Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. For more information, please read my disclosure policy.
Coach Brad Dickey is an established and successful Varsity boys basketball coach in the state of Indiana. He’s passionate about the game of basketball and dedicated to the art of teaching. He also happens to be my dad! Cool, right?!
Coach has contributed this awesome guest post for youth sport coaches. I used ALL of the 5 strategies described below as a youth coach and teacher. They work. Here’s some advice from Coach Dickey:
Avoid using “Never” or “Always” in your instructions.
Make suggestions of things to “try” or even point out things that you “prefer.” I was raised in an era where you should “Never” dribble a basketball between your legs or behind your back. Today, I prefer the between-the-leg dribbles and I warn players about aggressive defenders that steal the behind-the-back dribbles. So in practice today, let’s try behind-the-back dribbles–but be careful! You might prefer to use between-the-leg against pressure defense.
Avoid using “rhetorical” or “unanswerable” questions
Questions like, “What were you thinking just now? Why did you let that happen?” Answer the question in your own head and then just offer the advice! “Hey team, that is an aggressive defender! We better use a between the legs dribble more often!” If you want to ask a question, make sure there is a good answer; “Do we have a plan for this aggressive defender?”
Avoid using “Hate” to motivate.
“Man, I just Hate that behind-the-back dribble.” Once you introduce “Hate” into your conversation, you have to be very careful where it leads. If coach hates that dribble, does he hate me too? My opponent used that dribble, so I might hate him now. We are all better off to “Love” the habits that we prefer. It is a stronger and more lasting reinforcement to “Love winning” rather than “Hate losing.”
Athletes need “Training” far more than they need “Explaining.”
Give the kid a ball, show them how to bounce the ball between their legs, and let them practice it! If you arrive at your game with players who can’t dribble at all, then explaining the variety of dribbles will not help them. Before you get upset with a sport performance error, ask yourself, did we train that behavior? If the answer is “no”, I might not mention it at all. If we do discuss this new challenge, it is only to reassure the athletes that we can fix this problem with practice.
One more common line to avoid: “Just have fun.”
That is not nearly accurate enough for any sport activity. If we genuinely want to “Just have fun”, then let’s all go to a park, swing on swings, slide down slides and basically frolic.(That does sound like fun.) When you join a sport, you are no longer JUST having fun. You are now combining many elements of physical and mental challenges. So, let’s have fun by overcoming challenges and accomplishing goals.
Thanks Coach Dickey from RimRoc Basketball !
Stay tuned for more sports performance advice for coaches and athletes.
What does your team need? Let me know in the comments below! Or reach out on Twitter!
A great coach knows that a message needs proper delivery. Whether you’re drawing up the game-winning play, or showing kids an open spot on the floor, use and reuse this Pro Sport Dry-Erase Board from Amazon.