Coaching in games can be frustrating for a coach, because whilst they may see mistakes being made and know what needs to be done, they cannot directly do it.

If coaches act (or react) out of frustration or stress, it will not have a good result, particularly when coaching young children. Having an objective, constructive and positive attitude is particularly important.

  • Objective, because they should objectively assess what their players can do (before the game), what they are doing (during the game) and what they have done (after the game).
  • Constructive, because whatever happens during the game, coaches should use it so that their players, both individually and collectively, obtain benefits that will influence their athletic and personal development.
  • Positive, because during the game is not the time to make an in-depth analysis of mistakes, but to emphasize the players’ positive behaviour and to encourage them to do things without being afraid of failing.

The coach’s comments during a game should focus on what the team needs to do or is going to do, not what has happened previously.

Obviously, what has happened previously in the game informs what the coach wants the team to do, but the coach will be most effective if they use positive, action-oriented language (“now this is what we are going to do...”).

Coaches should be realistic in their expectations of players and not demand more from them than the players are capable of at their stage of development. They should assume and accept that the players will make many mistakes because:

  • the best players in the world, during their best games, have missed shots that seemed easy;
  • even the best players make mistakes when passing and/or have turnovers. No team has won a championship and recorded no turnovers;

Unfortunately, many coaches lose the appropriate perspective and the self-control that they should have during games - when players make mistakes such coaches add to the stress of the players by making unproductive comments that only increase their insecurity, turning the game into a negative experience.

In fact, many young players who start out enthusiastically playing basketball lose their enthusiasm and quit because games become very stressful experiences that they cannot deal with.

The coach's behaviour is an essential element in avoiding this problem and in getting games to be positive experiences, whatever the result on the scoreboard.

Similarly, the coach must assume and accept that officials will make mistakes. Even the most experienced official will sometimes make a mistake and the coach, and their team, must not focus on that and instead focus on the next play. A coach that speaks after a game about how referee decisions cost them the game will soon have players that do not accept their accountability for performance.

The best players in the world, during their best games, have missed shots that seemed easy