Have you ever coached a player or players that had a competitive spirit you wished every player had? I'm guessing your answer is "yes." All players have a sense of competitiveness in them or they wouldn't be involved with your team. But there are always a few that have a higher level of competitive spirit than the average person.
I was reminded of this during a recent season when I was having a pre-game discussion with one of our players. I was also reminded how special it is to be able to coach people like this. I'm sure some of you reading this can connect with this story.
Our opponent that night had been struggling in recent games, and we were in the middle of a winning streak. On paper were supposed to win, but my way of thinking never allows me to feel too confident going into any game no matter who our opponent is.
As I watched our team go through warmups I was thinking about the defensive assignments I was going to give our players when we went back into the locker room. I thought we had an overall advantage, but their star player was going to be a tough matchup for us. Their star player is a taller and stronger guard that could attack the basket and shoot from the perimeter. One of our starters usually was assigned the opponent's best perimeter player, and more often than not our player did a great job in containing that player. For some reason though I didn't like this matchup for us.
So I called our player out of the warmup line and the following conversation occurred:
Coach: "I'm kind of concerned about our matchup on their #15 tonight."
Coach: "You know normally I assign you to the other team's best perimeter player, but the size of this
player concerns me. I'm not sure it's a good matchup for you."
Player: "Ok. What are your saying, Coach?"
Coach: "I'm thinking we should have someone else guard that player."
Player: "Why would you want to do that, Coach? I'll be fine."
Needless to say that is all the convincing I needed to give this player of ours the tough defensive assignment. Our player went out and played another spectacular defensive game and helped us to a win. The win was great, but what I will remember the most from that night is how one of my players looked me straight in the eye with total confidence and conviction that they would do what was needed for our team to be successful.
A coach's job can be a bit easier when we get a chance to coach players with a competitive spirit like this player has. I can tell you this coach sure is thankful.