One of the most important things that our team does during the season has nothing to do with offenses, defenses, or even conditioning. In fact, it doesn’t take place on the court at all! “Monday Meetings” have been a staple of our program for over 20 years and I don’t foresee abandoning the concept anytime soon. The rules are simple: every player meets with me individually every Monday throughout the entire season; the meetings are always face to face, and they never interrupt practice, strength & conditioning, or any other team function. There are no predetermined time limits – some meetings are five minutes long and some have lasted a half hour or more. However, the agenda of our meetings is always the same.
Every meeting, without fail, always starts with me asking the particular player about his classes. How does he like his teachers? What assignments or projects are due this coming week? How did he do on his last test? Does he need any tutoring or additional help to improve his grades? All of these questions let me emphasize the importance of academics and helps me teach the players that no matter how important basketball is to them at this point in their lives, their education is even more important.
When I am finished getting a run down on his academic progress I then tell each player specifically what I think they have done well over the previous week. Sometimes this is easy but sometimes when it comes to those players who don’t see much game action I really have to think back and mentally review our past several practices and/or games. I want to make sure I tell each player something that is not only highly specific to him as an individual but that is also unarguably accurate. Mentioning as many specifics as possible gives me the opportunity to motivate through positive feedback and also lets the player know that I do pay attention to the positive as well as the negative.
The third segment of our Monday meetings involves discussing the player’s weaknesses and then offering suggestions to help him improve. Together we review the suggestions made the previous week and then evaluate his progress in following those suggestions. A quick word of caution – unless it’s 100% true DO NOT promise a player that if he improves a certain skill he is going to play more come game time.
I’ve known coaches who have told players something like “If you shot better you would be playing all the time.” The player then goes out and shoots jump shots by the hour until he drastically raises his FG%. However, the reality is that he is still not good enough to play “all the time.” Instead of putting an emphasis on playing time, use these meetings to help create a culture where getting better is everyone’s overall goal.
Before we conclude our meeting I always ask the player sitting in front of me if there is anything he needs from me or if there is anything he wants to share or ask. It is during these moments, when we are usually talking about things other than school or basketball, when I really get to know a player and he gets to know me. Great coaching is as much about forming and nurturing strong, productive relationships as it is about X’s and O’s. Monday Meetings are a highly effective tool in establishing those relationships!
About Coach Stricklin:
Dave Stricklin has been coaching basketball for over 30 years. He has over 700 wins as a college coach, has won and AAU National Championship and also exceled as a High School coach. His knowledge of the game is as good as it gets. To get his FREE Ebook titled “The 6 Things You Must Know if You Want to Be a Successful Basketball Coach” click here.