Struggled with hustle in the first quarter, but picked up in the next three. We let the other team score 10 points in the first quarter, but held them to only 6 in the following three quarters; so much better at defense. But need to slow down and focus on shots; we get good angles but then just chuck up the ball. I am going to make sure that our bench is focused on the game and only saying encouraging things; once again boredom occasionally comes over them. Also, I am starting to work out which people play well together for future line ups. We will continue to work on improving our dribbling and passing skills. I hope to cause these skills to turn into muscle memory (not requiring any attention) and instead direct this focus all on the more difficult concepts (ex. shooting, defense, rebounding). I will keep reinforcing hustling.
I worked on stationary dribbling drills and split up groups for shooting. This helped to move through multiple drills more efficiently. When scrimmaging today I tried to teach them a screen play; much more successful than other plays. They seemed to understand this concept more easily, I think due to its more basic nature. We all ran a suicide at the end and if anyone beat me they won a prize; no one beat me :). As we were circling up after the suicide, I had a revelation. They came over and were panting hard with red faces (I could tell they were exhausted) and I realized that they didn't truly know what working hard felt like. I told them 'do you see how tired you all are, this is what working hard feels like'. I think that often people get tired during practice but many never learn how to push themselves past the wall of exhaustion. And with the enticement of a prize my team pushed past this exhaustion barrier. Many never really learn how to push themselves and are always relying on their coach or parent to force them to work hard. But through this drill I figured out how to show them the important life lesson of working hard. I realized that my job as a coach is to make them better people. For me sports have always been a way to deal with difficult situations, difficult people, and learn important life lessons (working hard, focus, respect, dedication, etc.). My parents said that we do sports because we don't have a dairy farm in the back yard (my mom worked on a dairy farm growing up). Sports at a young age should be less about players specific talents, and should be more about becoming making the players better people and showing them the enjoyment of the game.
Lost today but I think this can be largely attributed to being off for two weeks. Tried to stress hustling through the entire game. Even if we aren't winning or things aren't going our way, we still need to hustle. We can't control how many baskets we make or how many the other team makes, we can't control what the refs call, but we can control our effort. We can always run hard down the court, and can control our attitudes. I stressed that we need to be in control of our emotions. This is important to me, because I know how much a bad attitude can affect a persons play; while often spreading to the rest of the players and likely affecting the chemistry of the team. Often in high school basketball I see someone either get frustrated with themselves or a teammate, which typically leads to more failure and stress. The attitude of the team can either eliminate or escalate the enjoyment of playing. And really that is our only goal, to have fun. Also, in the future when I am talking to the girls during either a timeout or half time I will kneel down in order to have eye contact with them. I think this will help place their focus on me rather than the many distractions around them.
Lost today but the other team was full of 4th graders; due to the great differences between our team and others I am starting to see the political side of this league. Also, I realized that to be a good coach you must let go of your own ego. It is not you who is playing or winning, therefore it is not you who is losing. As a coach you must not be trying to win to make yourself (as a coach) look good. In the end it is the players who are making the mistakes or making amazing plays, not you. And although a coach is there to guide players to a victory, they shouldn't act as though the players mistakes are their own (but coaches do make their own mistakes). I think this would help many coaches who get over excited or angry within a game. Everyone has a competitive nature, and everyone wants their team to do well, but your anger should not be taken out on your players or the referees. I am shocked by how many coaches seem to hang their lively hood on whether or not their youth team wins a game. I think that because I have played basketball my entire life and understand my skill level, I don't think less of myself when my team loses a game. And though I want them to be successful and will do everything in my power to help them be successful, I am not going to lose my temper because a 2nd grader makes a mistake. I think that my lack of frustration, and constant encouragement has helped me to form the relaxed yet affirming bond between my players and I. Over the course of this entire season I will focus on maintaining this bond, and never letting my competitive nature get in the way of how I treat the players.
They struggled to focus today; I think this is due to the excitement expected the day before the winter break. Had a very effective stealing drill and I think this aspect will become very important in our future games. We did much better with shots today; I stressed that the blocks are our friend. For some reason they seem to gravitate towards a difficult base line shot rather than a much easier block shot. From the block it is easier to aim and hit the backboard, which will ensure a made basket. But I think it is harder for your body to automatically aim for the backboard rather than just the rim. Yet I know from experience when close to the basket the rim shot is typically missed. Therefore my main focus when working on shooting is to retrain the body to focus on the backboard rather than the rim. Worked a little on boxing out which I think is important because of our lack of height. Natalie won for sportsmanship.
