I think it is important that you find your own voice when it comes to coaching. Much like how you find your way as a parent. Look to people that have expertise in the area, and take what works for you, so that you can develop your own style. Make sure your players and their parents understand your style. All players should always want more floor time, but they shouldn’t have issues with your philosophical style of coaching. When you have found your style, your confidence, you will be able to motivate your players more easily. The aim is to then transfer this motivation and confidence to your players, so that they become self-motivated and self-confident.
Hopefully the following tips will help you in your journey.
Before we get started, you must realize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. How you teach players depends on the age and yes sometimes the gender of your players. With younger groups you can’t expect them to be as focused. To call younger groups into circle I would use techniques like clapping the beat of the song carwash When speaking to younger groups you may want them to put their ball behind them on the floor so that it is not a distraction. Certainly you want to have clear well understood rules. Coach by consequence . Don’t be the type of coach that is always screaming and yelling to get things done. It always amazes me how difficult it is to find mentors that conduct themselves without all the theatrics of yelling. I don’t know what that behavior is, but I can tell you this. It is not coaching. When the opposing coach is acting in this manner, I’m know he is no longer coaching and probably not getting the results he wants. None of us are perfect so if you have a “coaching-episode” apologize. When my children were younger they had the fortune of having a teacher who managed to maintain a quiet orderly classroom, by having set specific code of conduct on the board. If a rule was broken she would not break from teaching, but walk over to the rules, and start a lumber-jack tally on the board beside the broken rule. A friend of mine who is a teacher said it’s amazing what you are allowed to get away with when you are in a gym, compared to the classroom. Personally I think it’s appalling.
Like parenting with experience comes knowledge. When you become proven and you have had some success, that success breeds success. You may not have to put as much energy into convincing players in what you do.
Treat your players as individuals and take interest in them outside of the confines of the gym. Those of you that have coached any age level that is looking at the next level, regardless of that next leap, will know that few make it. There has to be more to teaching this game then just the W. You must use the game as a way to teach players about life. Many would disagree with this statement, saying “hey that’s the parents job”. Yes, your right it is the parents job, but why can’t you contribute to that experience. It’s a very powerful position. Just like a teacher or a parent the power-base is in your favour. Don’t abuse it, use it. You wouldn’t treat all your children the same would you? Fairness is not when everyone is treated the same, but when everyone’s needs are met. Years ago, when I use to run a skills clinic early Saturday morning, I could walk by any player in a shooting drill and make that player shoot better with positive sound bites correcting small things. I’m convinced that it has more to do with the positive statements, more than the small correction. All but for one player. When I moved closer to the station he was working at, he would not shoot as well. I had to find a way to give him positive attention, without disturbing his flow.
I know this can sound like flowery talk and you can say, it doesn’t move the finishing line. If a player is going to make it, then he or she needs to buck up and get there within a certain time. It’s true, you can’t move the finishing line, but remember how many players actually move on. Don’t forsake all the other players experience to generate one that makes it. I’ve seen coaches that use the “crab-in-a-bucket” type of style. I have to wonder what the point of that is. Is it to see one player rise to the top, so that the coach can associate their name with that player’s name. It’s a team sport, and it seems like North America has forgotten that aspect with all the emphasis on the two-man-game. You wouldn’t raise your family that way, why would you use that approach with the family of athletes we call a team.
When you listen to hall of famer John Wooden could you think of a more fatherly image? Firm, but caring, he coached in a way, which allowed him to teach by using precise, informative, positive, corrective sound bites. He gave information, without commentary or blame. When you praise a child, it is best to be specific with your words. If a child brings home a painting, it’s better to say, “I like the way you used purple when you painted the sky, then to say “I like your painting”. Obviously saying something like "great job" or "nice shot" is better than nothing but being specific is more effective.
Be a teacher and a motivator! In being a teacher you should be more concerned with the progress of your student, and less about the wins and losses. This makes things a bit more difficult for coaches; because you need to be sure you have a system of measuring improvement. Set specific goals teach specific skills and make your players excited about learning those skills and reaching their goals. Use the S.M.A.R.T. method Much like parenting when coaching the response “because I said so” is not really all that effective. Explain the reason why. Many times coaches need to put their sales hat on in addition to teaching hat because you need to make sure players believe.