To be an effective basketball coach, the first thing you need to do is establish your philosophy and priorities.
This might sound silly. Nevertheless, this very important step allows you to apply very effective coaching techniques.
Here's how it works...
You see, the most effective way to get the results you want is to emphasize the "right" things.
It's all about what you emphasize!
Players really notice this.
If you consistently emphasize and talk about rebounding, passing the ball, and playing the right way, then you're players will pick up on those things.
For example: At the very first team meeting, you might want to tell your players that you already know who two of the starters will be. The first starter will be the best defensive player on the team. And the second starter will be the best rebounder on the team. (This will get their attention!)
It's all about what you emphasize! If you're constantly talking about rebounding, you're players will pick up on that and become good rebounders.
You'll notice that they start talking about it. They might say something to another teammate like, "Hey, make sure you block out and get the rebound!" Or you might hear, "Hey coach, how many rebounds did I get today?"
If you constantly emphasize rebounding and defense, then you will probably have a team that is really good at defense and rebounding.
This concept is very simple, yet extremely important and very powerful.
Most coaches make the mistake of emphasizing the wrong things or emphasizing too many things. They end up getting poor results.
I know everything seems important but you just can't emphasize everything.
It's much more effective if you pick a few important things and primarily focus on those things. Just ask any successful college or NBA coach. They'll tell you the same thing because that's where I learned the concept.
In the business world, we use a similar concept. We often talk about "Focusing on the critical few, versus the trivial many." Whether it's business or basketball, it's an effective concept.
How Do You Decide What to Emphasize?
Here's what you need to do...
First, ask your self a few questions.
What are your coaching goals?
What are the most important things for you to teach?
What do you really want your players to get out of this experience?
What does your team need to be really good at to be successful?
How will you define a successful season or team?
Write down whatever comes to mind.
It's important to get this stuff on paper because you'll ultimately need to document these things and give it to your players.
To give you some ideas, here are a few things you might want to emphasize...
Playing the right way.
Now let's take things a step further.
What is your coaching philosophy?
In other words, what are your priorities in life?
This goes in line with what you emphasize to your team but it's not about specific basketball skills, like rebounding. It's about much more important things.
As a basketball coach, you have a VERY important responsibility.
You have a bunch of young players that look up to you. Believe it or not, they listen to you.
In addition, you have an opportunity to have an impact on their life!!
Think about it.
You're in a very powerful position. Most teachers would do anything to have the power that you have. Many of their kids could care less about what they are teaching. Heck, many of the students don't even want to come to class.
However, your players actually look forward to practice and games. These kids actually come to you and want to play basketball. They enjoy it. They are passionate about it.
Here is just a few of the things that players might be expecting from you:
Learn new or better skills.
Wins, yes, they want to win.
Notice that fun is on the list twice. Unless you're a professional coach or a college coach with scholarships, your players certainly didn't join the team to have a bad time. Honestly, they probably didn't join to learn life lessons either but they will learn life lessons from you whether you intend to teach them or not.
Your choice is, what life lessons do you want them to learn and how.
Everything that you do and say will make an impression on them.
You have an unbelievable opportunity to teach them so much about life and basketball.
You probably don't realize it, but the things you say without a second thought can stick with a kid for LIFE!
Think back to all of the coaches that you had in your life. You remember every one of them don't you?
Of course you do.
I do too.
I remember so many little things about my basketball days. I remember the coach praising me. I remember the coach yelling at me. I can remember his exact words. I remember whether the coach had confidence in me or not. I remember believing everything that my coach told me, whether he was right or wrong.
Don't overlook the power of your position.
Some of the things you say and do can have a positive effect on these kids for life!
So what can you do about that?
Decide how you want to affect them. What message do you want to communicate?
Consider this interesting coaching tactic...
I knew a truly successful coach whose number one goal was to communicate and emphasize teamwork.
He communicated it in practice verbally. He reinforced it with drills. Every single time someone passed the ball, he offered praise. In fact, it was the only time he offered praise.
Even more impressive to me as a parent was how he handled the games. Regardless of whether the kids won the game or not, he reacted exactly the same way -- every time! He praised the teamwork efforts.
He didn't criticize the players for not passing the ball but he didn't praise them for single handedly scoring either. He only praised for teamwork. The players that showed more of an effort to work as a team played more during games.
When the kids lost a game, he wouldn't say, "I'm sorry that you lost." When they won a game, he wouldn't say "Congratulations" or "Good Job."
He only pointed out the teamwork efforts.
Now this team did manage to win a majority of their games. Do you know why? Because they worked together as a team. (And because he emphasized the fundamentals.)
How did the kids react? They strived to work together as a team. Even the showboats!
Document Your Priorities
Decide how you want to affect your team, what message you want to communicate to them and write it down. Document your coaching philosophy, goals, and what you want to emphasize.
