8 Ways to Build an Exceptional Basketball Team
From “The Bad News Bears” to “The Mighty Ducks,” Hollywood has released a steady supply of sports films that follow down-on-their-luck coaches who are tasked with transforming a group of misfits from underdogs into (SPOILER ALERT) champions. While the comedic hijinks of such films rarely pay off in the real world, the message of working together to achieve a common goal can be applied to and inspire success in any group effort or sports team, including basketball.
Quite often, the genesis of a championship basketball team takes place off the court as much as it does on. Players with established trust and personal connections can persevere through any obstacle—both physical and mental.
Indeed, undeniable team chemistry can produce incredible results. Here are a few winning methods that can be utilized by basketball coaches to help mold their players into athletes who operate with integrity, exhibit true sportsmanship, and function together as a powerhouse of team unity.
1) Lead by Example
A successful team begins and ends with its coach. How a coach conducts business, addresses players, handles adversity, and even dresses will be observed and emulated by the team. Therefore, a wise coach will set a good example for players to follow—both on and off the court—by being honest, trustworthy, and respectful towards others.
2) Identify the Right Team Captains
An important element in building an exceptional team is selecting the right team captains. Regardless of age, rank, or seniority, assign team captains who possess a strong moral compass and uphold the ideals and principals of the team, league, and sport. Able to remain positive in defeat and humble in victory, ideal team captains will be natural leaders who are willing to help motivate teammates both in and out of the game. Not only can a solid team captain assist with coaching and conditioning duties, but they can also relate to their teammates on the same level—inspiring them to remain focused, accountable, and on a straight path.
3) Practice Fun Team-Building Activities
Not every drill has to be an intense workout. Fun games and exercises can be just as effective at building trust, communication, and dependability. Any team will enjoy the challenge of entertaining, problem-solving warm-ups such as:
- The Tangled Knot – Five players stand facing themselves in a circle. Each player must reach out and grab the arm or hand of another player. Then, with their other hand, they must hold on to the arm or hand of a different player to form a tangled circle. They must then work together to untangle themselves without letting go and breaking their hold. This exercise builds strong communication skills to help players connect under pressure.
- The Disappearing Chairs – Four armless chairs are placed together so that each chair faces a different wall. Players sit sideways and lay back into their teammate’s lap. One by one, each chair is removed until the players are left supporting each other’s weight. This game illustrates how players must lean on and support their teammates.
4) Maintain Team Chemistry off the Court
Basketball shouldn’t be your team’s only commonality. Aside from workouts, practices, and away-game bus trips, teammates and coaches should make a concerted effort to get to know each other on a more personal level outside of school. It’s been proven that strong, lasting bonds are built between players who are emotionally invested in their teammate’s lives. From those bonds, a shorthand is developed between teammates that assists in communication and increased performance.
Some proven team-bonding opportunities include:
- Weekly dinners – Everyone has to eat. That’s why team meals are the most simple yet effective opportunities for players to fellowship together while nourishing their bodies and their souls.
- Community service projects – Making a difference in the community through volunteer charity work at a food pantry, local shelter, or home for seniors will not only strengthen players’ resolve, but it will also lift their spirits and build character.
- Team fundraisers – Car washes, spirit drives, and other campaigns for team donations can instill some healthy competitiveness between players as well as encourage an entrepreneurial drive to financially support the team.
- Movie nights – Nothing brings people closer than a shared experience. A night at the movies can be just what is needed to break the ice and bring a team together through laughter and tears. Some great basketball movies to watch include the classic “Hoosiers” or perhaps even “Teen Wolf.” Although they’re not basketball flicks, the inspirational “Rudy” and the hilarious “The Sandlot” are always crowd-pleasers.
5) Stay Engaged During the Off-Season
Basketball may be the only positive thing in a player’s life. When the season ends, coaches must stay vigilant to ensure their players don’t succumb to negative outside influences and distractions. To prevent idle hands and keep a team fit and focused, coaches should stay present throughout the summer. They can remain an active and influential figure in players’ lives throughout the off-season by maintaining team rituals and creating additional opportunities for team building such as a weekend camping trip or team getaway to the beach.
Coaches must also remember to develop relationships with their players’ parents and guardians. By reaching out for support and establishing steady lines of communication, coaches can gain valuable insight into their players’ lives and learn of any hobbies or personal issues that could affect the team and their performance on the court.
6) Remove Any and All Toxicity, Regardless of Talent
Coaches should know which characteristics will best suit their team and which will hinder it. When scouting for new recruits, talent should not be the sole focus. Just because a player possesses athleticism and skill, it does not necessarily qualify them as a member of the team. Instead, coaches should look for players who embody an attitude that will mesh with their team. There have been coaches who have cut talented players because of their—or even their parent’s—negative attitude, while other coaches have kept less talented players on the roster because of their positive influence on the team’s dynamic. It’s imperative to avoid anything (or anyone) that can disrupt, distract, or otherwise negatively impact the team’s unity. One bad apple will spoil the bunch.
To help find the right players to join a squad, coaches should consult their team and ask them how they feel about a specific recruit and how they might contribute to the team. Players will appreciate a coach who trusts and values their opinions.
7) Stress Teamwork Over Individuality
There is no “I” in team. It’s a well-worn cliché, but players need to live by it and understand that no individual player is greater than the common goal of the team. Coaches must be on the lookout for any cracks in team chemistry and course correction immediately. Star players can easily get caught up in their own hype and feel entitled to extra minutes and shot opportunities. A good way to deflate elevated egos and keep players humble is to establish an offense that isn’t run through one specific player. If every player has an equal shot at the ball, then no one will feel neglected or marginalized and winning will feel like more of a team effort.
8) Unite Your Team with Custom Jerseys
Most coaches recycle jerseys from one varsity squad to the next until they require replacement. For a player, receiving a faded, worn-out, hand-me-down can feel like a crushing defeat. A tired jersey lowers their confidence and makes them feel like just another undervalued cog in a wheel. By cutting corners, those coaches are missing out on a tremendous opportunity to show an investment in their players and skyrocket the team’s morale.
Through the visible unity of custom basketball team jerseys, coaches can strengthen the bond between players and empower them with a shared sense of pride and ownership in their team. Such a dynamic boost in team spirit will reflect in their attitude and in-game performance.
At Imperial Point, we provide high-quality, custom basketball jerseys that will make your team look and feel like the pros. Affordable and durable, our unique sublimated printing technique allows us to produce vibrant jerseys that don’t fade, peel, or crack with use. And, with our custom uniform designer, your players have the ability to contribute to the style, identity, and legacy of their team through a variety of fonts, colors, patterns, and breathable materials!
Inspire your players and solidify team chemistry with affordable, personalized basketball jerseys from Imperial Point. Call us today at 1-800-801-4884 or start your custom design online.