How to Coach Basketball: The Complete Guide for Coaches

How to Coach Basketball


If you want to learn how to coach basketball, then it’s important to remember that not everyone (and in fact, no one) starts as the head coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels or any other NCAA Division I basketball program. Every coach from Dean Smith to Phil Jackson got their start coaching basketball in a non-high stakes position out of the spotlight. Here are some tips and ideas for starting out that should be useful for just about anyone who wants to learn how to coach basketball.


Get Started Coaching Basketball Right Away!

The longer you put off starting your basketball coaching career, the longer it will take for your career to blossom. Whether your end goal is to make it to the highest level and coach an NBA team or a high-level NCAA Division I team, or whether your end goal is simply to coach a weekend YMCA youth basketball team and lead them to a winning season, it is still important to get started as soon as you can!



Think Outside the Box as a Basketball Coach

Just because the high school boys basketball team close to you already has a coach doesn’t mean that you should give up on searching for a coaching position. Think outside the box and see if you can find other venues to start to hone your basketball coaching skills. Chances are that many youth basketball programs would jump at the chance to take on almost any beginning basketball coach as long as they can make up for their lack of coaching experience with basketball know-how and a willingness to learn and help young basketball players. Call around to local YMCA’s, rec centers, churches, and summer programs to see if they have any openings.


Get Back to Basketball Coaching Basics

If you are just starting out as a basketball coach and looking for your first real coaching job, then be sure to concentrate not on your lack of coaching experience but rather on the basics. Focus on your love for the game of basketball and your love for teaching basketball to eager players. Focus on your love for competition and your love for outsmarting and outmaneuvering the opposing coach. If you concentrate on these things, you will be in the right frame of mind to score that first basketball coaching gig!



Developing A Personal Basketball Coaching Philosophy


Developing A Personal Basketball Coaching Philosophy

Matt Cline contributed to this portion of the article.


When I meet a coach for the first time, and we begin a discussion on the programs we represent, one of my favorite questions I like to ask is, “What do you guys do best as a program?” Often, coaches who answer without hesitation have a clear understanding of their program identity, a firm cultural foundation, and a track record of success. Just as it is critical to establish a program identity, coaches must also institute their own self-identity. This promotes personal accountability and, as a result, improves their program.

There is not one precise blueprint for becoming a successful basketball coach. If there was, everyone would do the same things, have the same basketball coaching philosophies, and get similar results. I read a book last year titled “Getting to Us” by Seth Davis. This basketball book analyzes several high-profile coaches that have had consistent success in their career. After shadowing and interviewing each coach, Davis concluded they all possessed four common traits: Persistence, Empathy, Authenticity, and Knowledge (P.E.A.K.). Even though they had the same traits, each coach expressed them according to their own individuality. After self-reflection, I took these traits and put my own personal twist on them – vowing to reference them daily to hold myself accountable.



Basketball Coaching Philosophy Key #1 Persistence

Persistence is demonstrated by embracing your daily “mundane” routines and striving to become the best version of yourself. It is continually asking yourself: How can I improve? How can I challenge the team to improve? How can we gain a competitive advantage? For me, persistence is waking up each day with the same mission: focus on what you can control – work hard, do the right thing, and treat people the right way. Everything else will take care of itself. Don’t worry about the future, but live in the present and do the best job you can do at your current program.

Duke men’s basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski, has said, “If you put a plant in a jar, it will grow to the shape of the jar. But if you put a plant outside, there is no limit as to how much it can grow.” This bodes true for not only the players we coach, but for how a head coach treats their assistants. From experience, assistant basketball coaches grow the most when they work for a head coach that allows them the freedom to be suggestive, creative, and innovative in their contributions to the program. When persistent, self-motivated assistant coaches know they can bring an idea regarding a program improvement to the forefront, it gives them a sense of fulfillment that their role is imperative to the team’s success.



Basketball Coaching Philosophy Key #2 Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share feelings from someone else’s point of view. Coaches are tasked with communicating, teaching, training, and engaging with a variety of individuals. While it is relatively easy to share ideas and beliefs with others, it is much harder to do it effectively with empathy – taking the time to listen, understand, and build trust. My experiences as a college basketball player, student-manager, graduate assistant, junior college assistant coach, and director of basketball operations have enabled me to understand all aspects of a college basketball program. These prior experiences have allowed me to “step into other’s shoes” to understand where they are coming from and what they are going through. In order to operate at a high level, it is our job as coaches to instill a strong sense of self-worth for all members of the program. It would be remiss to think that one person’s responsibilities are less than the next. Everyone in the program matters, and everything they do matters.

Urban Meyer said that you spell LOVE, T-I-M-E. It takes time and extra effort to develop deep relationships with the players, staff, and support staff. A simple method to reach your players beyond call, text, or conversation is to periodically write them an encouraging note. Think about how you feel when you receive a birthday card or note from a colleague in the mail. It makes you feel good! The thoughtful gesture of an encouraging note from a coach to a player at the opportune time will surely be appreciated. Furthermore, it may sound rhetorical, but get to know all of your student-managers and graduate assistants. Understand their story and what they want to accomplish after college. For as much time and dedication they give the program, they deserve to be heard and appreciated.



Basketball Coaching Philosophy Key #3 Authenticity

Being authentic as a coach is pivotal when recruiting student-athletes to the program and assembling the roster. When you are in the beginning stages of developing relationships with these young men, be yourself. Do not try to be someone you are not! They will be able to spot a phony in an instant. I’ll never forget a story a recruit told me: He had a phone conversation with a coach from a school he was interested in. During the conversation, he said the coach sounded so scripted to the point that when he answered a question, he could tell the coach was recording his answer on a notebook or computer. This completely turned the recruit off to the school. He felt it was more so an interview than a genuine conversation. When you are authentic, recruits will appreciate you, connect with you, and respect you because you are yourself rather than trying to be someone you are not.

