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How do you coach when you know your team is overmatched

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Seth54
(@seth54)
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Do you coach differently when you are going into a game and you know your team is overmatched? I’ve had it happen, but not in a few seasons, and tried to run a little extra clock and keep the offense conservative. Most of all, i’ve tried to pick out whatever positives we have and keep the messaging upbeat. 

This topic came to mind because my son is playing travel basketball this year for the first time and the talent levels in the league are really variable. My son’s team is middle of the pack, but some of the top teams are really in another class. While I don’t feel the need to protect them physically quite the same way I do in football, obviously I’m not worried about my point guard taking a big hit if I call a dumb play, I do try to keep the messaging up beat and find any small positive takeaways I can, and believe me they can be scarce. 

The header doesn’t seem to get that approach. I’m not sure if he’s trying to sell them that they’re better than they are, or he lacks awareness to honestly evaluate our talent level, but he’s often telling them that we should be beating team we have no chance against. To me this seems to exacerbate the kids frustrations, because they hear they should be scoring or stopping a player, when that’s not realistic. Please let me know if you have any ideas for how to handle these situations. 


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ZACH
 ZACH
(@bucksweep58)
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When you're obviously over matched, I focus on individual and team efforts.  The kids know when they're out gunned everyone knows it except the future vince lombardi coach.  We encourage, we motivate, we correct no different than any other game, we are still coaches.

Now strategy wise I just try to build confidence I never back down or put my head down.  At the very least I remind our boys to make every hit count and make them respect you.  They may beat you on the score board but they aren't beating your spirit. 

 

I've only won one of these types of games, strictly bc the other team got lazy at half and mass subbed. Before they knew it they were only up by 6 and the starters had to put their pads back on.  We scoop and scored a fumble at mid field and our defense held them under the shadow of our goal post the next drive with under a min left.  Every other time we got wiped, but my team didn't walk away feeling sorry for themselves they kept saying "we want them again coach".  My mind is I bet you do but your mama don't lol

I can explain it to you, I can't understand if for you.


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mahonz
(@mahonz)
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Our team of Smurfs has been outmatched 50 -75% of the time every season for the last 3 years. 

In that time we won one game we were not supposed to win and came close with another last season. Had some completive outings mixed in here and there and some very forgettable games. 

Being Smurf ball I know fast kid left and fast kid right wont last forever so I stay optimistic. All us Coaches can do is keep them focused and having fun even though all I really want to do is pace the sideline screaming at everyone and throwing stuff. 😎 

Coaching them up only goes so far when you lack some horses. Every team must have some horses. We are the Little Engine that almost could. As long as they keep coming back for more I really dont care about the scoreboard anymore. If I did....I'd be a raging alcoholic by now.

We at least provide them with an atmosphere that is appreciated.  

What is beautiful, lives forever.


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @seth54

The header doesn’t seem to get that approach. I’m not sure if he’s trying to sell them that they’re better than they are, or he lacks awareness to honestly evaluate our talent level

Have you asked him?

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Seth54
(@seth54)
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@mahonz

We had a season 3 years ago where we didn’t have a single horse. Barely had a pony. But we had almost 100% of the kids return to the club, so I consider that a successful season. 


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Seth54
(@seth54)
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@coachdp

I haven’t. I’m not really sure he cares much for my input. He made it clear this is his show. This season has been different than any other that I’ve coached, it definitely hasn’t lent itself to building a relationship, so I’m pretty much along for the ride.

 

This is probably the wrong attitude, but I’ve all but conceded that this season won’t go as I’d like, I’m just trying to learn from this so I can grow.

 

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bdjackson
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Posted by: @seth54

@coachdp

I haven’t. I’m not really sure he cares much for my input. He made it clear this is his show. This season has been different than any other that I’ve coached, it definitely hasn’t lent itself to building a relationship, so I’m pretty much along for the ride.

 

This is probably the wrong attitude, but I’ve all but conceded that this season won’t go as I’d like, I’m just trying to learn from this so I can grow.

 

I would recommend addressing it with him. Even if it doesn’t go anywhere now, maybe it may be something he refers back to after the tensions and stress of the season subside. 

—Brian

Being Capable, first begins with being Confident.


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CoachDP
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Posted by: @seth54

I haven’t. I’m not really sure he cares much for my input. He made it clear this is his show.  

I'm not really sure that I understand.  If you're on the staff, you have input.  Doesn't really matter whether he "cares" for it.  Otherwise, you might as well sit in the stands.  Your job is to do what's best for the team of those young men and advocating for them; not being "Silent Sam."

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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Seth54
(@seth54)
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@coachdp

I knew you were going to make me feel like a coward 😉.

Like I said, this has been a strange season. We basically missed our normal preseason, as the township decided if we’d be able to play, and went right from tryouts to the season. Our whole season is 4 double headers(8 games), which ended yesterday. I say this only to explain that this isn’t some long standing observation I’ve been ignoring. Now that I’ve acknowledged this, it seems like a cop out not to deal with this issue directly. I appreciate the feedback from you and Brian. 


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bdjackson
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@seth54 one thing is will say from experience is that when I was a header and had a problem AC, if I had been willing to have the hard conversation we probably would have ended the season with him still as our DC. I don’t blame him for not trusting me as I was not communicating like I should have. Do I think the conversation would have done any good, probably not. But as Dave said, it was my responsibility as the header to do so. As an assistant coach, as Dave said above, you have a responsibility to those kids. My biggest mistake in 8 years of coaching has been letting things happen when I should have spoken up. 

—Brian

Being Capable, first begins with being Confident.


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Posted by: @seth54

I knew you were going to make me feel like a coward 😉.

