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Tailoring the Approach for Each Player Can be Difficult

Every coach has a unique style to get his or her point across, but no coach, no matter their level of success, will be able to reach every player. Most likely, several players will need a more tailored approach to ensure they are on the same page with the rest of the team, something Plano (Texas) Senior High School junior varsity boys’ basketball coach Jay Hodges views as the biggest challenge all coaches face.

“Yeah, I would say so because so many different kids come from so many different backgrounds, especially at our campus,” he said. “We’ve got some kids with two parents, some kids with one parent, some kids that are a little bit more socioeconomically blessed than others.

“Not saying that you can’t reach kids that come from a lower socioeconomic background, but that just presents unique challenges.”

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Hodges said initially, he and his fellow coaches deliver the message in the same way, but once they realize that information is not quite sinking in with everyone, they first figure out why the player is not absorbing that message and then find another way to reach them.

“Fundamentally, we give them things,” Hodges said. “We send it out there the first time always the same way, but if it’s not getting there we’ll have to assess why, and then go at that from a different angle. That is one of the hardest things for us to do.”

Hodges feels one key to getting players to quickly buy in is through ensuring they all understand the culture of the program — the philosophy and exactly what’s expected of them.

“It’s three aspects. No. 1, it’s sacrifice,” Hodges said. “No. 2, we talk about the truth. We want all the kids to hear the truth from us, what they do well and they don’t do well. We want the kids to be able to speak the truth to each other, holding each other accountable and we also want them to accept it, which is hard for 17-year-olds to do.

And the third one is just winning. We want to make that a priority. Everything we do, we keep those three things in mind.”

Plano ISD is somewhat unique in that ninth and 10th-grade students are on separate campuses from juniors and seniors, so the coaches have to work to make sure everyone stays on the same page. But it’s not just high school players who are exposed to this culture; middle school players and coaches are also familiar with it, which helps them remain engaged.

“At the beginning of the season, we always have a clinic for the players and coaches,” Hodges said. “We’ll show them everything we do. It’s getting everybody excited, it’s getting the middle school coaches on the same page with what we do and how we want them to do it because sometimes they can feel like they’re on an island. You have to be very diligent to stay connected with them. That’s why we do the things in the offseason to keep that going.”

From GameChanger and Stephen Hunt.

Basketball, Basketball Player Development