So you want to coach basketball? Congratulations! Working with young people to help them develop important skills and experience the joy of competition is one of the most fulfilling and enjoyable things you can do.
Most coaches understand the importance of learning the fundamentals and strategies of the game. And the savviest ones take the time to carefully plan practices, work with parents to establish rules and expectations, and build a support staff to help them achieve the team’s goals.
But there’s still one mistake that the vast majority of amateur coaches continue to make: failing to define their coaching philosophy.
What’s a coaching philosophy? Simply put, it’s a set of beliefs that define the priorities and values of the coach. In other words, why are you coaching? Is it provide kids with a safe place to play and make friends? To develop high potential athletes for the varsity? To win a state championship?
All of your important coaching decisions – from playing time, to practice schedules, to in-game tactics and strategy – flow from this philosophy.
To illustrate, here are a few sample coaching philosophies from some of the best high school basketball coaches in the country:
We look to build a program year after year, not just teams. Being the leader of the program, I’m responsible for all that goes into this process. We teach our athletes that they control 3 things: 1) Their Attitude, 2) Effort, 3) Decisions. Just like them, our staff and myself are held to the same standard. My attitude dictates how my staff approaches their job and how our players approach things day-in and day-out. I want my players and staff to get the most out of everyday and its starts with positive attitudes. We are a family and that’s spread from the top down throughout our “Program”.
My staff and I put numerous hours into our player’s academic, social, and athletic development. We put “effort” into making sure that we have solid statements and great ambassadors that represent our school and program in a positive way. That mindset is carried on to floor. We push our players to never be out worked on both ends of the floor, be in the best shape that they can possibly be, and learn how to be a competitor
Decision-making comes with any part of life. On the floor making the right the decisions (When to pass, shoot, blocking out, etc) leads to wins. Off the floor making the right decisions leads to success. Whether large or small, good decisions are the stepping-stones to success.
My staff and players are held accountable for all of these priorities. These are the keys to our program. Everyone has plays, drills, and workouts. That’s the easy part. But to be successful its takes it takes more, we put a plan in place and try to execute to the best of our abilities.
Joseph Arbitello, Christ the King Regional High School, Middle Village, NY
2009-10 New York State Coach of the Year
My coaching style is one of intensity with a focus on faith in Jesus Christ and team unity. I place a strong emphasis on treating our team as a family and knowing your role in that family. I stress that the decisions you make on and off the court effect the whole family, not just you (just as they do in real life). My goal is to use the game of basketball to teach our girls life lessons and build their character so that they become daughters, women, wives, mothers, citizens, employees, friends, and leaders who make a lasting impact on their families, community and world.
Bethany Smith, James Island Christian School, Charleston, SC
2010 SCISA 1A State Champions
We as staff and school believe the North High School experience is an opportunity for you as students to learn about yourselves and the world around you. Here at North, you will work with an athletic coaching staff that will not only develop your minds but also your character. We will accomplish this through the Victory with Honor Athletic Program. Through Basketball, we will teach you the Six Pillars of Character: Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. When you graduate from North High School, you will learn it is not just about winning the game, but rather the character that develops by playing the game of basketball. These essential life skills are important ones that last long after your high school career is over. They are the tools you take with you into the real world for a lifetime.
Joseph Bustos, North High School, Phoenix, AZ
Arizona Basketball Coaches Association 5-A II Coach of the Year 2008-2009
As you can see, there are a variety of ways to approach the development of your basketball coaching philosophy. The only “hard and fast” rule that I would suggest is that it must be athlete-centered.
Put the safety, development, and well-being of your athletes first in everything you do, and you’re well on your way to having a successful season.
Online-Basketball-Drills.com is a free resource for youth and high school basketball coaches, jam-packed with more than 642 articles and videos covering every element of the game – from drills, to plays, to practice planning and coaching philosophy. Since 2005, we’ve helped thousands of coaches improve their players’ skills, achieve their team’s goals. Visit our site today for more free basketball drills and plays!