One of the most difficult tasks for a coach is selecting the team. While there are more players seeking a place on the team than positions are available, there will always be a problem for the coach. In many cases it is not always the most talented individuals who will form the best team.
There are many different roles on a basketball team. Most of the publicity and praise goes to the high scorers, but the playmaker, the rebounder, the screener, the player who works hard on defence are all equally important when trying to mould a balanced team. It is also important to consider the qualities of the substitutes who will be coming off the bench when making the final team selection. Some players can be great when they are given responsibility and starting roles, but ineffective if relegated to the role of substitute. Others may not relish the tension of a starting role, but can be very effective when coming off the bench.
The experienced coach must be aware of the players who perform best in different situations. There is the clutch player who regularly pulls out the extra effort when the result is in the balance and the situation is serious. There is the front runner who seems to only play well when the team is leading but can develop a steel elbow when the going gets tough. There is the unobtrusive player who may never look spectacular but always manages to get the job done. Players should be able to cope under the different conditions they meet during a game or during a season and the coach should manage how players learn to deal with each situation and improve along the way.
The five principles to consider when selecting the team are:
- Individual offence: The ability for the player to execute the fundamental skills in one-on-one situations.
- Team offence: The ability of the player to execute his role within the team offence. This includes half-court methods and full-court transition (fast break).
- Individual defence: The ability of the player to contain his opponent in one-on-one defensive situations.
- Team defence: The ability of the player to execute his role in the team defence. This will include half-court man-to-man and zone defences and full-court pressing defences.
- Compatibility: This quality might be more important than skill. No matter how talented a player may be, if he cannot get along with his team-mates he will not be an asset. Lack of morale can destroy a team quicker than almost any other factor, so the coach must be constantly aware of personality differences that may have a negative effect on the team performance.
Outstanding athletes can be identified by a number of common desirable personality traits, not the least being they are coachable. Some positive traits are worth noting so you may relate some of them to your own players.
- Highly success driven with an outstanding desire to be on top.
- Highly organised, preferring to plan, and concerned with looking ahead.
- Finely developed conscience, in tune with appropriate values in our society.
- Outgoing, enjoys being with others.
- Has a personality and temperament to handle emotions when under stress.
- Trusting, not excessively defensive in relationships with others.
- More dominant players actively seeking roles of leadership.
- Self critical and able to accept blame when things go wrong rather than passing responsibility over to someone else.
- High psychological endurance, or persistence
- Usually mature emotionally, faces reality in direct manner.
Most of these qualities are easily recognisable by the coach, but unfortunately there are a number of undesirable personality traits which may not be so easily recognisable. Outstanding coaches can observe intuitively, study and apply psychological principles daily, growing increasingly more objective. The beginning coach must be cautious in using psychological appraisal, especially in applying corrective measures. There are some basic points, however, every coach must be constantly aware of.
- He should be sensitive to the emotional needs of the players. Every player remains unique and has special strengths, weaknesses and needs. The coach should be aware there are psychological qualities that distinguish the outstanding from the poor performer.
- He should be alert to the player who:
Does not follow the training program to the letter.
Likes to get his own way.
Needs to form cliques.
Is not interested unless he is the centre of attention.
Blames others for his failures.
Constantly makes excuses for his poor performance.
Is over-apologetic and finds it hard to be aggressive.
Is like the Sunday driver -- only along for the ride.
Does not respect authority.
Some players will show many positive personality traits as well as some negative qualities. When the coach can specify in detail what it is that bugs him about a particular player, he will be able to separate the causes so that you can tell the player you don’t approve of certain characteristics, but you still approve of him as a player.