There are a many players (and parents) that are always looking for the next best opportunity. They will leave their team at the drop of a hat trying to find the next best place to play. They can be easily persuaded to situations that they think are greener pastures. I have seen players play for a new team every single season for a few years in a row and notice that over time they really haven’t improved that significantly. It is very tough to build continuity that way and even worse to develop any type of loyalty and skill base over a period of time. This also isn’t the best message to send to the coaches that have invested in the player, the club that has supported the athlete and the teammates that have bonded and depend on each other.
I always think when it comes to developing great players at the younger age levels it is always better to be a leader on your own team than a follower on someone else’s team. Leadership qualities need to be developed and practiced and it needs to be worked on consistently. It is these lessons that play a big roll when joining a team at the next level. Some players value joining “All-Star” teams because they want to win. Many of these players end up sitting on the bench watching their teammates play and don’t have all the opportunities they could have had if they stayed with their own team. There is something so special and rewarding when creating a winning team versus just joining one. It's this type of development that is priceless and the lessons that come with it that go far beyond the basketball court.
When it comes to your teams success are you “All-In”? If the answer is yes then players will demonstrate this through their actions by buying in completely to the concepts the coach is teaching. They work on their game on their own and find ways to work with others in challenging situations. They will talk with their coach to figure out ways they should be getting better. They have a good idea what they need to improve on over the course of the season and also during the off season.
Nothing stops athletes that are All-In. They plan their homework, social plans and even jobs around the practices, games and team events. Even when they are injured these athletes still show up to practice not only because they want to be in the gym to see what is going on but they want to support their teammates, be supported by their teammates, continue to learn what the coach is teaching and help out where they can. There are some injuries or ailments when it is best for the athlete to stay home to recover but for the most part it is a good idea to be around the team when going through challenging circumstances that injuries might bring.
If you are invested properly in your team when a teammate has a break out game or achieves a personal best you are genuinely happy for them. All-In teammates don’t get jealous or upset about the success of others. They know that that each individual teammates success is good for the entire team. Sometimes this can be a very hard realization to come to. However, if you are invested in your team you can quickly transition to the value of that player and what they are adding to the team overall.
During a huddle athletes that are All-In have their hand all the way into the pile as the team does the cheer. I have seen athletes be way out of the circle, walking away as the cheer was being shouted and completely disengaged. This makes it very clear what their intentions are and where their heart is at.
One of the last things that is a giveaway for athletes that are invested in their teammates is their ability to continue to work on their game. If they bring things back to their teammates that they have learned in other programs they might be a part of and genuinely care about working together as well as improving that can something really special to witness. It is this type of culture that can help the players and the team as a whole to go a long way. All-In players are an extension of the coach and really help to make the team succeed overall because they work to enforce and remind other teammates of the message the coach has been working to get across to them. The more of these types of players that are on the team is usually an indication of how successful the team will become.