Themes Help Set the Tone of Your Basketball Season

by Chuck Stewart

Coaching Jr High basketball is something I am looking forward to this winter. I can hardly wait until the last snap of the football season has been made and we can get started. I have been pleased with the attendance at the pre-season basketball conditioning workouts. Almost every student athlete has been attending as long as they are not playing a fall sport. I am now working on developing an overall strategy for the season. One of the challenges I face is to find the right tone to set for the team that can be used throughout the season. Many coaches believe that setting the tone or theme for the season is extremely important. I like and support this concept.

Most teams search hard to find that one word that will serve as the theme for the season. This word will be used as the team breaks from time outs during games, when practices are concluded and when the team needs a little help getting through some difficult drills. The theme is a great way to get the team focused on getting to the next level and getting everyone to rally around the concept. One football coach in our area told me his theme for the year is the number One, which implied he wants to win just one game. So we are on the same page, I am in need of something a little more inspiring than that.

Our varsity team at the high school has struggled to be 500 for the last several years. Injuries, bad calls, new coaches, bad grades, bad parents – the list goes on as to the reasons behind it. Please notice I did not mention that we have not been very good, but that has been the main driver behind the poor seasons. Schools all go through time frames like this. Ours has just stayed a little longer than we expected. One of the first things our new coach did was set the theme – Believe.

As I have thought about this theme I think it fits us for a number of reasons. The first is obvious in that until recently we had lost our ability to believe we can win basketball games. The second is that I can tell from the way the players act and interact that they do not take the game as seriously as it needs to be taken in order to win basketball games. The type of atmosphere that a winning team creates is one where the players are always playing the game, picking each other up from tough spots, being friends outside of the game, playing and winning at other sports together, and becoming lifelong friends. For some reason our team does not have that at the varsity level. I will change that at the Jr High level this year for our kids. Hopefully it will continue to be with the players throughout their basketball career as they take their skills to more advanced levels of play. The theme Believe will be about believing in yourself and wanting to do the work that it takes to continually improve.

Success at the Jr High level is measured by how much players develop during the course of the year. If we can teach the players to play great defense and improve their fundamentals of the game we can care a lot less about winning games and take joy in other successes and know we had a great season. I BELIEVE that we can do a great job with the players this upcoming season.

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