Determining the pulse of your team is a critical component to effective coaching. Keeping in mind that the pulse of your team will vary throughout the year. Your team might be riding high after a big win or struggling with their confidence after a tough loss. As such, your motivational tactics should vary as well. A good rule of thumb is to challenge your team with difficult tasks during the peaks, but to present readily attainable goals during the valleys. Our goals have associated “carrots” or “consequences.” Each drill has a time limit and a standard of efficiency. Achieving the gold standard results in a “carrot” (e.g. early water break) or a “consequence” (e.g. one minute plank). Always keep your feedback real, such as: “Your actions are not in line with your goals. State champs don’t just go through the motions. You either need to change your goals or change your actions.” And then there are the lulls of the season whereby your team is flat for no explainable reason. That’s the toughest gauge of all. You may need to light a fire under them (i.e. take a charge drill) or build in a random fun activity (i.e. half court shot for a Gatorade) to enhance mood/energy levels. At the end of the day, your players want to compete, have fun, and maximize their potential. Provide the kind of environment and type of feedback that best meets those needs.