Coaches must also be themselves while communicating and teaching on the court. It is smart to take ideas from mentors you have worked under, but do not try to duplicate basketball coaching philosophies, as it will likely only work for a short period of time. It is not going to be sustainable long term because that is not truly who you are. Ultimately, being comfortable in your own skin is essential because authenticity plays a part in every decision a coach makes. Be real with others, and they will be real with you.



Basketball Coaching Philosophy Key #4 Knowledge

It is essential to be humble enough to admit there is always room to grow as an individual and a basketball coach. You cannot share knowledge if you do not possess knowledge. Coaches should constantly try to improve themselves so they can improve their players. We are supposed to educate our players and put them in the best position to be successful on and off the floor in the present and the future. Also, improving your knowledge allows you to become more adaptable in all aspects of the program, resulting in finding solutions to unexpected challenges and problems.

Refining your personal craft as a coach on the floor requires ample amounts of time to educate yourself. Coaches should strive to regularly attend basketball coaching clinics, read books, converse with coaches, visit other coaching staffs, listen to podcasts, etc. During April and May, attend as many clinics and watch as much film as possible. Challenge yourself to learn something new every offseason. Sometimes we have to get creative in how we gain knowledge. For me, I have taken a liking to podcasts over the last year. Instead of listening to music in the car on my 15-minute ride to work, I will listen to a podcast. Regularly seeking to learn and educate yourself is actually a selfless act – your entire program will reap the benefits.



Developing A Personal Basketball Coaching Philosophy Conclusion

If someone were to ask you today, “What is your personal basketball coaching philosophy?” How would you respond? Would you have to sit for a minute and think about it, or could you automatically communicate your beliefs? Challenge yourself to develop your own philosophy so you can establish personal accountability. I reflected on my own individuality and put my unique interpretation of P.E.A.K. and how it helped me become a better coach and person. Developing your own basketball coaching philosophy will help you become the best version of yourself for your personal and professional development, which, in turn, benefits your current program.



Creating a Toughness Mentality for Your Basketball Program


Creating a Toughness Mentality for Your Basketball Program

Ryan Ridder contributed to this portion of the article.


Almost every college basketball team and basketball coach in the country talks about the word “toughness.” Great teams have it, and mediocre teams lack it. The question is, how do these great teams attain such a high level of toughness? Do they recruit tougher basketball players? Or is it something they can breed into their program?

To create a mentality of toughness for your basketball team, we must define precisely what this key term is. What is toughness? It has been defined in many different ways in college basketball. To me, toughness has very little to do with your size and physical strength, but everything to do with your mental mindset. Tough players are those that take pride in everything that they do.

They put the team first and execute their role at the highest level possible. They talk on defense, don’t allow themselves to get screened, they dive on loose balls, bump all cutters, check a man for a rebound, sprint the floor every possession, take a charge, sacrifice their body for the betterment of the team, embrace a teammates success, compete and want to win every basketball drill in practice, take great shots, have great body language, takes responsibility when they have not done their job and let the team down, and ultimately play so hard that everyone in the building knows that player deserves to be on the floor because they make their team better.

Nowhere in this definition is taunting your opponent, taking cheap shots, and starting fistfights after the play is dead. These are all examples of mental weakness and will ultimately harm the team down the line.

When you look at the tough basketball teams across the nation, I believe you will see that they don’t always recruit a tougher player. Although some player’s make up may happen to be tougher by nature, toughness is a skill that we as coaches can breed into our players and teams.

Just like shooting and ball-handling, toughness is a skill that we, as basketball coaches, must instill every day in our team. This is done in a couple of different ways:



The Mindset of Basketball Practice

Practice should be approached with a smash-mouth mentality. When players walk through the door for practice, they should know and eventually embrace the fact that each basketball practice will be filled with intensity and will be a war. There will be a high energy level and tons of contact with each other and the floor throughout the day. An undivided focus is required for the allotted time for practice.



Teaching Toughness to Your Basketball Team

Toughness is taught through the habits that we create in practice. Whether you run a “Take the charge drill,” “Competitive rebounding drill,” “Loose ball brill,” “Defensive basketball drills where the team can’t get out until a certain number of stops,” or a variety of these every day, it is important that players know this is the backbone and foundation of the team. These should be frequently practiced, and I believe daily.

These team basketball drills need to be competitive where winners and losers are determined. The losing teams have a consequence. This will breed a winning mentality, and every drill will be done at a high level. Not only do these need to be practiced, but the players who do the “dirty work” need to be embraced. As basketball coaches, get excited and celebrate a great screen, someone who sprints back to take a charge, making the extra pass, diving on the floor. These are all great attributes of a tough basketball team.



Holding Your Basketball Players Accountable

These basketball drills that are run daily are not done just to check it off and say we got our team tougher. Each player must be held to the highest standard. If your best scorer does not buy into taking a charge or diving on the floor, it will hurt your team. When the players on your team know that each player is held accountable in every area, it will breed cohesiveness and, ultimately, a tighter, tougher basketball team.



Embrace the Basketball Team’s Success Over Individual Awards

This is under creating a toughness mentality because regardless of the sport, level, affiliation, etc., the toughest teams and the ones with the greatest success have the mentality that no one cares who gets the credit as long as we succeed as a unit. Team championships are more important than any individual award. This must be preached on the floor every practice, individual meetings, and motivational messages around the locker room. This throws all egos out of the door and allows your basketball team to have great success.



