September 17, 2014 • Coaching

Coach K’s strategy for motivating USA Basketball

The Wall Street Journal carried a pretty interesting article last week on how USA Basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski motivates his team for international competition. Managing the egos of the game’s biggest athletes is what most of us would call a coach’s biggest challenge (or nightmare), but leave it to Coach K to find a remedy.

The article looks at how Coach K uses patriotism to instill pride in the NBA stars, pulling them closer together and motivating them for upcoming games. It’s a strategy used by many coaches — not to mention movies like “Remember the Titans” but it’s not all that surprising that it’s effective even with the nation’s biggest superstars.

From the Wall Street Journal:

But over in Spain, where the U.S. will play for the FIBA World Cup title on Sunday, Mike Krzyzewski believes he has the answer. It is a bit sentimental, but to this point, you can’t argue with the results. He calls it “feel-it” moments: team visits to cemeteries, trips to military bases, anything to drive home the significance of representing one’s country.

“When it’s time to change the culture of a team, your players have to hear it, see it and understand what you’re trying to do,” said Krzyzewski, the coach of the U.S. national team since 2005. “But to really make change stick”—and when he describes this, he drags out the word really—”they have to feel it.

“To do that,” he said, “you have to create moments.”

The article is worth a read and it includes a nice anecdote from Kevin Durant, who talks about visiting Arlington National Cemetery and seeing gravestones for soldiers who were younger than the players on the team. He called it a moment he’ll never forget.

Click here to read the full article.

Photo by kris krüg from Vancouver, Canada (Team Huddle With Coach K  Uploaded by Flickrworker) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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