In-game coaching is much more simple when your team is dominating the game. If you’re going into halftime with a double digit lead, it’s easier and more natural to smile, laugh, and celebrate with your players. Let the squad know that they can keep doing what they’re doing, focus on what’s working, and even plan on letting some of your backups take over at some point.
But, great coaches know how to handle adversity in the brief time they have during the intermission. Great coaches must know how to encourage players when they are down, both score-wise and emotionally, still with a half to play.
Don’t Act Surprised
Even if you entered the game as a heavy favorite, it’s important that you don’t act surprised if you are down after the first half. As head coach, your squad is looking to you to be a calming voice. It’s acceptable to be visibly upset if your team is performing badly, but don’t let the fact that, if you’re shocked by the game’s trajectory, physically show. Focus on what your team needs to do better and get them on the same page. Looking shocked conveys a look of poor preparation.
Simplify the Objective
If your team is losing, there are probably multiple things that players aren’t doing correctly. Don’t be afraid to strip down the game plan that you came up with beforehand and become hyper focused on the fundamentals. If defensive mental lapses have allowed your opponents to get a big lead, spend your half time speech getting everyone focused on their defensive basics. Get everyone back to the basics and what they do well while you’ve got them all together.
Keep Spirits Up
The fans in the stands aren’t sympathetic towards your team losing, nor is the opposing team. If they don’t feel sorry for you, you shouldn’t either. Your halftime speech isn’t about convincing everyone that they’re victims; it’s your opportunity to galvanize your team and get them ready.
There is still another half to play. Get your team energized and on the court for the best chances of taking the game back.