Creating a Toughness Mentality for Your Basketball Program Conclusion

As a basketball program, you are what you value, and when it comes to toughness, as we have seen, this is no exception. So as you sit down to make your daily or weekly practice schedule, make sure that an emphasis is put on what you can do to improve your basketball team’s toughness level. Everyday make it a priority to challenge your players. Also, encourage your team leaders to challenge their teammates. Once players start to hold each other accountable (in the right way), you are on the right track.

After a while, a high level of toughness will be the expected normal, and you will see a night and day difference in the way that your basketball team competes. It doesn’t happen overnight, though, so be committed to the process.



Basketball Coaching Quotes


As a basketball coach, you can either learn through personal experience, or you can learn from other coaches who have gone before and already done it. It is a lot easier and takes a lot less time if you can take something away from other great basketball coaches.

Here is a list of the 10 best basketball coaching quotes and lessons from some of the greatest basketball coaches to ever be a part of the game. This is a great way to get a look inside the minds of these legendary coaches and get some quality insights. As a coach, you must develop your own game plan and basketball philosophy to coaching, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from other great coaches.

What is interesting to me about this list of great coaches is the differences between coaching styles. Coach Bob Knight and John Wooden had very different coaching methods, yet they are both considered some of the best coaches to ever coach basketball. This just shows that there is more than one way to be successful, and in basketball coaching, you have to find the one that works best for you and your team.





What I Have Learned Over the Years Coaching Basketball


What I Have Learned Over the Years Coaching Basketball

Chris Kreider contributed to this portion of the article.


One of the things that I enjoy doing at different times and especially at the beginning of every basketball season is looking over the notes I have taken over the years. I have found it helpful to take a quick inventory of what is happening in the here and now while also remembering a few things I have learned as a basketball coach over my career.

There is no specific order or grouping to these thoughts, just as I have written them down over the years. Hopefully, you can pull a few helpful notes from what I have learned over the years. If you have any basketball notes or thoughts that you believe would help coaches, please feel free to share them below in the comments. 


Identify your “Why” and Hold on to It

As a basketball coach, we wear a lot of hats but remember why you coach. It seems that coaching at every level has become more and more time consuming on a year-round basis, which makes this that much more important to keep at the front of our minds.



Stay Organized

Come up with a system that works for you. Separate notebooks for daily to-do lists, recruiting and basketball along with a whiteboard and some recruiting software is what my mind needs to function. Whatever YOU need, figure it out ASAP! Once you figure out that system, know that over the years, it could change. It is important that you are always on the lookout for ways to make your system better.



Write it Down

Keep a notebook around. If you see something that you either like or dislike, write it down. Whatever you see that works and also anything that doesn’t. Whether it’s a quote, a basketball drill, a late-game play, write it down. Then come up with a system to “Group It” and file it for use later on down the road.



Think Ahead

Recognize the value of always putting yourself in different positions and think, “What would I do right now?” Think like a CEO in whatever position you may hold at any point in time.



Compete With Class

Whether it’s a win or loss on the court or recruiting, just like we preach to our basketball players, we always have to keep the big picture in mind. With pressures that surround us, this gets hard to do sometimes but still has to be embraced. Don’t get too high. Don’t get too low.



Live in Reality

Who you know gets you there, and what you know can keep you there. Get your foot in the door at the level you want to be and do the best job you can. From here, meet and develop meaningful relationships with as many people as possible and know that the right door will open.



Be Who You Are

Don’t try to be someone else. Don’t try to coach like someone else. It may work; I just haven’t seen it happen yet. Players are different. Coaches are different too.



Teach and Learn

Coaching is teaching. Find the best individual learning style of each player and adjust accordingly. Coaching is learning. Find someone that does something well and study them. Learn as much as you can from your players. Ask them questions. What do they like or what don’t they like? What works best for them?



Develop a Language for Your Program

Come up with a “language” as a program for everything and speak that “language” consistently. Come up with names of team basketball drills, names of actions, names of moves, and use them. A word or two or even a phrase that is catchy is always helpful.



Value Self-Awareness

Recognize your strengths and attack your weaknesses (both on and off the court). The offseason is a great time to do this. Once you know what you need to work on, come up with a plan to do so. Every year, come up with three areas you need to improve on individually!



Recruit! Recruit! And Recruit!

As an assistant basketball coach, a lot of our job comes down to this. Recruit. Every single day. It’s like shaving, we all have our system of how we do it, but whatever that may be, do it every day. There are so many factors that go into recruiting, but one of the main components is a willingness to work. Not far behind that is finding a way to stay organized in the collecting of information.



Recruit Character

Recruit character, not just talent. Find guys that specifically fit your head coach, your University, and your Program.



Embrace Technology

Learn how to use the latest version and anything new out there to help you become a better basketball coach. Some things are a waste of time, but there are many great basketball tools out there that can save time and make things easier. These are the tools that we must seriously consider!



Have a Brand

Use every opportunity you have to stand for something. The platform we have as basketball coaches is an incredible one that we often take for granted. Don’t take your platform for granted.   



Have a Plan for Everything

Nothing has ever been accomplished without one. Always think big picture. Then break it down into smaller segments with measurables and reachable goals to get you where you want to be.



Who Would you Hire?

If you were a head basketball coach today, who would you hire on your staff? Why?



Surround Yourself with Great People

Work for and work with high character people. We spend so much time together that this can be one of the more essential yet underappreciated parts of the basketball coaching profession.



Pay it Forward

Remember, someone gave you your first shot, and others helped you along the way. Remember those times when you asked all those questions about their basketball coaching philosophy, ball screen coverage, or how they got into coaching. Someone took the time to help you when they didn’t have to. Look for ways to help someone else in those ways.



Fight the Fight

The coaching profession’s daily struggle is to find the balance between being the best spouse or parent we can be with the consuming tendencies we have as basketball coaches. This might be the most difficult challenge we face. I believe you can do both, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Find a group of fellow coaches that can hold you accountable for this.



