Select three themes that we have covered in class and explain how Coach Carter effectively has been able to rebuild a team.
RESILIENCY, leadership and problem solving
COACH CARTER MOVIE REVIEW
by Lasa Baxter,
Coach Carter depicts the story of a basketball coach’s mission to remake a struggling high school athletic team at Richmond High, where many conflicts exist including lack of discipline, acts of aggression, physical assault, family dysfunction, lack of cohesion, use of inappropriate language, lack of adherence to rules, poor academic success, and yet the players possess a dynamic love for the game and each athlete can identify with the need to be a part of something bigger and better than the streets they live on. This becomes a driving force in Carter’s attempt to encourage and teach the Richmond basketball team value, hard work, discipline, courage, how to overcome adversity and find something pure and empowering in becoming a successful athlete, student, and team with a mission (goals).
The movie is based on the true story of Coach Ken Carter, a top basketball player who returned to his local high school to coach this dysfunctional team. Carter is a self-made businessman who lives by moral absolutes. He comes from the middle-class of a poor California city, has made money, has a son that is talented both in academics and basketball and who ultimately demands to play for his father at Richmond rather than St. Francis, a top school in the area in which he was accepted.
Carter’s strategies to develop mental skills include, demanding and owning respect until it is abused. For example, use of terms such as “Sir” rather than derogatory means of addressing others. He requires his players to sign a contract that outlines program rules and expectations that must be adhered to in order to participate in his basketball program. The contract then becomes a binding force that can be utilized to teach the athletes what it means to keep their word, being trustworthy and disciplined. I too use a contract that provides written expectations for my athletes. I believe this is a sound method that assists players in knowing what is expected of them in order to have the privilege of playing volleyball in my program. It also functions as a tool for parents to assist their children in meeting set goals and expectations.
Carter required the athletes to dress and behave as if they are winners. This helped him to create an environment that fostered success. From my experience players that are confident in their appearance and who behave like winners are more likely to become just that. In addition, these acts draw the attention of others, which provides an environment where there is accountability for one’s actions. Carter has very high expectations for his team which allows them much room for improvement and the ability to reach for something bigger than what they had previously known. He teaches discipline by strictly adhering to rules outlined, using physical conditioning, and teaching that winning is not enough. I support all of the aforementioned methods for developing positive mental skills in athletes.
Some methods Carter used to develop mental skills though may have been inappropriate. He chose to punish all players for the actions of one. In another instance a player who had broken many rules and who had been excused from the team for being violent and disrespectful begged to come back. Carter made an allowance for the player to come back providing he met a conditioning requirement that was impossible to attain. He told the player to give up and to leave because the task was impossible to achieve. Although his methods seemed to work in achieving intended goals in the movie, they just as easily could have worked in reverse. These methods often discourage and deflate athletes. Often athletes don’t rise to the challenge. Instead, athletes are left with confirmation that their feelings of self-doubt and lack of ability are accurate. This kind of discouragement can lead to lack of confidence, negative self-talk, and refusal to participate because an athlete fears trying when they believe they will be unable to achieve.
During a gym lock-out from practices and games that Carter initiated due to players lack of adherence to academic rules, the school board votes to overturn his actions and open the gym. As a result, Carter chooses to leave his position. Rather than this happening his players rally behind his decision to stick to the plan he started. As a result, Carter stays and the gym remains closed until the entire team meets his academic eligibility requirements. He believes that asking anything less of his team will send them the message that what he believes so strongly in is false and that athletics are more important than academics.
Ultimately, Richmond makes it through an undefeated season with the exception of the games they forfeited during the lock-out. The team champions through the play-offs and receives and invite to play for the state championship where they play the number one team St. Francis. Richmond loses their final game at the buzzer, but gains enormous success in building team cohesion, camaraderie, spirit, and love for each other, self-respect, and academic achievement.
Carter’s methods in team building and developing mental strategies by using team cohesion are supported in the text by Weinberg and Gould. Team cohesion works because it motivates those who have a desire for interpersonal interactions with others. In addition, there are benefits that each member of the group (team) can derive from association with the group. Working together to achieve common goals is motivating and rewarding and often results in feelings of success. Cohesive teams are more likely to conform to expectations and adhere to rules because there is accountability amongst team members. Ultimately, team cohesion leads to success which lends to feelings of satisfaction. The greater the satisfaction the more likely performance is enhanced. These actions form a reciprocal relationship that suggests Carter’s methods have a strong foundation for success.