The Basketball Player’s #1 Job – Coach Yourself

The Basketball Player's #1 Job - Coach Yourself


Coaching yourself is a skill each player has and can use regularly. 100% of the time you are on the floor, lifting, or watching film, you are constantly pushing yourself to do the right thing. IF you have to, think of it as an internal voice, always “coaching yourself.”

It means everything you know about what to do as a player; you take responsibility to discipline yourself. That way, your coach won’t have to correct or make comments on your play constantly.

Good Players Coach Themselves!


Here are some of my thoughts on ways that you can coach yourself as a player. Also, for coaches, this is a great list to pass on to your players.

  • Constantly think about the game and coach yourself. Don’t make your coach “coach” you all practice and during games. You, coach you!
  • On ball defense, if you get beat, choose the proper angle, sprint, and defend again.
  • Success is in the details.
  • Everyone has a role, and that role is essential to team success.
  • Play physical defense without fouling.
  • Show the ref your hands.
  • Take it out of the ref’s hands. (do not allow the ref to call a foul).
  • With a gap, know where you are on the floor. Are you in the half-court, top of the key, or in the lane?
  • The game never changes. The skills you learn one day, transition to the next day, and so on. The game is the same.
  • Remember that each skill taught is a part of a bigger picture. Here is an example. On defense, you start with a defensive stance, add vision, sprint to the ball, communicate, help-side defense, get through screens, rotate, help and recover, and more. You are taught one then the next until your whole “team defense” has been taught, drilled, broken down, repeated, and improved each day.
  • Good players take instruction from the locker room to the practice floor to the game without losing intensity or quality.
  • When you go for fake or raise out of your stance, you’ll get beat.
  • We all know what to do in every situation, but we don’t always do the right thing. Become a disciplined player. Disciplined players are great players, not the guys who play through the air and dunk.
  • Never let your offense (a missed shot or turnover) impact your game. You are going to miss shots and turn it over….sprint back and help your team on the next play.
  • Judge angles as you get beat on the dribble. Pick an angle that will allow you to catch up and continue guarding the ball.
  • The next shot is the most important.
  • Use two hands and much as possible when rebounding the basketball, passing, and catching.
  • Help your team win by fouling less and getting to the line more. And shoot a higher percentage from the line than your opponent. This will win close games!
  • Five players on defense have to be and stay connected. All five know where all teammates are.
  • The most selfish thing you can do in basketball is failing to communicate.
  • Echo information that is given by the coach to the rest of the team.
  • Run out of the game at the same speed you ran into the game with.
  • Listen with your eyes and listen with a purpose; don’t just “hear.”
  • The tougher team usually wins.
  • Toughness is much more mental discipline than physical.
  • When finishing at the rim, expect contact, play through the contact, and keep your eyes open during contact.
  • A good example of overtraining is demanding two hands on every ball. In time, 90% of the time in games and practice, two hands will be done automatically.
  • Practice should be harder than the game with overtraining. The game is for having fun, competing, executing, teamwork, and winning.
  • Losing teams treat practice like a dress rehearsal and go half-speed with poor concentration and listening. Great teams pour out all they have in practice to ensure a great effort and execution in the game.
  • Games are won in practice.
  • Listen during timeouts as if you were just subbed into the game.
  • Get your foot completely over the defender’s foot to win the foot war.
  • Use your legal 90-degree armbar to hold off the defender, and then with the other arm, provide a target hand while you win the foot war. You’ll get open every time!
  • A player’s role is about what they can and need to do to help your team win. A role is not about what you can’t do.
  • First, be accountable; then, help keep teammates be accountable too.
  • If you think the little things are boring, you’ve never played on a championship team.
  • On offense without the ball—don’t watch the ball; the ball will find you.
  • The screener is usually the one who gets open on a screening action.
  • The action is away from the ball on offensive and defense. It’s the 4 on 4 game away from the ball where the next play is coming from.
  • Sprint to the ball on defense; don’t jump to the ball.
  • Study your defender with and without the ball. Study his feet, stance, body language, vision, read his eyes, study him vs. screens, block-outs, guarding the post, and when he likes to reach.
  • Have a purpose for your dribble. Use it to drive to pressure the defense into helping, creating a better passing angle, spacing, advancing the ball up the floor, and avoiding or reducing pressure.


Image Courtesy of the Daily Coach

Randy Brown has coached and been an ambassador of the game his entire life. His 20 years in NCAA basketball allowed for experiences in the NCAA tournament, conference championships, and 12 who made it to the NBA. Among his experiences are Arizona, Iowa State, Marquette, Miami of Ohio, Drake, North Dakota, and the head coach at Stetson.

He currently serves as a mentor in his Elite Coach Mentoring program for college-bound coaches. He has helped over 130 coaches to positions in NAIA, JUCO, Div. I, II, III, and the NBA. 

Giving back to the game and sharing it with players and coaches around the world is his passion. 

Email Randy at or visit him at


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