YOUR JOB: To Create an Enthusiastic Learning Environment & Culture That Runs Itself
#1 Be Prepared. Have a practice plan ready with goals/objectives on hand.
#2 Be Early. Being late is unacceptable. Always be early or on time. Ask kids to put water bottles in best spots (caps on tight), sneakers lacked (double-check), mouth guards and knee pads on and all ready to go.
#3 Check for Safety Hazards. From chairs that are too close to the court to leaky ceilings – the entire gym must be safe for our kids and guests.
#4 Parents Out. Ask them to leave two minutes before official practice time starts. They are more than welcome to sit outside the gym. Feel free to cover up the windows on doors to keep the peepers out or just ask them to not look into the gym while practice is going on or their son/daughter risks losing focus.
#5 Start On Time. Do not wait on kids. Start practices with a regular routine (lay-ups, stretching) that late kids can jump into without apologizing or running up and asking, “What Do I Do?” Please tell the kids if they are late to make sure if it’s their fault (not their parents) to correct next time. Second, if they are late, just get into the drill. Bad enough you are late. Please do not interrupt the coach or those who are on time.
#6 Be Clear on Goals. Goals for each group should be given at the start of practice and repeated throughout. If you want to be successful, everyone must be working towards the same goals.
#7 Be Clear and Firm on Discipline. Don’t let something slide unless you want it to keep happening. The longer you let the behavior go, the harder it can be to get it to stop.
#8 Define Terminology in Drills. Use simple, redundant terminology to your advantage. Name drills or the type of movement to help kids remember the actions or the steps (Left, right, left, score). Show. Tell. Do. Repeat.
#9 Have Focus and Progression in Drills. Each drill should have a focus. For instance in the 3-man break, the focus for today is getting wide. To many things at a time can overload the kid’s brain and then frustration levels will overload you with his or her lack of performance. Make the focus clear and start with the basics. As each athlete shows he or she has the skill, move on to the next piece.
#10 Evaluate and Adjust. Not every drill works well for every player or group. Evaluate what is going on and adjust accordingly. Important ability for everyone: be willing to change.
#11 Don’t Beat a Dead Horse. Sometimes players just won’t get the drill or won’t perform it at a high enough level to improve. Move on. If you say you are doing 3 man break for 5 minutes, do it only for 5 and move on. Come back to it next practice. Stick to the time frames you tell the players. It can help build trust.
#12 Praise Effort & Attitude OVER Talent. Effort is everything. The kids who are giving it all they got regardless of ability deserve the praise from all. Your praise of these players should help motivate others to want to do the same. Kids, like dolphins, aim to please. Even the teenagers. Before you give up on the moody, difficult one (there are plenty), try praising the guy next to him over and over and over first. Then watch the moody one finally wake up.
#13 Engage ALL. Use first names – but shorter versions if easier. If more than one kid has same name, use last names (shorter versions if easier to say while playing. No “sweetie” or “doll” or “honey” or “bro.” Girls are girls. Boys are boys or guys.) Encourage and teach the art of the high five. Kids don’t know how to root, yell and cheer for each other. Practice this with them and show them the way.
#14 Repeat Goals and Details. Keep it short, informative and consistent.
#15 Enthusiasm. Make it about lifting everyone else up. This positive energy will become contagious and light up the gym every time you and your team steps inside.
Love What You Do.