Do you want to coach basketball and don’t know where to start? Well, you came to the right place. Knowing how to coach basketball is a life-changer, not only in yours but also to the children under your tutelage. In a way, you are their teacher and parent on the court, and whatever you say or do leaves a lasting impression in these young minds.
The thought of that alone makes coaching a highly rewarding job! In this article, we will be providing you advice and tips to start your coaching career. Like any other job, there are no shortcuts here, but only hard work. There are levels in how to coach basketball, and as you go up the ladder, there will be new challenges, but it should also provide you more opportunities to teach.
What Makes a Good Basketball Coach?
The skills you need to become a basketball coach are basically the skills you need to succeed in life. In other words, there is no secret skill to become a good basketball coach. Of course, each successful bench tactician has his own basketball coaching philosophy. However, they forged these philosophies from these necessary skills:
Communication. If you’re not a good communicator, you’re not cut to be a coach. It’s that simple; no ifs, no buts. We talked about coaching philosophies beforehand, and there is no way of conveying these philosophies to every one of your players without you being a good communicator. There are defensive and offensive philosophies, and if you don’t communicate them in a way that is simple to understand, then there really is no point.
Basketball Knowledge. If you’re a lawyer, you have to be well-versed in the law. If you’re going to be a basketball coach, basic basketball knowledge won’t cut it either. You have to eat, breathe, and live basketball. A basketball coach is knowledgeable in every facet of the game, not just the rules but also every nuance and detail. This is especially important when running basketball coaching drills. Your basketball IQ allows these practices to be tied into real-life game situations that are essential to your players’ development.
Connection. A good basketball coach has the ability to be involved and connected. It’s not just about involvement inside the court, but off of it as well. Remember, you will be handling kids. As a coach, you should be aware of how well they are doing in school and get involved in some of their scholastic problems and help them through it. Knowing and connecting with your players on a personal level will also allow you to motivate them effectively, on and off the court.
Knows the importance of growth and development. Sometimes, moral victories are overrated, but player development is more important than the number of wins and losses on the youth level. A good basketball coach knows how to develop his players and help them improve their games.
Energy. While it’s true that different basketball coaches show energy in different ways, an energetic coach has an infectious passion. If the players see you are disconnected and interested, they will adopt that same attitude.
How Do You Become a Basketball Coach?
While you do not need a college degree to have the energy and passion for becoming a basketball coach, having one, especially in sports science or physical education, is a good start. As you study in those fields, get involved with your college team by taking up a team managerial position. In that way, you will have firsthand knowledge of how a college program works, and you have a front-row seat on how coaches interact with their players. Of course, it would also help significantly if you play basketball yourself, perhaps even competitively.
Suppose securing a managerial position in your college team is not an option (perhaps your college or university does not have a basketball team). In that case, you can get involved with a local high school basketball team. This experience will prove to be valuable since getting hired in a coaching position often gives priority to someone with prior coaching stints.
In states that require public high school coaches’ certificates, then, by all means, secure those certificates. You will have to go through first-aid courses and various exams to get certified, but whatever you go through is all worth it in the end. This allows you to go right ahead in your career and apply for head coaching positions in high school. After a significant number of years and a good track record of success, you may coach a college basketball team or even get to the NBA.
What are the Duties of a Basketball Coach?
If you want to know how to coach basketball, then it is vital for you to be familiar with a basketball coach’s duties and responsibilities. One of the duties of a basketball coach involves preparation. He is in charge of team practices and other team activities such as film viewing, scouting opponents, etc.
During the games, he is the primary voice of the bench. He may delegate some of the things to his assistants, but the final decisions in substitutions, calling plays, and other strategic components of the game lie on the head basketball coach.
Outside of the basketball court, most especially if it involves high school basketball, a coach assumes other roles such as counselor, parent, motivator, and overall fountain of knowledge. As you can see, these are challenging tasks, and without a doubt, it requires a special person to be a basketball coach.
Here are other assignments of a basketball coach:
- Develops his own coaching philosophy and what he envisions his team to be like. In short, he creates the identity of his team on offense and defense.
- He must create an environment that is conducive to learning and developing the games of his players.
- He sets the moral, legal, and ethical standards for the team. He must not allow anyone to be discriminated against or bullied on his watch. He should punish acts of bigotry and racism if done by his players.
- He knows when to be flexible and when not to. In short, he must know when to be stubborn and when to yield.
