What do the UConn Huskies have in common with your dancers?
Both the men's and women's basketball teams at University of Connecticut are NCAA Division I Champions this year, and that's thanks in large part to the teams' tremendous leadership. While we strive to draw the best out of pointe students—not point guards—principals of motivation, hard work and athleticism are consistent in both worlds.
In DT, March 2012, editor Jenny Dalzell spoke to the UCONN men's basketball assistant head coach Glenn Miller about how he gets the most from male athletes. Here's what he had to say:
Help organize their fitness routines: “Students often have no idea how to structure their own workouts productively. They may go to the gym for a few hours, but if they’re not taught which drills to do at what intensity or with a specific technique, they waste a lot of time. Give them tools for beyond the time you spend with them; it will help them move forward and improve.”
Set goals for each individual: “Not everyone’s going to be successful in the same way or at the same time, so define what success is for someone with a lesser ability than others in order for him to feel self-worth and continue to progress.”
Create smart competition: “Every aspect of our practice is competitive, and through competition you can see the strengths of your athletes. One might be the ‘star of the team’—in a sense that he has more potential to score points—but someone else might be a good defender or rebounder. Highlight those strengths and use competition to make each athlete feel that his skill or expertise is an asset to the larger team.”
Stay in tune: “Without going too far into a student’s personal life, keep eyes on him, especially when he’s not necessarily progressing. If he comes to practice tired all the time, late, or if he’s not going to class, chances are he’s not taking care of himself physically, or he may be doing the wrong things socially. Some kids are more transparent, while others will clam up—but the signs will still be there in body language. Be proactive in helping them through their ups and downs.”
Photos by Stephen Slade, courtesy of University of Connecticut