This is that time of the year when basketball players and their parents are winding down their seasons. Some have had the winning seasons they expected, some may have overachieved, and others are a little disappointed. there's a pretty good chance, unfortunately, that those results often determine how a season is evaluated. There's also a pretty good chance that teams that are winning have players and parents who are generally happy with developments and struggling teams will have more internal problems. As they say, "Winning heals all wounds."
When teams are not having the success they expect, complaints always seem to arise. you'll have complaints that coaches are abusive, yell, and belittle players while others will complain the coach is too nice. We'll hear a coach doesn't teach the players, while others expect too much of their players and are "taking away their game". One coach may be too intense while another is too quiet doesn't motivate them. Again, all of these are usually tolerated when a team is winning. And rarely do players take personal responsibility for failures…it is usually the coaches fault.
This malady is highlighted in a pretty humorous animated video done by Strength and Conditioning Coach and the founder of StrongerTeam.com, Alan Stein. Alan has trained some great players, including the NBA’s Kevin Durant, and has a tremendous wealth of knowledge and outlook on how to become the best you can be. Take a look at this video, which is probably all too common a conversation
The answer these days appears to be to find another place to play. The problem of high school players transferring schools is rampant across the country. When things don’t seem to be going a player’s way, he/she and those close to him look to “take their talents elsewhere”. The free-agent syndrome in professional sports has trickled down into scholastic sports, and certain schools spend more time “gathering talent” than actually developing their own players.
Schools are learning institutions intended to educate through their curriculum. Athletics is a valuable co-curricular activity that can supplement that process, but enrollment should not be based on sports alone. When the athletic situation is difficult, it may also be a great opportunity to learn how to overcome those obstacles in the future.
Looking to transfer to avoid a problem often finds the player who realizes the grass is not always greener elsewhere. Taking a positive approach to facing any problems can develop a growth mindset that will serve the student-athlete by learning to embrace the struggle and prepare them to face adversity in the future.
There are certainly many aspects to being a coach. Rare is the coach that gets high marks in all of them, and lucky are the players who have those coaches. When a coach has certain perceived deficiencies, it isn't necessarily something players or parents can do anything about - but they can make up for them. However, rather than facing the deficiencies and trying to help, instead all too often they run.
Lessons learned like dedication, concentration, and doing your very best are lessons that can be learned outside the lines as well. Ongoing conversations about Effort, Learning and Mistake Management can build those habits that may carry over during competition. The best kind of motivation to have is internal, rather than some temporary external motivational technique by a coach. Teammates can encourage each other to inspire better performance just as effectively as a coach.
Even if a player has the worst coach imaginable on a winless team, a parent who focuses on the life-lessons learned through sports, rather than performance and production, can turn it into a valuable learning experience.
Jim Thompson has a great passage in his book, "Positive Sports Parenting" when he gives this advice to parents who have "suggestions" for the coach. He writes:
Here’s what you can do:
- Write on a piece of paper your strategic suggestions for how you think your child’s coach should handle the team. Put it in an envelope. On the outside of the envelope, write
“For when I become the coach.”