Go to Archive Index October 1, 2013     Newsletter #21

Dear Coaches, Players, Friends,

Today's Quotes
"If you're ridin' ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it's still there." - Will Rogers
"If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin'." - Will Rogers

Today's theme is "Basketball Coaching Philosophy"
Each coach must develop his/her own coaching philosophy, or system of beliefs and ideas. When interviewing for a coaching position, the question almost always comes up, "What is your coaching philosophy?" Here are some thoughts.

Be yourself
It's very important that whatever your style of coaching, be yourself. I mean this especially in your temperament. Don't try to copy some famous coach whose tempermant and style is nothing like your own. Whatever your style, be agreeable and, without compromising your principles, be someone that is easy to work with... you have to relate to players, administration, faculty, parents, assistants, opposing coaches and players, officials, fans, etc.

Your teaching style
Coaching basketball is teaching... teaching not only fundamentals, how to play the game, and team skills, etc., but also life skills. Be well-prepared for practices and games. Encourage players. Be positive. Whatever your style, have a passion for the game.

Be organized
You are the leader and must be organized. A disorganized coach imparts this disorganization and a sub-standard approach to the entire program. Everything must be organized... your practices, game routines, schedules, year-end banquet, team camps... essentially your entire program.

Be open, learn from others
All great coaches have learned what they know from other coaches and players. Don't take the attitude that you already know everything. To become a better coach, be humble and eager to learn from others. Like players, coaches should "be coachable". Attend coaching clinics and camps. View basketball DVD's. Go to games or watch games on TV and listen to the commentators. Read basketball books. Assistants should try to learn everything they can from their head coach.

Impact young people
You are in a position to be a real positive, important person in the lives of each of your players... never lose site of this. Teach by your example and how you treat others. Be a person of integrity. Treat all players with respect and make them all feel important as individuals and members of the team. Help develop character, not "characters". The coach-player relationship is a vital cornerstone to successful coaching.

Communicate with your players as a group and one-on-one, and maintain an "open door" policy.

About yelling at players... you never want to embarrass a player during a game in front of his parents, friends, the fans, etc. Games are for players. In practice, behind closed doors, it is your classroom. I personally believe coaches can yell at players in practice, not to belittle them, but to get them to compete harder and become better players.

Set rules and maintain discipline
But don't have too many rules that you will later regret. Kids will violate the rules... they always have and always will! Be prepared to handle these things in a fair manner. But don't paint yourself into a corner by being overly inflexible. Don't make a hasty decision or comment... first find out all of the details of what happened, the school's policy, and get the advice of your athletic director before making a decision.

Style of play
Some coaches like the fast-break, full-court press, gambling, trapping, and like the game to be a track meet. This style of play is ideal for a team with lots of quick, athletic players and a deep bench, allowing for lots of substituting. This style is often liked by players, parents and fans because it lets players "play the game" and more players get playing time, helping maintain team harmony.

Other coaches like a more deliberate, slower-paced game with little risk taking. This style favors a team with strong inside post players who are better in a half-court type of game, and teams without quick, great ball-handling guards, and teams with very little "bench depth".

Flexibility is key here. Some years, you may have race horses and you can use the running game. Other years, you may have mules and bulls and will find the slower paced, inside power game better. Even if you are a coach that structures your entire program on one style of play, you may find that you will need to be flexible in some game situations. Some years, we have a good post player and we will use plays designed to get the ball inside. Other years, our shooting guard or our point guard may be our best player. We will use plays designed to get our best shooters open shots.

Prepare your team
Preparing your team for a game is more important than any courtside game-coaching "wizardry". It's true that good coaching may help determine the outcome of a closely played game, but preparation is much more important. Preparation means teaching kids correct fundamentals and team skills. Having great practices are key as you "play like you practice".

Foster a great work ethic
Once they lace up their shoes and walk onto the court, all of the day's problems and issues are put aside, and each player must focus on the job at hand. Each player owes it to the other players to practice and compete as hard as he/she can. Every player, coach, assistant, manager, etc has a job to do. Your star players and seniors should lead by example and work hardest of all, and set the tone for the entire team.

Team concept
A cooperative team spirit must be cultivated both on and off the court. When players come to understand that they are part of something more important and bigger than their individual considerations, and become unselfish in their thinking, they will achieve more and will obtain more satisfaction from the overall experience. A team must arrive at the notion of a singleness of purpose and a dedication to the course. The idea of "don't let your buddy down" is a good one.

Belief in the system
You must get everyone onboard and believe in your system and your style of basketball. Players and assistants must be totally dedicated and believe in what they are doing.

Set goals for your team, your program, and your individual players. Having fun should be right at the top of the list. Most players will never play college basketball. Even those who do, will often return several years later and say that playing high school basketball was the most fun they ever had, and this is one of the best compliments they can give you.

Winning effort
Players feel the pressure of having to win an important game. Rather than focusing on the "win", shift the focus to each player having fun and giving a "winning effort". If each player plays and competes as hard as he/she can, then the winning and losing is less worrisome. There is no shame in losing to a better opponent if you have played as hard as you can. Winning effort also goes back to work ethic and competing as hard as you can in practice every day. Players make each other better by competing hard in practice.

Measuring success
Unfortunately, we all get caught up in wins and losses. Coaches are remembered for achieving milestones such as so many career wins and championships. It is true of course that good coaching, teaching fundamentals, developing your program, passion, dedication, hard work, etc will translate into more wins. But not all coaches are blessed with talent every year. Better measures of success would be the fun your team and individual players had, and how well they learned, developed, improved, and matured to become better players, students and citizens.

Also see "Basketball Coaching Philosophy".

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