Ronny Musikitele is a contributing writer at Basketball Buzz, and a Communications student at Carleton University. A former basketball coach and player, Ronny is also an Intermediate Youth Worker at the Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa.
Two main components make up coaching: teaching new skills, and motivating players.
Everyone goes through a season where they have a problem keeping their focus, from professional players all the way to beginners. This lack of focus comes down to one thing these players have in common: they need to be motivated.
Definition of Success
First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand that players are motivated differently. One thing for sure is that each player that comes to the gym should strive for success. Nevertheless, success is measured differently by everyone – some aspire to win championships or score points, others want to play more minutes or dish out assists to teammates.
As a coach or parent, you must learn what that definition of success is and help players fulfill that (or at least let them know that you will try and help them get there). One thing I have learned from coaching is that you can’t communicate with everyone the same way.
Some of my players needed a loud coach to get them motivated, others needed a one-on-one talk on the sideline. The important thing to know is to know how to talk to each player in order to motivate and encourage them to reach their individual success. This is especially true at the youth level, and applied to both parents and coaches.
Coaches, parents, and players need to understand that the number of wins or loses of the team isn’t want’s important. A losing team often sees more growth with its players than a winning team – which brings us back to the definition of success.
The number one goal for coaches should always be to see their players grow into better people than they were when they first stepped in the gym. A basic motivational tool is to teach players a skill that can help them grow (mentally, physically or emotionally). Maybe it’s teaching a player how to do a lay-up, or how to set goals for themselves.
Once that player is effective with their new skill, that will automatically motivate them further. He or she will feel that growth and improvement in their game, and be motivated to continue building on that improvement.
Cheers & Celebration
What makes someone feel as though he has accomplished something? The cheering on and celebration of others! In my coaching experience, it is vital to cheer every time a player does something good. And that should be a philosophy that the entire team can buy into.
Teammates and coaches cheering players on not only brings a sense of motivation and chemistry from the love everyone has for one another. If a player sees a teammate be successful, they will be more motivated to work harder and try new things on the court as well. This is even more true if that same energy and cheering from the team follows as well. Bonus points is that a loud cheer from the sidelines can also significantly change the momentum of a game or energy in a practice.
Set Goals & Reward Players
As a coach or parent it is always important to know what level your kid(s) is at. By determining the level, you can then set goals that are realistic for him or her to achieve. Whether this is a sprint time, stats in games or practice, or even their academics, it is very important to set goals with players.
And once players reach that goal – reward them! This can be as easy as giving recognition at the end of practice, more playing time, more fun drills in practice, or whatever else works for your players.
Ideally a coach should also set a team goal every practice, like learning a new play, teaching a new skill, or simply seeing players play better than in the last practice.
Show You Care
Finally, and perhaps the most important thing to remember, is that there is more to life than just basketball. Yes, we all have a deep love for the game of basketball, but there is a lot of other stuff to love about the world such as family, friends, school and more.
Everyone goes through their share of off-court issues, and as a coach or parent you must remind kids that your relationship extends beyond basketball. Motivation for a child does not just lie in the gym, it comes into every aspect of the player’s life. People need motivation to overcome difficult circumstances every day, and as a coach or parent you should build a strong relationship with each and every player so they know they can lean on you for that emotional support.
Motivate them, inspire them, and make them GREAT.
How do you motivate your young athletes? Share your tips and tricks with us below in the comments!