This article was written by University of Southern California associate head coach Tony Bland. Coach bland has been a part of the USC Trojans program since 2013. Before that he was a part of Steve Fisher's staff at San Diego State University. Tony does not only have coaching experience, he has playing experience as well. He played at Syracuse and SDSU, as well as professionally.
Successful teams and programs are comprised of many different things. Talent always seems to circulate every successful program, but so does great leadership. The head coach will always set the precedent for leadership with in a program. Even with great leadership at the top, the character and leadership qualities of the rest of the program is equally important.
The character of the kids you bring into your program must be consistent with leadership. Not everyone is a natural leader or wants the responsibility that comes with it, but will they challenge the precedents set by the leadership in place. In a basketball program leadership must come from two places; Coaches and Players.
Leadership coming from coaches sounds obvious right? Every coach is a leader. Unfortunately that’s not the case. We all know that the head coach is the most glaring example in the program in respects to leadership, but the assistant coaches in many cases spend more time with the players.
Everyone wants to be liked, but what examples are you condoning as a coach/leader? Do you joke with your kids about it being cool to miss class? As a coach do you show up to practice on time everyday? What kind of energy or body language do you have at practice? We all want our kids to provide energy at practice, but as coaches, what kind of “juice” do we have on a daily basis? The second we break the example of what is demanded from our kids, the leadership amongst them will take a step back.
Leadership amongst players is where good teams separate themselves. Coaches can only spend so much time with the players. This is where the character of the kids you bring in is vital! When they are on their own what kind of message is being spread? Are all of the players commiserating with each other or are they hearing the truth from their peers?
Every successful team has a solid foundation. The players don’t tolerate being late, excuses, not working hard or being committed to winning. If and when you have this on your team, you can sleep well at night as a coach, knowing what you believe in is being instilled into your guys when you’re not around.
Everyone is a Leader
Leadership amongst the coaches and then the players is imperative, but it stretches beyond that too. Team managers play an important role in any program and the leadership amongst them should be tight. They spend time with the players and need to have the team’s best interest in mind when around them.
This should come from someone on staff. The strength coach should also be a leader. Is your team getting after it once they hit the weight room or do they just get through the workout? He/she should carry out your vision in that regard.
Leadership always starts at the top, but if you ever study a successful program, leadership is found throughout. Your mentality and beliefs as a coach should permeate through every division of your program. The saying “You are only as strong as your weakest link” is true in so many ways, whether it be business or sports. The type of people you keep around is important and everyone must be committed to the same goal.