The "end of season grind" is no joke - especially if your season has not gone as planned.
Maybe you faced an injury, encountered some team drama, or simply - are on a team that can’t pull out a victory.
From someone who has dealt with all 3 of those things (especially been a part of a losing team) here are 3 tips that helped me remain enthusiastic at the end of a long season.
Have you ever heard of the saying “Fake it ‘til you make it”? I’m sure you have. Now is the time to do it. You may be feeling bad for yourself and your team when you walk into practice. Flip the switch and fake some excitement. Just try it - smile more. Give more high fives. Verbally praise your team. Science shows that even something as simple as positive body language will send endorphins to the brain - making you truly enjoy what you’re doing more. If you have to be doing something, you might as well enjoy doing it! Be the person that other people want around because you are always a joy to be around.
Focus on being a good teammate and enjoying the time with friends. Building on your teammates relationships and chemistry is often overlooked at all levels of the game. But it is so important! Chemistry off of the floor translates to chemistry on the floor. This might sound bad, but being frustrated with the season or our coach often made my teammates and I closer. We bonded over the frustrations. And despite losing, we found joy in spending that time together as friends when we couldn't celebrate a winning season.
Be present and control what you can NOW. Your time any all levels of the game is extremely limited. Remember no matter how bad the end of this season may feel, it’s the only chance you will get at that year. So your team is losing? It sucks, I know. But think about what you can do to better yourself. If you are in high school and looking to play college ball, a losing high school record won’t take away that opportunity from you. Your actions will define your level of success. Playing through diversity will get you that roster spot, not a conference championship.
I almost made a fourth point on keeping your goals for next season in mind, but that’s a long ways away. Embrace the process, focus on the little things: the reps. Do that and you will see the results you are looking for next season. Don't be too future thinking or the present days will pass you by.
Coach, consider this:
Since a winning record may be out of the picture for the year - focus your players’ attention on ATTAINABLE goals in practice and in games. Such as, shooting %, free throws attempted or limit a number of turnovers. Strip it down to the fundamentals of basketball. Giving players something exactly to strive for and achieve gives them something to be enthusiastic about.
THINK: **If you want to be conference champs, it's hard to be enthusiastic about wanting to do that if that’s no longer possible for the year. But if you're working on small goals for the rest of the year, and celebrating the achievements, that's direct behavior to get excited about.