Basketball Coaching: 3 Ways to Build Confidence in Your Players

Basketball Coaching ConfidenceAs a coach, your role consists of more than just enhancing your players’ basketball skills. A large part of effective basketball coaching is lending your players the confidence they need to excel. Players rely on their own intuition and abilities to make the most of their practice time, make smart plays in games, and develop a productive outlook. But coaches have a significant influence on getting the most out of their players. An extraordinary coach doesn’t just teach basketball, he or she also teaches players to believe in themselves by lending them the ability to make their own decisions and become team leaders.

Here are 3 ways to help build your players' confidence to excel in basketball and in life.

Emphasize The Importance of Their Role

Players exhibit the most drive when they are working toward their largest goals. Emphasizing that players are competing for the whole team, and not just themselves, enhances their sense of purpose. Success in basketball doesn’t solely consist of whatever information goes on a stats sheet. It’s about assisting and being assisted by teammates, recognizing the individual abilities each player offers, and learning how to capitalize on those talents by working in tandem with teammates.

Encouraging your players to envision themselves as part of a united whole allows them to draw strength from their team’s support, and gives them a sense of accomplishment in knowing that their contributions are valuable. This view also accentuates that while individual talent can go a long way, it takes a team to win.

From the star player to the last player on the bench, each teammate needs to hear that they are appreciated and that they play an important role on the team in both practices and in games. By communicating this message clearly, your players' confidence will undoubtedly increase.


Balance Encouragement and Constructive Criticism

Have you ever seen a coach yell at a player for making a poor decision? If you're like me, you've seen it more times than you can remember. Failure is a great opportunity for improvement, but learning experiences are best obtained when coaches make sure they are constructive in pointing out flaws, and avoid berating players.

Encouragement and constructive criticism also play a key role in practice. For instance, a player may struggle with free throws. Even if improvement is slow, there could still be a great deal of potential. This is why patience is so important. Dismissing a player as unteachable can be crushing to his or her self-esteem, so the emphasis should always be on personal growth, never on failure.

Sometimes changes are more personal: encouraging improvements in attitude and leadership skills builds confidence, just like recognizing shooting and rebounding improvements. Players that work hard to support their team and take their shortcomings very seriously should be complimented and praised. It’s important to acknowledge the opportunity to learn from past mistakes, and to reward all kinds of growth.


Stress Growth in the Future

Letdowns are just as integral a part of sports as triumphs. This lesson becomes clear every time a team goes home after a loss in the March Madness Tournament, effectively terminating their season. Following a disappointing season, the mood often carries over into the off-season, lingering while the team regroups. 

Losing and failing to meet goals are inevitable parts of basketball. For players who are continuing with the team, emphasizing future possibilities presents a sense of optimism and sets the tone for improvement. Build confidence by stressing how their role can grow moving forward if they work hard in the off-season. For players leaving a team, encourage them to think about all they’ve achieved, not just the moments in which they fell short. It's also important to emphasize the lessons they have learned will allow them to be more confident off the court as well.

Encourage your players to be invested in the current season, but not to view a disappointing game or an end to the season as the end of their basketball experience. If they are following up a successful season, highlight their accomplishments. Even if they are not, make it clear that there were still achievements, and that the next season can be different. Teams who finish with a losing record can still come back with a strong showing the next season. Players can shake off a weak season and become more productive than ever before. Their investment in the  sport doesn’t end just because the season does.


A player’s importance doesn’t only come from his or her physical feats: it comes from a sustained sense of self-worth. Teaching a player the importance of team unity, self-improvement, and future potential allows him or her to draw confidence not only from the game, but from within.


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