You need to get your priorities in order first if you want to be able to communicate them well. Once you've accomplished this, then you can get your players priorities in order.
To give you an idea, Morgan Wooten, the basketball coach with the most wins in high school history, had the following priorities:
He then made sure his players understand those priorities. He emphasized those priorities all year long.
I personally like to take things a little further. I have similar priorities but I write down the "life lessons" I want to teach the kids for that year.
For example, some of the things I often try to teach and emphasize are:
Playing the right way: playing fairly, playing hard, doing your best.
Telling the truth and being honest is more important than anything, including basketball.
How to take responsibility for their actions
Helping others - Get them to realize that just one person saying to you, "You've made my day!" makes your day too.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% attitude - it's what you make of it.
These are just a couple examples. I know I can't teach everything, especially in one year, but if I can just teach a couple important "life lessons", then I know that I've had a positive impact on this young persons life.
These are all things that will teach the kids how to be successful in life.
Now make sure you write down your coaching philosophy and the important things you want to emphasize. Keep those things with you at all times. Look at them before every practice.
This will help you stay focused and emphasize the right things.
My question is, how can you pull a team together that knows that they aren't that good? I feel that I have lost this team because most of the players don't look me in the eye when I am talking to them and they always say that they understand what I am saying when they really don't. I have tried telling them that it is okay to tell me that I am doing something wrong and that I should change what we are doing because it won't work. The biggest mistake I made was teaching the team advanced basketball skills before the fundimentals. Some of the players don't understand most of the terms that I use when I talk. The season is almost over, but I still want the team to feel as if they can be successful at anything they accomplish. So my real question is, how can I get them back to wanting to play basketball?
Maybe someone smarter than me can give you a better answer, but I don't think there's anything you can do to turn things around overnight.
Here are some things you can do to slowly turn things around:
Make things fun. Do what ever you can to make basketball fun again. Play the knock-out drill, smile, compliment your players, do some fun drills, keep things fast paced, and have fun yourself.
Celebrate small successes. Instead of worrying about winning, put them in a position where they can experience other successes...
For example, if you work on shooting form, you can chart their progress and show their improvement in shooting percentage during practice. Celebrate these small successes!
Maybe you can also measure things like turnovers, rebounds, and celebrate improving in those areas. Show them how they are improving!
Kids want to be successful and have fun. But unfortunately not everyone can win
Slowly prove to your players that you can make them better. This takes little accomplishments over time. To give you an idea, Don Kelbick (NBA development coach) gets the attention of his players by teaching them something they've never seen before. He shows the NEW triple threat technique (shoot, shoot, shoot). You could show them this technique to get their attention and prove you can teach them something valuable. http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/fundamentals/individual_offense.html
Be confident. Study the fundamentals and be confident when teaching the fundamentals.
Explain the "reason why" for each fundamental and some drills. A great way to get your plays on board is to explain the reason why do certain things. Most coaches neglect this super effective tactic and instead they just jam the tactic down their player's throat. They don't even explain the reason why they are doing it.
Explaining the "reason why" is a proven psychological trigger that causes people to take a desired action.
At a psychological level, humans by nature want to know the reason why they are doing something.
Let's take man-to-man defense as an example... If you're players don't understand the reason you want them to keep their knees bent, always be ready to help, see man and ball, apply ball pressure, and so on, then they will NOT give 100%!
If you want them to give 100%, you need to teach the reason why you're doing something.
Teach them why you're quicker if you keep a low center of gravity and knees bent.
Teach them why you're not supposed to leave your feet and get out of position.
Teach them why they are sagging away from their man when they are one pass away.
The more your players understand the science behind your defense, the more they will buy into it and perform!
Show them you care. One of the best ways to motivate players is to show them you care. Go to their games and events outside of basketball. Help them with school. Show a genuine interest.
I just started coaching last school term 2007. I handled under 14s boys who competed locally. I felt frustrated and very disappointed about the results. I blame entirely this predicament to my inability to motivate the kids to practice. Most of the game period I relied only on 2 or 3 players. Team work was very weak. Reading your article on coaching philosophy gave me tremendous insights and boost to improve my coaching approach. Thanks a million for all your coaching lessons.
i have once decide to give up the work as a coach.cause i am not good in playing basketball,although i like it..however, thanks a lot for the newsletters which give me more courage and confidence to move on..
first upall id like to thanking you exploring youre experiance.. I'm from sri lanka , a little third world country, near to jiant India.. of cource we were the world champions in cricket in 1996, and the finalist who met the australia in 2007 in the same subject.. So its very difficult to attract new young players to basket ball, since lack of funds, lack of expertise knowladge, gap between the mother federation and the players and so on... But here in sri lanka we have a very good seoson in mercantile bb.. I just manage to won the trympe few weeks back.. Ive refered your free e books and good points you mentioned,, thanx for all jeff... im being coaching bb for last 8 years or so. Think i have my own phulosopy about my teams.., i have listed down all of stuff as u do,, and very much simiar to you.. but jeff, my problem is that, why our country cannot make any significANT thing in bb.. why we cant rather i cant contineu my wining habitt atleast in domestic seoson..? It ll be a greaaaaat help if you could help me to develop my knowledge, my skills, and my teams.... Thanx again Jeff, you already helped me a lot...
Humbly, please allow me to share this information. Last year (2007, from November to December 23 (Saturdays and Sundays only), our Basketball Clinic (N.G.O.) conducted a 3 on 3 Skills Application Basketball Tournament, with 8 teams participating and with the theme "Teamwork," which was printed above the number in the back of the kids' uniforms. In the semifinal games, the expected team to win the championship (W=7 L=0) landed 4th and the winner pushed their winning ways all the way to the top! Somehow, ball movements got them to that top. All participants received certificates for "Potential Player For Organized Basketball." Participants cast their votes for "Best In Fundamentals" and "Most Behaved Player (MBP)." Certificates not trophies were awarded. At least they can keep the certificates and value same for life.
First and foremost, the game is for the kids. Every major league player I have heard interviewed has said to keep it fun. Learning to face good times and bad, to grow as a person as well as an athlete, to meet new friends, to meet new and challenging situations, and a lot of other ideas come up in a season. Coaches are sport and life teachers.
Life's journey is to me about developing the right skills to travel successfully to the place/s you want to reach. Having the right morals and attutide will develop you mental to get there. So without a doubt create the philosophy to carry out your actions.
My philosophy is pretty simple. Fundamentals, conditioning and teamwork. The first day of practice it if very important. I must set the tone for the season and tell the kids what I expect of them. That is being on time, working hard on the drills and so on. Each year I learn from the last season and try to get better and better. I also think simplicity is the way to go. I also know that how you walk on the floor as a team makes a difference. I tell the players to run onto the court during a game and run off the court during time outs. Have your hands up on the free throw line. It shows team unity, this way the other team sees it as well as the parents. My season will start on Dec 1. I have been working on this season three months ago, so I know i will be prepared.
thank you for your support. this is my first time coaching fifth graders and your material has been most helpful. i will continue to use this resource now and in the future and would recommend it to everyone. nicely done!
I am an engineer, not a coach but I would like to get into coaching. I am a basketball nut and I can relate to your comment about the influence coaches have. I remember practically everything my coaches told me when I was in High School and these coments have influenced me for the past 35 years.
I am a parent and my question is, how should I approach the coach regarding his philosophy? I''m disappointed with how he communicates to the team and parents. We''re all very hesitant about asking him questions to get information we need regarding practices and games. Most parents call each other for information. He also tells us one thing at a meeting, but quite often never follows through with his own rules. I think your site is very informative and inspirational and I''d love for him to see it, but I don''t know how to let him know about it without offending him or blowing me off.
I have a difficult situation arise and I was looking for an objective opinion. I coach 7-8 girls'''' basketball at a small school and I was wondering if you could shed some light on the following problem. I agree 100% about teaching fundamentals and running M2M defense. I have some parents that disagree with this philosophy. They think the way to teach basketball is to play as many games as possible. IN order to accomplish this, they have their daughters play on a traveling team all year round and throughout our school season. This traveling team consists of players from neighboring towns and the coache''''s philosphy is to run zone presses and other junk defenses. These parents also take the "best" players off my team and form a different team to play in tournaments on the weekend. The girls that get left out are hurt and jealous and I have to try and fix it. On top of that, this parent/coach then teaches them a different offense and runs a zone press too. I am trying to build a foundation for these girls to grow and work together for one common goal, but I feel that I am just spinning my tires in the mud. Our athletic director talked to the parents before the season and asked them to respect our season and not participate on other teams until our season is over. Unfortunately, these parents have gone against the schools advice and continued to play. I am frustrated with coaching and dealing with ignorant parents. HELP!!!
It sounds like the parent you are dealing with is either an ass or ignorant. But it's not uncommon and you're not the only one dealing with this.
Without being in your shoes, it's hard to give specific advice. But I'll throw a few ideas at you. Maybe it will help.
Option 1 - Give the players and parents some rules. The should be written rules. The consequences should be written too. This needs to be clearly provided a head of time. If they break the rules, you follow through with the consequences. If it's important, you could have a rule "No organized leagues or games during the regular season. One violation results in one game suspension. Two violations result in two game suspension. Three violations result dismissal from team."
My philosophy is simple. Set expectations and accountability with players and parents. Clearly communicate those expectations with written materials and verbally. Then hold everyone accountable and follow through.
