“With great power comes great responsibility.”
This is a phrase said to Superman by his father as he is learning how to harness his abilities. If you think about it, isn’t that something in basketball coaching that we should be telling the potential floor leaders from an early age? You want your players to be confident in their abilities and have them shine on and off the court. However, you don’t want them to be arrogant and try to outshine their teammates, but rather help them all stay involved and work together as a unit.
The first thing to understand is confidence/arrogance is a teachable trait. It is an attitude-based characteristic that can be molded. The sooner it is understood, the better for your program. The difference between confidence and arrogance can be the difference between a good practice or a great practice, a good game or a great game, and a good season or a great season.
The first time I get to interact with our players on a day-to-day basis is when they are freshmen. I like to step back and watch their mannerisms towards each other and the older players. Do they interact at the same maturity level? How do the more experienced ones treat the less experienced ones? Do they try and guide them or do they just do nothing and worry about themselves? From this point I have to start making major decisions for the program’s benefit over the next four seasons.
Importance of Leadership
The single most important factor is finding which players the team tends to gravitate towards. From there, I try to help teach them how to be leaders. That isn’t always easy because there are different kinds of leadership qualities. When you identify those potential leaders it’s a must to start molding them as soon as you can.
To me, the first conversation you should have with a potential leader of the team is this one (you’ve likely spent hours perparing this in your own head)…
“There is a difference between arrogance and confidence and I need you to understand it. Confidence is not only believing in your abilities but trusting those around you and inspiring them to be better and believing in their abilities as well. Arrogance is focusing on yourself too much and not your teammates to accomplish a team goal.
If you have goals of being a state champion some day you need to do more than just understand the difference. You need to embody it at all times and in all things because it goes beyond basketball. If you are a contributing varsity player as a freshmen you will need to make sure that your classmates respect who you are as they are working to get where you are. You need to help them and, most of all, respect them. One day they will make it here and you will need them just as much as they need you. They may be a bit envious right now but they still need you to lead them with confidence – not arrogance.”
If you can walk away with a sense that you have made an impact to guide a player into becoming a leader, then you have made a huge impact on the future of your program.
Also, remember that you are dealing with teenagers so feel free to remind them once and awhile with a little question…
Confident or Arrogant?
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