“I love Hungry Coaches who want to continually get better. I smell hoops in the air!!!”
I tweeted this to Russie @rustler2195 after answering his question about plays vs. players. Russie wrote back,
“Thank you! You truly are someone who makes others look at the game from every angle! Finding people with your knowledge is invaluable! And I love the smell of hoops in the mornin’!”
Wow! Thanks Russie. That makes me happy. Read on for the next question and answer.
Recently I asked my Twitter followers, “Tweet me your top coaching concern for this season & I’ll answer in my next article.” Coaches responded with great questions! So I decided to devote an entire blog post to each question and publish my answers as a series, both written and audio.
The Four Top Basketball Coaching Questions
1. “What’s more important in a team? Plays or how individuals play?” - Russie @rustler2194 [Read & listen: Click here]
2. “My biggest concern in my new program is ridding it of cancerous attitudes. It’s 2 players, but one of them affects the entire team’s composure and the other questions everything I say.” - Andy Rochon @AJRochon22 [Current blog post. Continue reading below.]
3. “Keeping our team motivated and working hard throughout the entire season.” - Hannon Basketball @HannonBBall [Coming up next]
4. “I lack quickness and athleticism playing in a very athletic league.” - Matthew W. Smith @coachmswsmith [The final question of our series]
Top Basketball Coaching Question #2: Negative Player Attitudes
Ready for question #2? Coach Andy Rochon, @AJRochon22, is facing one of those very tough coaching situations that goes way beyond the X’s and O’s. He tweeted,
“@JimBurson My biggest concern in my new program is ridding it of cancerous attitudes. It’s 2 players – one of them affects the entire team’s composure and the other questions everything I say.”
What do you do if you have a ‘cancerous’ situation on your team?
Your first instinct might be to try to cut out the ‘cancer’ with surgery. Getting rid of the two players might seem like the easiest thing to do. But you must be careful. You might cut out the cancer and kill the patient …. the team.
Consider other options too, like ‘chemo’ and/or ‘radiation.’ This is the way in which you respond to the behavior of these two players. Do you respond with anger? Negativity? Are you encouraging? Do you ignore them? Do you get defensive?
Before taking action, learn more.
For example, is it stage 1 or stage 4? Has it spread? You’ll learn this by talking to the rest of the team, to your assistants and manager. Be positive and listen well to learn. Do they see the same issues you do? How do they feel about this? What is their perspective on the team’s composure? What are their suggestions, thoughts, insights and ideas?
Where does the ‘cancer’ comes from? What is its origin? You’ll learn about this from talking to teachers or even the players’ parents. Is something going on in their personal or academic lives that might be influencing this behavior?
Be sure to help, not hurt.
Never forget that you’re trying to help, not judge or accuse. Make sure this is clear in every single conversation that you have.
Look at yourself, too.
Before making a decision or taking action, look at yourself. Are you able to find answers for the questioning player? Are you insecure about the questions the player is asking? Are you willing to say, “I don’t know, but I can find out?” In the case of both players, don’t be afraid to look at yourself and say, “I need to get better. Where do I need help?”
Unite with a goal for the team.
Your goal is to have both players agree that they, too, want the whole team to get better. You need to make them aware that their current actions are not acceptable for us to become a good team.
You didn’t mention whether these are talented players. Someone once told me, “It’s easy to get rid of poor players. Any coach can do that. The good coaches find a way to solve the problem and keep the players.” If they are talented, it’s hard to ignore that when deciding what to do.
Be clear, be direct, be caring.
In my experience, I’ve found that a combination of treatment and potential surgery is effective. Try confronting the players directly – meet them head on – and giving them alternatives and choices.
You might say, “I don’t want to get rid of people, but I can’t continue on this path.” You’ll need to be very clear about several things:
- You don’t like their behavior.
- Be specific about what you don’t like about their behavior.
- You’re willing to try to help them.
- You’re willing to look at yourself to say, “What can I do to help make this situation better? Is there something in my own behavior or attitude that needs to change or be adjusted?”
Be careful, because you can talk until you’re blue in the face, but you have to at least address the problems to make sure they’re aware of them and then try to help them change.
But if you come to the conclusion that they are not going to help make the team better, then you gain addition by subtraction.
What are your thoughts about this question? Share them in the “Leave a Reply” comments box below. (Scroll down.)
Listen to – and download – an audio recording of this article.
Click here. (6.6mb; 6:50)
Next up: Question #3 from Hannon Basketball @HannonBBall “@JimBurson, Keeping our team motivated and working hard throughout the entire season.” I’ll publish my answer in a few days. Click here to subscribe now (it’s free) so you don’t miss any of the answers.
Photo: “Basketball” © V. Yakobchuk Fotolia.com