Detailed Account

Keep an accurate account year by year description of your basketball coaching journey. It helps you remember where you came from. It is an excellent reminder of little things that happened, doors that opened, and people that helped you along the way.



Have a Circle

Find like-minded basketball coaches that can hold you accountable along the way and ones that can be a sounding board for making decisions.



Every Day is an Interview

Resumes are necessary but often aren’t used. Do the best job you can where you are. If it’s meant to be, the right door will open at the right time.



Watch More Film

Study your basketball team. Study other basketball teams. Not just when it comes to scouting either. Pick someone that does something well and study it.



Keep a Running Master “To-Do List”

So much is going on and is coming at you so fast, but it only takes a minute to add something to a list. You never know how that entry could help you out down the line.



Work at Your Craft

Go to basketball coaching clinics, read basketball coaching articles, observe basketball practices…etc. Always be improving and growing as a coach. 



Make Drills More Game Like

Always look for ways to make basketball drills and workouts more game-like. For example, when it comes to basketball shooting drills: find a balance between shots within the offense and getting reps. The biggest thing should be making it game-like.



Emphasize What is Important

As basketball coaches, we get what we emphasize! What do you want to be good at? Then we have to stress it daily. Over and over again.



Promote Leadership

Finding ways to teach and promote leadership within a basketball team, staff, and program can be beneficial to each person individually and the collective group. When the ball stops bouncing or as we move on in our careers, leadership will always be part of what we need to be successful. As Jon Gordon said, “True leaders don’t create followers. They create more leaders.”



Core Values

Our core values as a basketball program can be even more powerful when the team is given input to develop them on their own! They may need some guidance along the way, but team meetings help allow input from all and increase buy-in!



New Basketball Coaching Staff

If you are ever part of a new basketball coaching staff in Year 1, it is always that much more important to get to know every player and parent and develop healthy relationships. It is just as important to remember that there are different ways to do things. Talking about the previous staff in any way other than with complete respect can undermine the group’s mission moving forward.



Value Your Time

Determine what things are a waste of time and what is productive. Some things have always been done a certain way for no reason. Be careful not to fall into the trap of spending time on things of little value. There are only 24 hours in the day and a lot of meaningful things to do!



Find a Cause Bigger Than Basketball

Find a cause more significant than the game of basketball that you value and use this powerful platform that it provides to help others!



Have a Backup Plan

Make sure that you have a Plan A, but also make sure to have a Plan B and a Plan C as well. Always be ready with the next option, whether it be recruiting, scheduling, etc.



Three Dribbles

Three. Three dribbles or less on offense. Your team defense needs to guard for at least three dribbles on defense.



Late Game Situations

Plan and develop a detailed system for everything that can happen. Implement it early. Play a lot in practice and take advantage of situations that come up every day to teach. “Practice before you get there.” – Brad Stevens



Learn From Those Around You

Learn from everyone you work for and everyone you work with (Coaches, Staff, Players, Administrators, etc.)! Don’t stop there, though. Do your best to maintain these relationships over the years. The awesome part over the years is seeing the different paths everyone takes, and always having those special bonds is one of the cool things about what we do.




Carry-Over has always been the most fascinating. How do you get it? There are different ways to hold our guys accountable but having a system for this in practice is a great way to help take those skills from drills to live-action.



Have the Right Perspective

Perspective at all times. It’s bigger than basketball. The ultimate reminder of this is if or when we are ever let go. For us that have been through that unfortunate experience, the most important part about it is remembering how we felt, what we learned during that time and who was around us to help us.  



Favorite Quotes

“What doesn’t challenge you… doesn’t change you.” – Fred DeVito

“Root not fruit.” – Jon Gordon

“Talk is intimidating.” – Kevin Garnett

“Confidence comes from repetition.” – Shane Battier

“Good teams have good players. Great teams have great teammates” – Roy Rana

“Hunt or be hunted has always been my mentality.” – Kobe Bryant

“The starting point of achievement is desire.” – Napoleon Hill

“Victory is in the struggle.” – Bill Parcells

“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ernest Hemingway



What I Have Learned Over the Years Coaching Basketball Conclusion

The biggest take away from all of these notes and this basketball coaching article is the idea of always learning and growing. This doesn’t just happen, though, it needs to be a conscious effort, and a game plan must be put into place to make this happen. So figure out the gameplan that works best for you and start seeing yourself progress both on and off the court.


The Importance of Having a Mentor


The Importance of Having a Mentor in Basketball

Gannon Baker contributed to this portion of the article.


My name is Ganon Baker, and I’m a basketball coach for a living. I have always been coached in my life by my parents, team captains, and basketball coaches. However, the most significant help I have ever had was from my mentors! I still go to them to this day. Because of this, I firmly believe everyone needs a coach, and everyone needs a mentor! 

All the great ones had mentors. From Kobe Bryant to Diana Taurasi, Pat Summitt, Pat Riley, Gregg Popovich, and Steve Kerr, they all had mentors. Anyone who has ever done anything significant has had a mentor POURING and SOWING into their life. 

What is a Mentor? By definition, it’s a wise and trusted teacher or counselor. Simply put, it’s a man or woman that “tours your life.” A Men – tor. 


Mentor’s do the following: 

1) Dive into your vision, passions, and goals. They provide a mirror for you to see if you have the daily action steps to back it up. 

2) They provide the information and creations that you can’t see. They know where you need to improve, and they enhance your learning curve. They take your mind and body to a place where it’s never been. 

3) Focus on the holistic tools you need as a leader to put into your toolbox. They educate you on your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. 

