Building Great Teams Part 2

This article was written and submitted by retired High School Coach Dave Millhollin.

Building Great Teams Part 2

By Dave Millhollin

Editor’s note: This is part Two of Two parts for this article. Here is the link to Building Great Teams Part 1

Positive Reinforcement, Recognition and Praise

Through our team building process, we stress the significance of each individual role and emphasize the importance of each individual player’s contribution to our team. We try to create a climate of mutual respect and equality. We stress the idea that no one player is any more or less valuable to our team than any other player. We encourage our players to recognize each others’ contributions and praise one another both privately and publicly. We create a shared value system where each player appreciates the contributions and hard work of every one of his teammates. It is a wonderful thing when after a big game we have our leading scorer emphasizing the otherwise overlooked contributions of a player who barely played in the game but got a key rebound or dove after a loose ball. Or even better, after an exhausting and difficult practice session to have one of our players who does not see much playing time in games speak up and recognize his teammates’ efforts that day. Our players recognize the importance of all the “little things” that each player does to help our team be successful. They not only hold each other accountable, they give each other praise as well.

When it comes to the chores and duties we give our players, (sweeping the floor, cleaning the locker room after games, carrying gear bags, etc.); every player receives the same treatment.

Preventative Troubleshooting and Being Prepared

One very important part of our team building process is Preventative Troubleshooting. We normally start this discussion during summer team camp and re-visit it during one of our early season meetings. We make a list of things that could happen that might get in the way of us achieving our goals (things that could go wrong). For each thing that we list, we come up with strategies on how we should prevent them and how we will handle each thing if it should occur during the season. One of the core beliefs in our program is the philosophy of Being Prepared. We not only want to be prepared for competition on the court, we want to be prepared to handle anything that happens with our program.

Team Covenant and Individual binders

Everything generated from our team and individual meetings is put in final written form into what we call our Team Covenant. The coach and every player signs the Covenant and it becomes the guiding document for our season. A copy of the Covenant as well as all our schedules and game scouting reports as well as any other pertinent documents are kept in binders that we issue to each of our players at the beginning of the season. Players keep their binders with them at all team functions. Quite often we have our players scout their opponents; they keep their own written scouting notes in their binders. We are firm believers in writing things down, doing things on purpose and staying organized. These are beliefs and skills that we want our players to take with them as they go forward in life.

Outside Support and Guest Speakers

In order to support and enhance our program, we call upon guest speakers to speak to our players on relevant issues. We are very selective on who we ask to address our players, we seek guest speakers with similar values to ours. These guest speakers have been very significant in the development of our program; for example, one season we called upon a motivational speaker to address our team while we were in another city at a December tournament. The speaker discussed the importance of Belief and Trust in the development of a team. Those concepts fell right into place with our team because at the time we were in our “Identity development process”. As a result our team incorporated “Belief and Trust” into their identity statement. Guest speakers are a very important part of our team building process each year.

Team meals and Road Trips

People ask me quite often what we use to motivate our players and my answer always shocks them when I say “food”. Food is very important; especially for teen age boys. They always seem to be hungry. Prior to every game we have a team meal together; this gives us a chance to fellowship together and enjoy each other’s company prior to every game. We also use these team meals to go over our pre-game goals and scouting reports. Our players appreciate our team meals and show their appreciation by working hard on the court for us.

Overnight road trips are another important part of our program. These road trips give us a chance to focus on basketball and on developing our team in an atmosphere free from distractions. These road trips are some of our players most memorable experiences. They help to develop team unity and chemistry.

Community Service and Social Consciousness

Every year our players volunteer their services working with youngsters in basketball clinics and summer camps. This experience helps our players develop a sense of responsibility and leadership to their younger peers. Also each year our team selects community service projects to support. This year we donated money to support a local family that needed money for funeral expenses for a deceased loved one. In supporting community service projects our players become more aware that “there is more to life than basketball” and it helps them develop a social consciousness.

Parent and Adult Volunteers and an “Attitude of Gratitude”

Our program depends on a lot of volunteers to raise funds, operate the scorer’s table, provide transportation, take stats, video tape games and do dozens of other things in order to run a comprehensive basketball program. In being involved in community service activities, our players begin to identify with the people who volunteer to support them and their basketball program, consequently this identification helps our players develop grateful attitudes. We do not want our players to take anything for granted.

Being on teams can be some of the most important experiences of our lives. Our goal while we were at Ponderosa was to provide significant team experiences for the young men of our basketball program. As believers in the expression: “Good things don’t happen accidentally”; we attempted to create a systematic approach to Team Building. Being a teammate is much more than just “making a team”. It is a process that builds character, creates life-long friendships, and provides important lessons that can be used throughout our lives.

We hope this discussion of our team building process will be helpful for you and your organization.

© David V. Millhollin, 2006, revised 2014 (Posted with permission)

This is part 2 of the article.For the first part, click here: Building Great Teams Part 1

About the author of this article, Coach Dave Millhollin In fourteen years at Ponderosa High School, Coach Dave’s teams won 260 games (.665). From 2000 through 2009 Ponderosa won 207 games over a ten year stretch which included four SVC Conference Championships and two CIF Section final four appearances. Over his 27 year Boys Varsity Coaching career, Coach Dave posted 391 wins, produced 20 college basketball players and was named SVC Coach of the Year four times. At Ponderosa, Coach Dave’s teams were #1 in California in team defense five times and in 2008 Ponderosa was the top defensive team in the Nation among shot clock states. Over Coach Millhollin’s last five seasons (2005-6 through 2009-2010; 136 games) Ponderosa averaged a composite 50% total field goal percentage, 58% two point field goal percentage and 32% three point field goal percentage. Since retiring from High School coaching in 2010, Coach Dave has been actively involved in coaching Jr High level School and AAU teams as well as and running instructional basketball clinics from the primary grades through the College level.

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