As a youth basketball coach, don’t place too much weight on pre-game or half-time speeches. Your preparation for your opponent should happen during practice time. Most kids, prior to a game, are generally nervous and excited about the game. Instead of further pumping them up for the game, you might be more in need of calming your players down and getting them in the right mindset.
Let them know that it’s ok to be nervous. Being nervous prepares us for big events. Express confidence in your team and individual players. Let them know that they practiced hard to get here and now comes the fun part. Remind them of a couple key points that you’ll be looking for during the game, e.g. everyone needs to play great team defense and everyone needs to rebound.
Players tend to mirror the attitude of their coach. If you’re relaxed, yet serious, and are confident; then your players will likely be too. Have fun and enjoy the process.
KU’s Bill Self does a nice job with his pre-game talk prior to the 2008 NCAA Championship game in the video below. Kansas went on to win the title.
University of Kansas Bill Self’s pre-game speech — 2008 Championship Game