4) Mentors are not your friends because they don’t care about whether you like them. They are more concerned about your personal and professional growth and how to stimulate that. 


Why a Mentor?

Two of the most significant resources we possess are TIME & MONEY. Mentors save you both. 

1) Mentors save you time – They help shorten the time it takes for you to achieve success. What I mean by that is what took me six years to train an NBA player; I have helped players do that in three months. What took most great coaches a decade or more to get into NBA coaching, I have helped one coach get there in five. 

2) They save you the PAIN from their mistakes – As humans, we either learn through experience or learn through pain. Mentors, the good ones, are transparent. I have shared my mistakes and pain with those that I mentor. What took me fifteen years to have a scalable basketball business, I now help others build theirs in two. Mentors have that PRICELESS experience! 

3) Mentors connect – They have a life’s worth of valuable work and reputation. I have made one phone call or an email and helped multiple coaches get jobs overseas and into College coaching. Mentors get you into a room sometimes you can’t get into because you don’t have access. A good mentor gives you that access. 


Final Thoughts

Having a mentor is not a sign of weakness; it shows that you are smart enough and are driven enough to succeed. 

In conclusion, mentors will motivate, teach life lessons, give advice that’s authentic, real, and hard to find. They challenge and push you until your goals are achieved. 

This is precisely why I created my Coaching Mentorship Program for FREE – so that people can connect with me directly, and in turn, I can help them or help them find a mentor that fits their needs. 

Remember, you can’t be anyone without a GREAT SOMEONE! 

Get after it and go find an AVENGER, go get a mentor! 



Getting More Out of Your Basketball Players


Getting More Out of Your Basketball Players

Ben Thompson contributed to this portion of the article.


Often in coaching basketball, we get frustrated with our players for their lack of heeding our instruction or what seems to be their apathetic understanding of what we have tried to communicate to them. And while it may be partially our players’ faults, we as coaches, need to make sure that we are handling things on our end.

This basketball coaching article will provide you with several ways that you can get more out of your players, and how you can lower your frustration levels at the same time.


Communication With Your Basketball Players

One of the biggest issues in any relationship is miscommunication; this is especially prevalent in a player and a coach’s relationship. As coaches, we tend to assume that our players know what we mean by our use of terminology, concepts, and philosophy. However, when things do not go the way we plan, our frustration levels rise.

This comes back to our lack of communicating what we really want and our players being too timid sometimes to ask questions for fear of ridicule or embarrassment. Every player that we coach comes from a different background, area, coaching philosophy, and terminology set; because of these differences, we must be clear and concise in what we teach.

One of the coaches that I’ve worked for in my basketball coaching career would always use the phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know” to our players. He made the point that what the players previously perceived as working hard would not yield positive results at this level, and their perceptions of working hard needed to be redefined.

Once the players understood this, we could then teach and show them what playing hard really was and what their level of execution and commitment needed to be.


Effective Basketball Teaching

Now that we have opened the lines of communication with our team and explained things clearly and concisely, the problem arises of how to teach them what we need them to learn and what they need to understand. I have bought into the philosophy that things need to be broken down into the simplest form to teach. However, I was taught and have held to a certain belief and way in which it should be done.

In teaching, my belief is to explain (philosophies, concepts, systems, plays, etc.) as a whole, then break it down and build it back up again. If you teach your concepts of motion offense or man-to-man defense, put your players on the floor and tell them what you want out of your motion offense and man-to-man defense.

After you have taught the whole, then come back and build the pieces; start with individual players, teach their responsibilities for their positions, and use basketball drills to work on those responsibilities. Then move to two people, teach their responsibilities as a pair, and drill them. Continue breaking things down and building back up at the same time.

Go with three people, then with four, then with five, until you have built back up to the whole. After you have built up, run shells and dummy offenses; then, add the opposing players and play with what you’ve taught, correcting as you see mistakes and reminders.

Now that you have built your foundation and explained it, players will understand the why’s and how’s of what they are doing. Whatever your philosophy or system is, it must be taught efficiently and effectively to work; “It’s not how much you know, it’s how much they know.”

You can have the greatest system in the world and be the most knowledgeable coach; but, if your players don’t understand and know how to execute that system and shared knowledge, it will all be for naught, and your system will not be successful.



Coaching Every Basketball Player to Their Full Potential


Coaching Every Basketball Player to Their Full Potential


When coaching your basketball team, you have to remember that every player is different and has a distinct personality. As a coach, to tap into each player’s full potential, you need to motivate them differently. This only comes from being around your players and getting to know them personally.

You must be invested in your players for this type of basketball coaching to work. The better you can understand what makes your players tick and what motivates them, the more successful you will be as a basketball coach.


Coaching Different Personalities

Some basketball players, when they are yelled at and criticized, completely shut down. Instead of playing at a higher level, they tend to shut down and cannot perform. Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that you shouldn’t point out something if a player messes up and does something; that is how they learn what to do or not to do.

What I am saying is this; when that player gives you the opportunity to praise them for doing a good job, take advantage of it. It doesn’t have to be a big thing in front of everyone, but let them know that they did a good job when you get a chance.



Don’t Play Favorites With Your Basketball Players

You need to make sure that you do not play favorites with different players. As the coach, you know what players respond to what type of coaching the best, but you don’t need to let your players know. The other players might think you are babying one of the players while you are too hard on another. Players want to have a coach that is fair, so this is important.


Trial and Error

As a basketball coach, the only way to figure out how different players will respond is trial and error. If you see that one way of coaching isn’t working with a certain type of player, don’t be afraid to change it up and try another way of motivation. A lot of times, as a coach, we get that idea of Bob Knight to get in the player’s face, be hard-nosed, and if they can’t handle it, then they are just not tough enough.

