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Basketball Coaching - Post-Game Talks

From the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
"Helping coaches coach better..."

Coach Ken Sartini
Coach Sartini
Submitted a while back by late coach and friend Ken Sartini (aka "Coach Sar"), Arlington Hts, IL. Ken had a great impact on many young coaches and players, and sadly has passed on. His wisdom and wit are greatly missed by all who knew him.

General approach
The longer I coached the more I learned about what to say and what NOT to say after games. I think that early in my career I was too long winded, win or lose. They really aren't going to listen for more than a few minutes. IF they won, they were happy and wanted to celebrate. If they lost, they were pretty much down and tuned me out.

Win or Lose
After coaching high school ball for 27 years, 16 of that as the Varsity coach I changed a lot about what I said after games. Face it, after a few games they could pretty much get up and say what I was going to say. So, I did a few different things from time to time. I would say a few things to them, or I would let my assistant talk. And then I decided on picking out one of the players ( didn't have to be a starter ) and let him give the post game talk. Amazing about how spot on they were most of the time.

Then I decided on doing this at away games, a very short talk (1-2 minutes) and said that we would discuss the game (win or lose) back at school. That way, we got back home faster and cooler heads would always prevail since everyone had a chance to think about the game.

Played Well
If we played well, I would tell them that and give a few examples. "We took 5 charges tonight." "We did a great job of controlling the tempo", etc. Again, they want to celebrate so I kept it short.

Played Poorly
If we played poorly, keeping this short, I would tell them that we didn't play very well tonight. Remember, the other team had something to do with that. There are a few things we need to correct and its early in the season (later in the season I would leave the early part out). The only time that I would let them know that I was unhappy about the way they played was IF I felt they didn't play hard. I only remember one game that way.

I also learned this after I got a new assistant one year. We would go out after every game and would order a "pop" and a sandwich. We would write down all the areas that we needed to work on, things where we made mistakes in that game. We discussed the game until the food came and then we relaxed.

I took that information that we wrote down and put it into the next couple of days practice plans so we could correct it. IF there was a certain situation that we didn't handle well, we would run those situations at the end of the next practice. That was a great teaching tool and a good learning situation for the players. They knew why we were running those, and they would just smile. I think they appreciated the fact that I didn't yell at them for messing it up and taught them how we wanted to deal with it in the future. I hated making the same mistakes twice.

pregame team meeting

Won a close game
There is nothing better than this feeling, for players and coaches. There is really nothing that you need to say to them because they are so happy. I remember one game where they were in the locker room really celebrating after winning a big game. My assistant and I sat outside for about 5-6 minutes and let them enjoy it.

Lost a heartbreaker
I can remember a few games like that. There is really nothing that you can say that will make it easier for them.... other than " we played a great game tonight and just ran out of time... they got the last shot and not us." Then we would just sit there for a few minutes and I would let them contemplate how things went, just so they could get control of their emotions. I was in a lot of very sad, teary eyed locker rooms.

Then I would have them stand up, and I would ask them to put out both hands and wiggle their fingers. And I would tell them, "see, they all work." I would get a weak smile but at least it broke the tension.

I think that every coach has his own style and you need to be true to yourself. If you don't, the kids will know and you could lose your credibility.