striving to provide guidance and improve the caliber of coaching.

In May 2018, the NBA held a Jr. NBA leadership summit in Chicago with over 300 attendees that included NBA team representatives along with tournament and program directors from many youth basketball associations. The meetings addressed management challenges such as building better programs, developing best practices, and ensuring that the USAB and NBA guidelines are applied properly. Participants also discussed and learned about running practices with excellence and managing issues that impact children regarding wellness.

The NBA is increasing efforts to connect with pre-collegiate basketball as well. Considering the league’s recent strides in youth basketball, it will be no surprise if the NBA employs the same methods to the higher, elite levels of youth basketball. The league is currently involved in intense discussions with the NCAA and other influential figures to determine what more can be accomplished there.