The WBCA Webinar Series focused on leadership in January. Jamy Bechler, a former collegiate coach and certified John Maxwell certified motivational speaker, leadership trainer and executive coach, spoke about Developing Your Team Leadership. If you missed it, check out the full webinar on the WBCA Coaching Library to learn how to help your student-athletes maximize their leadership potential and be a positive force on your team.
Due to time constraints, some participants’ questions were not addressed during the webinar. Bechler submitted these answers to those queries.
What is the best way to implement some of these changes at this stage in the season?
There is an old Chinese proverb that says, "The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago — the second-best time is now.” Certainly, it is tougher to begin implementing new strategies now, but this doesn't mean it is impossible if you are still doing skill work during practice. Too often we (coaches) say we'll wait until next year or in the offseason to make improvements. Take the “journey approach” as opposed to the “destination approach.”
How do you strike the balance between captain responsibility and individual accountability?
There is a collective responsibility that must be taught and reinforced consistently among the group. Teach all student-athletes they are leaders even though you have captains. Captains are leaders like the rest of the team; the only difference is they serve as representatives for certain things.
As an ex-coach do you have any specific drills or situations on the court you have used in practice to help players step up and lead on the court (i.e., put them in situations where they must step up)?
Here are some suggestions:
Split the team in various scrimmage situations and have session captains. The session captains are responsible for calling out defenses, plays or substitutions. They may even call plays while participating. This builds their understanding and shows them the big picture.
Let players design/pick a drill per day. The player has to teach and prepare everything about the drill (rotations, rest, emphasis, execution, competitive aspect, etc.). Set a time for the player to meet with you prior to practice to discuss details. This develops ownership and an understanding of the details and organization.
Rotate which player says something at the end of practice in the huddle or at the start of practice. When I coached at a church-related college, we had a five-minute devotional before each practice — rotating who gave the devotional.
Be intentional about teaching your core leadership values during practice. Get players ready for games and various situations that will arise during the season. Take advantage of learning opportunities. Every day in practice, you'll fight selfishness, lack of focus, lost poise, bad attitudes, mental weakness, etc. Don't allow those to fester and become habits that “suddenly” appear in games or after a loss. Find ways to combat these in practice. Test them in ways to make them better, not tear them down.
Everything should be team-oriented. Few times should one player be rewarded or punished individually. This is a team sport so develop the habit of thinking from a collective-responsibility mindset.
- Download my free eBook, Talkin' Bout Practice, which has additional drills and strategies for making practices better, at http://jamybechler.com/talkinboutpractice
I’m trying to get team members to hold each other accountable but they hold back because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. How do I get a player or players to take on that responsibility?
Get players to individually buy into the concept of collective responsibility. Each player will then hold themselves accountable, first. Once they do that, they need to hold their closest one or two friends accountable. However, problems may rise if Player X doesn't have a good relationship with Player Y, but she tries to hold her accountable. To reach Player Y and hold her accountable, the person approaching Player Y must be respected and have a connection/bond with Player Y.
I recommend bringing in an outside source (e.g., the school counselor, a psychology/sociology professor or leadership trainer) to provide strategies for dealing with interpersonal issues that might come up between friends, teammates or both. This is something players need to learn regardless of basketball. They will have conflict with spouses, bosses, friends and family; so, they need to understand how to engage in healthy interactions.
How do you help bring out the “quiet” leader who sets a great example but isn’t vocal about leading their teammates?
The “lead by example” or “quiet leader” mentality many players have is part of a larger problem, which is the traditional model of leadership. Many think leaders pace the team by making big, grandiose, Braveheart-type speeches, but that’s not completely true. Do not expect every player to be willing (or even capable) of speaking to the entire team.
In its truest sense, verbal leadership is just influencing someone verbally. Friends do this all the time — “Can you close the door?” “Will you turn on that light for me?” “Great job! Keep it up.” It is no different in basketball. Friends influence one another's thoughts and actions. Your job as a coach is to train players to understand that what they say to their friends (teammates) in their dorm rooms or in the car or in the cafeteria are opportunities to influence in a positive way. Most lasting influence takes place in small daily ways between friends.