One of the more interesting phrases coined in modern media is the term “Impact Player”. The phrase is often used to define a positive performance on the court by either an established starter, star, or rotation player. What it is exactly that has led to this impact performance can sometimes hard to define as the need will change depending on the context of each game and the situations that unfold during the performance. There is however, something to be said for each and every player believing and feeling as though they can have an impact on each and every game. When each team member believes they have the ability to be an impact player, an individual will play with more focus, effort, and intensity. This will lead to more resilience within a team and make the challenge of truly beating a team even more difficult for an opposition.
One of the more challenging aspects in selling the idea of each player within a team playing to have an impact is for each individual to believe that court time is not a factor. Being an impact player has more to do with just being on the court. It is about being able to gain production out of that time in a constructive and meaningful way that related to what the team needs. For example if boxing out is the issue on the floor, a substitute who enters the game only to focus on offensive lane running and screening will not fill the need of the team. This miss-communication can be a substantial issue seen in most games and a frustration that often sees a gap between the expectations of a coach and the performance of a player.
In discussing playing time, just because an individual turns in impact performances, does not mean they will become a starter or gain more court time automatically. In some respects an impact player might have a specialised range of skills which only suit a certain (and limited) situations during a game. For this reason their success needs to be celebrated so value is attached to their performance as much as others roles within the team’s dynamic.
Bring something to the floor more than scoring
Scoring is often seen by players as being the significant role within any performance which is successful. This not the case, and any coach will be able to discuss a million and one different needs for a team to obtain consistency in performance. These different needs in both technical skills and tactical proficiency can only be refined if explained by a coach to the players and opportunities provided for practice. Rehearsal during training sessions must be game realistic and specific in exploiting the weakness of the players and the team. From these challenges roles can be formed for specific players in dealing with these issues by making them their own and taking on responsibility and accountability for them. This will in turn generate opportunities for players to be able to define how they can become an impact player.
Impact is related to the Task
By exploring a range of technical and tactical elements a coach will be better able to describe and define what it is that is required of those players on the court so they may have an impact. To truly experience success and hold a role as an impact player the task or challenge which is needing to be overcome must be understood by player. If not, they can mistake what is really required or not understand how to achieve this.
If players have specific roles within the team’s strategy then these tasks can be woven into individual’s goals for games. This provides not only an opportunity to focus a player on how they can have an impact, but also provides a good avenue upon which to base feedback.
Taking the time to talk to each player when they are exiting the court in substitution or talking to a player before they enter the court in a rotation will help team members understand what the task is and how they fit into the situation.
Impact is often related to Effort
In many instances, the technical or tactical need of a team is often related to effort. The most commonly defined roles associated with impact are regularly related to effort such as boxing out, running in transition (offensive or defensive), help on defence are just some examples, but there are many, many more that go into a successful performance. The great news associated with effort is every player can be part of solution. Effort is not an exclusive right of any player and for it to become a good habit it must be practiced and pushed.
One strategy to help in improving a team’s focus on these effort based actions activities is to record specific statistics around these areas. Recording effort based statistics such as Charges, Deflections, Diving for the Ball are just some options that can be attributed and rewarded for effort.
Basketball IQ Helps define Impact
To understand what is needed on the floor and have become an impact player. Each individual within the team must understand the game of basketball. Improving a player’s basketball knowledge will help a player to understand what a coach wants and how this can be achieved. Taking time to help players with this on and off the court will be one way of assisting each team member to have the ability to be an impact player. Film sessions, explaining the underpinning reasons behind technique, tactics, or strategy will all be of advantage.
It is wrong to assume that just because a player has an impact in one game, means that they will have the ability to make consistency out of their performance over the long term. Nevertheless, through the points discussed above the chances and opportunity to succeed will improve. Basketball as a team sport requires more than just one player to make a success. When each member has a purpose and can provide an impact then that is the ideal situation for all people involved.