I went there this year with both of my youth teams (boys and girls born 1998) and we had a blast. Both teams learned a lot and played some nice ball during the tournament. Girls teams had upset in the group final where we beat the winning team of the tournament, we lost the semifinal later on and the won the final. That was a team that the girls never had won against before, so a huge mentalblock is removed.
Boys team had some thrillers in quarterfinal where we won after overtime and semifinal game against one of the 2 top teams in the nordic countries was also a thriller, where we ended up loosing with 2 points. We had multiple chances to win that game, but it wasn`t our day. But still it was a great game in many ways and they won the final easily the day after, so in many ways our game against them was the "final".
Smiling after a great tournament I was looking forward to the danish cup final with the boys team. I knew it wasn`t gonna be a easy game and I told the boys that early on when we won the semifinal. We have no EASY games, we havent started to grow yet and and are very smmall. We need to a lot right to play the way we did for example in the semifinal in Lundaspelen tournament.
We got totally LeBronized, we looked pale, didn`t play as a team in offense or in defense, old habits was showing. Like LeBron we talked the talk bit didn`t walk the walk. I tried almost everything to wake them up, but when you cant substitute like you want its hard to change it as a coach and also for a player to go from mental chaos, calm down and then go in and play normal ball again.
We ended up getting a beatdown and we shouldn`t, but we weren`t there mentally in many ways and that made us look like we weren`t the physically either. We choked plain and simple and we didnt find our way back.
To be honest I was wondering where my team was from 3 days earlier, but there is are many lessons in this.
We went there the same day as the final and that wasn`t the best preperation before the game with a 3 hour cardrive at 7 in the morning.
After peak performances often there is a downer coming soon after, we all know it but it didn`t cross my mind before this game.
I didn`t have a real sitdown with them in the days before removing any thoughts of an easy game and so on, YES I said it to them but like you would say it to older players. Looking back I now know the signs in my players, but I was still "high" after the tournament, so I was in a relaxed state of mind, so was also my players but in the wrong relaxed state of mind :-)
BUT......was it just things we/I did wrong, well NO, young players, their first final ever, coming from some great games, high in confidence, many people chearing.
Its huge for kids....and when you aint used to playing for medals, well its often very hard the first time. They to win a final, you have to be in one before. There is a lot of truth in that of I look back to old teams that I have coached and friends teams and so on.
I aint taking nothing away from the team that won, they played tactically perfect for that agegroup, they backed of and gave us all the shoots we wanted from the outside. I myself would NEVER use that tactic in youth games, but it worked like it does 98/100 games in that age since % is low from the outside.
It disturbed us big already in the first minutes, since we came from 6 games just days before where everybody but one team played hard noosed defense, max armslength away with deny defense.
We couldn`t handle it, thats something we need to learn. To be open for a shoot every time you catch the ball and select when to shoot and not to shoot aint easy. We lost our teamplay totally..
Back to practice with new lessons learned and i can just conclude with, basketball is fantastic and its ups and downs whatever the love for game just keeps growing in me.
Never again Lebronized, we will be prepaired and ready mentally and phsyically better from now on.
"Love the game. Love the game for the pure joy of accomplishment. Love the game for everything it can teach you about yourself. Love the game for the feeling of belonging to a group endeavoring to do its best. Love the game for being involved in a team whose members can't wait to see you do your best. Love the game for the challenge of working harder than you ever have at something and then harder than that. Love the game because it takes all team members to give it life. Love the game because at its best, the game tradition will include your contributions. Love the game because you belong to a long line of fine athletes who have loved it. It is now your legacy. Love the game so much that you will pass on your love of the game to another athlete who has seen your dedication, your work, your challenges, your triumphs... and then that athlete will, because of you, love the game."