Coaching

Creating Positive Coaching Habits

Originally published on SeanLeBeauf.org

Above and beyond all the other skills that a coach needs to have, leadership skills may be the most important. Ultimately, your team or your athletes are not going to do what you tell them to do, they are going to do what they see you doing.

Being a coach requires leading the same type of disciplined lifestyle that you expect from your players. A disciplined lifestyle means making certain behaviors so habitual that you are incapable of doing anything else. Here are three steps to turning good practices into habits.

  1. Set your goals

Chances are you expect your players to be constantly improving. This means that you need to be in the habit of constantly improving yourself, which means always having a goal or set of goals you are striving toward. Once you achieve them, be sure to set new goals. No one is perfect in every area facet of life, so finding new goals to achieve shouldn’t come as too much of a challenge.

  1. Create triggers

One great way to turn something into an almost natural instinct is to create certain “triggers” that cause you to do something automatically. One great way to do this is to set an alarm on a smartwatch. If you force yourself to do something every time you hear the alarm, eventually, your body will begin to prepare itself before the alarm ever goes off.

Over time, it will become difficult to not do that activity every time you hear the alarm. Some other triggers might be laying out your gym clothes so they are the first thing you see every morning, for example. Eventually, just the sight of these clothes will put you into “workout mode.”

  1. Make it a habit

Most goals are not achieved quickly, yet too often people quit when they take too long. This is not the example you want to set for your players. One of the first things you will need to do is simply make a habit out of the activity you are striving to improve. For instance, if you want to work out every morning but find it difficult to get up and go to the gym, push yourself and silence those lethargic thoughts. The first step is to make just going to the gym a habit, and from there, you can expand into actually getting a good workout.

These positive habits carry over into your coaching career, and thus positively affect your players. Younger athletes will see the healthy habits you have created for yourself over time and strive to do the same. Work with them directly to teach them how to follow the aforementioned steps and create positive routines of their own.

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Basketball, Uncategorized

Motivating and Inspiring Your Basketball Team

Every basketball team deals with highs and lows throughout the season, but it’s the motivation from the coach that helps pull each player up when they need it. Every coach is different in their approach to motivating and inspiring their players. While some stick to traditional methods, others use an outside-the-box approach to effectively motivate their team. The following are just some of the ways you as a coach can motivate and inspire your athletes.

Productive Discipline

The best way to enforce good discipline throughout the team is to remain calm, create consequences and be consistent with discipline. Discipline starts by establishing a strong philosophy and culture with your players and their parents at the beginning of the season. It allows them to know the expectations and sets the tone for the rest of the season.

The Positive Coaching Alliance suggests coaches use a three-pronged approach to discipline. They recommend reinforcing good behavior, ignoring the behavior you don’t want and if needed, intervening with a ‘least attention’ manner. When a player misbehaves, it is more effective to ignore the player and their actions entirely.  As a coach, ignoring a player will make them crave attention, and they will often go back to following the previously established rules.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement, or simply praise, is always welcomed no matter what was done to deserve it. As a coach, you should be praising and congratulating your players for their successes, as well as their defeats. Simple words of encouragement and praise will give players the boosts they need to finish a game or practice harder. Positive reinforcement does not just have to come from a coach. Encourage your players to praise each other for great work on the court. Not only does it help to create a positive environment on the court, but it also helps foster a stronger team mentality.

Be Honest

While your players might not want to hear what you have to say, they need to listen to the truth and will ultimately respect you in the long run when you are honest with them. Letting a player know that he or she might have decreased responsibility during the season will not only allow you to be open with them, it will also help them stay motivated when they do see playing time on the court, essentially lighting a fire in those that truly want bigger roles.

While these are just a few ideas to motivate your team, sometimes stepping outside of the traditional motivational box will help inspire your team in a variety of ways.

Coaching, Sports, Uncategorized

Managing Anxiety in Youth Athletes

Anxiety is common in young adults, and many teenagers experience anxiety on a daily basis. The thought of keeping up with grades and dealing with peer pressure on a regular basis can be quite stressful. However, young adults who compete regularly in sports may find themselves more stressed out than those who do not compete.

It is common for young athletes to stress themselves out before competing in an event. Pre-competition anxiety can stem from a lot of different areas and can ultimately affect the way they perform in their games. Here are some techniques that your student athletes can practice to alleviate this anxiety, and ways to help them improve their focus when it comes time to compete.

Meditation

One of the best ways for teens to calm themselves down if they are experiencing anxiety before a big game is to practice meditation. This ancient technique has been scientifically proven to help people relax and re-focus their attention from negative thoughts to positive ones. Encourage your students to practice meditation before they play in a big game for optimal stress-relieving effects.

Face Your Fears

Young athletes oftentimes have irrational fears about competing. They fear losing and rejection is a common problem that many athletes will face. It is important as a coach to help them remove the fear that they experience from their minds to improve their focus. One of the best ways to accomplish this task is to make your students face their fears. This means having them play as many games as possible in skirmishes to get them to become comfortable with the thought of losing. Remind them that losing is simply an opportunity to improve and that it should not always be seen as a negative thing. Changing perspectives is key to overcome anxiety and improve their confidence as an athlete.

Nearly everyone in society experiences anxiety at some point or another in their daily lives. While some may experience it more than others, it can be debilitating if it is not taken care of. Fortunately, these two techniques will help condition your students for greatness and shape their minds to resemble that of an all-star athlete. Understanding where anxiety comes from is key to ensuring that your young athlete faces the problem head-on and develops into a better person because of it.

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.

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.