I was recently invited to a “coaching” group on FB. It’s basically one big Q & A. Someone offers up a question and a bunch of people typically respond with insight. I find people’s replies insightful and occasionally chime in when time permits.

I’ve been wanting to share ideas on the website and social media for some time, but often find it difficult to organize thoughts and write about things out of the blue. I’m hoping that if I jot down my responses to other people’s questions that it’ll help facilitate the process of writing in-depth articles later.

In the meantime, I wanted to start a series called “Snippets” where I provide my responses to questions in the group.


The Question

How to get a team to have more energy on the court but they don’t want to do the “cheers”. I have 10 solid players but the energy on the court is just not there. They are definitely not playing up to potential as of yet and to me there is no emotion on the court.

The Response

I watched a (Ka Ulukoa) boys team win 7 consecutive national titles with little to no emotion. Focused and determined? yes. Purpose-driven? yes. Cheerleaders? definitely not.

I don’t have a degree in this area (or any degrees for that matter), but I would contend that it’s a mistake to connect outward emotional projection (cheering) to good energy or performance. IMO, those two don’t go hand in hand. You can have a strong and powerful body posture without verbalization.

(Random thought I have occasionally, what would a high-level team of all deaf players look like?)

I do however think that a player’s mental state (emotion) plays a critical role in creating an optimal state of “energy.” I know this word may have inappropriate connotations, but we’re looking for arousal or a heightened state to ensure we play our best. I once heard a boxing coach say that he encouraged his boxers to embrace the nerves they felt before going into a fight because it was their mind’s way of preparing the body to perform at the highest level. (Teddy Atlas maybe?)

If a heightened state is preferable, the question then becomes how do we get there. I’d personally vote for a purpose. If there isn’t a strong sense of purpose that everyone has bought into, motivation may be difficult. If the sense of purpose is present at both the individual and team levels, then composure, which is basically emotion management, probably comes into play.

If composure is a traffic light, the optimal state is the green light. Accordingly, what characteristics does the green light possess? Confidence, optimism, determination, focus, encouragement, poise, communication, aggression, strong body posture, etcetera etcetera.

With identification out of the way, the next step is to formulate a process. First things first, how do you start in the green? This could be anything really – watching a highlight video, visualizing, prayer, talking with teammates, music, and I’m sure you can think of others. Team chant anyone?

Once the green is established, how would you maintain the green once the game got underway?

Maybe that’s a discussion for another time! 

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