Saying “Thank you” to my players or staff members is so important to me. I mean it and it shows them that I really appcreciate their effort ehy put in. If you’d like to work with people in your program continually, and keep them excited and committed, you should instill a habit of praise, even if it’s only for the “daily stuff” they are doing in their assignments. It’s the small things that matter most!
Basketball is an endurance sport that pushes your muscles to the limit. Fast passes, jump shots, and quick dashes up and down the court keep your whole body active. High performances games like basketball sometimes can’t go without cramps, which are a nightmare to an athlete. Regardless of the type of pain or where it is situated in the body, avoiding cramps is a sure way of keeping you in the best form and at the top of your game.
I’ve put together some tips on how to avoid cramps:
When playing basketball (or any other sport for that matter), your body loses water, potassium, and sodium through sweating. High muscular and cardiovascular endurance sports that take a long time of play tend to push the body hard making it sweat. Loss of water through sweating is a known thing and many people are quick to take water, forgetting that their sodium and potassium levels need replenishing. Hence, it is important to take in sports drinks that have potassium and sodium.
You should keep your body energy up by taking snacks that are rich in complex carbohydrates before playing. This will ensure that your muscles are not fatigued, which is a contributing factor to occurrences of cramps when playing. Whole wheat foods, cheese, and fruits are a good source of energy for your body.
It is important to do some warm-up exercises before diving into the game. These exercises are meant to activate your muscles to prevent pulls and stress on the ligaments, which can lead to cramps or other muscle injuries. This will only take a couple of minutes with some static stretches and cardio exercise that will involve all the major muscles in your body. Most coaches believe that warm-ups start with the back, on to the hip, then the hamstrings, on to groin, the quads, shoulder and culminate with the neck. If cramps are common on the legs, then give the legs more attention in your warm-up session.
Hydration of the body is very import before and during play and a dehydrated body is more susceptible to getting cramps. A good water intake will see you consume around a quarter liters of water with every 10 to 20 minutes of playing basketball, but drinking too much can cause over-hydration and cramps as well.
Take things slow on the court or even call for a substitution, if you feel like you are getting cramps. Prevention of cramps is a simpler affair than its treatment, so if you fill the signs like pulling or straining in your muscles, you should let your coach take you off the court, so that you can rest your muscles for a while. Make sure to rehydrate and massage the straining muscles before you called back to play.
You work with a set of players for months to shape and mold a season. In order to help your team succeed you spend endless hours designing practices, drills and plays. There are always both ups and down in the time you spend, and at one point the team ultimately becomes a family. Sooner or later, this special group ultimately must come to an end.
Now the day has come and the last buzzer has gone off. Some games end more dramatically than others do. However, for every team except one in a postseason tournament, the inevitable does eventually happen.
Your season comes to an end.
It’s like being hit with cold water in your face. You walk into your locker room, searching for words to comfort your team with. You might or might not have been prepared for your elimination from the tournament, depending on what your postseason expectations had been. Coaches usually have a pretty good sense of when this might happen, but nobody wants to get a speech prepared for this circumstance.
This moment, for the seniors, will probably be one of the more painful memories of their time spent with your program. For most of them, it is the harsh reality that their career has come to end. Their teammates, whom they’ve played with for years, will all be leaving to head out in different directions. All of them will be entering into a new chapter in their lives, and nothing will ever be the same again.
The actions and words that you use have the potential to both teach and comfort. Each player will have those words etched into their memories as they recall the time they have spent participating in your program. For coaches, this can be among the most powerful speeches you will ever give, and you need to deliver it while you are most likely in as much pain as your players are.
Each situation is unique. There really isn’t any specific set of instructions that exist for how you can handle this type of scenario, but it can help you get through this difficult and emotional time if you have some guidelines in mind. Here are some of the main guidelines for dealing with this tough time in your program:
Assess the damage
The coaches should get to the locker room as soon as possible. It is a very emotional time. Just the coaches presence alone can add a lot of stability to this emotional and difficult situation, and help to prevent any further emotional or physical damage from taking place.
Comfort the players that are having the hardest time
The first thing you should do is calm down any players who are showing any signs of violent anger. Next, work with those who are the most upset. It isn’t always necessary to even say anything to them. Sometimes all you need to do to calm them down is put your arm around them, place a hand on their shoulder or arm, or sometimes just a look in the eye is all it takes.
