The Psychology of a High School Basketball Coach
The basketball season is upon us, and it’s going to be full of drama, highs, lows, frustration, and celebration. That’s just a fact of life. Hopefully you have prepared for this season the best you can so you put yourself in the best possible position.
Even though you worked hard, it’s important to know what’s going on behind the scenes. The only person that controls your playing time is your coach. And they have a lot on their plate. The next few paragraphs will give you an idea of the psychology of a high school basketball coach.
1. The Program. Your coach’s number 1 priority is to win. They know that if they don’t win, they will be fired eventually. They want to look good for the program, and show they are a good coach and can do their job. At the high school level, it’s not as serious as in college or the NBA, but the eyes are still on the coach to see what they will do with their team.
2. The Team. You may have a new team this year, all returning players, or a mix. Either way, your coach wants to cultivate their team to win. They will push you to make sure you perform your best, so the team will do well.
Also, at this point, your coach is still figuring out who got better, who is out of shape, and who is extremely serious about their basketball career. All these things are coming into play. Right now is when your coach starts to make the team for the season. If you’re starting now, there is a good chance you’re going to be starting in 3 months. Know that they aren’t just looking to see who can score, but who does the intangible things like diving for loose balls, plays great defense, and is a positive influence on the team. Players who bring the team down emotionally hurt the team, and your coach can sense who does that.
3. The Players. Your coach wants to see you do well. They will work with you after practice, but you must also show them that you are serious. Listen to your coach, and do what they say. Your coach needs you to play your role, whether that’s shooting, ball handling, or rebounding. Make your coach’s job easy by being the best at what they want you to do. Remember they have 12 other players other than you, so don’t make their job harder by starting drama or being lazy. Listen, work hard, show up on time, and support your team through anything that happens.
4. The Parents. Your coach is going to have parents talking to them all year. Every parent wants their kid to play more, shoot more, or get a college scholarship. It gets annoying for your coach. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it is a factor in playing time decisions that they make. It’s called basketball politics. It’s unfortunate, but true. The only way you can overcome this is to play your game, and do the best you can when you get on the court.
Your coach has all these aspects in their mind. During practices and games, they’re looking at every player and thinking about the long-term implications of playing or not playing them. This is the beginning of the season, so you have to get off to a great start.
Create a role on your team for yourself, and become a contributor early on. If you contribute to the wins now, your coach will trust you to contribute during playoff time. It starts today. I’m rooting for you.