They are young, old, experienced, they are soft, tough, good natured, foul tempered, proud and profane. They are articulate and even inarticulate. Some are dedicated and some casual. Some are even more dedicated than others. Intelligence is not enough, and dedication is not enough.
They all want to win, but some want to win more than others and just wanting to win is not enough. Losers almost always get fired, but winners get fired also. He is out in the open being judged publicly for six or seven months out of the year by those who may or may not be qualified to judge him. Every victory and every defeat is recorded constantly in print. The coach, this strange breed has no place to hide. He cannot just let the job go for a while or do a bad job and hope no one will notice as most of us can. He cannot satisfy everyone, seldom can he even satisfy very many, and rarely does he even satisfy himself. If he wins once, he must win the next time also.
They plot victories-, they suffer defeats; they endure criticism from within and without; they neglect their families, they travel endlessly and they live alone in the spotlight surrounded by others. Theirs may be the worst profession in the world. It’s unreasonably demanding, poor pay, insecure, full of unrelenting pressures and I ask myself: Why do coaches put up with it? Why do they do it? I’ve seen them fired with pat phrases such as, “Fool”, “Incompetent”, or “He couldn’t get the job done”.
I’ve wondered about that, having seen them exalted by victory, and depressed by defeat. I’ve sympathized with them having seen some broken by the job and others die from it. One is moved to admire them and to hope that someday the world will understand them; this strange breed they call COACH!
POOR PREPARATION: I have never seen a team who had a poor week (or day) of preparation win a big contest. Whether it is a poor scouting report, a shoot around that lacks focus, a pre-game warm-up full of distractions, a star player showing up late for bus, not sleeping the night before, eating an uncharacteristic pregame meal that upsets a stomach, etc.
POOR SHOT SELCTION: All teams will have nights when the ball won’t go in the hole. Not much you can do to control that. But you can control the quality of the shots your team gets. If you allow players/teams to take poor shots in preparation, they will do the same in games. WE GET WHAT WE TOLERATE. You have to be very clear with your team what YOU consider a good shot. Make sure your players/team understand it clearly, and then defend that in every skill/drill that you do.
FOULING: This could be fouling too much. It can be too many fouls on an individual player, especially an impact player. It can be fouling at inopportune times. Either way, it can get you beat. You must “officiate” your skills/drills and scrimmages as your games would be called. We have goals to never put a team in the bonus in a first half. We have goals of only doing it in second half of games that we are trailing in. If we can keep teams from the FT line, we won’t beat ourselves.
UNCHARACTERISTIC TURNOVERS: You are going to turn the ball over. Some games more than others depending on the number of possessions you/your opponent pace the game. When your teams/players make turnovers they normally don’t or shouldn’t then you put yourself in a position to lose. In preparations we have a ball rack that has 8 basketballs on it. When we turn the ball over in one of the above situations, we remove a ball from the rack. This is a visual to our players what we consider UNCHARACTERISTIC. When the rack is empty, we stop our drill and “remind” the team (running, stairs, pushups, sit-ups, etc), fill the rack back up and start again.
If we can eliminate losing before we deal with our opponents play, then you can coach. The next time you feel like saying after a game that “we beat ourselves” take inventory on why you feel that way. Then go about eliminating those issues in your practices. Sometimes you are just going to lose. It happens to every coach and every team. But, try to eliminate beating yourself.