This part of the season can get long, for both players and coaches. I’m not coaching this year, but my daughter reminded me of the fact yesterday (I’m visiting her at college where she is playing basketball). She said that she and her teammates are all really tired right now and having a hard time getting motivated. Suddenly I was transported back my years as a coach, and I remembered the look on the players faces, uninspired, distracted, anxious (finals were usually taking place at this time) and bored. They were burnt out and tired. Tired, not because they were out of shape (like my husband insisted) but mentally fried. It happened every year.
This was always the moment that I felt the urge to run them until they wanted to cry. Go all “old school” on them. (Which I did from time to time, a few extra sets of lines never hurt), but at this time of the year, when we were a week or two away from playoffs, I knew what the team really needed was some TLC.
Tender loving care is like a reboot when players are mentally tired of the game. The burn out tends to be worse with a team that’s been loosing a lot, but it happened to my high school team that went undefeated in league. Plain and simple, basketball season is long. A good hard practice is important, of course, but by this point in the year, I kept practices focused, quick paced and short. With one key addition…more fun. From team building activities, to team dinners, to half court shooting competitions (which goes against my grain a little but the kids always love it), I looked for ways to remind the players that basketball is FUN!