However, I have seen a lot of really skilled players shut it down because the coach did not know how to coach them the right way. On the other hand, I have seen a lot of players blossom and perform under the right coaching techniques.



Assistant Basketball Coaches

Assistant coaches are so valuable in helping with getting the most out of a basketball player. Head coaches are not going to be able to be everywhere at one time. This is where an assistant coach can help with the different player personalities. They can encourage the players that are struggling a little bit or challenge a player that needs to be gotten on. Each assistant coach should look to connect with several players on a closer level and really help to figure out what will help them be their best on the court and off of it.



Coaching Every Basketball Player to Their Full Potential Conclusion

It is a group effort, and I don’t think enough coaches are taking advantage of this coaching style. Get to know your players, find out what makes them tick, and coach them to their strengths. This will give you an edge over your competition and give you a good relationship with your players. Coaching every player to their full potential is not easy, but it is your job as a coach to find a way to get it done; and if you can figure it out, the payoffs are huge!



Coaching Basketball: More Than a Game


Coaching Basketball: More Than a Game

Patrick Moynihan contributed to this portion of the article..


I was blessed with the incredible opportunity to grow up around one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. My grandfather, Lefty Driesell, was a winning machine. Whenever we were together, we spoke about the importance of winning.

However, my favorite memories are the ones that I spent with him at the Final Four. The interactions he had with his former players are unforgettable. Each man would sincerely thank him for everything that he had taught him as a player. They all gave my grandfather credit for helping them become successful businessmen, coaches, and/or husbands.

Those conversations made me realize that coaching basketball is more than just a game. It is an opportunity to change lives!



Seek Excellence

Success is found in excellence, but excellence takes time to develop. Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Therefore excellence is not an act but a habit.” Habits are built over time. Habits are built through a process. Excellence is a process, but this process must be sustained. Every coach talks about “The Process.”

We have a conditioning segment called “The Process” because we understand that this is what it takes to be our best. Our motto at PC is; #TakeTheStairs. The motto is simple; it is process driven. We value every step towards excellence. We know that we must work one day, one practice, one skill session at a time. If our players stay focused on that concept individually, then we will grow exponentially as a team.

Seeking excellence is more than just being a great basketball player. One should seek excellence as a student, as a citizen, as a husband, or as a professional. If you try to skip steps as a player, you will inevitably develop habits of skipping steps in other areas of your life. As a coach, I firmly believe that when a player grasps this concept of adhering to the process, they will thrive on the floor. More importantly, they will succeed in all areas of their life.

It is also important to realize that some players may not choose to seek excellence under your guidance, regardless of how hard you try to coach them. As a coach, this is not a reason to give up. I heard some of my grandfather’s players say that they did not appreciate his lessons until later in their lives. Some players take longer to understand and employ the concept of excellence. There will come a day when they will remember and be grateful for those valuable lessons.



Do not Fear the Scoreboard

How many times have we seen a team panic when the clock gets under a minute? Many coaches understand that there is always time, but when players see those tenths of a second on the board, they begin to fear the possibility of a loss.

John Wooden wrote, “Success is a peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of. There is no comparing to others. There is no scoreboard. Success is a feeling inside of you, and only you know whether you’ve achieved it or not.”

Failure only occurs when we do not give our best effort to the task at hand; failure is internal! Do not fear to make mistakes. People aren’t perfect. But, do not let mistakes turn into failures by not learning from them. View failure as feedback; learn from it, and keep moving forward.

There is an old Tibetan saying, “Wisdom is like rainwater; it gathers at the lowest point.” If we fear mistakes, then we may shy away from taking chances that could lead to great opportunities. If you take a risk to improve yourself, and it doesn’t work out as planned, learn from it and move on.

Strive to be a little wiser and a little mentally tougher every day of your life. Fear will hold you back from amazing opportunities. Never fear the scoreboard. We should always stay focused on giving our best efforts, and seeing every second as an opportunity to do something special!



The Team, The Team, The Team

Nelson Mandela preached about Ubuntu. This simple yet powerful South African term, translated into English means, “I am because we are.” Nelson Mandela explained, “If we are to accomplish anything in this world, it will in equal measure be due to the work and achievement of others.”

Without the success of others, you will never reach your real potential. No one accomplishes great feats alone. Michael Jordan passed the ball to John Paxton for four three-pointers in a game seven of the NBA finals to claim his first of six NBA Championships. Julian Edelman made a spectacular catch to help Tom Brady claim his fifth Super Bowl Championship.

Every day, a player should look in the mirror and ask himself, “How did I help the team today? Did I give my best effort for the team today? Did I want to see my teammates succeed today?” When a player can honestly answer yes to those three questions, then the team will unite and will find great success.

Teams are everywhere, not just in sports. The team is a concept that when executed correctly, can become more powerful than any one individual. An old African proverb advises: “If you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go far, go with a team.” Treat everyone in life as a team, and you will go far.

We should never envy or be jealous of other people’s successes. We should applaud and support their accomplishments. If you are with the team, then you will find personal success along the way!



We aren’t just coaching basketball to athletes for four years. We are coaching them for the rest of their lives. When they genuinely understand the importance of striving for excellence, seizing opportunities, and focusing on teamwork, they will find success. Our careers as coaches may be measured in wins and losses; however, our value lies in preparing athletes to be great people for the rest of their lives! It’s more than just a game; it’s an opportunity.



The Formula for Having a Successful Basketball Season


The Formula for Having a Successful Basketball Season


A coach is not physically able to get out on the court and play the actual basketball game. They don’t physically affect one made basket the entire season. However, even though the coach will never touch the basketball during a game, they will most likely be the biggest reason why the team wins or loses.

The coach’s job is to give their players the best tools to win the game. Before the basketball is ever tipped at center court, the coach must prepare his team and give them the best chance to win. Here are a few basic basketball coaching tips for having a successful basketball season this year.


Know Where Your Basketball Team is Going

Before practices and workouts ever start, you need to decide what kind of team you want to be and then set out a game plan to achieve it. If you are a defensive-minded basketball team that walks the ball up the floor every time, then spend most of your practice on defense and half-court basketball sets.

Whatever the style is that you choose to run, you need to be committed to it and get your players to buy-in. You must get every basketball coach and player on the same page and moving in the same direction. A good analogy for this is a rowboat.

If you don’t have everyone in the boat rowing at the same time, with the same strength, and in the same direction, you are just going to go in circles. It is your job to get everyone in your basketball program moving forward in the same direction.

This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever make adjustments, but it does mean that you need complete buy-in from everyone involved.



Build Your Game Plan Around Your Basketball Players

The first point talked about getting your basketball team all moving the same way, but how do you decide what the best direction to be going is? Great coaches can be flexible and design their basketball strategy and philosophy around their players. Unless you can recruit or sign players specifically for your style of play, you will have to adjust your game plan pretty much every year.

Don’t be so set in your ways that you are unable to see success in different styles of play. Your job is to give your team the absolute best chance of winning. This may mean that you have to completely change what you did the last year, or even the last 10 years you coached. To have success in basketball, you must maximize the tools that you have.



Put Your Best Basketball Players in Great Scoring Positions

Add basketball plays to your playbook that will get your best offensive players the ball where they are comfortable with it. NBA coaches do this very well, but I don’t think that enough high school and college basketball coaches do as good a job with this as they should. I am not saying that you need to run a lot of isolation plays as they do in the NBA, but I can’t tell you how many games I have seen where a team’s best player is forced to take terrible shots because they are not getting any sets run for him.

When you decide what basketball plays to use this year for your offense, have specific-players in mind. For example, if you have a really good catch and shoot basketball player on your team, have 3-4 plays where he can run off screens for a shot. If you have a great post player, then run some cross screens, flex plays, etc. Help your players out by teaching them how to score within the offense.



The Formula for Having a Successful Basketball Season Conclusion

Basketball coaches have won and been great coaches using every different coaching style you can imagine. The key, though, is coming up with the best game plan for your team. Depending on your players, it may take time to see the benefits right away, but be willing to stick with it and work at it every day.

Teach your team the right way to do things, hold them accountable, and you will see the payoff down the road. Preparation is where coaches determine the outcome of the game.



Basketball: More Than Just Wins and Loses


Basketball: More Than Just Wins and Loses

Steve Treffiletti contributed to this portion of the article.


“Train your body as if you will live forever, and your soul as if you could die tomorrow…”


The above quote is what I have as my closing signature on all e-mails that I have sent out over the past decade. Often, people switch their ‘signatures’ for more relevant or up to date quotes. Yet, for me, this one continues to be the most poignant and truthful statement I, as a college basketball assistant coach, could find when summing up my day to day adventures in coaching.

When I was asked to write a basketball coaching article for Basketball HQ, a privilege I do not take lightly, and to be here along with some of my esteemed colleagues who have accomplished a lifetime of achievements I still only dream about, I racked my thoughts for weeks, wondering what to write about.

So many topics to choose from, shooting, ball handling, last-second sets, out of bounds actions, half time adjustments to pre-game preparations. And yet, on the morning of December 14th, it became clear there was a new topic on my mind, one I will not easily if ever let go of.

You see, I live in Danbury, CT, a neighboring town to Newtown, CT, and one exit away from the horrific and unimaginable tragedies that occurred that fateful morning at Sandy Hook Elementary. It also happens to be that my birthday is December 15th, the following day.

So as I woke up that Saturday morning, turning another year older and playing with my one-year-old daughter, it didn’t take any kind of deep down thoughts to realize how lucky I have been, I am, and I continue to be.

This is not about one of the darker moments in our country’s history. I will not preach or give my opinions on gun safety as so many have done; no way, that’s not me. Rather this is a reflection on the past year, an overall wonderful year in and around sports, and a look as to how lucky we all are to be coaching a game with people of all ages, willing to work together to accomplish unified goals because that’s what coaching is in any sport, on any level, and it’s awesome !!

Every day we are shaping the lives of young men and women to go out into this crazy world and be equipped to fend for themselves, their families, their loved ones in the face of adversity.

To be one of those heroic teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary, or to serve our country proud as millions of soldiers are doing every day, including the most important holidays, which we lucky ones spend with their friends and families. Or even simply provide food and shelter to their families by working hard, being a good spouse, and an even better parent.

We work hard every day in the hopes of making a small impact on any of the people around us, players, coaches, managers, officials, whoever it may be.

I imagine the joy on the faces of the people who coached our Olympic athletes this past year and what a thrill that must have been. Watching the beautiful smile on the face of Gabby “the Flying Squirrel” Douglas captivating the Olympics as she won the All-Around Women’s competition, or Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, perhaps two of the greatest Olympians in history, doing what they do best, winning gold medals for their country.

But was the best moment of the Olympics watching Oscar Pistorius fly around the 400m with no legs?? That’s what we are about as a nation, as coaches, as competitors, the story of the underdogs, stories of triumph, perseverance, the will to succeed no matter the odds against it and competition at its highest level, played on level playing fields, and let the best man, or women, win.

This football season, which has shown us the true meaning of sports perseverance, as Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson overcome the most difficult obstacles to once again claim their status as elite. All the while, Peyton’s little brother captures the hearts of soft-spoken underdogs everywhere and wins another Super Bowl championship.

