Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Coaching Basketball: First Game of the Season

Another year of basketball is underway. Once again, I am helping my father in law coach his varsity boys basketball team. Coaching is in my blood and I eat up every minute working with the players and coaches. Being 50 minutes away from my father in law I am not able to attend every practice so I show up when I can and try to make every game. This provides me an opportunity to be part of a varsity program, but not taking me away from my family everyday of the week. It is a good balance as much as I would want to be fully engaged in coaching. It won't be long until my 8th grade boys basketball season gets started in another month where I have a chance to be head coach and try out some things.

Anyways, last night we had our first game of the season. The team we coach is one where we really need each player to step and play as there are no superstars or overly athletic kids. We run the triangle offense, but only in the second year of this system with a program that was in very rough shape prior to my father in law taking over. Last night, we ran the triangle the best we have ever ran the offense. I could go into all the details about the game(we lost in overtime 74-77), but the purpose of this post is to raise some questions about philosophy of basketball and/or sports in general.

One of the things I talked to about with the players after the game was the whole notion of believing in oneself. Last night when our post player fouled out(who had a great game), you could just feel the shoulders and heads drop and all belief in our team collapse. Why is that? This team just put up 70 points in four quarters and now they stop believing. This program has not scored 70 points in years!!! I talked with the players about how they need to be the team that changes the outlook of basketball in their community. When they step on the floor they need to be so sure and positive of themselves that they are going to play well. I don't understand how you can step onto the court and be unsure of yourself? We discussed how as coaches we can work on the technical/fundamental/skill development of things that did not go well, but believing in yourself can only come from you. I am trying to think of ways to help them work on believing in themselves, each other, and the program. This is a challenge to help guide them down the path of positive thinking.

Another thing that I really believes corresponds with their belief in themselves is the fact that we gave up 20+ offensive rebounds where I bet they scored on at least 15 of those. Yes, we can talk about defense help, position, and blocking out. However, I think it goes deeper than that. If these boys believed that they were not going to lose, don't you think these things would have happened? If they believed they were better than the other team, then I firmly believe that we would not have to go back to practice and hammer out rebounding drills because they would have been crashing the boards and keeping the other team from scoring put backs all night long. The tenacity and aggressiveness would have taken care of this stat that killed us. We take away 5 offense rebounds and we win this game hands down. Am I wrong in my line of thinking?

Lastly, we are trying out the Danny Mills Value Point System this year. This is a wonderful tool to use. As a coach I drove home thinking about each player and when I compared my thoughts to the VPS I was not as accurate as I thought. The emotions of the game had an impact on my reflection of the playing status of some players. Our post finished with 30 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 steals, but he was not the leading VPS player of the game. Why?  Well, he also had 6 turnovers and fouled out. Our point guard beat him out by .1 on the VPS. He scored less(23 points), only had 4 rebounds, but he only committed two turnovers and delivered four assists. This tool is so important to this program because we have so many players that don't understand how important every decision on the court really is. They don't see the big picture. All they see are points and rebounds and neglect all the other aspects of the game.

We have much to work on this season, but in the end my goal is to develop these players and this program to begin to believe in themselves. Not sure how I am going to do this yet, but that is the goal that I have set for myself as a part time coach.
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