- He should also be well-versed in injury prevention, first aid, health laws, and how to safely maintain the equipment.
- He must have the respect of his players and the community.
- He knows the ins and outs of basketball, including its rules, regardless of how little-known a rule may be.
- A good basketball coach should also know how to delegate assignments, thereby training his assistant coaches to handle more responsibilities.
How to Coach Youth Basketball Game
Every basketball level– grade school, high school, college, or professional– requires a different coaching approach. If you’re thinking of coaching youth, whether that’s grade school or high school basketball, you must be able to have these essential traits and skills:
Be organized. When coaching youth basketball, you do not have the luxury of three or four hours of practice. Therefore, make sure you maximize the limited practice time, which means you need the practices to be truly organized. Outline the basic schedule and be very detailed about it.
Always arrive early. It’s not only about setting a good example in punctuality. It’s also a way to know your players a little better, especially if you’re coaching young kids. Arriving early also presents another teaching opportunity by showing the kids how to warm up and do exercises to keep them engaged.
Keep everything simple. Basketball is a simple game, but some concepts may be hard to understand. If it can’t be helped, make sure that you explain these concepts in the simplest way possible.
Teach them spacing and moving the ball from one side to another. Youth basketball is the perfect time to instill the right habits in kids. Scoring opportunities presents itself when you teach the proper spacing (two or three players on the weak side all the time) as well as the importance of the ball changing sides in each possession.
Resist the urge to play full-court press all the time. The kids have unlimited energy, so why make them run all game long, right? Wrong! Employing the full-court press, especially against weaker teams, is an easy recipe for success. The problem is that running and layups are hardly the best way to play basketball against a better team. Sometimes, running a full-court press all the time defeats the purpose of playing basketball.
Teach the kids how to play. There’s a difference between learning the Xs and Os and freely playing the game. If you teach the kids how to play basketball instead of micro-managing every set, you teach them to think and adjust on the fly. Of course, knowing how to execute plays is very critical. However, it will take too much time to master every single play that it would be more practical and productive to teach them how to play.
Never forget to have fun. Basketball is supposed to be fun, so never forget to preach that aspect of the sport. Coaching is challenging, and it can sometimes be frustrating, but it should never take the fun away from it. If you are having fun while coaching, your players follow suit.
How to Coach College Basketball Game
Unlike coaching kids in grade school and high school, coaching young adults in college is a different beast. The same principles still apply– keeping things simple, having fun, and teaching the players how to play– but there are so many things that an aspiring college basketball coach should know.
One of these is their knowledge of the NCAA rules. The NCAA is an absolute maze when it comes to rules and regulations, which range from confusing, to vague, to mind-boggling. Second, the intensity and the pace of the college game is so much different in high school. Unlike in high school, you can’t expect to simply outrun opponents every single match. Every team you run into presents some type of challenge, so you have to be ready for those.
Perhaps the most critical skill of a college coach is he should be an excellent recruiter. In fact, half of the time, a college basketball coach is out traveling somewhere to recruit talent. In high school, the players’ families live in the community, so you have an easier time knowing their backgrounds.
In college, you are not afforded that convenience. You will have to travel cross-country, talk to the parents of the athlete, assure them, promise them things, and that their kid will be safe. After all, you can’t win without talent, and talent just does not fall in your lap. You have to go get it.
How to Coach Beginners
When coaching basketball for beginners, nothing should be complicated. All players should start at the lowest level regardless of age because it is the best way to instill the fundamentals or basic basketball skills.
For beginners, it is important to teach them layups, ball handling, footwork, and ballhandling. In teaching layups, you may teach them how to use both hands or shooting layups off the right and wrong foot. In teaching footwork, there is the ever-effective triple threat. And of course, in ballhandling, you may teach them how to use the left or right hand, protecting the ball, basic crossovers, etc.
It is also very important not to use overly-structured plays on offense. If they get comfortable out there, they will figure out problems on their own since basketball is a very instinctive sport. On offense, you can teach them to move without the ball, screens, and basic cuts. In other words, if the kids already have a good feel of the basic skills, just let them play and have fun.
For more advanced kids, you can teach them more stuff along the way. It could be the same skills but with variations. For example, you can teach them how to do layups off of one foot or two feet (the jump stop). In teaching how to cut, you may teach them more advanced stuff such as curls and back cuts. In ballhandling, aside from the simple crossovers, perhaps you can introduce the hesitation dribble, in and out, and some more advanced dribbling techniques.