Option 2 - Give the parent our information and materials. It's funny you mention this because that parent really need to listen to an interview we just did with Don Kelbick. We are developing product to help coaches, parents, and players develop off season basketball workouts. We did one recording just for youth and middle school players. In the recording Don talks about how other counties are pulling away from the US in skills and starting to kick our butts. The big reason is that other countries practice 5 times a week and play once or twice. But in the U.S., for some reason we play 5 times and maybe practice once. That recording would really hit home. Don really knows his stuff and works with youth players all the way to the NBA. I think the parent would start understanding the error in their ways. When you hear it from Don, it makes perfect sense.
We're still working on packaging the audio and everything, but maybe we can provide you with something to help. Just drop me an email and maybe we can come up with materials or a plan to get something for that parent.
How do you handle a player who is truly very talented on the 7th grade girls team? This is not just my opinion, the varsity coach has a great interest in this girl. She has already played up a grade and has started on a national AAU championship team..She is also a great kid, just so far advanced.
Jeff, I am amazed at the compilation of materials you have aggregated for this website- it all speaks to your altruism and ardent affection for the game. At first thought, I was reluctant to post a response, but your research is truly astute and accord. I have a Kinesiology degree and Teaching Certificate from the University of North Texas and many of the concepts and ideas that you suggest correspond with the curriculum we covered in respect to teaching in the classroom. The interview with Don Kelbick was brilliant and many of the websites materials are sagacious. I had intentions to create a website in the same mold as yours, but discovery of this website made my idea is inane and fatuous. In close, I am embellishing much of this content you have posted and add me to list of people you have assisted surreptitiously. You could have charged a fee for this information but it is all free. Thanks. God Bless you and may Jesus Christ continue to live in you (if you believe).
You can''t have the kids learning advanced drills or plays until all of them know the fundementals like the back of their hand. You can draw up plays that are simple and have your team perfect that play(s) during practice. It only has to be a few plays. One should be an easy bucket to the rim. This gets their confidence up and they feel more relaxed. They dont have the monkey on their back. You can always preach to them to be like Coach Mike Singletary says "Physical with an F" theres no where that says you cant be a physical(teach them the right way without fouling).Comanding the paint that our house and the other team is not invited to our house EVER. If you find them in the paint muscle them out. Be extremly tough on defense.If you are more physical than the other team it sends a message. Look at most winning teams in all levels they usually have a dominate post figure. When your physical you have dominate rebounding, great tough defenders, and you are dominating in the paint on offense. It''s going to be hard to lose.
Question: Everyone talks about teaching the kids the fundamentals. And we all agree. But precisely, what are the fundamentals and when do the fundamentals change into advanced skills? that is; there are so many skills that could be taught to a group of 6th graders, but what should I absolutely, without a doubt, focus on and what should I get to if I have time and what should I just leave for their junior coach? Thanks.
I just started coaching 8-10 year olds. It's my first time coaching anything. We just had a really tough first game last night.
Part of the issue was that I was meeting the kids for the first time, 15 minutes before tip off. No previous practice. That added to the fact that it was a 95 degree day with the sun beaming, made the conditions rough on a few of the kids. The kids all played hard even if the final score didn't show it. But it was hard to tell how much fun the kids were having.
I'll be reading this site quite a bit for tips and pointers.
Coaching 1st-3rd graders, here are some simple tips:
1. Keep lectures short. No longer than 30 seconds. 2. Create a fun atmosphere. You want to create a passion, so they want to play the game when they are older. 3. Keep activities short. Drills should not be any longer than 3 to 5 minutes. 4. Do lots of ball handling. This is the easiest skill to pick up at this age due to strength. 5. Shoot on lower hoops with smaller balls. Otherwise, don't even worry about it.
hey Coach, i really don't agree much on trying to let kids pick up things that are least the hardest to learn, i mean it would take much longer time for a kid to learn basic dribbling skills as to lets say rebounding the basketball... there's really no proven method to rebound a basketball effectively except get your feet squared and go straight up for the ball, my point is; I'd rather focus more and first on things that takes time to master rather than things that could be done instinctively. Dribbling over Rebounding first, don't you think?
I am new at coaching youth girls bb, however I try to teach the fundamentals and emphasize fun, since alot of you have experience. How do i deal with another coach/parent criticizing the way i coach. I realize I may not be the best at it, but it is a volunteer program,. My girls win games, have fun and learn things. So what am I doing wrong?
I am new at coaching youth girls bb, however I try to teach the fundamentals and emphasize fun, since alot of you have experience. How do i deal with another coach/parent criticizing the way i coach. I realize I may not be the best at it, but it is a volunteer program,. My girls win games, have fun and learn things. So what am I doing wrong?
Christine - I have no idea why those coaches are criticizing. Maybe it's justified, maybe it's not. Even so, I would hope thet provide you feedback in a constructive way. It's always good to have someone helping you improve and giving you feedback.
With the coach, sit down with them. Have a discussion and you can both talk about "what's working?" and "what's not working?". Then put together a game plan and talk about any changes you might make. I think communication is key and then things work themselves out.