--Well actually Seth, I'm not trying to make you feel in any sort of way.  I'm merely pointing out that our responsibility as coaches is not to ourselves or to the other coaches on the staff but to our kids/players.

I say this only to explain that this isn’t some long standing observation I’ve been ignoring.

--Long standing or short term, it's still something that you observed and evidently wasn't corrected even though you had the opportunity to do so.  If you're "Silent Sam," you can't really complain about others not taking the advice that you're not giving.

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
(@coachdp)
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Posted by: @seth54

Do you coach differently when you are going into a game and you know your team is overmatched?

--Yes; if you're asking if my expectations are different.

I've tried to pick out whatever positives we have and keep the messaging upbeat. 

--Good approach.

I do try to keep the messaging up beat and find any small positive takeaways I can, and believe me they can be scarce. 

--Regardless of whether your team is overmatched or overtalented, the overall message should be up beat and positive.  Kids learn quicker and more willingly when they receive a positive message.  I'm not talking about BSing them, as blowing smoke does no good.  But finding authentic positives helps keep the ship pointed in the right direction.

The header doesn’t seem to get that approach. I’m not sure if he’s trying to sell them that they’re better than they are, or he lacks awareness to honestly evaluate our talent level, but he’s often telling them that we should be beating team we have no chance against.

--The results themselves should show him whether they have a chance, or not.

To me this seems to exacerbate the kids frustrations

--I agree with that statement, 1000%.

Please let me know if you have any ideas for how to handle these situations. 

--I'm not sure what you're asking for here, Seth.  Are you wanting to know how to put a salve on a losing situation, how to address a header who doesn't acknowledge your ideas, or something I'm overlooking?

--Dave

 

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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CoachDP
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To expound on coaching an undermatched team, I've been fortunate as a header.  Other than my first high school gig where we were building a program from scratch, I've gone into every game knowing we could (or should) win.  And I've NEVER, EVER won a game when I'd thought we would lose, which should tell you something about how important your mindset is going into a season, or a game.  But when I was at KHS, we struggled.  We had no JV team, we had no weight room, we had no conference...we were nomads traveling the state in hopes that someone would play us.  We were a high school with less than 300 students.  Our film sessions were highlighted by pointing out the good (and giving Crunch Bars) and giving INSTRUCTION where we needed to improve.  But one thing was sure, their effort was always outstanding because they knew their opponent couldn't dictate how hard they tried.  So while the losses were disappointing, frustrating and hurtful, our players displayed an incredible amount of pride because they knew how proud I was of them.

--Dave

"The Greater the Teacher, the More Powerful the Player."

The Mission Statement: "I want to show any young man that he is far tougher than he thinks, that he can accomplish more than what he dreamed and that his work ethic will take him wherever he wants to go."

#BattleReady newhope


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terrypjohnson
(@terrypjohnson)
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Posted by: @seth54

Do you coach differently when you are going into a game and you know your team is overmatched? I’ve had it happen, but not in a few seasons, and tried to run a little extra clock and keep the offense conservative. Most of all, i’ve tried to pick out whatever positives we have and keep the messaging upbeat. 

This topic came to mind because my son is playing travel basketball this year for the first time and the talent levels in the league are really variable. My son’s team is middle of the pack, but some of the top teams are really in another class. While I don’t feel the need to protect them physically quite the same way I do in football, obviously I’m not worried about my point guard taking a big hit if I call a dumb play, I do try to keep the messaging up beat and find any small positive takeaways I can, and believe me they can be scarce. 

The header doesn’t seem to get that approach. I’m not sure if he’s trying to sell them that they’re better than they are, or he lacks awareness to honestly evaluate our talent level, but he’s often telling them that we should be beating team we have no chance against. To me this seems to exacerbate the kids frustrations, because they hear they should be scoring or stopping a player, when that’s not realistic. Please let me know if you have any ideas for how to handle these situations. 

My advice would be: don't change your approach. Do what do you do best...

That's what I did in 10U basketball this year. After the draft, one of the league admins told me that we wouldn't win a game. My response was that I didn't care. We were going to play aggressive defense and force turnovers. We were going to make the other team beat us and not beat ourselves.

Did it work perfectly? No. While the first game was close (lost in OT), we lost the next four games by average of 20 points. The coach of the first place team actually made his kids stay after the game Frank Kush-style because he was mad that his team didn't put 50 on "those sorry Tigers".

Despite the poor results on the scoreboard, I continued to stress that I was proud of the effort and made sure that the boys knew that they were getting better. In the sixth game, you could see that the lightbulb finally went on. We won the last three games, including the season finale by six points against the third-place team.

I've also been a similar situation that you're in with my oldest son. We all knew going into the season that his team would struggle. At the end of his second game (I missed the first one because my two 8U teams were at another site), I spoke with his coach, and stressed the need to be positive. He completely ignored it. The only thing I could do at that point was just encourage from the sidelines. While it didn't change the outcome, I had several kids (and their parents) tell me that they appreciated my positivity.... a few of them ended up on the basketball team referenced above.

I'd at least have a talk with the coach. Hopefully, he won't completely ignore it. But, if he does, you still have the opportunity to set the example.

Let me know how it goes.

Coach Terry

Fight 'em until Hell freezes over, then fight 'em on the ice -- Dutch Meyer


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Seth54
(@seth54)
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@coachdp

 

I was mostly looking for these types of tips and teaching moments that you listed here and Terry also did a nice job of talking about. I probably combined two issues into one thread. I should’ve left my concerns with the header for another thread. This is really about finding ways to keep it positive when you know you’re short on talent.


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