The Coaching Sandwich

October 26th, 2015 | Uncategorized

This Saturday, I head-coached my first basketball game. Harrison was playing in Cork that day, robbing me of any crutch I might have (such as arguing that his voice carries better than mine, hence he should yell the play calls instead of me).

It was a team of U18s that Harrison and I have been coaching every week. My time in the gym with them has been some of the most enjoyable I’ve spent here in Ireland. These girls work so hard and are so eager to learn. I always look forward to their practice, but my nerves made me slightly dread the game on Saturday.

I think I was more nervous about the game than any of the players were.

One particularly rattling moment was when the opposing coach called a time out in the first quarter. As the girls jogged over to the bench and took their seats, turning towards me with expectancy, the realization hit me: Oh my God, I have to give a time out speech.

As I said, the other coach had called the time out, so I didn’t have anything specific in mind to say to the girls. And improvisation is absolutely not one of my strengths. I prefer structure and following patterns, so I tried to ease the stress of improvising by coming up with a loose structure to follow in these time-outs and breaks between quarters: the coaching sandwich.

The sandwich places a critique or suggested improvement in the middle of two positive remarks. My goal was that the players would be greeted with positivity and could return to the court with confidence, while also taking away something that they could try to improve. I really value positivity, and I know from experience that negative energy usually does more harm than good for a player’s performance.  

It was easy to make a sandwich in this game, the girls were playing great and ended up winning by more than 20 points. Being positive in more adverse situations, when the bread thins and the meaty filling expands, is a challenge I am excited to face.  

I hope I get another opportunity to coach these girls in a game again soon!


Victory Scholar: Lillian McCabe

Present University: IT Carlow

US League: Atlantic 10

Club/Community Partner: ITC Basketball

Alma Mater: Davidson College

Sponsored by: Teamwear Ireland


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