Coach Goodling give us some insights on opening night.
Well here we go as another high school basketball season is here. For the players, they were ready to play a game weeks ago. For the coaches, they can’t believe how fast the days of preseason practice went.
The first game is really the team’s first public performance of the season. Yes, many scrimmages are attended by fans and parents, but this is the first event that actually really counts. It is always nice to win that first game but the success of the season will be determined over the course of this long journey.
For many coaches they are counting on the players to apply the teachings of the preseason practices into the game. This sometimes is a very smooth transition especially with talented experienced teams. For the new players or first time starters, the possibility of “game slippage” might occur. No matter what happens, we now get feedback on the game situations that will help plan the future approach.
Before the first game of the season, it is natural for a player to feel nervous. Every player experiences this to some extent. All this means is nervousness is a part of a basketball player before games. It also means that the player has a great opportunity in front of him to go do his thing and have fun. Find a way to use that feeling and the atmosphere to create positive energy that can help with performance.
As a coach, I tried to have players understand that a player will play the game in one of three mental phases. The three mental phases that a player could be in are:
This doesn’t necessarily indicate that a player is scared, but it simply means that something is keeping this player from playing to their potential. This could be a number of factors including inexperience, lack of confidence, relationship issues, inability to focus, and many others.
This is a damaging phase that some players will be in as a result of their performance. Very few players can play successfully in this phase. Just check a player’s body language for this phase. It becomes very obvious. Many times a player moves right from the intimidation phase to the frustration phase.
This is the phase in which a player will have the chance to play to their potential. Also in this phase a leader should emerge for the group. Leadership cannot be appointed, but it must emerge. A team has no leadership if their so-called leaders are playing in the intimidation phase or frustration phase. There is no assurance that a player will play a great game, but give a coach a group of players that are playing the game in the motivational-phase, the coach will live with the results.
The challenge on opening night for the players is to use their nervousness to help their performance and for the players to control what phase they want to play the game in. Set the tone for the season. Finally the season is here. Grab this opportunity and have fun with it.