Coaching is more than just teaching a bunch of basketball players how to run plays. A big part of being a good coach is motivating your players to give their all when they’re on the court.
On the first day of practice, make it clear to your team that basketball practice is not the time to chat with each other. It’s time to learn about basketball. Communicate clearly that you expect them to focus on you even if you’re teaching another player.
Make it clear to your players that when you blow the whistle you expect them to run to you. Not walk, run. Let them know the consequences of not responding quickly to the whistle.
Once you’ve communicated your expectations to your team, test them. Give them a chance to chat with each other while you take one player, or your assistant coach, to the other side of the court. Blow the whistle and see how they respond.
Develop in your players instant and rapid response to the whistle and you’ll be well on your way to developing the focus needed to avoid mental errors.
Set the Right Type of Goals
Too often teams focus on scoring goals and win-loss records. If you want to develop a highly focused team, have them focus on the right type of goals.
The team that has a goal of a low number of turnovers focuses intensely on protecting the ball. If your goal is a certain number of rebounds, your players will focus on position and blocking out. Both of these goals are goals that will directly impact whether your team is in a position to win the game, but they also force your players to focus. Scoring goals, on the other hand, generally develop a lack of focus and a sense of desperation.
Anybody who has followed sports knows the power of visualization. Prisoners of War, upon returning home, have improved their golf game simply by visualizing 18 perfect holes on their favorite course while they were locked up in a hole.
What people often don’t realize is that it’s never too late to teach players visualization techniques. If a low number of turnovers is one of their goals, teach them to picture themselves dribbling with their body between the defender and the ball. Seeing proper play in their mind’s eye will go a long way to producing results on the court.
Above all, model focused attention to your players. Don’t be gazing out the window while your team is running basketball drills. Pay attention to them and throw out pointers when appropriate. When one of your players is talking to you, give them your undivided attention. Show your players how to focus and equip them to do the same and you’ll have an intense bunch of basketball players under your command.