On most youth teams there may be two to three players that can dribble equally with either hand. These players typically are intrinsically motivated to work on their game and skills outside of organized practices.
The question becomes how can we get more than two to three players on a local youth team to work on their skills outside of practice. For this article we will specifically focus on improving their off hand ball handling.
To help with this task we will be using the book, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything, by BJ Fogg, PhD. Per Dr. Fogg, for action to take place when motivation is low the behavior must be easy to do. As an example, if the aspiration is to floss your teeth daily start with one tooth.
A main theme of the book is to take a behavior "you" want, make it tiny, find where it fits naturally in your life (a prompt), and nurture its growth. In this case, the behavior and aspiration we want is to improve off hand ball handling.
Below are specific examples on how to make it tiny for your players with a prompt:
To make it a habit it's important your players find a prompt that naturally fits into their life. Examples could be pre or post brushing teeth, a meal, showering for the day, or returning from school. The prompt reminds your players naturally to dribble with their off hand now and should be something that happens at the right time for your players to perform the behavior.
Dr. Fogg also states that emotions create habits by wiring the habit into your brain. For this reason your players must celebrate (create shine) after performing the behavior. Examples of creating shine could be:
Lastly, designing the home environment to make the habit easier to perform can make a big difference in whether the action gets done. Examples of improving environment design would be:
As we all know motivation can be fickle. If our players can find a way to make a habit this can make all the difference. It can take an average player and make them solid. Will they miss days? Yes. Tell them to not be too hard on themselves and to just start again. Slowly the off hand will get better and better and they will naturally increase the challenge.
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