A coach who’s constantly tense and frustrated will rub off on their players in all the wrong ways.
That’s the message Notre Dame head basketball coach Mike Brey shares in the above video from the Positive Coaching Alliance. Filmed shortly after the Fighting Irish’s run to the Elite Eight in 2015, Brey shares how a simple smile or joke can bring much needed levity and looseness to pressure-packed situations.
“For coaches, (it’s very important) for their players to see poise and some positive emotion—smiling, and maybe even laughing some stuff off, sometimes. I’ve alway been very conscious of that. At this level, the heat of the moment is so white hot. Anything you can do to get it back to enjoyment (is positive). We started the second half of the Butler game in the NCAA tournament, I had everybody come in and they’re all attentive. I said, ‘right now, before we go out, I want everybody to smile. I want to see everybody smile. All smile together…Is this great? We’re in the second round of the NCAA tournament, we’re in a great game, we’ve got a chance to go to the Sweet Sixteen, have fun man, let it rip. I want them to be loose and enjoy it. Even in the huddle sometimes, I’ll make a joke about Steve’s pass—that was a heckuva pass, it ended up in the pep band. How bout that one?” Brey says. “Then you come back to strategy, or motivation, or at the end, ‘Hey, we need to be tougher. We need to be more accountable. You gotta block out.’ Don’t get me wrong, that’s all worked in there.”
Brey believes that team’s tournament run—which saw them win three games before falling by a basket to No. 1-seeded Kentucky—was fueled by a loose, positive energy.
“This team that had a great run in the NCAA tournament epitomized loose, attacking, enjoying to play with each other. And our program has kinda been that. Guys have had fun playing, I want them to enjoy the moment,” Brey said. “And it comes from the leader. (As a coach), you have to show that. If I’m always showing this (tense frustration), then they play like that. But if you loosen up a little bit, I think guys play with a free mind. My goal is always to have them play with a free mind and have fun and not look over their shoulder and enjoy it. It’s a balance, but I think we’ve stuck a pretty good balance with that.”
To find this full resource and over 2,000 others from Positive Coaching Alliance, head over to pcadevzone.org.
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