By Greg Bach
Unless you reside in Pennsylvania, or have a connection to Villanova University, the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament will largely be remembered for the improbable run that Loyola University Chicago went on in reaching the Final Four.
A couple months after the Ramblers rocked the college basketball landscape – and the nation became enamored with the terrific Sister Jean – we had the chance to speak with Porter Moser, the outstanding coach who led Loyola to college basketball’s biggest stage.
Moser is one of 50 coaches featured in our new SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL COACHING book.
Here are three powerful points he shared (many more are included in the book) that a volunteer coach of any sport can utilize to impact his or her young athletes:
Moser stresses a positive tone at all times. With nearly 700 kids attending his summer basketball camps it’s a message he delivers right away on the first day – and it continues throughout the week.
“I tell them that we all know what put-downs are,” Moser says. “And I tell them that this camp is going to be about put-ups. We call them Porter’s Put-ups. You want to create an environment of positivity at the young levels. The message I give to my camps and the young kids is to focus on the put-ups. Too many times people are putting each other down, giving put-downs at that young age, and that just chips away at your confidence. And a put-up cements your confidence, it solidifies it so much. It should be all about put-ups; you should be picking each other up.”
It’s the same approach he uses with his college athletes.
“That’s one of the reasons how we got so connected,” Moser explains. “We’re all about ‘hey, nice pass, nice screen, great job.’ We call them Porter’s Put-ups and I talk to schools and youth about it all the time. The more you uplift each other and give put-ups, the more positive the environment and the more success you are going to have.”
HOCKEY ASSISTS…ON THE BASKETBALL COURT
Young athletes want to play well, and of course be acknowledged for their skills, too. While every player on a basketball team can’t be the leading scorer, or in football the team’s leading pass catcher, for example, everyone can be fully invested in the process and enjoy the team’s success when coaches are constantly highlighting the team, as Moser does.
“We emphasize what we call the hockey assist,” Moser says. “It’s the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the basket. We really promote that unselfish play and promote not caring who gets the credit.”
Most young athletes these days want that fast track to success and high-level performance. But there’s not a shortcut for learning the basics of any sport. It’s a process that requires focusing on the moment rather than peeking months or years ahead.
“When we talked to our players at the start of the season we didn’t set out saying that we’re going to the Final Four,” Moser says. “We talked about focusing on the process and focusing on getting better.”
It’s a never-ending journey, and not just for athletes but those who coach them, too. As coaches we ask our players to embrace learning and striving to get better, and that’s the same mindset that coaches in any sport, and at any level, should be excited to grab onto, as well.
“The learning process never ends,” Moser says. “We tell our players that we want them to be life-long learners because that’s going to separate them because not everybody has that mentality. I’m not obsessed with getting back to the Final Four, but I’m obsessed with learning more and getting better. For those youth who struggle, the harder you work the luckier you get, so we have to teach young athletes to just keep grinding. There is no finish line with your work ethic.”
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