Motivating your team starts before the season even begins. It starts by figuring out how to create a team-focused, positive environment where the players will thrive. Setting expectations and goals for practice and games is part of that process, but remember just that, it is a process. Though I will touch on some game-day ideas to help motivate your team, truly motivating your team happens throughout the year.
Create A Positive Environment
Creating a positive environment starts with how you talk to your players. Be positive and encourage players while you coach them. When a player makes a mistake, remind yourself that they are trying to do it right. Don’t get angry, figure out how you can do your job better, and keep teaching them until they improve. Another good reminder to help you be positive and patient is that even the best players make mistakes.
Spread positive energy wherever you can. Clean up the locker room if you have one and post inspirational quotes. Give your players journals and have them write down personal and team goals. Share inspiring stories or quotes before or after practice. Bring in, motivational speakers. Use your imagination and find ways to encourage your team and create a positive environment.
Encourage Team Mentality
Teach your team the importance of treating one another with respect. Help the players understand what it means to be a team player. When players care about one another, they will motivate one another. By teaching the importance of teamwork, you are helping to motivate your team.
Having something to strive for helps give a team motivation. And getting the players involved in the goal setting is even better. You can have a big reach goal, something grand, larger than life. But also have smaller, more reachable goals that help keep your team on task. Goals that give the team small wins along the way.
Discipline and Hard Work
Set expectations from the first day of practice that you expect your players to work hard everyday. This consistency will help bring the team together, make practices run more smoothly, and build togetherness. To be a great team, you need to be disciplined and work hard. Practicing with this mentality makes each player better as well, which is motivating.
Nothing is better than having fun, especially if you’ve been working hard everyday at practice. If you allow your players to goof around all of the time, then it’s hard to get anything done. But they do need to have a little fun, especially if they’re a disciplined team. Run relays. Tell a joke. Play knockout. Shoot half-court shots to end practice. Find time for fun along the way, and your team will be better for it.
Game Day Motivation
What you have done during practices will be the greatest motivating factor when it comes to game time. Players who are prepared will feel more confident. There is no greater motivator than confidence. Still, there are a few things that you can do to reach players on game day.
Preparation And Small-Win Goals
As a coach, you motivate players by making sure they are prepared. Much of this you will have done at practice, but give them basic pregame information about the other team and then set reachable goals, depending on their skill level. Goals can be out rebounding the opponent, holding your opponent from scoring a specific number of points, taking a certain amount of shots on goal. Try to find achievable goals no matter the outcome of the game.
Positive Energy And Team Rituals
It is great to include a story, antidote, or quote that sets the mood as part of your pregame gathering. Often something inspiring gets the team fired up, although there may be times when you need to tell a funny story to get the players to relax. Spend time before the game to think about what your players need.
Keep your message positive and encourage your players to huddle, separate from the coach, before hitting the court or playing field. If you work with the captains to start this from the beginning of the season, the players will develop their own ritual, which can be the greatest motivator of all.