Here’s the good news: your team worked hard all season and has secured a spot in the post-season. The tough news: your team stands to face some difficult competition if they want to make a strong playoff or tournament run. There are some extremely talented, very physical teams barring the pathway to the championship, and chances are they’re not getting knocked out any time soon. Facing elite competition can be nerve racking, but if you remind your team that they’ve earned their place, that underdogs have upset potential, and that their opponents are defeatable just like any other team, you can give your team the confidence they need to take on strong opponents.
At Dr. Dish Basketball, we believe in training hard physically, but also mentally. By believing in yourself and never backing down, you never know what you can accomplish.
Let Your Team Know They Deserve to be Here
Your team didn’t get to where they are by chance. Lots of practice, willpower, and teamwork got them there. For your players, this is a chance to prove themselves now that they’ve earned a spot amongst those teams with enough perseverance and talent to continue on after the season ends.
Often sports analysts will remark on teams who shouldn’t have made it to the post-season or who will have a rough time going forward. Sports sites or news outlets may give the odds to your team’s opponent, perhaps heavily. Let your team know that the victory will only be sweeter when they prove doubters wrong. The second the post-season starts, everyone becomes 0-0, and all the games are still untold. There is no such thing as a team without a chance, only a team that can’t muster the mindset to give it their all and encourage each other.
Never Underestimate the Potential to Pull an Upset
Upsets occur at all levels of basketball, and with the March Madness Tournament in sight, this possibility becomes particularly noticeable. Teams who are viewed as candidates to win the whole tournament often go down in the second round, sometimes even the first. Teams ranked much lower exhibit exceptional teamwork and strategy and stun the higher ranked team, and the nation!
Whether it’s college, high school, or even professional basketball, being an upset team who stays competitive and sticks with the other team can be an incredible morale-booster. As your team refuses to back down and challenges the opponent on defense, the opposition will realize they can’t relax or set the pace. As a coach, that’s what you want to see: an adversary that can’t get comfortable and takes your team seriously.
A veteran opponent has trained well and will look to gather themselves during the last minutes of post-season games. Make sure your team knows that this is the quintessential time to rely on each other and make smart plays. Keep the pace measured and make sure that in their excitement and eagerness to pull off the upset, your team doesn’t make hasty plays or your stars don’t try to single-handedly decide the game. Big plays and talented players can challenge the favored team, but teamwork and smart playmaking will win the game.
No Team is Unbeatable
There are multiple rounds to the playoffs and multiple rounds to tournaments. That means that even if your team wins early on, it’s only a matter of time before they face the best of the best. That’s an intimidating prospect as these teams have dominated the league all season, and they’re hard set on being number one.
They’re not perfect though, and even undefeated teams aren’t guaranteed wins. Exceptional teams make mistakes, too. Instead of focusing on the prestige of the team, show your players their faults, watch the mistakes they make when you study video, and emphasize match-ups that work in your team’s favor. Perhaps they have an all-star player who has garnered incredible notoriety. It doesn’t mean he or she doesn’t miss or have off-games, and it certainly doesn’t mean he or she can’t be challenged.
Perhaps some intimidating teams will be knocked out before they even get the chance to take on your team. Still, you have to be ready for the prospect of any team, and so do your players. Remind your team that you’ve all earned the right to be here, that upsets happen and your team can be the one to make it happen, and that no opponent is beyond defeat. The stakes are high, but your team wouldn’t be facing these challenges if they weren’t capable of overcoming them.
Looking for an edge over your more talented competition? Click below!