In a recent workshop by Coach Juno Sauler of the DLSU Green Archers with the coaching staff of the DLSZ Baseball Colt Seniors, Coach Juno shared the strategies that helped him lead the Green Archers to victory in the 76th Season of the UAAP Men’s Seniors Basketball Championships.
Coach Juno shared that he spends at least 3 minutes a day simply talking to his players, one on one, but not necessarily about basketball, he says it can be as simple as asking them ‘Kamusta?’ ‘How are your studies?’ ‘How do you think we can improve?” He says he makes sure that communication lines are open with each of his players, being able to discuss how they can work together to build a better team.
He shares a story about a superstar player who had the chance to make a game-winning assist or force a shot against four guards, but opting for the latter option. He ended up missing that shot and costing them team a win. After that game, Coach Juno spoke with the player and asked him how he thought that play could have been improved, helping his superstar understand that he is part of a team. The player, realizing he should have passed the ball and assisted a teammate, now has a clearer understanding of the concept of team work so in succeeding games, you see how he has transformed and learned to work with his team and contribute to critical plays that ultimately lead the team to victory.
He stresses the importance of communicating and making sure that critical situations are addressed and made clear to all those involved.
Beyond his team, communication is also Coach Juno’s solution to managing outside forces: parents, alumni, and supporters. He cites communication is the key to handling situations that would otherwise get in the way of maximizing the potential of his players. When he knows that a parent is difficult, he dialogues with them and explains his strategy and his long-term plans because he says that by making understand, he can bring these parents to his side so that they too can help make that plan happen instead of badgering their children with goals and game strategies that may not be in sync with the strategies of the team.
Honesty and integrity are of utmost importance to Coach Juno, he explains that if someone on his team lies, there will be disciplinary actions: they will not be allowed to train. He shares that if his superstar is absent from training and his reason is that he needs to study but everyone else knows that he isn’t studying, then he will not be allowed to train because even though he is the star player, that teaches the remaining players a very important lesson in integrity and he further stresses that if he gives in, the team gets put under the mercy of that star player when that shouldn’t be the case. As a coach he makes it a point to be in charge and to be in control.
There were only three weeks to go before the UAAP season started when Coach Juno was appointed as Head Coach of the Green Archers and he reveals that there were a lot of things that he wanted to change but that he also understood that he had to prioritize because they simply couldn’t implement everything in time and it would have been at the risk overwhelming his players.
“Are you here to win at all costs or are you here to develop better players?”, Coach Juno asks because as he explains, the team’s goals have to be consistent. He explains that before he meets with his players he first meets with his coaching staff; they might debate and they might disagree but at the end of the day they will all respect the decision of the head coach because while it might not be what everyone thinks is best, it is important to be consistent, and to work together for the same goal using the same plan so as not to confuse the players. To achieve this he suggests, “Determine your purpose; what do we need to do to win the game?” He shares that he never told his players that they had to win the UAAP Championships this year, he just showed them their individual statistics and told them that he wanted them to improve on things like free-throw percentages; if you used to shoot 55% at the line, then your goal is to shoot 60% now and the effect was phenomenal because as each player improved, collectively, the team became stronger.
Coach Juno explains that he makes it a point to set realistic goals and not let his players experience failure in training to ease the pressure on them and help them perform better.
He gave three simple guides for mapping out goals and developing strategies: Why, What and How? Why is defined by your purpose as an individual, as a team and by your goals. What is answered by what we need to do, and what our priorities are. And lastly, How will we achieve these goals and priorities. It all goes back to communication and understanding what the team needs and where the team wants to go.
These lessons we learned from Coach Juno are not just for basketball, they can be adapted for different disciplines and different situations. Communication, Honesty & Integrity, Consistency and Knowing Priorities are just some of the important we lessons we pick up from Coach Juno’s coaching strategies. Now the question is, how do we apply these lessons to our own goals for ourselves and the teams we are a part of.