It's all about Confidence
You can have a wealth of talent and you can practice until it's become second nature, but winning can still be elusive unless you have one key element -- Confidence.
It's something that you cannot work on in practice. There are simulations that can really prepare for you. It's something that is only acquired by actions in the game. And it's often amazing how the entire outlook of a season can change, once confidence is gained.
Some players step onto the playing surface, for the first time, with an abundance of confidence. No matter the situation, no matter the circumstance, that player will excel. There won't be any hesitation or second-guessing because he or she has that confidence. But those athletes are the exception. For most it's a process.
On the basketball court, where everyone must work in concert, everyone must also have that belief and that confidence that they can close out an opponent. Playing great basketball in stretches or for thirty-five minutes is going to keep a lot of wins just out of reach.
In his column, Albany head coach Will Brown wrote about the importance of leadership and how real leaders speak their mind. That leader can help to instill a confidence in his teammates, sometimes leading by example and sometimes by putting that player in a position to succeed.
It's important to have that influence, but it still comes down to the individual. As a coach, you want to be sure that all five guys on the floor recognize and want to embrace their responsibility when the game is on the line.
You often hear analysts say, "it's a war of attrition," when describing the struggle between two opponents. That can also apply to the struggle of gaining confidence. It can be a grind. The longer you are around the game the better understanding you get that it's as much a part of the season as road trips and injuries.
In my years as a coach I have seen it first hand, having teams that I know had talent and a high basketball IQ, but they were struggling to find that level of confidence. More often then not, the entire complexion of the season would change on one possession, one pass, one shot -- One win.
How often, following a great comeback win, will you hear players say that they are confident that they are never out of a game? Where does that come from? It comes from having experienced it and understanding what it takes to repeat it.
We all remember the first time we rode a bike. There were anxious moments before you took off down the street for the first time. But there were never any doubts from that day forward.
If it were only that easy.
Gaining confidence is the first step in the process. But keeping it, as a team, is an ever- evolving process. How often do you hear analysts suggest that a team appears to have lost its' confidence?
If I had all the answers on this topic I could do very well as an author. One thing is for sure the most talented teams and the most hard working teams win because they are also the most confident teams.