Coaches Corner: March 2007

In youth sports, the pre-game, time out huddles are so important to the psyche of your young players. It is a time for direct communication using eye contact, giving praise, teaching by critiquing in a positive way, and using humor.

 

 

 

Pre-game:

  • Always make sure you smile at the kids, giving each one eye contact, letting them know you enjoy being in the gym or on the field with them.
  • Being so easily distracted by the anticipation of a contest, make sure they are listening. I recommend using the "Listening Drill", by clapping a series of claps and having them repeat what you've done in unison. This is a great way to get their attention and put all of your players on the same page.
  • Remind them of a few important aspects of the game, such as getting back on defense, spacing, sharing and valuing the ball.
  • Make sure every player knows what position they are playing and who they are defending.
  • And always, incorporate giving good effort and having fun into your thoughts.
  • Close every huddle with a player hand in the middle of the huddle and use a "Focus Word" in unison. For example: "On 3- defense... 1,2,3 DEFENSE!"... You can change the Focus Word... Teamwork, Effort, Sacrifice, Pride, etc...

Time Outs:

  • Know why you are calling a time-out and have your thoughts organized when players come to the bench or sideline.
  • When you greet them coming to the huddle, look at them confidently using positive body language and eye contact. They need to know you are there to help them succeed and have fun.
  • Begin with a positive comment like: "I really like our passing so far". Or, "You guys are really playing hard".
  • DO NOT yell at the kids or embarrass a player in front of his peers with negative comments. Stay positive, constructive and reaffirm when needed. "Joey, do you know who you are guarding?" "I forgot, coach"... "That's alright, Joey, but ask me if you don't know because its kind of important that we know who we're guarding, isn't it?" Or, use humor: "It's important that we know who we are guarding because we don't want anyone from the other team feeling lonely!"
  • Although it is easier to do in basketball or volleyball than in soccer, try to end the timeout with a positive comment directed at each kid.

The huddle is the place where kids can feel like their coach is looking out for their best interests, sometimes creating a long lasting memory.

As parents, we have control over the memories we make for our kids. I encourage you to pay attention to the sports, the teams and the players your child are interested in.

Ask your son or daughter what they like best about the players they love to watch. This one question may shed light on what things they are looking at in a player, things they are noticing about the sport, and how they might play the sport.

In the early 1970’s, I was enamored with the New York Knicks. I knew all the players, their stats, even the colleges they attended. Frazier, Reed, Monroe, Bradley, DeBussure, Lucas… All of them eventual Hall Of Fame players. They epitomized teamwork. Each was a gifted individual talent, but they recognized they could be greater together, so they checked their egos at the door and wound up being one of the best all around teams in basketball history. Anyway, my father recognized my passion for this special team, and while taking me on a business trip to Los Angeles, he got tickets for game 6 of the Knicks- Laker 1973 Championship series. After we arrived at the Forum with a family friend, we reached our seats only to find there weren’t enough for the three of us. It was then my dad handed me a ticket and pointed to where I was sitting. It was a fourth row view behind the Knick bench.

I watched the Knicks win the NBA Championship that night, and shook hands with Bill Bradley and Earl Monroe as they came off the floor. It was a surreal moment that is with me always. And, when I think of my father, I think of his kindness and interest in me.

My dad isn’t a big basketball fan, but learning that I was, he made a lifetime memory for me. Pay attention to the passions of your children, you’ll feel better because of it. I know my father does.

As parents, we have control over the memories we make for our kids. I encourage you to pay attention to the sports, the teams and the players your child are interested in.

Ask your son or daughter what they like best about the players they love to watch. This one question may shed light on what things they are looking at in a player, things they are noticing about the sport, and how they might play the sport.

In the early 1970’s, I was enamored with the New York Knicks. I knew all the players, their stats, even the colleges they attended. Frazier, Reed, Monroe, Bradley, DeBussure, Lucas… All of them eventual Hall Of Fame players. They epitomized teamwork. Each was a gifted individual talent, but they recognized they could be greater together, so they checked their egos at the door and wound up being one of the best all around teams in basketball history. Anyway, my father recognized my passion for this special team, and while taking me on a business trip to Los Angeles, he got tickets for game 6 of the Knicks- Laker 1973 Championship series. After we arrived at the Forum with a family friend, we reached our seats only to find there weren’t enough for the three of us. It was then my dad handed me a ticket and pointed to where I was sitting. It was a fourth row view behind the Knick bench.

I watched the Knicks win the NBA Championship that night, and shook hands with Bill Bradley and Earl Monroe as they came off the floor. It was a surreal moment that is with me always. And, when I think of my father, I think of his kindness and interest in me.

My dad isn’t a big basketball fan, but learning that I was, he made a lifetime memory for me. Pay attention to the passions of your children, you’ll feel better because of it. I know my father does.