Winning the championship will require your team to eliminate excuses. There has to be some sort of a message that will convey that no excuses will be allowed on the team. You first have to start with your team having to discuss and discover why they make excuses in the first place. Sometimes it's because we are all a little afraid of going all in. We will make an excuse just in case it doesn't work out. Then we will be able to justify it.
A few times I would have the floor intentionally left dirty to see the reaction of my players as they weren't as quick, fast, and to see what excuses would arise because of that.
Other times, I would leave certain lights in the gym off so that it was darker than usual. All the while, I was asking our players, what are you going to do when we are on the road and these conditions exist?
I wanted to eliminate those excuses early and pose a variety of obstacles in their way. Like intentionally having our basketballs either over inflated or under inflated so that the excuse of the ball could be overcome and we would adjust. I believe in having these situations in your practice to help with the overall message, going forward, all in.
Playing Green, All In.
We as a staff always needed to show our team what it looks like for us to be in an all in situation. I would look for pictures of us playing in tough situations, mainly of us going through tougher situations through my 12 week conditioning program. I always wanted them to have a visual of what it looked like to be all in. A variety of methods, like stop lights, with Red light, Yellow light and Green light was used to describe what it looked like to play in a Green light situation. I even used a particular shooting drill to prove this point by calling it Green Light Shooting. I wanted them to know that you had to be all in to get the goal, but once you did, then in the game you would have the
Green light to shoot. Talk about a confidence booster!
We all have situations where there are players who aren't on the same page. How can you get them trust each other. Over the years all coaches have used many methods to get this done, I have. One that I have used that is dramatic but gets the point across I used with my HS team one year on a retreat I took them to in Palm Springs. I paired up the players and had them swim one end of the pool to the other, arm in arm, using one snorkel, they had to stay underwater. Very difficult indeed, one that required us as a staff to first show them that it could be done and how. Once they saw that we as a coaching staff could do it, they were more inclined to believe and get it done as well.
It's customary to have teams eat together but how can that be used to build trust? Early in the preseason we had our teams have their wrists tied together and eat. This made them have to take turns helping each other eat. They had to rely on each other.
I am a huge believer that how the players acted when they came out of the game would establish that culture that we were always talking about, pushing for one another. But you have to pay attention to it. There are more players on the bench than are playing in the game. I wanted them to know on the bench that they were the energy of the team and to be supportive of those in the game. Also, I paid close attention to the body language of anyone who got subbed out and how they came to the bench. This provided us with excellent attention to what we were emphasizing since I taped it and reviewed it often with our players and coaches to make sure that we were all in.