Your high school coach and club coaches are your most valuable references when it comes to college. If you're looking for an academic scholarship and you're not 100% comfortable with your teacher and feel like you can't make certain decisions, you will not ask that teacher to be a reference for you. The same thing goes for coaches.
If a player feels held back, like they can't make decisions during gameplay, or they feel restricted, how can that player effectively talk with this coach about life decisions such as going to college? They can’t. High school and club coaches are the first point of reference for college coaches and many times act as gatekeeper and advisor guiding student athletes’ school choices. A player’s relationship with their high school and club coaches is key to enabling them to play at the next level and should be treated that way.
Sharing your goals and aspirations with your high school and club coaches, while asking for their feedback and impression of you and your game, is very important. If a college coach calls and asks about you, you want them to give similar positive feedback about your goals, work ethic, skills, etc. You wouldn’t want a review from these coaches that is anything short of spectacular because it will heavily impact the comfort of college coaches in committing to work with and train you for the next 4 years. Your high school and club coaches will give you the referral you need to get to the next level, and the strength of that referral starts with the strength of your relationship with them.
Serious players must make an effort to form a relationship with the coach beyond the basic required interactions of practice and games. Yes it can go both ways, the coach should try as well, but sometimes they don’t (they might even be hard on you initially or have a style that bothers you), and you can’t let that hold you back. I often hear of players quitting teams or leaving programs because of coaching. If it is your high school coach, before quitting, I would recommend that the player reach out and try to form a better relationship with the coach. If that does not go well, I would then have the parent go and speak to the coach and the athletic director together. Let them know your child’s concerns, goals, things they struggle with, and what they expect.
Some ideas to help players form deeper relationships with their coaches:
Stopping in his or her office from time to time: Stop by every once in awhile in your free time when you're not required to be there. This might mean staying a little while after practice or arriving early. Share a few jokes and be yourself. Maybe ask them to get a few practice sets in with you and show them that new move you’ve been working on. Asking for advice goes a long way.
Share things from your personal life: Talk to coaches about your family, school, and things you have going on outside of of basketball. Coaches love to hear about their players’ lives and are happy for you to bring them up. This shows them you care about their advice and opinions outside of basketball which shows you also trust them as a mentor, not just a coach. You might also ask your coach some noninvasive questions about their personal life to show them that you care as well.
Bring up the team and share any ideas you may have: Talk to your coach about the team: what happened in the past, where the team currently stands, and possible future ideas. This is a great way to show leadership and coaches will respect you more for this. Coaches want to hear from a player’s point of view, and it’s much better if the player brings it up rather than the coach having to ask.
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