Randal S. Doaty
Focus & Attitude Coach
If you have played or coached basketball for any amount of time, you have surely encountered a game where athletic performance did not match athletic ability. I have heard more than one coach screaming at their players that they don’t have the heart or the will to win the game. Rarely is that true. Nothing is more naturally engrained in athletes than a desire to win at everything they do. A loss of focus or an inability to manage mental attitude is the more likely culprit when athletic performance and ability clearly don’t match.
Coaching staff who quickly point the finger of blame at player desire are often missing a great teaching opportunity and losing their own credibility. A player knows when they lack desire. If the coach’s assessment is clearly wrong, the player simply learns to tune them out and nothing is gained through the poor performance. A savvy basketball coach will try to use the experience to highlight focus and attitude flaws that impeded the athlete’s access to their own true athletic abilities and knowledge. The mental part of the game of basketball must be taught.
Focus and attitude issues are not exclusive to the athletes. The focus and attitude of coaching staff is equally important and their ability to demonstrate emotional control in a game situation is essential. It is easy to get caught in the swift emotional rip current of game circumstance – every coach does. What is most important to player development is the coach showing the players how they maintain their own focus and manage their own attitude before, during and after the game. If a coach wants a player to do as they say, but not as they do – good luck!
Just as athletes must learn to take instruction, a good coach must do the same. If you are a coach and have read this far in my post, I applaud your open mindedness. I would suggest that you challenge your team to hold you and your coaching staff to your own high focus and attitude standard. Be honest when you fail. Let them know that focus and attitude is a constant struggle through life for everyone – not just in the sport of basketball. Don’t use the silly “you don’t care” argument if it isn’t true.