Then be sure to give the assistant their role and expectations. This person should have their responsibilities defined on paper. Then I think it's good to meet with them every week or two to keep communication open and solve problems together. Here are more ideas for good coaching meetings: http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/coaching/assistant-bounds.html
Above all don't stress about it. Coaches are always scrutinized (even the good ones). That is just part of the job and how it is. So just remember to enjoy yourself, this is just youth basketball not the NBA. As long as players have fun, learn fundamentals, you teach them life lessons, and you set a good example for them, that the most important thing!!!
I am a parent of a 17 yo girl who has played varsity ball since 8th grade. This is her senior year. She has started for the high school team for 2 years and generally played whole game without being subbed out both years. She was the captain last year. She is the only senior this year. Certainly expected to start and be captain this year..There have been 6 games so far. She has not started yet. She has been out as captain once to meet refs. She played 6 min first game with 10 points. 3 min game 2 with 6 points. 1 min next games--last game sat bench whole time. Freshman and sophomores subbing frequently. Only 3 people on bench not getting in--other 2 have never really played. She is devastated. No warning. She asked coach what she had to do. Coach said she can't play defense. She is 5-10. I have a meeting with coach (coach was new last year as head--was assistant 2 years prior)--player is all A student-not aggressive -- steady--always with little emotion in practice or games--this is not new. She is so humiliated that she has turned in her jersey. The look on her face on bench has been so dejected. Coach says she "looks like she just doesn't want to play". Never misses practice--on time etc. She has never quit any sport--plays soccer also and was captain there. Voted most athletic of senior class. What does a parent say when so much pain is caused by such a crushing blow the senior year? Grad class size is 80. Total girls on team is about 15 or less. I feel that this was a motivational tool? to muster enthusiasm? that went very wrong. Any help out there for guidance for a parent's approach to promote healing here?
As I sit here and read this, I ask myself, what am I missing here? There is always two sides to every story, but this girl has played Varsity ball for two years - without being subbed for....and was last years Captain.
So what happened between last year and this year? Something political? Pressure from other parents? Rebuilding process? Even IF it was a rebuilding year you certainly don't bench a two year starter ... to me, even IF her defense was suspect, as a coach we always find a spot for a scorer.
I think meeting with the coach is a great idea - I would also meet with her counselor (before) to see if there is anything else going on that you are not aware of.
You could always go to the AD but that would probably just alienate him more.
I would ask the coach what happened between the last two years to this year? She was at every practice - last years Captain - an A student who doesn't cause any problems around the school. (is she involved with anything else in the school other than sports?)
Ask him EXACTLY what areas your daughter needs to improve upon to get some playing time to prove that she deserves to play. (6 minutes with 10 points - if you do the math and she would have continued on that pace..... wow)
There has to be an underlying factor here someplace - BUT, IF you are going to heal this problem - you are going to have to go in with a positive attitude and not attack him/her ..... that would be the kiss of death.
Be patient with your daughter and be supportive regardless of how this goes.... this has to be a very difficult time in both of your lives. Good luck and I hope that you can find a way to work this out.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful words. I respect a coach''s authority --I believe that that authority is God given. I am not comfortable taking this initiative to ask for a meeting with this young coach--the principal ( who was the girls''s coach until 1 year ago when he became principal) arranged this meeting for us at my request and will be there with us Monday. Coaches have played an important role in the lives of my children --as a single parent I have been very grateful for the time and energy they have committed--I hope coaches everywhere understand the significant part they play in shaping the lives of their players. They can cause deep hurt-like in this case--but even situations like this can be redeemed--if the parties are willing. Thanks again for the encouragement.
Well This works awesome with my team. And my team is work great together and I couldn't be more proud of them!
I coach in a league were we volunteer to be coaches and its in the 6th, 7th and 8th grade girls division. We have one coach that teaches his team how to play dirty and mean. I talk about my girls walking a way with scratches all over, bruised up thighs cause they are sticking out their Knee when they set a screen.
What can I do to get my team prepared to play against a dirty team like that???
I'm sorry to hear about the dirty team. I would just tell your kids that they're going to have to prepare for it. Tell them it's going to be a real test to see if they are a true champion and keep their composure.
Thank you! This is really helpful! Everything I have in my head about being a youth coach has been brought to the service and I'm sure it will make the season perfect! We have had one practice where we went over the very basics, but I emphasized on team work and passing. The kiddos did great at their first game last Saturday! Again, thank you! ~Misty~
My husband is the coach of our girls age 9 basketball team for the first time this season (they previously played for a coach who is now assisting). This is a rec league. Coach put every girl in a position at the beginning and that is where they have stayed. Many of the girls have asked to play point guard as that position handles the ball a lot and is more fun than just covering another player all the time. My daughter (coach's daughter too) was cried and asked again to play another position. He won't let her. He says it isn't about just a player but about the team. These girls are learning and already they are pegged in a position. Does this seem like the best way to go?
thank u coach for giving me the thing which was actually missing in my coaching as i was coaching without any particular philosophy or particular way to work due to which my team members get confused most number of the times. Now I can tell them what I emphasize and what they sould do.