Bring the team together and then speak from your heart
Bring your team together once you think you have the situation under control. Gather them into an area that is comfortable and where you’ll be able to see everybody. Now comes the hard part. There isn’t any script for times like this. No matter what, your emotions are going to be racing. Even if you happen to be really good at keeping things together, most likely you will be faced with a few players at least that have tears in their eyes. Let your players know it is okay they are hurting and that you are too. Don’t talk about this specific game. What is more important right now is the journey and the season as a whole.
Do highlight the positive points from the season and point out the good things that happened that is making this such a hard thing for them. Let them know they will be okay. That isn’t what they want to hear, however it always helps to hear those words. Remind them that your program will always be their family and a home for them, and that what they will always remember is all the good experiences and times they had instead of how it came to an end. At last, tell your players how proud you are of them and thank them.
Urge your younger players to say thank you to the seniors.
What you say will affect your younger players, and it will carry over into next season. When they know their teammates will appreciate them when their final day comes, it will help to guide and motivate them.
Give your players the location and time of your next meeting.
Tell your players when you will be seeing them again. This could be for awards night, meeting for the end of the season, turning in equipment, and so on. This will make the finality of this situation less harsh. There’s no need for anyone to rush off at this point. Allow the players to take as much time as needed before leaving the locker room and going home.
Some seasons will be harder to handle, and some teams will have different reactions than other do. However, it is never easy to handle the end of this long journey. Be a resilient role model for your team. They are counting on you, and will learn from your example how to be resilient too.
Last weekend we suffered a tough loss at home against our direct competitors for a spot in the next higher league. We had done so many things right, but a few very wrong, so we failed miserably.
In any sport, expect to lose some games and to win others. However, losing can be extremely hard on a team that was expected to win or if the stakes were/are too high. It comes without say that players will be disillusioned and will wonder what went wrong (after all, they put plenty of time and effort towards winning). Players start questioning themselves in the lines of what went wrong, what they should have done better, how they make sure this never happens again?
Nonetheless, it is important realizing that a single loss is not reason enough to derail your dream or plans of finishing top the next time around. Essentially, there is much more to be learned from a loss than from a win. For instance, if you or your team suffers an unusual loss, studying what went wrong or why it happened could help you establish a quick rebound and capitalize on your opponent’s weakness- overconfidence.
One thing that you need to avoid, is nurturing a negative mindset for long. Say for instance your team suffers a loss at the beginning of the season, it is a nurtured ‘we lost’ or ‘we are unfit/not better’ mindset/attitude that will hinder them from performing better in future matches or games. To ensure that you get your team back on track even after suffering a loss or several losses, here are some simple tips that will help you out:
Learn, And Move On
Well, there are plenty of reasons a team expected to win loses. At times, it just may be a bad night for star players, or a poorly executed game plan amongst other reasons. However, despite all that, it is important that each challenge is dealt with fast and individually. Examine each loss and determine what may have led to your team losing.
The main reason of studying your loss is to know what went wrong. Take note and carefully break it down to your team. You need to just point it out. Don’t dwell on the issue. Many coaches have turned an issue that would have been a temporary situation into a lasting mental block. It is therefore important that you be careful with how you handle the whole issue by reinforcing the positive, even as you talk about the negative.
Encourage your Players
This is important as you will help them build confidence in themselves. Avoid being too negative and putting too much pressure as it could lower their self-esteem and the subsequent results in future games or matches.
It is important that you let your team know what didn’t work then. However, be positive: It is important to let them know that they have the ability to make it work, if they believed in themselves. Prep your team to always focus on right now, rather than what happened. When the whistle blows, they should be thinking of what they need to do, rather than why they failed the last time.
Always go with what works for you
Losing unexpectedly could give rise to many questions. It could lead to you thinking that your game plans are not working, but, it is important that you, no matter how tempting it is to scrap them or make changes, refrain from doing this. Losing in a single game doesn’t necessarily warrant scraping your plans and starting from scratch all over again.
When all seems to be going wrong, the best thing to do is to go for what has always worked for you as a team. Focus on your team’s strengths: What they know and do well. Most probably your opponent got you out of your zone as a team. Counter that by reclaiming your team’s confidence by pushing them to do what they do best.
