April 10, 2018 • From the BenchWinning Hoops

Give your team something to rally behind

by Kevin Hoffman, Editorial Director

Prior to each season, coaches typically call a team meeting to get their players fired up for the upcoming year. You can shout words of encouragement or challenge your team to put in the extra practice time, but there are more effective ways to help you reach your goals.

Especially with today’s athletes.

Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting dozens of team leaders around the nation. Each had varying levels of success on the field or court, but nearly every one of them told a unique story about how they motivate athletes. The answer is through creativity.

A basketball coach in New York once told me about his plan to have players stand up in front of their teammates, hold their jerseys high and dictate what it means to put on that uniform. That same coach planned to hand out T-shirts to his players for the upcoming season with an hourglass printed on the back. The message is to live in the moment and take advantage of the time you have, because the clock is ticking.

Another coach told me about an old coal miner’s lunch pail to rally his team. After every game, the pail — packed with a lunch — is given to a player on the team who demonstrated selflessness and teamwork. The lesson is to always embrace the blue-collar mentality and never stop working.

It sounds simple, but these strategies can have a tremendous impact on your team. It allows the athletes to be part of something that only they can share, and it creates that family type atmosphere in your locker room. Pulling everyone closer together like that helps them to see the bigger picture, and they’re much more likely to fight for you and their teammates.

If you haven’t already, take the time to sit down with your coaching staff and brainstorm some ideas to use in your own program. It’s no coincidence that the most successful programs demonstrate a unique ability to motivate their players, whether it’s on or off the court. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to rally your team while teaching some important life lessons in the process.