Hey Jeff, Firstly, I'd like to thank you for the time you've spent on this website. I've learned a lot from it. I just graduated high school and finished my first season as a coach of a 5-6 grade boys parks and rec team. It went really well and I loved coaching. I was wondering if you have any particular advice for a young, aspiring coach?
Thnx so much for this. Im 17 and have a group of 5-7 year olds at my school's bball camp and this helps put things into perspective for me. I now know what my responsibility is to these kids. Thnx again :)
I am coaching a HS boys varsity team. It is the first year this particular school has had any kind of sports program and the school is also one for mostly underprivileged kids.
I think it is so important for them to have accountability to their teammates and to themselves in order to grow as a team and to mature as individuals. The way things have started this season it seems like we might not be able to instill this in them.
My problem is that we had 30 kids sign up for tryouts and only 9 showed up. These kids don't seem interested to be on a team and it seems most would rather go get high or have sex with their girlfriends than go to practice.
Some of them are great kids and are very open to being coached, but if I force the majority of these kids too much into running drills or working on conditioning, I know they are going to quit.
I figured maybe I would try and make the next 5 practices open scrimmages for anyone in the school to attend to just come out and have fun--hoping that this would encourage more kids to be interested in the team. The more kids are interested, the more they will value their individual place on the team and the harder I know they would work. The problem is this really didn't even work.
PJ - Your situation is different than most. We (coaches) are usually lucky and we have plenty of kids wanting to play and be on the team. You will need to build and ease into things. You will need to generate interest, excitement, build relationships, and so on. Here is a document with lots of ideas that will help you develop interest and motivate players: http://www.breakthroughbasketball.com/mental/motivate-players.html
You might have to start with 6 players. Then build each year from there. It won't happen overnight. A big part is developing relationships, showing you care, and showing these kids they can IMPROVE. Kids usually love to see improvement and enjoy that process. Plus most players want to be the next Kobe, so maybe once you build up your credibility, that will help. Eventually you might be able to build a tradition and kids will be begging to be on the team. One step at a time. Hope this helps.
Thanks Jeff, I got a couple of ideas I'm going to start implementing this week.
One other question. You had said that I may have to start with 6 players. Were you inferring that I should not allow the kids who don't have the right attitude, or don't show up to practice that often to play on the team?
My 2nd best player often misses practices, however, I am very hesitant to not allow him to continue to play because after our best player there is a significant drop off in talent, and this being a high school varsity team, I feel winning is a higher priority than if this were just a youth league team.
PJ - That is one of those tough decisions we have to make as coaches. I think you need to consider cutting players like that if it seems they are hurting the entire team. Ultimately you need to ask, how can I help this collective group of young people the most? If you clearly do more good by cutting a player, then that's what you have to do. Be sure rules and expectations and implications of breaking rules are communicated.
For this player missing practice, you can try cutting down playing time, etc. You as a coach will figure out what is best for them. But sometimes you need players that want to be there so you can build things the way you want.
I am 27 And realized me playin basketball is not a option andymore , continuos injury to my ankle has paid its toll i love the game and i really reall love to coach and this article is a good morale boaster that i can do it . Thanks
I have coached for 13 years and I feel everything you can learn to teach your players something different,plus you can use that will help your program become better use it. This is some really get information and please do not be afraid young coaches to pick up something from others coaches. Every coach has gotten something from another coach.
You DO have a tough situation here ... God Bless you for taking that on. As for the running/'conditioning part.... do all your conditioning in drills that are competitive, all kids love to compete... they will have FUN and they will probably stick with it. END every practice doing something that is FUN. For us it was "situations" - IF you do this they will want to come back. Cutting kids is a last resort and as Jeff said, you can cut back on some playing time. It will take you a couple of years to sell your program and then you will have kids that WANT to play and will be willing to learn.
How do I reach a player that has great on the court presence and IQ when playing in games & or practice but, his off the court communicating skills, ambitious energy and excitement is not that great, he has not reached his full leadership potential? He has great influence over some of the other players and is not utilizing his influences to help build on the philosophy of the program. I don't want to lose the player but I would rather figure out how to reach him to buying into the overall philosophy of the program.
Coming to coaching after years and years of playing bball, I thank God for the wonderful game.
My approach to coaching: Fundamentals at every practice. Repetition is key while making the drills always fun and fresh. Positivity and trust as well as teamwork are also my key to teaching kids what passion for the game means. Skills grow with encouragement. Conditioning is a huge part of basketball, but make it competetive. Keep it up coaches, don't loose passion and think about why you wanted to coach in the first place if you ever get discouraged.
Thank you so much for this website. As a first time coach this season, it's already helped tremendously.
