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Ideas for leading in a pandemic?

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    What are you coaches doing to lead your teams when you can’t meet, practice, or play games in person? I’m trying to encourage them with group text messages. I’m already thinking of how all this will impact next season.


    I think this may actually cause kids to reflect on the idea that it is a tremendous honor and privilege to play the 

    greatest game ever invented on a team in an environment where people actually come and cheer for their efforts. 

    Many of our athletes are feeling the pain of having spring sports seasons cancelled. 

    I am already individualizing workouts for players to do own their own. So far, they have been very receptive. 


    If your team/players were up for it, I think trying to create that team/community atmosphere via zoom calls or facetime could be really healthy. For our young people that are used to team environments and are now very isolated this could be helpful and provide group support and encouragement.

    We all need a little extra creativity this off-season. Let’s share some ideas! – Great question, @Brendan Stark


    Beating a dead horse- we have a program-wide group-me  (giant group text), and every few days I try to just check in with them and offer an encouraging word and chance to talk. So far I’ve had 1 kid respond out of the 30 on there. Not sure if it’s me, them, or the way I’m communicating. Any ideas for engagement are appreciated. 


    Hi Kelli,

    Have you tried asking specific questions to the group?  If that hasn’t worked, what about connecting with a couple leaders on your team and encourage them to either ask questions, share something or model responding to you?  Another thought might be to get them to engage in something very impersonal – ask them to share a funny meme or video.  Just a couple thoughts.

    One thing to remember is that even if only 1 kid responds, you don’t know how many are just encouraged by your words.  Don’t let their silence stop you or slow you down!



    Kelli, @Kelli Josephsen

    Great question and I have run up on that myself. @Sarita Vandernaalt shares great insight and I echo her thoughts along with my learnings/thoughts.

    Kelli, Group and Brendan’s original question:

    I have 4 different group text chats going with 4 different age groups 14U to 17U..

    1) When I have asked specific questions, the engagement is much better.

    ex: something as simple and silly as what’s your top5 all-time NBA team?

    2) we started zoom calls this week…our first zoom call, I took the approach of “they don’t know what they don’t know”….so I shared with them that SILENCE is powerful and then I framed during our live call that “We have an OPPORTUNITY here”, instead of coming down being overly critical of their lack of engagement on text messages

    3) Side-texting with a couple of the leaders to get them to model and show the way is a really good tactic to use that works as Sarita mentioned above

    Get better,





    Hi Kelli,

    I have 9 returning varsity players (current 9-11th graders) so I’ve tried to stay in fairly frequent contact with them. Like you, when I send out a text I get few, if any, responses so two weeks ago I split the 9 players up into 3 groups of 3 with each group having a leader. They are supposed to check in with each other about anything but especially with workout ideas (basketball, cardio & lifting) that they are doing at home on their own. I also schedule a 30 minute Zoom meeting with each group once a week that includes us coaches.

    The first week I emailed a 9 minute video of Sue Bird giving a talk about leadership and then gave the girls 5 or 6 questions that we would discuss. Each player also had to come up with their own question for the group to discuss. The first week went pretty well although I had to ask a lot of follow up questions to get it to be more like a discussion than a question/answer session.

    The 2nd week I found the video for the girls to watch but had each of the leaders in each group come up with the questions for their group and lead the discussion. That went really well! In 2 out of the 3 groups I was able to mostly be a “fly on the wall” as the leaders led the discussions. In the 3rd meeting I had to ask a few more follow up questions to get the conversation going. I still had the other 2 girls who were not the leader come up with a question for the group as well.

    This week I am mixing up the groups and will have 3 new leaders (1 for each group) and each of the leaders will be in charge of coming up with discussion questions and leading the discussion with their groups. 

    Overall, I’ve really enjoyed getting to see / talk to the players since I don’t see them at school and I think they’ve enjoyed getting to chat with each other and us coaches. Just wanted to throw out an idea that has allowed our team to connect during these crazy stay-at-home times. Take care everyone!


    love all these suggestions. Snaps!


    @Kristin Meyer

    That is a fantastic share…Snaps to your improvising to have the leaders come up with the questions….that is so huge and will have a big impact on those kids, getting them to take ownership and lead each other!

    Keep it coming.

    Grow the game,



    Good afternoon! I hope everyone is healthy during these tough and challenging times. Like everyone else, we are missing being together with our kids, as spring workouts could have started two weeks ago, but as you know that is not happening. Here is a rundown of what we have put in place for our girls:

    High School Teams: 5 Accountability/Leadership Teams – All of our returning players along with incoming frosh are put on one of these five teams. These teams double as leadership training teams and accountability teams. The five other coaches in the program are each responsible for their leadership team, they are using this time to meet using Zoom or Google Hangout with their group to train them in their area of leadership (commitment, communication, team unity, passion and energy, mental toughness). This allows us to continue to work on building the culture of our program…these leadership teams will eventually be presenting their information to the other groups when we have our team camp this summer. In addition, these are accountability groups that we are using to help the girls hold each other accountable during this time. The girls can earn points throughout the week for workouts they complete on their own, and they report their total points to their team leader each Sunday. The team leader then enters these points in a spreadsheet for the coaches and other players to see. By doing this we are trying to create a situation where “players hold players” accountable. Points can be earned for strength training workouts, cardio workouts, footwork/agility workouts, ball handling workouts, shooting workouts as well as game film breakdown. We have set the points for each item based on what we felt was most important for the girls at this point of the season. If we have a longer time apart, we may be changing the point totals assigned to each event to reflect what we feel is important at that point of time. This has worked out really well for us, and we have started using this accountability format for our teams in grades 6-7 as well.

    I send out an email each Monday with a list of top individual point totals and team standings, along with some workouts for the next week. In addition the email contains a schedule of when we have scheduled online learnings…we offer 2-3 of these per week. These online learnings deal with the mental/emotional side of the game such as “How to Develop an Elite Confidence” ,  Mental Toughness, Mistake Rituals, etc. At least 1 of the online learnings that we offer our kids includes live game film. For example we use last years game film to show them many of our program philosophies such as our transition offense, zone offense, press offense, defense, etc. The girls earn points for taking part of these online learnings. We offer this to our kids all the way down to 6th grade. The girls must email me and ask for an invite to each session as I want them to take the initiative to take part in these online opportunities. 

    This week: Sunday 5:00 pm (Mental Toughness: Commitment), 6:30 (Zone Attack – Concepts to Attack a Zone Defense)

    Our young kids (grades 6-8) are doing an amazing job of setting the bar high for everyone…the high school kids actually commented on how they felt like they needed to work out in order to keep up with the “young” kids. I like this because we often stress that we want players to hold each other accountable, but as coaches we often yank that accountability out of their hands when it doesn’t immediately yield the results we want. This was not a huge success at first and the coaches talked about how it was because our kids didn’t know how to hold each other accountable, because someone had always stepped in for them. We cannot do that now and the girls are learning how to step up and lead by holding each other accountable. 

    While it is not the same as being together, I feel we have tried to do the best we can with the situation…between the weekly leadership meetings and the girls touching base for workouts, we are staying pretty connected right now. 

    This might not work for everyone, but it works for us and our group of players. I would love to hear how you think we can continue to make this better. I will also be happy to share any of these documents with you if you would like to see them. 

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