Keith Edmonds is a 32-year veteran of teaching and school administration from Fort Wayne. He coached boys high school basketball as an assistant at Snider High School, North Side High School and was the head boys basketball coach at Elmhurst High School for 12 years, advancing to the Class 3A State championship in 2003.

A varsity high school basketball game in the state of Indiana consists of four very competitiveetight minute quarters, 32 minutes in total, in which players put their heart and souls on the line in hopes of putting themselves in position to win a contest that they’ve fought so hard to secure. Rosters usually consist of twelve members who have bonded in such a way that they become a cohesive unit during the course of a season. The title of this article in capsules what I used as a mantra for many of my teams which is the concept: 12 for 32.

12 players locked in for32 grueling minutes is what it’s all about.

Each game takes on its own identity as teams navigate their way through a 20-25 game season. The great teams have to find their niche or something that motivates them to push through what could only be called an “emotional roller-coaster.”

As a coach, the hardest thing you’ll ever have to do is motivate your team. 

However, once you figure out how to go about doing it, it will be immensely rewarding. You can approach motivation in dozens of ways, but remember the trust building takes time. Patience is the most important virtue you will need, and with time, you will find motivation. You’re constantly looking for that key concept or caveat that your team will rally around and will propel them to hopefully accomplishing the many team goals that were set at the beginning of the season. 

Each season is different, as is each team, so you have to be creative in what you choose to use as the mantra that you will defer to each day or each week of the season. In my 30 years of coaching, I’ve used the “One for the Gipper” battle cry on many occasions but the one that stuck best for me during the latter part of my career was “12 for 32.” My players knew that they had to care for each other and play for one another if we were ever going to accomplish our goals that particular season. 

It’s a TEAM DRIVEN sport, so you must have everyone understanding their roles not only that particular game, but for the entire season if you want to be cutting “championship nets” at its conclusion. I posted signs, gave my kids handouts and even had them pasted in their lockers as a constant reminder of what “12 for 32” meant and the significance of failing to grasp it in its entirety would be detrimental to what we came into the season stating what we wanted to do. Each game we had to have “buy-in” and total unselfishness from each player accepting their roles have a chance at winning that particular game. Did it always work? NO. But did we give ourselves a chance for success? YES! Again, you have to find what works for YOU and YOUR program.

This worked for me, not necessarily for an undefeated season or numerous state championships, but more for building chemistry within your program and using this as a stepping stone throughout the season.

Courtside with Coach Edmonds will appear every Monday at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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