Let's discuss 3 different ways you can address the disease of me and turn your team mentality from "ME" to "WE".
ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY DISTRACTIONS
Eliminating team distractions is one of the best ways to make sure your team remains or becomes selfless. But it is also the hardest to do.
No coach wants to be put into an uncomfortable position and making tough decisions can be tiresome and exhausting. Team distractions can come from a multitude of sources like fans, parents, assistant coaches, social media, and player egos.
Oftentimes fans can get underneath coach's and player's skin if they speak negatively based on the players performance. This can sometimes separate players because of embarrassment and lead to players becoming selfish and only worrying about their personal play on the court. No one ever wants to take the blame for poor play and player's will do anything to avoid the
embarrassment. Likewise, parents want the most out of their kids and sometimes that message is to be more aggressive or do more then what they are actually capable of. Coaches: You can combat this by establishing roles early and also giving players the opportunity in practice to step up rather then in games.
The last and sometimes worst distraction is social media. Today, adults and kids have the opportunity to express themselves in a variety of ways on social media and sometimes this can lead to a lot of issues. Make sure that you have a policy in place for players in regards to posting anything negative related to the team as soon as possible.
Completely eliminating distraction is impossible, but if coaches can get a decent handle on all of these categories, they will have the chance to eliminate majority of the distractions that may derail a season.
PRAISE TEAM PLAY
When individual players have great games, there is automatic praise that comes with it. Some players naturally will thank their teammates and coaches but some haven't developed that communication skill. Naturally, athletes want positive attention and if they feel they have an opportunity to take it they will.
Some of the best coaches can take individual talent and create a team atmosphere in which everyone is treated equally. Teams are only as strong as their weakest link and the more coaches focus on praising successful team play, the more likely their team will be selfless. Practice can be a starting point for most coaches to build on and eventually progress to games as well. Kids need to buy into the team and "we" mentality and it starts with the coaching staff and the culture of the program.
Reward players for making the extra pass or finding an open teammate and trusting them. Applaud high fives and great team defense and all these things will lead to a more positive and tight knit team atmosphere.
Team meetings can be an integral part in a successful season. I know personally I had one of the best team seasons ever after my team met and flushed out personal and team issues. It's often overlooked throughout the season because coaches believe these meetings happen in practice every day. Aim to hold these off the court to provide a new environment for the players.
Team meetings are a great way to address current issues and also some issues that may be on the horizon. It's also an opportunity for the players to express how they feel and voice their opinion in a safe and controlled environment. It's better for players to speak and vent during these meetings rather then over social media or to fans.
This is a great way to keep everything in house and a great way for coaches to understand the climate of their team. Team meetings are also great for recognizing players internally and a great way to have fun as a group. Developing a constant bi-weekly or monthly meeting can be a signficant difference maker in a season. One of the most important things to remember is to be organized and ready for any comments or questions that may come your way as a coach. This way you can address issues on spot and move towards a successful season.