We played a game at Assembly Hall earlier this season, and who doesn’t remember watching Christian Watford drain that long 3-pointer to beat a Kentucky team late last season in front of a packed house, like it or not, one of the most exhilarating moments of the year.

We had a guy go for 40 points in the game, a loss to the #1 Hoosiers, but a lifetime of memories as he tied the visitor’s record for points at Assembly Hall. That’s what this is all about.

I worked for a guy not long ago I hold in extremely high regard. Every day as he dealt with off the court issues, he would tell me, “We Coachin’.” We would laugh because the perception of coaching college athletics is the glitz and glamour of ESPN broadcasting your games and interviewing your high scorers, leading passers, and winning coaches after the game.


The truth is we actually coach the sport we are involved in about 5% of the time; the rest of the time is involved with recruiting, academics, recruiting, community service, recruiting, public relations, and did I mention recruiting?? And I guess it just took me a while to realize that although he would continually say it in jest, maybe he was teaching me the most important lesson I have learned in my time as an assistant coach, we are coaching, all the time, coaching the players on our team, the support staff that helps to coach our own kids to hopefully be as successful as they were made to be.

In the middle of December when there are so many seasons going on, football season winding down, men’s and women’s basketball season, the NBA season in full effect, I hope we are grateful and able to take a moment to reflect on the most important season of all, the holiday season.

I try to make every day my very own masterpiece. Whether or not I accomplish my long term goals in this profession, I do know that the recent tragedy in Newtown has re-sharpened my focus as to what is important to me, as we all shape our own values, and as I approach today with the same fervor, energy and enthusiasm as I do every day, I remind myself that I must…


“Train your body as if you will live forever, and your soul as if you could die tomorrow…”


A Career in Coaching Basketball


A Career in Coaching Basketball

Adam Williams contributed to this portion of the article.


I will often be in discussion with good friends of mine in basketball coaching, and they will ask me the question, “How do I get in?”  It’s a simple question with a not so simple answer. These friends are often trying to figure out how to advance their basketball careers. And to be honest, I don’t really know if there is a right answer. What I do know is there are a few core components that will, at the VERY LEAST, make you much better at what you currently do. Here is a short basketball coaching article that I feel can help us all!



There is a reason I lead off with this term. Without a doubt, the most important aspect of becoming a college basketball coach at any level is RELATIONSHIPS. Relationships in recruiting, with other coaches, with important business people are all vital in advancing your career as a basketball coach. It is important to remember that just because you know someone, does that mean that they know you? There is a HUGE difference.

Very few in coaching will hire a person that they do not know fairly well. Trust is the most precious characteristic that we have in our business for a coach. Do I trust you? The bottom line is I must know you well before I can trust you!!

Do not be afraid to reach out. Write 2 letters every day to coaches you do not know but would like to. Attend basketball coaching clinics where you learn the game as well as meet other basketball coaches. Say hello to coaches on the road recruiting; ask them to grab dinner. You will be surprised by the response you get by spending a few minutes of your time trying to get to know someone else!




Answer this question about yourself: When I walk into a room, is my presence felt? If the answer is yes, then you are on your way. If it is no, you may want to consider making some adjustments with how you carry and project yourself to others.

No one wants to hire someone who is unsure of themselves or their decisions. A large part of this is being PREPARED when your number is called, but you must present yourself with a certain confidence or swag. If your boss asks you for your observation about a player or your opinion on a basketball play, he needs you to be confident in your response. If someone cannot look into your eyes and feel like you are sure, they will undoubtedly question you.

The ability to project this confidence to others and then follow through with results can help get you in the door and then keep you there!




You must add VALUE!  What is your value? Are you a great recruiter, are you great with kids, are you great with office organization, are you great on the bench during games, are you versatile in all facets? You must bring something to the table that a basketball coach is looking for and cannot be easily replaced. The best part about this is you can do this from any position. Just be the BEST AT WHAT YOU DO!

If you are a DOBO and basketball camp is a responsibility, kill camp! Blow it out of the water! If you are the recruiting coordinator for your team, make it a goal to make a new connection or discover a new player every day. Find new basketball drills for individual workouts. Do something HARDER or BETTER than anyone else.

At the end of the day, Value is such a key in coaching basketball. You have to find a way to make yourself indispensable to whatever staff you are working with. If you add significant Value, those inside your organization will eventually not be the only ones to take notice.




A mentor and coach of mine told me when I first got into coaching basketball: “There is ALWAYS something to do in the office.” This is so true. If you are worried about what time you are getting home or having weekends to yourself, you should re-evaluate your career decision. Coaching is not meant for those who aren’t grinders. To me, every successful basketball coach is a grinder. You will often see the media describe someone as a “grinder,” “relentless recruiter,” or “extremely well connected.” The truth is, every successful coach is one of these things.

I like to give younger guys this advice: Be the first to arrive and the last to leave. It’s that simple. That guide is the only watch you need to worry about when getting into coaching basketball.




I have saved this for last because if you remember anything, I want you to remember this. Be who YOU are! There are enough people in this world trying to be something they are not. Never compromise who you are or your personality for anyone. There is no reason you cannot do everything on this basketball coaching list and still be who you are at the end of the day.

Being a good, genuine, caring person above anything is the most important quality. It will allow you to look at yourself in the mirror every day and like what you see. And in this business, with pressure as high as it is, being someone you are not will eventually lead you to become exposed as a fraud. You cannot keep up an “Act.”



A Career in Coaching Basketball Conclusion

I do hope that some of this advice can help you in your journey as a basketball coach. Remember, we are in a great profession where we get to coach a game for a living. It is a privilege to do so; no matter what level you are coaching basketball at, I will leave you with this quote:

“They will not etch my record on my tombstone, but the chance to have carved something into a young man’s heart will last forever” – Tex Williams





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