Article-of-the-Month: “The COACH’S ADMINISTRATION of the LOCKER ROOM”



Coach  John  Kimble

(Formerly of) By  WINNING  HOOPS  in  2000


Game Days are the MOST important days of the entire basketball season both for players as well as coaches.  For the players, all of the preseason conditioning, the off-season weight-lifting, the summer league games, the team camps and their games, the practices are all utilized to prepare themselves for THE GAMES.  All of  the orchestrating and organizing of  these events in  addition  to   the  numerous  activities that must  be  planned and performed by the coaches again serve  to prepare everyone  involved for THE GAMES.

During the all-important “game-night,” there are primarily three instances  where teams must     be present in the locker room.  These three occurrences can and should be utilized for maximum efficiency, before, during, and after each and every game.

These incidents  take place immediately before the game (during the preliminary game); at half-time of THE game, and  immediately after THE game.  All three instances allow themselves to  be  invaluable assets for the team, the coaches, the program; if they  are organized,  and utilized properly.

For many years, we  have used the following  procedure for our pre-game routine.  As soon as the team using our locker room for their game leaves the locker room for their 2nd half (whether it is our JV team, or another  team if  we  are in a  tournament), our Varsity players immediately leave the gym to go to the locker room.  The majority of our opponents and other teams that I have witnessed typically go to their locker room to prepare and dress for their game after the 3rd Quarter of the prelim game.  Dressing for a game seems to take the majority of  an 8 minute quarter of  a high school basketball game.  By coming in to dress immediately  after half-time, we give the players the 3rd quarter for  their individual time to prepare– to dress and be taped, and  to do whatever  else  they (as individual players) need  to do to mentally and emotionally get  ready to compete.  This  time is their time.  The 4th quarter is devoted for the overall team to prepare  to play.  This is team time-not their  own to do as  they wish.

Scouting reports  on our immediate opponent are again reviewed, our game plan is again discussed  and  diagramed.   Special plays, statistics, specific  techniques are discussed, reviewed, taught, or re-taught.  This can be done  in  a rather  relaxed manner, because we  have allowed     the extra time to attempt to gain  an extra edge on the opponent.  We  preach that  to our players  that we  have and continue to out-prepare and out-work our opponent up to that moment.  We tell our players that  we have an advantageous position over our opponents, that will benefit  us in the  future.  The diagram boards have  already been  drawn as soon  as the  locker room is available.  For instance, if it is in our gym, the plays, stats, scouting  reports have  been drawn out even before  the  prelim game.  If  it is an away game, we attempt to  have our Varsity players  put on their game  shoes and informally shoot  around in the gym  as  our JV  players are getting dressed in the locker room.  This gives them even  more time to check out and evaluate  the rims (are they tight?– which  will produce more  misses and long rebounds; or  are  the  rims loose?–which will allow for short rebounds) Are there dead spots  anywhere on  the court?  Will the  ball bounce more  lively or less lively?  We want our  players to have the  answers and  be informally experimenting before the  game versus  finding out the  answers to those questions at the expense of the team during the game.  We want our players to start each game, believing  they have a psychological edge on each and every opponent.

After the first half of our game, our team hustles  to the locker room.  We attempt to have the locker room  prepared with the Gatorade and/or water, the  towels available, the diagram  boards  ready to be  utilized by the coaching staff.  We want to be as time-efficient as we possibly can.  Our routine is to  have the players use the first few  minutes  to towel down, cool off, get their breath, use the restroom, etc.  Again, we tell them  that these first available  minutes are their time.  While the players are using their time, the coaching staff  uses this small amount of time to privately confer and quickly  analyze our performances, our strategies, as well as the opponents’ game plan. We  decide what  adjustments or improvements  we  need to implement for the second half.  This is done  partially by summarizing  a few  of  the first half  statistics so that we may  evaluate  our most  productive offenses and defenses, our  better  performing players; as well  as what  the opponents  are attempting  to do and how well  they are doing it.

The number of points we scored (or allowed) while using  a  specific  offense (or defense) is divided by  the number of possessions that offense (or defense) was used.  This figure then establishes a measuring instrument  that  describes the offensive (or defensive) efficiency.  This is called the Points per Possession Offensive (or Defensive) Efficiency Rating. This statistic is  a quick and precise indicator to the staff  as well as  the players as to the effectiveness of any play, any offense, or any defense which we have utilized in the first  half.  This helps  us determine how much or how little we should employ the designated offenses and defenses in the second half.

We attempt to not   be overly critical or negative about our first half performance and execution, but we firmly believe in  being honest.  Thus  any poor  play must be acknowledged in order for it to improve.  We verbally express positive comments, followed  by any deficiencies.  We try not to  implement a significant number of adjustments in our second half preparations, so as to not  mentally overload the players.

We   believe that it is extremely detrimental for us to take so much of our half-time in the locker room, that our players do not have any time to warm up on the court before the second half.  We insure ourselves of  this by using a wind up timer that the staff sets as we enter the locker room for the half-time.  We set it at a designated time so that we will always have a specific amount of time left over for a physical warm-up.  An assistant coach periodically  informs the head coach in a subtle manner of how much time he has left before he  concludes his routine talk.  We attempt  to end each half-time with a positive comment  and  a  brief summary  of our adjustments, before hustling back onto the court.

After the  game, we give our players  a few  minutes to  physically and emotionally readjust.  During that brief time, the  coaching staff quickly  convenes  to plan  a positive and brief speech to the team.  This could and should include a plan of how and what to say to the media.

This can be used as a short yet invaluable opportunity to utilize the players’ heightened concentration period to teach or reinforce an appropriate facet of the game  when it is immediate in their minds.

Negative aspects and criticisms should be very briefly addressed and concentration should be  placed on the positives as the head coach gives his final address to the team is made.

We have attempted to  always have  the locker room available for team members to have a place to wind down  and congregate by  having sandwiches, pizza, and drinks available; while the coaching staff meets to discuss the game, make  future plans and evaluate the game tape.

These  three opportunities of meeting  in the locker room can be  invaluable instruments to prepare, to correct, to reinforce, to teach, to motivate, to praise, and to coach your players at a time when your players are  at a heightened  level of  concentration and reception.  These times should be  valued and utilized to their fullest potential.

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