Many of the Spring season teams actually started to play games this past weekend. For those of us in the Mid-Atlantic region, this is nothing short of a miracle, especially if we remember what it was like one month ago… 50 inches of snow on the ground.
With the start of games, comes the start of the “Pre-game” speeches. What do you say to your teams to get them in the best possible mental state of mind? Do you go over situations? Do you yell and scream and get them excited? Do you try to give a Knute Rockne speech? Or how about an amazing motivational speech like Gene Hackman in Hoosiers?
Unfortunately, what we see in youth sports are coaches who try to do too much before the game. We see coaches who feel that they have to give the “Hoosiers” speech every game. It might work once but gets old real fast. We often see coaches who want to go through all of the possible situations that their 9-10 basketball team may face. After a few minutes, probably even seconds, their team isn’t listening or they are simply overwhelmed with the amount of information as well as the amount of energy and excitement.
Here are some Kudda- proven guideleines to make your “pre-game” talks more productive.
- Players are excited, and coaches are excited. Coaches need to be calm. Take a few deep breathes to settle down before addressing the troops.
- Keep them short and simple
- Location, location, location. Make sure there is nothing behind you as you talk, nothing that would distract your team. Therefore, don’t stand in front of your bench and talk while the other team is warming up behind you. Have your team turned away from the field when you talk with them.
- Prepare what you will say. Write it down and stick with it. All too often coaches try to “wing it” and go all over the place. Then they get too excited… see number 1.
- Give them 1 or 2 thoughts to focus on. Hopefully these are 1-2 areas that have been emphasized during the week.
- Give them something specific to focus on. Something for their extremely short-term memory. “First shot, BOX out!!” “First ground ball is OURS at all costs!!” “Everyone touches the ball before we attack the goal”.
- Reinforce their strengths. Too often coaches remind players of their weaknesses right before games which defeats the purpose of getting them mentally fired up.
- Save the great motivational speeches for that one key game/moment of the season. Prepare that speech, write it out ahead of time and practice it. What sounds good in the shower, or in your commutes, may not sound as inspirational out loud.