By all means, avoid making sudden and frequent changes in the bid to compensate for the loss. This could lead to you throwing your team off balance, creating even bigger problems. Take time when making change decisions and weigh them in carefully. Ensure that they are unbiased and are not focused on one specific failure. It may be that the loss was a one-time affair and your team will get back to form without you having to change a thing.
The Bigger Picture
Most teams usually set their goals at the beginning of a season, in regards to what they want to accomplish at the end of that season. It is imperative that you keep your players focused on these goals and on achieving them despite minor setbacks and losses.
A single loss is not that bad actually. Let your team know that its goals -the goals it set- can still be achieved. However, if this is to be achieved, they need to overlook the setback and focus on the goal- this is the only way you get back on track. If need be, you could adjust your goals to be more complacent with these new challenges.
Being able to communicate effectively is probably the most important skill that a coach can have. We are often evaluated on the basis of how well we are able to promote our program through our written and verbal abilities to effectively persuade, explain and inform.
There are several important things that need to be considered if you want to communicate as effectively as possible. For starters, it is critical to consider the setting and your specific audience. Your entire approach, topic and the words you use will be very different, depending on whether you are at a preseason meeting with the parents of school athletes or talking to several of your assistant coaches in your private office or addressing a different audience in another setting. You must tailor your message to your specific audience and consider the setting as well.
Effective communication is a skill that doesn’t come easily or naturally to everyone. Speaking and writing are not natural gifts or innate talents. They are skills that need to be worked on and developed. Coaches and others involved with leadership must have good communication skills and be willing to constantly work at and improve on those skills.
Here are some tips to help you improve your communication skills:
1. Work on being as clear and concise as possible. Your ultimate goal is to communicate in a way that you are easily understood. Keep your verbal and written communication simple, just like newspaper reporters do.
2. Plan and prepare ahead of time, and then practice, practice, practice. This will help to ensure that you say just what you intend to say and increases the chances that you will be well understood as well. Speaking off the cuff or dashing off a first written draft is not ideal and can lead to misunderstanding and confusion.
3. Always proofread your work, or better, get someone else to do it for you. Whether you are working on an important report or writing a draft of a speech, another set of eyes will help to spot mistakes and provide suggestions for ways that your communication can be improved.
4. Whenever possible, be discrete and tactful. Always consider how your audience will react to what you have to say, no matter how straightforward or important the topic may be. It pays to be a diplomat. Whenever possible, try to express you thoughts in the least abrasive, nicest way. No matter what you have to say, you will need to interact with your audience, so consider how your message is most likely to be received.
5. Remember that perceptions vary. We all see and understand issues from our own perspective. An individual’s perceptions are influenced by personal experience, frame of reference, opinions and various other factors. One of the most important things for you to realize if you want to be an effective communicator is that not everyone will see things the same way that you do.
6. Tone is very important. When giving a presentation, make sure you don’t come across as abrasive, angry or condescending. Even if you are addressing a difficult issue or problem that needs to be dealt with head on, try to be as informative, encouraging and positive as possible. If you do need to be critical, make sure it is done in private. In public, try to always be positive.
7. Be sure all your major points are covered. When parts of a message are missing or inadequately covered, misunderstandings are more likely to occur. With complicated issues, do your best to anticipate what questions your audience may have so that you can address them ahead of time in your communication.
8. Try to not make any assumptions. Remember that not everyone will have the same experience or knowledge as you. Before getting to the heart of your message, you may need to offer some background information to help explain the situation.
9. Is this the right time to offer your message? Sometimes it is better to wait to address a certain topic, depending on the circumstances or the mood of your audience. Consider how your message is likely to be received under current conditions. If the timing is not right, then wait for a better time.
10. Make certain you have the correct facts. Inaccurate, misleading or false information will cloud your message and risk your credibility and reputation. Also, be sure to credit any sources that you are drawing on for information to avoid plagiarism and to give credit where credit is due.
11. When appropriate, use humor. Most people love humor, and it when it is used effectively in your communication, it can help make your messages better received and more enjoyable.
12. Expect that not everyone will agree with everything in your presentations. No matter how meticulous and careful you are in crafting your message, you will never have everyone agree with you. Just have realistic expectations while still working as hard as you can to deliver effective and coherent messages.
Although effective communication can be challenging, it is definitely a skill that can be developed and improved upon. If you want to be a successful athletic director, it is critical to your success. If you are willing to constantly develop and work on your communication skills, you can become an effective communicator and very successful athletic director.