Have You Ever Heard a Coach Say, “You Never Know Who is Watching”?
As a coach and a trainer, I often see players who have developed bad habits. Some are stubborn in their ways and choose to execute the way they see fit; others think they will easily make it to the top- not realizing what it takes to truly gain success in the game of basketball. Although both display a level of confidence, they are blinded to the truth due to their lack of understanding and misguided realities.
The purpose of this post is to simply help you understand truth to what it takes to thrive in this game, and to also understand a coaches mindset when recruiting players. No matter your current skills set- coaches are always looking for the following in players. These five attributes are not only vital for success, but they also develop your character on and off the floor.
Do You Have Passion for the Game?
Coach K of Duke University said, “I’m looking for players who make their teammates better. You do that with enthusiasm and passion.”
Have you ever seen players who are quiet on the court? They do not communicate with their teammates or the coach? To the crowd, it can appear that he or she is just going through the motions- displaying a lack of hustle on offense and defense. Well, these are players who most likely do not have a love and passion for the game. When you are truly passionate about something- you show it, not only through your actions, but you can see it in your emotions. For example, my wife and son LOVE the Golden State Warriors. During the final game of the NBA finals- they were dressed in GS colors; screaming at the TV and jumping on the couch. They were emotional and excited to see the game and watch GS win it all! That is PASSION. The way you root for your favorite teams is passion. Now, why not use that same emotion and enthusiasm in the game you play?? Why not, apply that same mindset when trying to become successful at your craft?
Passion is something that no one has to pull out of you. It is a characteristic that is displayed naturally when you are on the court. If you are passionate about the game, a coach can easily see it. Passion drives you to getting better between practices and training. Passion has you working in overtime, during the off season. Passion is within YOU. If your parent, coach, or the people around you, want the success more than you do- then that's not passion. That is a problem and I suggest you reevaluate your purpose for playing.
Are You a Great Teammate?
Are you embodying CTAB's “We Over Me” mentality? Meaning, do you put the team first? Or are you worried about personal stats and successes?
During my days in high school, I won a state championship and was named Virginia State Player of the Year. I also made the first team all-state. Although I could have averaged high numbers, I was more focused on winning that state ring. And to win that ring- I knew I needed my team. I found a happy medium between my status (averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assist and 4 steals per game as a senior) and being a leader, pulling my teammates together and winning- one game at a time. That was more appealing to college coaches, than a guy scoring 40 points a game and losing every game.
By developing the “We Over Me” mentality, you will not only be a great teammate but also become better player, which in turn can ultimately create a great person in society who people respect and love.
Are You Coachable?
Even the best player in the world was coachable and attentive to his coach’s directions. Before coaches recruit you—they do their research.
They reach out to your old or current coach, teammates, opposing coaches, family, and associates to get the scoop on you and if you are a coachable player who would be a good addition to their program. It is important for them to find out if they are recruiting a 'know-it-all' or someone who knows they still have room for growth and learning.
When coach tell you to do something—how do you react? Do you sigh under your breath? Or are you the combative player who challenges everything the coach says? The coach’s job is help you reach your goals as a student-athlete, develop you as a player, and assist in the process of becoming a great young man or woman in life. The question is…will you let them do their job and help you accomplish your goals?
Being coachable is looking your coach in the eyes and retaining then executing everything he or she is saying to you. Being coachable is taking the lessons he or she teaches, and applying it outside of games and practices. Being coachable is putting in the extra mile for your team and your coaching staff.
The coach is the coach for a reason. Great teams and players who buy in the coach’s system cultivate a team with a winning culture.
Geno Auriemma, the head coach of one of the most dominant women’s basketball programs in the NCAA (UCONN) said it best: "We put a huge premium on body language, and if your body language is bad, you will never get in the game. Ever. I don't care how good you are." (Watch clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tp4mIONS51E )
The energy you give off is what feeds your team. If you are upbeat and uplifting, your teammates can feel that. If you are encouraging others while playing, not only will your game elevate, but those on the floor with you will do better as well! However, if you only cheer when YOU are doing well, and mope when you aren't- then not only are you not a good player, but you are a selfish one. And coaches do not deal with selfish players.
Coaches love players who have a great basketball IQ. These are players who study the game beyond the teams "x's" and "o's". They can recognize defenses, know what moves to make at any given point of time, and understand time management. They see and understand above and beyond what the average player notices.
Coaches look for players with this IQ and who can also be great leaders. They look for that kid, who can be an extension of them on the floor. If you can facilitate your team and make smart decisions, a great coach will give you more freedom during your playing time.
Watch and study basketball. Your games, HS, college, and the NBA. Recognize plays, movements, defenses, etc. Play out scenarios and discuss how you would react if you were in a particular situation. Learn the game and perfect your craft!