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Archive for Coaching

Editor’s note: While the following article, written by Tonya at Breakthrough Basketball, is written with the sport of basketball in mind, all of the steps can be adapted for developing your coaching strategy for any sport.

Any winning coach will tell you that in order to achieve success both on and off the court, it’s important to establish your own coaching philosophy.

Having a sound set of values not only keeps you focused and helps you to emphasize the right skills and techniques throughout the season, but it also gives your players, parents and colleagues a sense of what kind of program you intend to run, and who you are as a coach and mentor. Because, let’s face it, as a coach you have the unique opportunity to make a huge impact on the lives of your players. And that’s nothing to take lightly.

So here’s a quick look at how you can develop your own winning basketball coaching philosophy and start your season off right.

Step 1: Decide on your personal coaching goals. What is it that you hope to achieve as a coach? Are you in it to make a difference in the players’ lives? To satisfy a personal desire to win? Take the time to really think about why you’re doing this and what you want to get out of it. It’ll be quite helpful on those drives home after suffering a tough loss.

Step 2: Determine what life lessons you want your players to learn throughout the season. We’ve all had a coach or mentor that taught us something about the human experience that we can still apply in our lives today. What lesson will you pass on to your players? The importance of teamwork? That honesty is always the best policy? Decide now and make an effort to “impart your wisdom” in various ways throughout the season.

Step 3: Decide what you want your players to gain from their basketball experience. In addition to the life lessons that they will learn, what else will your players take away from their time on your team? Will they forge new friendships with people that they otherwise wouldn’t interact with? Improve their level of play? What will the overall experience be for your players?

Step 4: Define the meaning of success for your team. What does success mean to your team? Is it winning a certain number of games? Is it making it to a certain level of tournament play? Or are you more concerned about working effectively as a team? Create a set of attainable goals for your team and strive to achieve them.

Step 5: Determine what skills your team needs to learn or improve upon in order to achieve that success. Once you have defined “success” for your team, decide how you’re going to get there by evaluating your players and determining what skills they will need to work on. If your team’s idea of success is to keep your opponents from scoring above a specific amount of points each game, then you will most likely focus the players’ efforts on basketball defense strategies and proper basketball rebounding techniques. Be sure that for every goal that you’ve set, there is a distinct and reasonable means of attaining it.

Once you develop your coaching philosophy, write it down for your own reference; and more importantly, make it clear to players and parents alike from Day 1. By establishing and effectively communicating your principles, you’re laying the groundwork for a dynamic winning strategy that’s second to none.

Categories : Basketball, Coaching
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Go for the Goal

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Goal setting is such an important aspect of sports. Whether you have your eyes set on the Olympics, a college scholarship, making the high school team, getting a time standard or learning a new skill, you need a plan. It reminds me of my favorite quote:

USA Swimming features a really helpful article on goal setting by Dr. Amy Kimball in their series, the ABCs of Mental Training. In the article, Dr. Kimball outlines the 6 steps to effective goal setting:

1. Know where you are headed

2. Know how to get there

3. Identify milestones of success

4. Identify obstacles

5. Create a system

6. Set different types of goals

It is important that the goals athletes work with their coaches on goal setting so that intermediary goals and milestones can be set. Keeping a training journal can also be an effective way of setting goals and monitoring progress towards those goals. (Feel free to print out the training journal pages we created just for girls!)

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Athlete-Coach Communication Is Key

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swimming My 7 year old is a competitive swimmer, but she is also a very intense and literal child (like most kids are). Last night at practice she found out that one of her good friends had been moved up to the next training group. The first words out of her mouth were something to the effect of “that’s not fair, SuzieQ (not her real name, obviously) is only 7 and you need to be 8 to go to the next group.”

As coaches, we know that when it comes to training, a child’s age is merely a guideline, not a hard fast rule like it can be in competition. As parents, it is often hard to grasp the concept (because as parents our children are the best no matter what). And for a very literal young athlete, it just isn’t fair.

While we were sitting there waiting for my 10 year old to finish her practice, Miss N again asked me about SuzieQ moving up. I told her that if she needed more explanation or had questions about her own placement, that she really needed to go talk to the head coach. She agreed but asked if I would go with her. I said no. If she wanted answers, she had to go get them herself.

Was I being a non-caring, mean Mom? Nope. I am a firm believer in kids taking ownership of their own successes whether it being in school, sports or other activities. Kids need to learn to communicate effectively with their teachers, coaches and other authority figures in life.

MissN must have really wanted that answer because she walked over to the other side of the pool to talk to her coach – without me. He explained to her that the number 8 is just a guideline and that SuzieQ had shown the coaches that she really was ready to move up. He also encouraged MissN to keep working hard so that come September when they make the placements for next year she would be ready for that next group.

I feel that the explanation her coach gave her was much more powerful than anything I could have said. And, rather than feeling like something was unfair, she now had clearly defined expectations that she could work toward.

As a gymnastics coach, I much prefer it when one of my athletes comes to me directly with a concern, challenge or question. It allows the two of us to build each others’ trust and respect and nothing gets lost in translation (ie, parental emotions).

That doesn’t mean parents should be left out of the loop. Parents play an equally important role in their child’s development as a happy, healthy athlete. My point is that giving children the confidence to communicate with their coaches directly will ultimately empower them to become their own advocates, strengthen the coach-athlete relationship, and make them more independent young adults in the process.

sports girls play

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