One of the most important things in anything you do is the issue of motivation. When times were tough, one of the greatest conquerors of all time, Napoleon, used to ride in front of his men in order to boost their morale. Still, as a basketball coach, you are not allowed to enter the court and play instead of your center. Luckily, there are many other things that you are allowed to do in order to motivate your players, and here is a short list.
Make Them Understand
It is a known fact, that there is nothing more effective than intrinsic motivation. If your players are able to see the bigger picture and understand on their own why something is good for them, your work in motivating them is already done. Unfortunately, things are often not that easy. Every player requires a different approach, which is why knowing them personally will allow you motivate them in the best possible way.
End the Training on a Positive Note
If there is anything that your players absolutely loathe doing (such as running exercises), make sure that it is done somewhere during the middle of the training. You need to start with a warm up but you do not want to end training by making them do something that bores them. Even unconsciously, this might make them less enthusiastic about your training and this can generally have a negative impact on their morale. When it comes to training everything counts, even the timetable, so always leave on a positive note.
Be an Authority
Just think of it this way, your long term plan goes ever in their benefit and everything you do is for their own good. Now you have to make them see it that way. Establish an aura of authority around you so that your players know: “if you stand behind a statement, it must be solid.”
Of course, it is not in your best interest to lead them by fear but it is usually not a great idea to familiarize with them too much. You are their teacher, not their teammate or classmate so act as one. Having someone you trust to lean on, works as a safety net and is great for motivation in general.
Make the Results Visible
This is one of the most essential things in motivating your players. You must make their efforts visible and the best way to do so is to set some clear goals for them. These goals should not be too modest since this way they won’t be taken seriously. On the other hand, you do not want your goals to be impossible to achieve since this can cause a serious blow to your players’ self-esteem. Set some realistic milestones along the way so that players can actually see the result of all their hard work.
Occasionally Test Players
You do not want players to be under too much pressure, however a bit pressure can be an excellent motivator. Test them from time to time and even announce that tests will take place at random occasions. This way, players will feel the need to always be prepared which is regardless of how you look at it a great idea in the long term. There is nothing wrong about always studying like tomorrow is going to be a test and in this case what goes for students also goes for athletes.
The most important thing about basketball is that it is a team sport and without their team even the greatest player will be lost. Nothing can measure up to the spirit of comradeship so make sure that all of your players know that any failure or success is not only their own but that of their team. They win together, they lose together and if there is something that none of them will want that is to fail their brothers in arms. There are a lot of exercises that help team building like blindfold maze or obstacle course.
Public Acknowledgement to Follow up
As a trainer, your opinion should mean something to your players, still as professional athletes they live and die for public acknowledgement. It’s just the way things are. This is why you should always address the fans to get their basketball tickets and come root for their team. A support of this kind is bound to do a miracle for the morale of your team.
Keeping your team motivated is one of the hardest tasks that a coach can face, still managing to do so is extremely rewarding. There are many other tips and tricks for motivating your players, but just remember one thing: nothing comes overnight. Arm yourself with patience above all and in the long term and success will come in time.