The number one priority of a team coach is to motivate and inspire. There are various theories on how to best accomplish this vital part of coaching. Some feel it’s imperative to make players feel like mistakes are unacceptable, and earn the harsh reality of tough practices. Other coaching philosophies envision mistakes as learning tools.

Sometimes the kinder, gentler side of coaching works, while other times it doesn’t. No matter what type of philosophy you subscribe to as a coach, you need to inspire your team. Here are a few ways to help you inspire and motivate your team to meet one critical goal; to play to the best of their ability.

The Man in the Mirror

Begin with yourself when looking for inspiration. If you do not bring a sense of inspiration to practice and games, then it can be difficult to expect your players to do so. Look at the man in the mirror, as the old story says. The degree that your players identify you as being inspired will go a long way towards inspiring them.

Hear Their Voice

As the coach, you have the first voice. However, by giving your players a voice you can provide an engaging environment for them to both learn and improve. When players are able to openly voice their opinions to coaches, it inspires them to both work harder, and looks for ways to improve. The first way to inspire your team is to hear their voice.

Use Brainstorming Sessions

Another way to give your players a sense that their opinions matter are talk sessions. These can be structured meetings that discuss game strategy, or just team gatherings that allow players to share ideas about the team. These types of brainstorming sessions help with game strategy, but they also inspire players to grow closer as a unit.

Positive Feedback

It’s an inherent part of playing sports that there are going to be disappointments. Rare is the team that wins every game, or executes every play perfectly. There have to be moments as a coach when you must pinpoint mistakes.

However, there are ways to take every fumbled catch, dropped ball, or missed shot into a learning experience. As an inspirational point of emphasis, always find some form of positive feedback to add to the situation.

While there are going to be times when you must address mistakes, digging for a positive angle can make a huge difference in team morale. If your players are constantly told they are error-prone, they could tend to make even more mistakes.

Inspire your players by building their confidence. Sure, you must address mistakes in technique or missed assignments on plays, but there is always going to be some type of positive angle you can employ. Your players will appreciate and learn from their mistakes and be inspired to do better when presented with positive feedback.

Inspiring by example and developing open lines of communication are excellent ways to help motivate and inspire your team. An inspired team will be a team that suits up in their basketball uniform and plays through adversity.

Keeping your team motivated from one day to the next can be a challenge. However, if you foster an atmosphere of motivated inspiration, this important aspect of coaching will be a lot easier.