This was my first year coaching 5th & 6th grade basketball. With no basketball playing experience, or coaching, I wish I knew about your website sooner. You have so many great ideas, it has truely been a huge asset. Thank you for putting this out there. Even though we had a rough first season, the kids worked hard and the ones that can want to play next year. I look foward to all the suggestions and insights you provide. Thank you!
Excellent site coach and I especially enjoyed the coaching philosophy comments. As a youth and college athlete and later a Dad hockey coach, it took many years for me to put together my thoughts about what is most important for a coach. It was only after attending an upper level Coaching clinic and having the priviledge of listening to a successful NHL, Division I College and youth hockey coach of 40 years put it together in the most simplest form. Listening to his priorities, I realize that he nailed it. He nailed it from every perspective (coach, player, parent, ref, organization, etc.). I was actually somewhat embarrassed that I had not figured it out sooner. Priority #1, You must love kids. So many problems arise because coaches do not behave in a loving manner toward their players and cannot decide to love each player as he would his own child. More than anything, kids need to know that you care about them and what happens to them as young people. Priority #2, You must love and respect the game. This includes the other team, the refs, the rules, etc. Being a steward of an organizaed athletic activity is a priviledge that brings great responsibility. The greatest responsibility is to ensure that it continues untarnished for the next group of kids. Priority #3, You must love to win. Winning is the great affirmation of hard work, dedication, team play, etc. Besides that winning is fun. The order of these priorities can never be changed. Winning never trumps loving the game, and nothing trumps loving the kids (players). I have played on and coached teams that have never won a game and came away with the greatest feelings and memories. I have also played on and coached some championship teams that had it all wrong. Fortunately, this great lesson in priorities came before one of my favorite seasons as a coach and Dad. I am excited to see my own son and daughter coach their kids some day and know I can help them to do it right for all the kids in their charge.
Bernard Ofori Boamah says:
9/29/2012 at 5:38:39 PM
This is very important for any one who wants to become a basketball coach, I am thrilled with the stuff I just read and I think it has put me on the right track to set off thanks to the break through basketball team
I coach 7th grade volleybll at the same middle school where my 7th grade daughter has started bball. I am prefacing with this, so you know that I am a girls coach, a 7th grade girl's mom and I have taught 7th grade English for 10 years. That said, sports at our school are placed in three brackets, A, B and C teams. This year, you the first time, coaches have decided that A team should practice after school and the B and C teams should practice at 6 am. In addition, 8th grade girls are doing the same thing. So, never will a 7th or 8th grade B or C player practice with an A player, I truly see this a being againsts the middle school philosophy of coaching, as it has created social stigmas in our 7th and 8th grade classrooms. Can you please give me your thoughts on this division of the teams based on rank? FYI, there are 4 coaches, one for each A team and one for the B and C teams.
In this day and age, most schools rotate practice times so ONE team doesn't get stuck with the bad practice times. Seems to me at the middle school level they could work this out.
IF you can rotate the times, there might be times where the teams can work out against each other.
When I was coaching Boys varsity at the high school level, we switched practice times with the girls varsity....between early and late practices, the sophs / A team / B team practiced in the other gyms. Occassionally As would scrimmage Bs etc. However this was not the norm.
Thanks for putting on line some really good information on how to be a better coach. I have an interesting and challenging situation. I currently coach a bantam division boys basketball team in a lutheran church league.There is a wide range of age in our division. We have 7 4th graders and 3 6th graders on our squad. All teams in our division seem to have many more sixth graders than us. I am having a close to impossible time getting the few 6th graders to trust the fourth graders, and the fourth graders refuse to put effort into learning or play defense hard. Many cant even catch a firm pass yet. Yet all these 4th graders seem to want to do is stand still and wait for a pass then just shoot. The parents dislike it if I yell, which I do only to the team as a whole, never singling out anyone, but this is going on for 2 months now and to say our coaching staff is frustrated would be the understatement of epic proportions. Playing time has shrunk for most of the younger kids as a result. My goals going in were to teach the kids, get them playing hard and let them have fun doing, so while preparing for possibly playing for school teams. Summing this long post up, how can I better get through to my fourth graders, and how do I get sixth graders to trust in them ? Do you like mixed age group divisions as I can imagine many other coaches face this same kind of problem?
I think you have some good goals for your kids. Did you have a pre season meeting explaing your goals to the parent and kids? Too many parents and kids think about winning only - not a good situation. I think that your situation is tough... 4th and 6th graders.... 5th and 6th might work better. I don't know how much practice time you have each week but it is obvious it isn't enough. You need to spend some time on passing/catching, stationary and moving. Dribbling etc. Here is a way to get your kids to work together - play 3 on 3 games a) no dribble b) dribbling allowed. Here is the big rule.... game is to 4, EVERYONE must score before a player of your choosing can hit the game winner. This will force them to work together #1 and #2, it will teach some leadership. Kids will work hard to get other players shots until they score. As for the games, don't worry about Ws and Ls.... let the kids have fun and let everybody play... the younger kids must play at least 1/3 of the game.
