Coaching basketball is a highly visible profession. Coaches usually have fans directly behind them and are subject often times, throughout a game, to raucous and loud-mouthed comments, including (particularly at the younger levels) those coming from parents and/or other family members. Coaches must learn to "turn a deaf ear" to frequently abusive, questionable fans. This is much harder to do than to say.
No question, coaching basketball, as competitive a sport as it has become, is not for the faint hearted individual. Yet ask any coach around, particularly youth coaches, and rarely do you hear words other than something similar to, "I can think of nothing else I would rather be doing than helping a youngster fulfill an athletic dream. This is reward enough." Let's look at some of the ways that you can prepare yourself as you decide to enter the arena of "coaching basketball."
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- You do not have to be a "Star Player" to be successful at coaching basketball. You do, however, need to be or become a "student" of the game. What this means specifically is that you need to know the game; keep on top of new trends; understand the different offensive and defensive schemes; gather a repertoire of winning drills; have a clear understanding of fundamentals execution; and develop a thriving coaching philosophy for both yourself and your players.
- Develop a coaching philosophy. A "coaching philosophy" is a phrase that simply means developing a "road map." In other words, developing a means and method that will become your own personal roadmap to success. Coaching philosophies take years to develop, but they begin the minute you put the whistle around your neck. Additionally, your philosophy will continue to evolve and grow as you learn more about the game and dealing with the players on your team(s).
- Start with a small, simple philosophy during your initial beginning of coaching basketball. During this time, study the coaching philosophies of winning, successful, proven coaches. The vast majority of them have written books on this topic. For example, the most victorious to this day of all basketball coaches, Pat Summit, has written three books on coaching basketball. Her philosophy is complex yet simple; "Offense sells tickets, defense wins games." Reach for the Summitt, by Pat Summitt.
- Attend coaching clinics. This is critical. Spend the off-season attending a few coaching clinics. Again, the emphasis continues to be in successful coaching of basketball, evolving more and more into a "student of the game."
- Decide on how to implement your "roadmap" to success. This covers a broad range of topics. In consideration:
- Select the offensive and defensive schemes you will be using next season.
- Break down these schemes into what fundamental drills and procedures you will use to execute the systems.
- Decide on the method(s) you will use to convince your players that the offense(s) and defense(s) you have chosen will help them win games.
- How are you going to make practices fun? When practices are no longer inspiring for the players, they become apathetic and lethargic. Coaching basketball involves creating practice sessions that do not let this happen.
- Stress perfection when it comes to fundamentals. Fundamentals need to be practiced enough so that they become instinctive in correct execution in a game situation.
- Put the right players in the right positions. Good shooters should be taking the most shots and be in opportunities to do so; good rebounders need to rebound and ball handlers need to have the ball in their hands.
- Allow for players to perform their own individual unique talent skills. Basketball is a team sport, but allow for players to take advantage of their individual skills within the team framework.
- Be aware of the players who need the most attention and understanding.
- Know how you will discipline your players when necessary. Discipline problems need to be stopped at the first sign of a problem. Do not let a discipline problem with one player become a team problem. At the first sign of any conflict or team friction, bring the team in and talk it over. Not allowed to fester, most problems can quickly be resolved.
- Be constructive with criticism. Praise outstanding play and correct mistakes in a way that does not hurt the "spirit" or enthusiasm of the player.
- Maintain a good relationship with your players. It is well known that players, particularly younger players, play better for a coach that they like. This doesn't mean you become their friend, but it does mean they know you care about them and are on the court coaching basketball in order to help them to reach their highest ability and level of play possible.