Why It is Good to be a Salesman When Coaching Basketball

By Joe Haefner

If you have ever coached, you know that if the team doesn’t believe in what you’re trying to teach them, you’ll never be successful.

You have to convince your team and SELL to your team the coaching tactics and philosophies that you are trying to incorporate.

For example, I’m a big believer in rebounding and lowering turnovers. When trying to stress the importance of rebounding and lowering turnovers, I take my players to chalk board.

First, I put up on the board.

44 to 38.

Assume all shots are worth two points.

Team A – 35% Field Goal Percentage.

Team B – 45% Field Goal Percentage.

Then, I ask the team, “Which team do you think won?”

Usually, the team will respond with Team B. Some may say Team A. I don’t reveal my answer yet and continue on.

Next, I write on the board:

Team A – 15 offensive rebounds & 9 turnovers

Team B – 3 offensive rebounds & 17 turnovers

Team A – 32 extra possessions (15 offensive rebounds & 17 forced turnovers)

Team B – 12 extra possessions (3 offensive rebounds & 9 forced turnovers)

I pause for a second, then write on the board: “32 – 12 = 20 extra possessions for Team A in which they got a shot.” Then, I begin to write the following.

Team A took 62 shots.

Team B took 42 shots.

Team A – 62 shots X 35% FG = 22 made shots & 22 x 2 points = 44

Team B – 42 shots X 45% FG = 19 made shots & 19 x 2 points = 38

Then, I circle Team A and say, “Even on a bad shooting night, Team A won the game, because they rebounded the ball and took care of the ball.

Of course, there are other factors such as fouling, 3-point shooting, free throw shooting, and so on, but you want to simplify things to get the point across to your players.

If you can use examples like this and sell your tactics and philosophies to your players, they will be more like to work hard at the things you focus on, because they understand why you emphasize the things you do.


  1. Tommy Costello — January 28, 2009 @ 9:20 am

    This is a very good example and is an almost identicle replica of a game my team had last week. We couldn’t buy a bucket in the 2nd & 3rd quarters and my team were getting very down about it. I told them to keep taking the open shots, keep working hard on the boards and keep our passing sharp to cut down on turnovers. We out rebounded the opposition by 2 to 1 and had numerous offences with 3 or 4 shots. We won by 26 points in the end and my team came off the court smiling..

  2. Phil Gantt — January 28, 2009 @ 9:27 am

    I am in my 39th season of coaching (from 6th grade up to varsity assistant; currently in my 3rd as 8th grade boys coach) and I too have always been a proponent of offensive rebounding & minimizing turnovers. I’ve had varying degrees of success at “selling” my philosophy (depending upon the amount of basketball savy the group brings to the table).
    I found this to be a very interesting article and will use it soon on my guys.
    I’m always ‘harping’ on them to be ‘salesmen’ in setting up moves, getting open etc.
    Thanks and have a great day!

  3. Steve Chaplin — January 28, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

    Great article. My team this season (Freshman Boys) has lost way too many close games where we actually didn’t fare too badly on offensive rebounds and turnovers. Our problem has been foul shooting (percentage and not getting to the line often enough) and defending the three. In a pre-practice session we pointed out the number of field goals per team not differentiating between twos and threes and that in games we have lost we have consistantly scored more field goals. We then mentioned that our opponents had more three pointers. Most of the team, quite naturally, thought that the solution was for us to shoot more threes. My assistant and I didn’t say anything but at practice we ran a three point shooting drill and tracked percentages with and with out a defensive hand. The next day we practiced defending the 3 from our zone and man to man and it was the most intense drill of the season, without us saying anything! Unfortunately we lost the next game when the other team took a three pointer from the corner while falling out of bounds!

  4. ariel rabe — February 2, 2009 @ 11:51 pm

    Great defenders and effective rebounders can really frustate or discourage penetration plays and perimeter shots. Thanks a lot for the example.

  5. SportNut — February 11, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

    Great post. Sell them early and often. Sell them consistently. Thanks for emphasizing the point.


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