August 29, 2019 • Winning Hoops

Using books, quotes inspires players

by Kevin Weigand, contributing writer

We all look for ways to motivate ourselves and our players. Each player and team is different from the rest, so we must figure out what works best for each given circumstance.

One thing that we’ve done with our players is to use motivational quotes and articles. We stress to our players that everything we share has application beyond basketball. In fact, we often ask our players to explain how the quotes and readings can be applied to things away from the basketball court. A great benefit to this is that it actively promotes reading and reinforces the reading comprehension that takes place in the classroom.

What we discovered is that players will open up and share from their personal experiences when a particular reading or quote applies to them. Players also have been able to explain how the message presented can benefit the team going forward, or how it can be applied to a situation that we have encountered. For example, we read a short story titled “Sink or Swim.” While the main idea was how an individual had to fight for his life in the ocean, we were able to create a great conversation about how the notion of “ sink or swim” could apply to our situation in the postseason. We were able to do the same with their academics.

On another day, we read a story titled “Labor Day.” This prompted an insightful discussion about why we need to work to get ahead and surpass the competition, even if that work comes at times when we may not want to do it. Players have been able to take keywords or phrases from these readings, such as “finish” or “always compete.” Players also volunteer to read aloud during these discussions.

Readings used

While we have used readings from a variety of sources, Todd Durkin’s “The Wow Book” has proven invaluable to our program. This book is broken down into 52 “wows,” with each one covering three to four pages. We also have used “Winning State Girls Basketball,” and the poems “The Dash” and “Always Compete.” Our team has taken readings from various John Wooden books and Carli Lloyd’s book, “When Nobody was Watching.” We’ve also read Elena Delle Donne’s book, “My Shot.”

With each reading, we provide copies for the players to have and share with others. The readings chosen are based on what the coaching staff has selected. We make sure that the readings have practical application to what we might encounter both on and off the court. If we enjoy a particular author, and they have additional published work we have not read, we will try to obtain a copy of the book or article.

Readings typically take place at the end of practice and last about 10 minutes. We find that doing these readings
at the end of practice can send players home on a positive note. We also feel like they are given food for thought as they prepare for an upcoming practice or game.

There were a couple instances when we did short readings — about two to three minutes — in the locker room before a game. These were poems that we felt would provide added motivation as we prepared to take on a high-quality opponent.

Quotes used

Here are just a few quotes we’ve used that coaches
might find helpful with their own players.

  • “Finish” — Anonymous
  • “Excellence is an everyday decision” — Anonymous
  • “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” — Vince Lombardi
  • “Empty the tank” — Carli Lloyd
  • “There is always another level” — Todd Durkin
  • “Intensity is to do something with a purpose” — Lou Holtz
  • “Expect nothing and appreciate everything” — Anonymous
  • “Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it. Right is right, even if nobody is doing it” — William Penn
  • “Hard work puts you where good luck can find you” — Anonymous
  • “Nothing changes if nothing changes” — Anonymous

We often use these quotes during preseason conditioning, and they’re always written on a dry erase board. When the quotes are read, players are asked to provide an interpretation of what they mean and how they can apply it to the workout. We believe the quotes can provide an added stimulus to get players ready for the workout, particularly on days when they may not feel up to the task. By seeing quotes from famous athletes, they learn that all athletes must endure rigorous conditioning to be successful.

Our philosophy at Cape Coral High School has been to teach our players about life as much as possible. We understand that the season is long, and we all need that extra push at times to stay motivated and give an extra effort. Using motivational quotes and readings have helped us provide an added resource to teach our players both on and off the court. It’s always rewarding to hear players yell out “finish!” during a drill, because it helps us understand that they know how to apply these lessons. We hope they also find these teachings applicable to their studies.

Kevin Weigand is the assistant girls basketball coach at Cape Coral High School in Florida.