Should every player hate to lose?

Originally published in Los Angeles Sports & Fitness, May/June, 2014.

During my first season as an assistant coach for a junior-college women’s basketball team, the head coach remarked that it was hard to coach a team and to win when the coaches cared so much more about every game than the players. It was an accurate statement; our livelihoods were invested in the team and the games, whereas few players had aspirations of playing basketball beyond junior college. When the game ended, we sat in the office ruminating over what went wrong; I left the gym and headed across the street to a pizza place and went over the game in my head. The players left the game and went to parties, the movies, or the library to study. In no way did I believe that the players did not play hard; they did. They gave a full effort when they were on the court. However, win or lose, the game did not change their behaviors once the game ended and they left the gym, whereas the game lingered and affected the coaches long after the final whistle. […]

Coaching a European Club – Week 32: Finals

After our win on Saturday, our opponent did not know the date of the third game. They had scheduled the game for Tuesday originally, but its women’s team made the finals as well, and played away on Tuesday, so they asked to change the game. We agreed to change the game to Wednesday. After they won the first game, they expected to win game 2, and they never booked a gym for Wednesday. Throughout Sunday, the clubs went back and fort about the game. Despite the minor ankle injury to my best player, which should have meant that we would be happy to push back the game as far as possible, our American point guard was having a baby in the States this week, and we wanted him to get home for the birth, which is why we pushed for the game to be as early in the week as possible.  […]

Coaching a European Club – Week 31: Finals

The guys were beat up on Monday. This was the toughest stretch of the season: play Thursday, practice Friday, play Saturday on the road (home after 1 A.M.), off Sunday, practice Monday, play Tuesday on the road (home after 3 A.M.). Compared to an NBA schedule, or even some high school schedules, it does not seem so bad, but players here are accustomed to playing one game per week.  […]