There are so many different ways to prepare for practice, games from a mental perspective. What is your way to have your players ready mentally? Being ready mentally, having a proper mindset allows teams the opportunity to use their preparation to its’ fullest and play at a high level.
Richie Adubato used to always say, “Zebras have stripes. You can shave them down any number of times and when it grows back… it will always be stripes – never spots.” Meaning: players are who they are, they haven’t changed a great deal over the years and they aren’t about to. That hasn’t changed a great deal over the years. What has changed the most over the past two decades: the people around the player. WOW, has it changed.
Basketball is the epitome of TEAM sports, everyone working together. The better the teamwork, the more that is achieved, together. Trouble is… the game is fast becoming the unselfish team game played by selfish people. You really have to get a good grasp on this aspect of a player’s personality early in the recruiting process. Understanding, if this doesn’t mesh with you – don’t recruit that player onto your team, no matter how good they are.
Understand the difference between confidence, over confidence and selfishness. The three can be intertwined, but are drastically different in how they impact your team. Accomplishments are great, but when they have been completed – they are over. Instill a mind set in your players that we need to accomplish something everyday, to push the bar higher everyday. This competition and thirst for accomplishment will move us along the path to improve. You’ll find the most fierce competitors will “bring the thunder” every single day… whether it is practice, game, individual workout. Not matter their talent level. Competitors don’t know talent level, they know how to go out and compete.
There is an old story about accomplishments. It revolves around a race and the competitors within the race. I thought of this last week as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series began. Seeded 1 – 12, the drivers are all great, they all have fast cars, they have all won and they have all earned a lot of money for their team. Ask your players this question: At the mid-point of the first race, who will win? Is it the driver in the lead, the driver with the most wins?, the fastest car?, the most experienced driver?, the driver who was seeded #1? See what they say.
None of those things will matter. It will be the driver who races the best from that moment forward. You can’t focus on prior accomplishments or failures, what you are seeded or how much you have earned – you must only focus on the present and doing your best on the next play.
How do you make sure that your players are hearing what you are saying? Re-ask several players what they heard later, that evening, the next day. Ask players what was said in the locker room about the meeting. What they tell you back will give you a good indication of what was missed and what wasn’t.
Find ways to create an “AH HA”moment for your players. It’s a long season. Players almost always become centrally focused on themselves. Even the most unselfish players can have this happen. Vary your message and relate it to people and things outside of your circle. Others who are less fortunate in similar circumstances to their own. Players will come to realize on their own, the “AH HA”, things aren’t as bad for me as I thought.