Nurturing the Competitive Edge
Players become more competitive if they are given more competitive opportunities. Do more drills that use a scoring system than drills that don’t. Scorekeeping adds a gamelike pressure and generally raises the level of play. Only in cooperative drills that serve instructional purposes should you not keep score. Competitions can be rather basic, such as in counting the number of passes to a target. Or they can be much more advanced, such as scoring in serve-receive, free-ball and defensive transition—all to get just 1 point. It is the coach’s responsibility to encourage the joy of competition by showing eagerness to see players achieve the reward. We, as coaches, must nurture the desire to win and the desire to win again. Praise players; actively support their quest for victory
even in the simplest competition. Do it with spirit and show some emotion. Slapping hands or allowing time for a quick mini-celebration on the court is important. Encourage this connection—remember that this connection is the reason many players compete in team sports. Allow players who are naturally competitive to lead in this area!
Scoring goals for drills should most often be low. A 6v6 team drill will usually be more effective if it ends at 6 to 9 points rather than continuing to 25. Shorter contests offer many more opportunities for victories over the course of a practice or season. Remember, we want to provide many opportunities for success. The more players win, the more they will desire the feelings that winning brings. Short games also allow for easy substitutions and make scorekeeping simpler. Finally, they provide multiple opportunities for water breaks and performance feedback.
As you work your way through the remaining chapters and plan your practice sessions, keep these coaching points in mind:
- Players really do follow the leader. If you prepare, they will prepare. If you compete, they will compete. If you believe in a drill, they will believe in a drill. If you sell it, they will buy it!
- Establish a method for organizing drills within a practice and
- Select and adapt the drills to fit the needs of your players.
- Allow fun to happen. A sense of humor is a must. Let players enjoy the moment, then get them back on task.
- Use variety and competition to inspire your players.
- Remember that unexpected events during practice help players
learn how to handle those events in matches. If the team prepares
for surprises, there are no surprises!