This article was written by University of Southern California men's basketball coach Chris Capko. Coach Capko has been a part of the Trojans staff for two years now. Previously to coaching at USC he also coached at Georgia Southern University and Stetson University.
Every year, at every level, every team in the country is welcoming some new young players into their program. Whether your team will rely heavily on freshman or not, freshman will impact every program in the country. Even if they’re not playing in the games they are impacting your teams development by their practice habits and how hard they are working. For teams where freshman will impact your success, they have to develop at a rapid rate to help fill the role that your team needs to maximize your season. So how can you expedite their growth?
Terminology Sheet: There are a litany of things all freshman must adapt to, but they are also learning a new language. Your program’s terminology! They are comfortable with the basics terms, but every program has their own language. I have found it useful to keep a running sheet of your programs terminology and make sure all of your players, especially your freshman, get a copy and memorize it.
Individual Development: Spend as much time with your kids working on the weaker aspects of their game. There is more than enough time in a day for a player to spend with a coach to work on their game. As a coach, motivate your players to work on their craft. It will benefit both of you in the long term.
Video/Film: No matter how many minutes an individual player plays, they can always watch film to get better. Teach them the details of your defensive scheme and show them where they can improve on. A lot of kids only want to watch themselves on film even though they can learn from everyone else.
Weight Room/Diet: Most high school basketball players have never committed to a workout plan. Working on your body is as important as what you do to develop on the court. Players have seen their games take off because of the work that they have done in the weight room.
Developing Relationships: It is my belief that the more your players know you love them, the harder you can coach them. Spend time with your kids away from basketball. Get to know what’s going on in their personal lives. Young players allowing themselves to be coached will expedite their growth as much as any.
Every program is relying on these young players to some extent. Help these kids grow and it may help your team maximize its potential faster than any other component of your program.