This basketball coaching article was written by University of St. Thomas (MN) assistant coach Josh Rodenbiker.
Coaching basketball is a wonderful profession, but it also can be a challenging one. Getting a start in the profession is not always easy, so making a great first impression is critical. Young assistant basketball coaches are not entitled to anything and must earn it day in and day out.
I am continually learning new things and plan on continuing to do so for decades to come. I have been fortunate to work with and learn from many great people at a young age and have managed to pick up a few things that I believe can help young basketball coaches who are working to make a career in basketball. These points apply on a broader scale to assistants of all ages and in all roles.
Simply put, these are the M.A.I.N. things for young assistants to live by.
Make Your Boss’ Job Easier
In 2013, in my first meeting as a student assistant basketball coach at St. Thomas, our head coach, John Tauer, offered this advice: “If you want to be successful in this position, the most important question you can ask daily is, ‘how can I help?’” I will never forget Coach Tauer’s words, and I believe that every coaching staff member should ask that question regularly.
Our job as assistant basketball coaches is to help the head coach in whatever way we can. Frequently asking, “how can I help?” is a great start. Head coaches have many different jobs that they are responsible for, and taking just one thing off their plate each day can be very helpful. Assistant coaches ought to do a little more so that the head coach can focus on what is really important in running his/her program.
The bottom line is, be the kind of assistant basketball coach you would like to have if you were a head coach.
What can you do to improve on something that the program already does? What can you do for the basketball program that has never been done before?
If a young assistant basketball coach is only doing the bare minimum or if he/she is not doing their work well, chances are they will not be around in coaching very long. When you are just getting your feet wet in coaching, it is of the utmost importance that you find different ways to add value to the program that you are a part of.
A great way to start is by simply asking the head coach and the other assistants what they would find helpful.
- Make a series of video edits that the head coach did not ask for but would find useful.
- Stay late after basketball practice and rebound for a player.
- Chart a specific statistic during games.
It does not have to be anything fancy or extraordinary, but the more you can add value to the basketball program, the more invaluable you become as an assistant. ADD VALUE.
All great basketball coaches are perpetually curious about coaching. They seek wisdom and set out to continuously develop. Northern State legendary coach Don Meyer once said, “Get a little better every day, and you’ve got something good going on.”
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is a must-read. In it, she notes the difference between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset.
Someone with a Growth Mindset believes that ability can be developed, while a person with a Fixed Mindset believes ability is static. A person with a Growth Mindset thinks it is all about learning and lives accordingly. They embrace challenges and see the effort as the path to mastery.
One of the unique things about coaching basketball is that so many people are willing and excited to share ideas. You can take advantage of an incredible amount of resources, including but not limited to basketball clinics, blogs, websites, books, and visiting practices.
In a sense, it can be overwhelming just to think about all the knowledge out there to gather as a young basketball coach. That is also the beauty of coaching; you will always have the opportunity to learn something new.
No Task is Too Small
It is never about just you in team sports, but especially as a new assistant, you cannot bring an ego to work. You must be willing to help the group in whatever way possible.
- Get the basketballs out.
- Set the clock up.
- Clean the floor.
For me at St. Thomas, amongst other things, it means I am responsible for doing laundry for our team at Christmas time while other staffers in the athletic facility are on holiday.
You might not always like the work, but it is your job to get it done well. Like every role is vital for your players, every task the staff is responsible for is essential. Everything ought to be done with great attention to detail.
The more you can do the mundane work with a smile on your face, the more positivity you spread in the program. No task is too small!
The M.A.I.N. Things Conclusion
In living out the M.A.I.N. things, you help the program compete at a championship level, place the group above yourself, and continuously develop your skillset as a basketball coach.
Enjoy your journey in coaching!