We only get around 90 minutes of practice time a week. I try to get the gym more often , but its difficult. Many of the kids have other activities too. A brief overview of my practices , 1 lay up drills 2 dribbling drills 3 trying to teach setting a pick 4 scrimmage games incorporating picks and screens, using a man to man defense and zones. my zones are 2 1 2 1 3 1 and 2 3
there is a lot to cover, and not much time. I change up the drills and the kids seem to like them as they tell me they are fun. 3 on 3 games are sometimes the only way I can get a game going as if 3 kids dont make a practice Im down to 7 , so i use one sub.
I end the practice with some conditioning sprints and they seem to be getting into bette shape. I will be trying the scrimmages with that everyone must score rule. I like that.
With only 90 minutes of practice time I would eliminate the zones and spend that time on fundamentals....spend a little more time on your m2m.... Keep this simple ( KISS ) and let your kids become more adapt fundamentally.
Forget the sprints at the end of practice... ( it took me many years to figure out that this was a giant waste of time ) Do some full court work, and if you have extra time, do your conditioning with a ball.... full court lay ups, full court passing drills etc
If you want to end practice doing something fun.... run a "situation" Kids love to compete and its fun.
Dear sir, your article is amazing, its gives me moral support, its teaches me the life skills,should be taught to kids then sports skills, very informative , each line and words are effective and very usefull , a big thanks to team members of breakthroughbasketball site , usually i will not write comments in any website , this is the first time iam giving comments, because i admired the way information given in this article, thanks a lot sirs May god bless you and your team members always sir one question, sir how can keep the spirit and energy throughout the day 100% b.cos iam getting tired from my time table given by the school iam taking my class very effectively from morning and evening but in the midday like 12 pm to 2pm very difficult to keep my mind , body, sound way , but iam saying my self , iam here to teach life skills through sports , can you give idea to keep the energy, and mind power level to be always high please guide me sir this my mail id firstname.lastname@example.org by murugan sports teacher muscat
Donna Marie Valentine says:
3/7/2014 at 3:18:45 PM
This article is so profound to me and absolutely what I agree with. Unfortunately, my 15 year old daughter has had the most horrible experience playing basketball during her Freshman and especially this year (sophomore year). She started for her Freshman year and the new coach (finishing her schooling to be a teacher) did nothing but scream at the team and criticize. She did not quit. She came to the open practices in the summer, went to the Princeton basketball camp and the captain's practices in the Fall. This year they decided to place one Freshman on JV and rotate 6 others in with a total of 16 girls on the team. My daughter sat on the bench and sat out games entirely. She went to every practice and even sustained a concussion trying to show how well she can play. The head coach said he did not want to hear from parents. My daughter said the JV coach acted like she did not exist. She worked hard in practice, but it made no difference. She stayed for all the varsity games and helped with the books, etc. She never started a game, only played in some games for a few minutes. The Freshman were not good players and after they were put in we lost all but 3 JV games. The very last game she went in, in the 2nd quarter and played the rest of the game (with 2 other Freshman). She was outstanding. She rebounded 6 times, made foul shots, baskets, stole the ball - really amazing - the Freshman really did nothing. We found out that he chose the permanent Freshman and 2 other Freshman to practice with the varsity for the last tournament. Therefore, it is obvious that he chose these girls to start on JV next year and swing to varsity (this is how he does it). She loves to play. She is all about the team - it is really heartbreaking. You cannot speak to the Athletic Director and the varsity and JV coach will not speak with parents. I have asked my 15 year old to speak to her JV coach, but she is/was so demoralized she felt that she couldn't. I have that last game on tape. I wish I could call a meeting and share all that has gone on and ask for outside coaches to come and evaluate her ability. She has done everything in terms of commitment and attitude that he asked - but it seems that she was only there as practice fodder and to continually pay for things for the team. They just want you to walk away, but I feel that the someone should speak out about all the unfair/unjust things that have been allowed to go on. If you tried out and other players were picked because their ability was better that would be one thing, but that is not the case here. The worst part, is that after all I have taught her to keep displaying the right work ethic and attitude, her treatment last year and especially this year (4 months season every day) makes it really hard for a 15 year old to believe in these values. What are your comments/opinions on this experience and do you feel that I am just supposed to have her quit, give up and walk away or try to address this?? Thank you so much for your time.
It all depends on the situation. With out 4th graders playing time is not equal for each game (I try to match them up based on ability so they can all succeed and yet get challenged). However during the course of the entire season playing time ends up about equal.
Generally speaking, I think playing time should mostly be equal until about 6th grade. But again it depends on the situation. I think all kids should get opportunities to play... you never know who will develop if they just get a chance. But also as they get older learn how to "earn playing time".