WYC 094 – State Championship Basketball – Nate Sanderson talks Mistake Recovery & Mental Toughness

Nate Sanderson is the head girls basketball coach of Springville High School in Iowa. He has been coaching girls basketball for 15+ years and has turned around programs that were struggling and most recently was state runner-up in 2015 and state champions in 2016. He also is a speaker with Break Through Basketball.

Twitter: @SpringvilleGBB

Facebook: /SpringvilleGBB

Youtube: youtube.com/user/springvillegirlsbb

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‘The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.’ – Galatians

My Cringe & A-Ha Moments

  • 3 things they do better now then they used to:
    1. They are much more intentional about building relationships on and off the floor
    2. They work hard to create a culture of appreciation, where they recognize the strengths and contributions of every player on the team
    3. Utilizing Brian McCormack’s Game-based skill development. Creating games in practices that simulate game-like scenarios

Teaching Skills

  • 5 on 5 dribbling skills with pressure
  • 4 corner passing game. They stair step the level of defense, starting with less defenders then work their way up adding more defenders.

Culture & Mental Toughness

  • Nate’s team created a culture where they immediately gave high-fives to any player who made a mistake. The power of touch and positive encouragement was emphasized. They created an environment where they weren’t allowed to say ‘my bad.’ They make it a race to see who can be first to give a high five to someone who has made a mistake. Link to 3 minute video showing his team doing this in the state championship game: Youtube Link

Connecting with and Impacting Kids

  • Nate had a girl who was a rising senior and hadn’t played that much. A new girl moved in in the summer, and instead of viewing her as the competition and isolating her, she embraced the role of mentoring the newer player. Unbelievable example of selflessness.

The One that got away

  • In the previous year championship game, the game was tied with 10 seconds left. They had not practiced this situation, so there was a little confusion about how to defend it.

Best borrowed/stolen idea

Favorite coaching book/quote

  • Quote: ‘The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.’ – Galatians
  • Quote: ‘Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care’

Break Through Basketball

Parting Advice

  • You are not coaching for kids to play varsity or college basketball. You are coaching for them to have a great experience this year playing the game.


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