Bringing The Mission To Life

To get to know my approach a little better, I thought it would be beneficial to publish one of my first articles on my personal mission statement as a coach. A mission statement may seem unnecessary and maybe even a bit cliche, but I think there is value in taking the time to craft one that fits you.

A mission statement is important for me because it gives me the reminder I need whenever I need it. The basketball season is long and outside noises can be distracting at times. A mission statement helps me focus in on what really matters.

My mission statement is printed out in the front of my basketball binder and I see it every day. It acts as a tool for self-accountability and self-reflection, and it reminds me to ask myself questions like, “Is what we are doing today in practice reflective of my mission?”

I want to be as open and transparent as possible here, so here’s my own personal mission statement:

Create a safe and engaging environment where the promotion of initiative, collaboration and exploration prepares players to be positively impactful leaders off of the court.

And to really get down to the crux of it, here is my mission summed up in two words:

Develop leaders.

But having a mission statement is one thing—being that mission statement takes a lot more vigor. In order to move this blog post from the former to the latter, I’ll discuss one idea I implemented last season and another one I will use in the upcoming season to further build a leadership platform for my players.

The first one is an idea I mentioned in my first blog post, but I want to describe it more extensively here because it is one of my favorites (and the players love it too). Last year, I used several player-led film sessions at the end of the season. I picked out a few minutes of clips from the previous game and chose two players to sit at the front of the classroom to operate the computer and lead the conversation. The players came into the film session uncertain about what I wanted highlighted in the clips, making this an inescapable opportunity for collaboration and problem solving. Player-led film sessions are also a great way for players to practice giving feedback, something I will explore in an upcoming post.

I also plan on designating “specialists” for certain roles or concepts that would traditionally be assigned to a coach. For example, I will appoint two “warm up specialists” (these will be players who have attended our preseason workouts and are familiar with how we warm up) to lead our warm ups every day. Another idea could be having someone who is a “motion offense specialist.” If a player is confused on where to go after making a pass in our offense, I would hope that specialist steps up and offers help.

There are several other real benefits to handing off certain tasks like this (other than it meeting one of the three motivational factors I discussed in my first post):

  1. Although I like to think of myself as a fairly articulate coach and I’m a lot closer to my players in age than most coaches are (I’m only 23), I’m still reminded that my players speak a different dialect than I do. When I hear them explain something, it’s sometimes not at all how I would have described it. By giving them the opportunity to explain something to their teammate, they unknowingly invite understanding by choosing a style that is simple, concise and makes sense to them.
  2. Having players teach something is a brilliant way to test their understanding of the content and can also help them remember it better.
  3. I hope this practice prepares my players for difficult and uncertain game situations. As a coach, I can’t blow my whistle with four minutes left in a tie game to explain a concept. They need to be comfortable thinking like me even in my absence.

So those are just a few of the things I will implement this season in order to give my players a voice and provide them with leadership opportunities within our team.

Now I ask you, what is your mission as a coach and how do you bring it to life?

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