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Thursday, November 19, 2009


In teaching our players, I tried to concentrate on the process rather than the result. I think it’s the best way to teach. If a coach starts out on the first day of practice talking about winning, that approach can actually get in the way of winning.

Building a team takes patience and planning. We went through the process step by step, no shortcuts. We repeated drills until good habits were established. We stressed sound fundamentals. We drove home the point that basketball is a team game and the team members need to depend on one another. We talked about the soundness of putting the team first. We taught the players not to dwell on the consequences of failure. We valued each possession, and I encouraged the players not to look at the scoreboard until it became a smart thing to do with a few minutes left, although that was difficult for them to do. We went to great lengths to reward unselfish behavior, and we profusely praised those acts that we wanted to see repeated.

Of course confidence helps, no matter what you’re trying to accomplish, but false confidence and hubris don’t pay off. False praise as a weapon to build confidence? I didn’t believe in it.

A person isn’t going to wake up one morning and suddenly become confident. It’s not that easy. Words aren’t going to do the trick. Confidence must be earned. It takes time, work, dedication — on the part of the teacher and the pupil.

Confidence can be as fragile as an eggshell. Coaches can’t talk players into being confident, although praising players when praise is deserved can help them become more confident. Bet they can do the reverse if they tear players down with criticism. Then self-confidence may never bloom.
Basketball is not a game of perfection. Mistakes are part of it.

Thorough preparation does wonder for anyone’s confidence. We tried to put our players through every situation in practice that they might experience in a game.

Hard work that results in success equals confidence. That’s the only formula I have. I know of no other way. That’s why bad practices really got me down. I never really learned how to handle them.

From, "The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons From A Life In Coaching"
By Dean Smith with Gerald D. Bell and John Kilgo