Newsletter #231

January 19, 2022

Today's Quote:   "Play hard, play smart, play together, have fun." - Morgan Wootten


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Today's Theme:  Pregame locker room meeting

Here are some of the things we talk about in the locker room, before taking the floor.  It's a routine for us, and you should come up with your own.

This meeting is used to focus our players on the job at hand, discuss our game plan, and review the things that help make us successful.  We might start with a story, something that happened to one of us, something that might make us laugh, or cry, but will bring us together for having shared it.  Sharing a private story can strengthen togetherness.

We announce the starting line-up and then review our defenses, half-court and full-court, and any special adjustments that we have worked on in practice specifically for this opponent.  We point out the opponent's best players and how we plan to contain them.

We discuss our half-court offense vs man-to-man and zone defenses and any special plays, out-of-bound plays, etc.  We might remind the players about maintaining good spacing, to move without the ball, set screens, and the importance of offensive rebounding.  We might mention keeping under control, and avoiding turnovers.

We will discuss how we want the game to flow - the tempo.  We remind everyone to box-out, rebound and play hard on defense.  We stress three attitudes on defense:  contest every shot, protect (deny) the paint area, and one-shot only mentality - no opponent offensive rebounds, no second and third shots.

Then hands together in the huddle, we yell a cheer and are ready to go.

About motivation and the "big" game

Sometimes coaches want to come up with a great, passionate "win one for the Gipper" speech or an inspirational quote to get the team fired-up.  Players already know that it's a big game and may be over-hyped and nervous.

Instead, try a calm, business-like approach.  It's how you prepare in practice, and how you work on fundamentals, team skills, etc that really counts.  We try to maintain a business-like attitude with our high school players - everyone has to do his/her job every practice and during every game.

Advise nervous players not to worry about playing good or playing bad, winning or losing - just do your job like always -  nothing more, nothing less.  This seems to help.  Being nervous is normal.  Channel nervous energy into playing great defense, rebounding and hustling for loose balls.

We use this job-like mentality in helping counteract outside influences too - like breaking up with a boyfriend (girlfriend), or a rough exam on the day of the big game.  As adults, we might have a personal problem, but we still have to go to work that day and do our job, regardless.

Same way with players - no matter how bad your day has gone, when you step on the court, "do your job", don't let your buddy down.  Enjoy the moment and have fun.  For most players their basketball career is really short.  It goes by fast.  So they should enjoy this time with their teammates.

For more, see "Basketball Coaching - Pre-game Preparation".


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