11 Basketball Coaching Tips
If you’re an aspiring young coach, it will make the transition more straightforward if you follow the tips and advice from those who came before you. Here are 11 basketball coaching tips for beginner coaches:
1. Find yourself a mentor.
Having someone to guide you is the key to success in every career. The same is true in coaching basketball. Of course, it’s impossible to get a hold of Gregg Popovich’s number or Phil Jackson’s email address. One way to pick their brains is by reading top basketball coaching books or watching a documentary about them.
2. Delegate responsibilities.
In coaching, the more hands on deck, the better your chance of accomplishing things. That said, it would be in your best interest if you find an assistant coach to help you with drills or some other team activities. Remember, two is always better than one. If it allows, you can also find a team manager that handles off-court stuff, such as collecting funds or securing jerseys and uniforms.
3. Make your own drill collection.
Running practices would always involve doing basketball drills to keep everybody on their heels, do yourself a favor, and compile a list of drills. For that, the Internet is always your best friend.
4. Get the right equipment.
It always works when you dress and be equipped for the job. It’s unnecessary to have the most expensive stuff, but if you can have access to better equipment, use it to your advantage.
5. Be there all the time.
This is the commitment that you have made once you agreed to coach a team. Never abandon your team during activities unless it’s something really important or an emergency came up.
6. Attend coaching seminars.
Now, a coach should always be humble and acknowledge that there is still room for improvement. You can advance your basketball coaching knowledge by attending coaching camps and seminars. This may not be practical in your case, so again, make use of online forums and similar tools to ask questions that get a response from experienced coaches.
7. Represent your school well.
Never do things that you’ll regret later. This is because you are a role model to the kids, so carry yourself well in public. Remember that dabbling in controversial topics is always a slippery slope, so stay away from those as much as you can. Always show sportsmanship no matter the result.
8. Coaching is not everything.
If you can talk to the great Gregg Popovich, he will be the first to tell you this: Get a life! Basketball is a big part of your life, but it’s not the only element in it. Get a hobby, play with your kids, go on movie dates with your wife or girlfriend, and pursue things outside the coaching realm.
9. Winning is great, but relationships are the most satisfying part of coaching.
There are always better teams than you, so you are not guaranteed to win every single time. However, if you think winning is the most satisfying feeling in basketball, then you’re flat-out wrong. What will bring you the most satisfaction are the relationships you built with your players and opponents long after playing. That’s how you know you did it right.
10. Get along with coaches of other sports
Speaking of teams and relationships, always be cordial to other coaches. Do not insist on hogging the gymnasium or facilities on your own. Share it with them, spend time with them, and even offer them ways to help.
11. Stay “young” and motivated.
This means you need to be open to new ideas and coaching styles or concepts that you have not paid much attention to before. You must also learn how to use new technology so you can relate to your players better.
Wrapping Things Up: How to Coach Basketball
Coaching basketball is not for everyone, but if you discern that you’re cut out for it, pursue it with passion.
With that being said, how would you know if you’re fit for coaching? Well, if you know the game of basketball inside and out, has a knack of explaining complex concepts in a simple manner, energetic, and an excellent communicator, then you may have a future in the field of coaching.
Of course, to get hired, it would be best if your educational background complements your love for the game of basketball. A degree in sports science or physical education is a good start. However, in the coaching circles, those that are hired often have long-term coaching experiences.
How should you handle that obstacle? The easiest way is to align yourself with the school’s basketball team, perhaps as a manager, video coordinator, or an assistant to get yourself acclimated to coaching. If there are coaching exams and courses offered, get yourself certified.
Remember that coaching basketball is not an easy job. You have a lot of responsibilities, and you have to fulfill dozens of roles all at once. Hence, it really does take a unique type of person to make it into basketball coaching.
Coaching basketball on different levels also has its share of unique challenges. But be reminded that the basic principles remain the same: Keep it simple, show them that you are passionate, and have fun. It’s not always about winning but how you forge connections and relationships over the years. It’s also important to be humble and to maintain a healthy life/work balance.
If you live by these tips and virtues, you are on the right track in your quest to know how to coach basketball. Nobody says it’s going to be easy, but if you really want to pursue a career in coaching basketball, this article’s tips and information should serve you well.
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