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They’re all counting on us. Parents, kids, schools, the world. They are counting on us as coaches to make better people, better players, and better adults that will one day be in charge of our world.

Recently I sent an email to our middle school coaches about our focus for leading through basketball. But really it doesnt matter the sport. Our role is to lead kids, and if we nail it and win some games in our sport at the same time, that is a bonus.

Control the inputs, not the outputs. Great inputs, create better outputs anyway. Lead on! Here is what I wrote:

It doesn’t matter who is on our team, how good we are, or how good the other teams are, we need to have a high expectation for controlling the controllables with our leadership. Please focus on this. We have to partner with parents and the school to instill some of these critical controllable aspects of life: 

Behavior – Kids must treat others respectfully and kindly. Bullying or negativity or mocking others in any way is totally unacceptable. Do NOT allow this. Catch it right away, address it, explain why. Create penalties for this behavior if necessary. 

Listening – Kids must listen to the adults in the room. They must hold the ball while the coach is talking. They must not talk back or eye roll. Explain why you require this when it happens, and create penalties if necessary in order to enforce this. 

Planning – Make sure you are planning practices well. If you are not organized or not maximizing reps, kids and parents will not respect you. If doing shooting drills try to break down smaller partner groups so there are more reps and more time in action vs standing in lines. Avoid lines whenever possible. Get the ball in kids hands. Be organized. 

Intensity – We want you to teach intensity and focus on how we play. Expect that they work hard, don’t let them goof around. There is a big difference between goofy fun and competitive fun. Teach them how to have competitive fun in practice and goofy fun somewhere else 🙂

Improvement – Expect improvement. The goal each day, each drill, each rep needs to be focused on improvement, not perfection. Give feedback about improvement not just perfect outcomes of a drill. Get better. Ask kids, did you do enough to make yourself better in that drill/scrimmage/whatever. Make improvement goals part of the language. 

Take these things seriously. Doing these things will create a SAFE place for kids to compete. Most importantly we will properly building the next generation of adults.

Photo from: Bob Jones University 2015

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