Athletes, listen up this is for you. If you want to be great in this game, understand you can’t do it alone. One of the most important relationships that will help you on your journey to success is the one you have with your coach. And if you play basketball long enough, you will have a tough conversation with your coach, because things won’t always go your way. And in the immortal words of the Rolling Stones, you can’t always get what you want.
I constantly get questions on social media about how to approach a difficult conversation with your coach. For starters, I commend any player courageous enough to have the hard conversation, because it’s a sign of growth and maturity. When you aren’t getting what you want, the easy path is to complain and belittle your coach behind their back. That’s average. Don’t be average. The tough, yet crucial, path is to face the situation head-on, learn the facts and perceptions, then make adjustments accordingly.
Here are three ways to have a more constructive courageous conversation with your coach that will lead to clarity, understanding, and action.
Be on the same side
It’s not you vs. your coach, even if it seems that way. You want to play more. Your coach wants to win more. Your two goals CAN go hand in hand. When approaching this conversation, keep that in the front of your mind. You might even be able to get more specific in what your shared goals are. Maybe it’s winning, creating a great team culture or representing your school well. Whatever it is, identify it, start the conversation on the same side, and offer ideas on how you can get, both you and your team, to that destination.
Timing is everything
The time to talk to your coach about a disagreement is not while you’re on the bench during a game. It’s not in the middle of practice when your assistant coaches and teammates are there, sweating, in the heat of the moment. You need to approach your coach with respect at a time that’s conducive for listening, understanding, and responding with grace. It might be on an off day, after practice, or during your free period at school. Schedule a meeting that affords you the time and space to say exactly what you want so your coach can fully listen and create actionable steps for both of you.
Never promise perfection. You can’t promise you’ll go out the next game and commit zero turnovers, or make every shot. You can, however, promise to give maximum effort, and your attitude will be one worth showcasing. Leave the conversation having recommitted to the player you want to be, not the player you’ve been in the past.
This is hard, but as my guy Tyler Coston says, “everything you want is on the other side of hard.” If you can learn the skill of having a crucial conversation now, while you’re playing sports, you’ll set yourself up for success post-athletic career. Additionally, you’ll show your coach, the one who determines your playing time, that you care.
You’ll show them that you value one of the most important relationships on your basketball journey—the one between you and them. You need them. They need you. Like in life, these conversations don’t guarantee you anything, except, the opportunity to demonstrate your maturity, care, and understanding of the team leader’s perspective.
Join us at a PGC camp this summer to discover how to think the game and become the player every coach wants on their team.
And lastly, in closing, have the courage to go out and reach your biggest dreams.
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PGC Basketball provides intense, no-nonsense basketball training for players and coaches. Our basketball camps are designed to teach players of all positions to play smart basketball, be coaches on the court, and be leaders in practices, games and in everyday life.
We combine our unique PGC culture with a variety of teaching methods and learning environments to maximize the learning potential of those that attend our sessions. In addition to spending 6-7 hours on the court each day, lessons will be reinforced through classroom sessions and video analysis.
Our goal at PGC is to empower you with the tools to fulfill your basketball dreams, while also assisting you in experiencing the joy of the journey.