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Every basketball team deals with highs and lows throughout the season, but it’s the motivation from the coach that helps pull each player up when they need it. Every coach is different in their approach to motivating and inspiring their players. While some stick to traditional methods, others use an outside-the-box approach to effectively motivate their team. The following are just some of the ways you as a coach can motivate and inspire your athletes.

Productive Discipline

The best way to enforce good discipline throughout the team is to remain calm, create consequences and be consistent with discipline. Discipline starts by establishing a strong philosophy and culture with your players and their parents at the beginning of the season. It allows them to know the expectations and sets the tone for the rest of the season.

The Positive Coaching Alliance suggests coaches use a three-pronged approach to discipline. They recommend reinforcing good behavior, ignoring the behavior you don’t want and if needed, intervening with a ‘least attention’ manner. When a player misbehaves, it is more effective to ignore the player and their actions entirely.  As a coach, ignoring a player will make them crave attention, and they will often go back to following the previously established rules.

Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement, or simply praise, is always welcomed no matter what was done to deserve it. As a coach, you should be praising and congratulating your players for their successes, as well as their defeats. Simple words of encouragement and praise will give players the boosts they need to finish a game or practice harder. Positive reinforcement does not just have to come from a coach. Encourage your players to praise each other for great work on the court. Not only does it help to create a positive environment on the court, but it also helps foster a stronger team mentality.

Be Honest

While your players might not want to hear what you have to say, they need to listen to the truth and will ultimately respect you in the long run when you are honest with them. Letting a player know that he or she might have decreased responsibility during the season will not only allow you to be open with them, it will also help them stay motivated when they do see playing time on the court, essentially lighting a fire in those that truly want bigger roles.

While these are just a few ideas to motivate your team, sometimes stepping outside of the traditional motivational box will help inspire your team in a variety of ways.