Coaching is a rewarding experience. The fear that I initially had coaching a high school church based summer basketball team quickly turned into fun and continued into a fulfilling season. In this article I will go through my successes, failures, and changes I would suggest if I were able to go back in time to my first season as a coach.
The team I was placed with was very talented, but undisciplined. In the previous season they led the league in ejections and technical fouls. For those of you who don’t know, even church league basketball can get pretty competitive and intense at the high school level. Half of the team was from the same school and played other sports together, the other half were from different schools and did not get along with the other group.
It was safe to say I was in over my head, and that was just with the personalities on the team.
I had no coaching experience, but had played sports my entire life and had a passion for sports and especially basketball. I will share my story and advice with others to help make their coaching experience more successful and enjoyable than mine, although I have no regrets and considered it an amazing and rewarding experience.
– Technical Fouls: We went from being the team with the most technical fouls in the entire league to having no fouls until the championship game, when the team completely fell apart and we received four technical fouls and an objection. We had a total of three coaches with different experience and backgrounds and we were young enough to relate to the players. Being able to relate to the players and trying to form bonds with them during practices helped keep them aware of their actions during the games.
– Performance: I correctly refuse to take any credit for their performance. I didn’t know what I was doing and probably did practically nothing outside of trying to work with them and keeping things fun. They were all talented athletes, we just figured out the right way to use them during games to win. We lost in the title game, but that was much more than I could have hoped for.
– Staff: As soon as I accepted the volunteer position of head coach of the top team at my church, I recruited my older brother and one of our mutual friends who had experience coaching high school students in a different sport. Having three of us helped control the team and helped me not look like an idiot as I had two more experienced athletes next to me who did the bulk of the work when it came to drawing up plays and running drills. Having reliable people to work with you in a coaching position is vital.
– Organization: I have suffered from poor organization and over scheduling myself in the past, and this was the case in my volunteer coaching career as well. I was ill-prepared for the amount of documents to keep track of, dues needing to be paid, the team’s upcoming schedule, and other important aspects and the time it takes to manage a team.
– Knowledge: I knew from the start that my lack of basketball acumen was a weakness, but I was unable to get beyond the learning curve to properly coach a team in just one season. I did some basic research and reading, but not nearly enough to know what I was doing at a reasonable level.
– Team Unity: The biggest weakness of the team was not being accepting of all of the team members. The clique of the students from the same school presented a big obstacle, and although we tried several things, we were unable to get everyone on the same page.
Changes I Would Have Made
– Arrange My Game: I needed help with many aspects of coaching and managing a team. Arrange My Game is an application that allows for team management including keeping track of player contact information, finding available venues, managing social media pages, and it can keep track of all of the team costs. Having something like this would have helped with keeping track of details and contacting the players without having to call each separately. The app is available for Android and iPhone devices, and I will definitely use it in the future.
– Recruit a Team Manager: If you are not an organized person, get someone to help keep track of statistics, manage contact information, and handle all of the team management details.
– Arrange Outside Activities for the Team: The team was full of high school students that were busy in their own worlds’, so who knows if they would have agreed to participate in activities outside of practice, but more should have been to try and get the players to work together as a team. Finding simple team building activities to work into practices would go a long way to build team morale.
Arrange My Game