Double header today, couldn't make either because of a college visit. Heard from my other coach, that the other team was very rude to our girls and were very poor sports. My other coach said the girls handled it well, but obviously were frustrated. Definitely will discuss this with the girls on Thursday.
We lost, but played really good. We were quick and stole the ball often, and I think we should focus on that as our future game plan. Because although we are smaller than most of the teams we play, we seem to be much faster. Also, we need to work on our shots and rebounding. I think our lack of height hurts us in these areas, because these teams seem intimidating and impact our shot percentage and rebounding ability. I will try to create an effective rebounding drill and when we work on shooting I will stress to focus on hitting the middle of the backboard. Hitting this spot almost ensures making a basket, and if I can get them to learn to focus on it while shooting it will increase the amount of made baskets. I was very shocked by how well they did against a team so much bigger, because I know how difficult it can be to keep trying to compete with people who are a head above you.
I felt like today the drills were much more successful. They were slightly less complex and I tried to give them drills that would constantly keep them moving in order to maintain their focus. The drills incorporated shooting, passing, and dribbling in a competitive scenario. I tried to limit the 'standing in line' time and when they drill required some standing time I persuaded them to be loud and encourage their teammates (helped them focus on the drill). Also, I attempted to split up people that pair together regularly, in order to help everyone get to know each other and form a cohesive team. I am trying to incorporate defense into the drills, because I think concept wise, defense is the hardest to teach. It is interesting to see the diversity within the team in relation to defense. I can clearly see which players are defense minded and which are definitely offense minded. I would call myself an offensive player, probably because offense was always more under my control. I could plan out the scenario in my head before hand, and I was always very good at memorizing plays. I think these mindsets depend on your personal attitude but also what position you play. For me, I was always a point guard and therefore embraced a leadership roll; thus allowing me to have an offensive mindset. But as I got older, and grew several inches, I started to be used as a forward (which I was not particularly happy about). In this position I was not able to control as much of the play as I did in the past, which made me soon prefer defense. I realize that as a coach it is my job to combine all these different players to form a successful team. Everyone likes to score, but the way people score shows whether they prefer offense or defense.
First optimist game, unfortunately I couldn't make it because of a conflict with a varsity game. My personal playing time at varsity was less than ideal, and increased my frustrations in missing the girls first game. I feel like I let the girls down, which I definitely didn't want to do. But I did learn something about coaching from my experience on varsity. First and foremost be honest, the conversation with the player may be uncomfortable in the moment but at least they will know where they stand, how they can contribute, and what they need to work on instead of sitting on the bench questioning themselves. Secondly in order to have a successful team every member needs to feel valued. Each player may have varying skills and abilities but the coaches job is to put them in a position to be a contributing member whether its through leadership, scoring, defense, or attitude. Everyone has unique skills that when brought to bear can contribute to the success of the team. Your never going to have a team of Micheal Jordons who can do everything well, so the coach must put the pieces together to make a united team. Thirdly, setting expectations is important as well. Similar to the first point of being honest, a coach needs to communicate with each player where and how they fit in the group. If they are just meant to help push other players during training, and are told that, then the player won't be so upset when game time comes and they serve a reserved roll. To me the actual lack of playing time was not frustrating, instead it was the confusion and self doubt that came from it.
I still feel like I'm a little over their heads. I am providing too much information too them, and am expecting them to pick it up quickly. But I have a plan. I realize now that with children this young everything must be routine. So I am going to make our practices a routine, by having them preform the same drills every time. And once they perfect it or I see them becoming board with the drill I will change, but I think having the drills be consistent will help them learn the skills more easily. But before I totally figure out my plan, I must test out all the drills because some of the drills that I have tried do not pan out. Whether they don't understand them, or the skills are too difficult, some drills that look so good in my head don't work out. Which is to be expected. Today Abby won for best focus.
This blog explains my experience coaching a youth optimist basketball team, while following me through an interesting season of high school basketball. I coached girls ages 8-10, from November 2014 to February 2015.