While most high school basketball players have been playing for years, their first season in high school can still be a bit intimidating. The crowds, the uniforms and the pressure can all contribute to feeling overwhelmed. One of the biggest transitions for beginning high school players are away games.
These tips can help coaches prepare their players for the challenges they might face when playing away from their home court.
High school basketball courts vary greatly from school to school. Facilities, funding and building maintenance all factor into the quality of the gym. Players who are used to performing drills on practice courts will need to adjust to playing on a regulation-sized court.
Lighting can make a big difference in perception, and the backboard material can affect shots. Ceiling leaks can cause holes and warping in the gym floor. Some courts have dead spots on the floor that will have a huge impact on dribbling.
In order to prevent surprises during the game, take time to walk through the gym with your players once you arrive at the school.
Before going to the locker room to change, walk along the sidelines of the court and take a look at the surroundings. Take note of the areas that might present problems or that are different from your home court. Get a feel for the floor and talk about boundaries and weak spots.
Players will feel much more comfortable on the court after this walk-through, and they can work on adjusting their game to the court's idiosyncrasies during the warm-up.
Beginning high school players, especially those who have not played much organized basketball, might forget some of the basic game rules. Talk them through the procedure of reporting into and out of the game, and rehearse the process if necessary.
Before the game, remind players about substitution rules. Tell players who are going to be subbing as soon as you can ahead of time. Have them watch the player they will be replacing, and make sure they know which positions they will be playing on offense and defense.
It's also important for coaches to remind players about proper bench behavior. For instance, players who are not in the game should remain on the bench the entire time. They must ask permission before getting water or using the restroom. Players should leave the cheering to the fans in the bleachers.
During time outs, players on the bench should give up their seats for their teammates coming in from the court. They should stand and gather around the coach so they can hear instructions over the crowd.
For the most part, referees are calm, controlled and consistent. Sometimes, however, referees may make calls that don't make sense or seem inconsistent.
If you're unsure about a call, find time to express your concerns in a quiet, composed way. If you're unable to get the official's attention at the time in question, call a timeout.
Explain the issue in question and try to get an explanation without arguing. Coaches and referees both want a fair and consistent game, and if you approach the problem in a calm, peaceful way you will most likely end up with a positive result.
Never let players blame the outcome of the game on the other team's court. These tips are designed to prepare players for challenges they might encounter, but they should not be used as an excuse.
A good team will adjust to adversity and apply the skills they have learned in practice.
No matter the final score, coaches should recognize players' hard work and help them learn from their experience.