I am coaching a Jr High basketball team this winter. I am looking forward to it big-time. We are conducting pre-season conditioning at the moment and the turnout has been great. Every student-athlete not participating in a fall sport has been attending the sessions. As the season draws closer I am developing my overall coaching strategy for this year. I want to find the right tone to set with the players early on and then be able to continually go back to it throughout the season. Some people call this concept having a theme for the season. I like that concept.
Lots of teams will select a word to use again and again for the theme of the year. The coaches will put it on T-shirts, they will say it coming out of a time-out during the actual games and the students will say it enough to have it stick. Most often the theme is something that will take the program to the next level. I have heard one local football coach say his theme this football season is the number one, meaning that they want to win one game, I was looking for a little more than that.
Over the last few years our varsity team at the high school has struggled to be over 500. They have had their share of injuries and bad calls and coaching replacements and bad luck and kids with bad grades being ineligible and crazy parents and the list goes on and on. Every school goes through a period like this one. Ours has just been a little longer than most. Our new coach came in and gave us a great theme – Believe.
As I have thought about this theme I think it fits us for a number of reasons. The first is obvious in that until recently we had lost our ability to believe we can win basketball games. The second is that I can tell from the way the players act and interact that they do not take the game as seriously as it needs to be taken in order to win basketball games. The type of atmosphere that a winning team creates is one where the players are always playing the game, picking each other up from tough spots, being friends outside of the game, playing and winning at other sports together, and becoming lifelong friends. For some reason our team does not have that at the varsity level. I will change that at the Jr High level this year for our kids. Hopefully it will continue to be with the players throughout their basketball career as they take their skills to more advanced levels of play. The theme Believe will be about believing in yourself and wanting to do the work that it takes to continually improve.
At the Jr High we measure success by how well the players develop during the course of the year. We care less about winning, although winning is great, than we do about teaching them to play defense and learning the proper fundamentals. I Believe I can do a great job for the kids this coming season.