The other day I asked a former player of mine, who is now playing college basketball, how things were going this year. He told me that he was doing okay in school but struggling with basketball.
This young man was a key part of a very successful team that I coached, so I found it difficult to see how he could be struggling at the next level. I asked him what he thought the problem was. He said he I don’t think my coach likes me.
I said what makes you say that. He says every time he makes a mistake on the court the coach subs him out. He feels he has an extra short leash compared to some of his other teammates who make mistakes but they don’t get subbed out. All he wants he says is a chance to show the coach what he can do with extended minutes, but he is constantly looking over his shoulder every time he gets on the court.
Most basketball players know how difficult it is to play with the fear of making a mistake. It’s not good. You end up being so worried about making mistakes that you start to play conservative and tight, instead of playing free and loose. You start to become passive and end up making more mistakes. And it’s hard for you to have an impact on the game when you’re worrying about being subbed out.
I asked if he talked with his coach about the situation. He said he had and the coach assured him he would get his chances, but he doesn’t feel he has been given a fair chance. And he repeated to me that he doesn’t think his coach likes him.
I am not at this young man’s practices now, but he never cheated me when he was on my team. He always worked hard and was often rewarded in games with many great performances. But I am concerned with any player who feels their coach doesn’t like them.
So I said to my former player, “your coach doesn’t like you as a person or as a basketball player?” He said, “I think both.”
My advice to him was simple. Keep working hard in practice, be respectful and polite with your coach and teammates and kick ass in the classroom. And last but not least don’t feel sorry for yourself. You can only control what you control.
As long as you feel good about your effort, your attitude and yourself nothing else really matters. It’s up to the coach to recognize what you bring to the table and figure out how to use you in the best way to help the team. If the coach doesn’t see your value, that’s his problem not yours. Keep being the best you you can be.
In the end if your coach doesn’t like you as a basketball player that is one thing, but you need to do your best to make sure your coach sees that you’re a good person. And if you’re coach is only judging you by your basketball talents, then he’s not much of a coach.
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