Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Team Discipline using Core Values

On one of my favorite message boards (X's and Os of Basketball), there was a good topic about discipline and learning from the discipline. I believe that we as coaches have a great opportunity to help our players mature as young adults, and that's a role that I enjoy. I think a great way to do this, and to instill discipline in your team, is to use a set of "Core Values" for your program.

Core Values are something I got into my first year of coaching at LaCrosse Central with Coach Fergot. He has a core value system in place for his program and the entire staff does an amazing job with it. It really helps to instill discipline in his players and creates a family atmosphere. I also think it's one reason his teams play up to and beyond their potential every year.

There are a lot of different ways you can go with core values of your program or team. You can keep things simple and only use a few, or you can have a multitude and arrange it similar to John Wooden's famed Pyramid of Success. I like to stick to a few simple broad ones instead of a lot at the high school level - I feel like it's easier for teenagers to focus on.

These values aren't anything too complex. I like to use respect, loyalty, honesty, passion, team first attitude, championship work ethic, and competitive greatness. These are all things that high school kids can understand in my humble opinion. When using core program values, they are things you talk about and address whenever possible. Maybe in a tough loss you talk about how they represented the program values well by working together (team first attitude), having respect, and playing hard (work ethic and passion) if they did indeed exhibit those values. These are things that can help players long after they walk out the doors their last day as a senior basketball player. I think part of creating a strong program is creating a family like atmosphere within that program and talking about the values of the program enhances that.

Also, when a player makes a mistake, he faces consequences, but the core values can help to explain to a player why he is getting disciplined. Hopefully this can help him learn from his mistakes. For example, if a player mouths off to you in practice, you boot him from practice. If you leave it at that and come back the next day has the player learned anything? Maybe, but maybe not. I think the player gets more out of the experience in the long run if you have him stay in the locker room and go in and talk with him after practice. Explain to him why his behavior was wrong and why it violated the core values of the team (respect). Explaining to him why it is disrespectful may make him more away of his transgression. Then you could explain to him that if he wants to be treated with respect himself, he has to earn it by being respectful to others. Is this the only way to do discipline? Of course not! But it is a way that I find useful and helpful for myself.

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