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Lets assume you have a group of youngster that want to be ball players, and have a level of motivation to get better individually and as a team. Not a group that are forced to play a sport to take care of an afternoon.
I think it is important to define "Effort and Working Hard".
Effort is something that you as an individual can control 100% of the time. It is within your realm of choice. It is doing more than is asked or expected of you. It is not a matter of going through the motions of a drill, but doing it at game speed and with correct fundamentals.
Those that work hard and show effort do so with enthusiasm and passion. They practice their skills away from training and are always trying to improve. Hard Workers remain focused and choose success, they are proactive looking to learn more about the game and how to get better.
If your players can commit to being hard workers and demonstrating effort, they have then done the best they can do within there control and have been a success.
Score board outcomes tell you nothing about the game, your players or how hard they work. The most important thing is that each individual can put their hand on heart and say I did my very best for the Team and myself. That's how you build Character and a Culture of Hard Workers.
Toughest part of coaching. The biggest mistake I made in this regard was that I set expectations for the team but forgot to break it down into what that meant for each individual player....each practice...each team mate interaction...each game. I have primarily coached girls and they take individual and team responsibility very seriously...once you make them understand what you expect of them. Positive communication is paramount. It also helps with girls if they like and respect you. Boys will play through that...girls will not.
I agree with Brian. When you recognize the effort you are looking for, be sure and praise it in front of the team. Constantly reinforce that effort, hustle and mental toughness earn playing time. Bobby Knight once said "either you can't do it or you won't do it... either way, there is someone else on this bench that can and will."
Having coached this level myself for 10 years now this is a big part of what you are doing. I have found the bench to be the greatest teacher. When you think about it there is really no excuse to have the other team noticeably out work you. Kids are going to miss layups and turn the ball over, more so at this level than at the Varsity level. As a coach I can live with those mistakes to a degree as I operate under the pretense that the player is trying to make the easy shot and/or trying not to turn the ball over; they happened to make a mistake that time for whatever reason. What is the excuse for not getting back on defense or for not knowing who you are guarding? What is a good excuse for sulking, pouting, or acting like a baby when you or your team falters? I cannot think of one. My advice would be to communicate your expectations during practice and before every game. When you see a player not meet those expectations sit them down. If you lose a game because of it so be it. They do not hang banners for frosh wins, you will be doing your varsity coach a much greater service if you can get all that nonsense out of them their freshmen year. Best of luck coach!
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