Leadership is a fundamental aspect of success in basketball, whether you’re a player or a coach. In this article, we’ll delve into the key traits that make exceptional leaders in the world of basketball. These traits are essential for building strong, cohesive teams and achieving success on the court. Let’s explore each of them in detail.

1. Work Ethic

Exceptional leaders in basketball must lead by example and be among the hardest workers on the team. They set the tone for dedication and effort, inspiring their teammates to follow suit.

2. Building Trust

Trust is crucial in any team sport. Coaches must trust their players, and players must trust each other. Without trust, a team’s performance can suffer. Exceptional leaders instill trust in their teammates and coaches, ensuring everyone’s confidence in their abilities.

3. We-First Mindset

Effective leaders understand that true leadership starts with putting the team first. They prioritize the collective goals over personal achievements, fostering unity and cooperation among team members.

4. Competitive Spirit

Exceptional leaders have an insatiable drive to win. They bring a competitive edge to every practice and game, motivating their teammates to strive for victory. Their passion for winning is infectious.

5. Being Connectors

Leaders in basketball are not exclusive; they include and connect with every team member. This inclusivity is vital for team cohesion. Even the least experienced player should feel valued and connected to the team’s goals.

6. Buying into the Culture

Leaders must fully embrace the team’s culture and values. They act as gatekeepers, upholding the standards and principles set by the coach. This alignment with the team’s culture is vital for success.

7. Holding Others Accountable

Holding teammates accountable is one of the most challenging aspects of leadership, particularly in high school or junior high. Exceptional leaders do this by setting high standards and offering constructive feedback, helping their teammates grow.

8. The Ability to Inspire

At the pinnacle of leadership is the power to inspire. Great leaders inspire their teammates to achieve greatness. They elevate the performance of those around them, much like the magic Johnsons who make their teammates better.


In basketball, player-led teams are often the most successful. These exceptional leaders exemplify the key traits discussed in this article, fostering a culture of excellence and teamwork. Coaches and players should work together to develop and nurture these traits, with the goal of creating a winning and cohesive team. Leadership in basketball isn’t just about individual skill; it’s about uniting a group to achieve their shared goals.

Related: The 3-6-9-12-15 Shooting Challenge


Coach Unplugged Podcast:

Ep 1848 The Basketball Leadership Podcast

Youth Basketball Coaching Made Easy

If you coach a K-8th grade team, we have hundreds of resources. All laid out in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step system to save you time and money. Check out coachingyouthhoops.com today!

If you found this useful, don’t forget to check out additional blog posts at TeachHoops.com. Also, check out TeachHoops on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube.